Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. #05 (Mania.com)

By:Robert Harris
Review Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Release Date: Friday, November 30, 2007

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kenjiro Hata
Translated by:Yuki Yoshioka & Cindy H. Yamauchi
Adapted by:Mark Giambruno

What They Say
To truly be considered a butler of the highest caliber, Hayate needs more than just punctuality, an unwavering sense of loyalty and the ability to keep his mistress out of tight situations - he'll also need to develop the ultimate fighting technique! Despite his best efforts, though, our butler-in-debt seems incapable of keeping out of duels. Thankfully, this time it's a non-life-threatening kendo match. Will the path of the sword help guide Hayate toward true domestic enlightenment?

The Review
After releasing a flood of new characters in the last installment of Hayate, this volume gets the series back on track and doing what it does best: providing laughs. And great character development. And maybe even a little romantic tension. While Hayate’s battle against Nonohara, the Azumamiya family butler, is over after the first chapter, his quest to find his own “Special Deadly Technique” carries him through many dangerous (and hilarious) situations.

Between traversing a haunted school building, attempting (and failing) to master a Special Deadly Technique from the “You-Can-Do-It” Sanzenin Book of Secret Mastery, and surviving a terrorist attack on Sakuya’s Titanic luxury cruise ship, Hayate is put into some of his most outrageous (and hilarious) situations yet. The supporting cast may range from good to excellent, but these chapters prove that Hayate will always be tops.

Nishizawa makes a triumphant return in not one but two (!) chapters, centering on her rivalry with Nagi for Hayate’s affections. Of course, as an ordinary schoolgirl she can’t put up much of a fight against the rich and brilliant Nagi, but the failures are so colossal that she’s certainly earned the underdog ticket. Hinagiku makes another excellent appearance when she tries to save Hayate after he enters the spooky, abandoned, school building, which as you may expect is very much haunted. These two chapters really shine, and erase any doubt that she is definitely a top-tier member of the cast. Even Wataru and Saki get their own story this time around, as mundane as it may be compared to the rest of the book. And Maria, who often gets swept under the rug while the flashier characters run the show, gets several absolutely excellent moments here.

Once again, parodies and self-referential humor take center stage, and this volume of Hayate breaks the fourth wall more than a drunken, fictional demolition man. Whether it’s talking to the reader directly or the characters confusing what time of year it is (due to disparate storyline and publishing dates), Hayate always keeps you on your toes. Similarly, the parodies come hard and fast and range from overwhelmingly obvious (Die Hard and Titanic mentioned by name) to quite obscure. Keep your eyes out for a particularly well-concealed Genshiken reference.

With Volume 5, Hayate is back at the top of its game. The new characters have proven they can mesh seamlessly with the existing ensemble, everyone else gets their fair shake, and the pacing is superb. Together with a number of legitimately hilarious gags, jokes, and parodies, this volume will leave you wanting more. Which is, of course, the first rule of showmanship.

Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-4215-1167-3
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Hayate The Combat Butler