Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0851-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. #01

By Robert Harris     May 10, 2007
Release Date: November 21, 2006

Hayate The Combat Butler Vol.#01
© Viz Media

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

What They Say
Since the tender age of nine, Hayate Ayasaki has busted his behind at various part-time jobs to support his degenerate gambler parents. And how do they repay their son's selfless generosity? By selling his organs to the yakuza to cover their debts! But fate throws Hayate a bone...sort of.

Hardworking Hayate has a plan to pay back the yakuza--who are now the legal owners of his body parts: he'll kidnap someone and ransom them for a mountain of money! But things get tricky when his would-be kidnappee--who as luck would have it is the daughter of a mind-bogglingly wealthy family--mistakes Hayate's actions for a confession of love, and subsequently hires him to be her personal servant. At least his employment future is secure, or so he thinks...

The Review
Packaging: Viz has done a very nice job with the first volume of Hayate. There's a great image of Nagi and Hayate against a snowy, moonlit night on the front, with the back holding Maria and a dressed-up Hayate. Surrounding it all is a pink and white border, which draws a great contrast between the night sky and blends in with the falling snow. The back cover has a rather large border on the top and bottom; while the top border has a copy of the logo on a darker pink background, the bottom border is stark white with the company and volume information. It's a little distracting and it's too bad they didn't ditch the border and just put it on top of the same light pink background as the rest of the cover (or even the darker pink of the top border).

Artwork: Kenjiro Hata's artwork isn't going to turn any heads. It's suitable, but doesn't particularly stand out. Perhaps the worst "offender" is the character designs; people of certain builds tend to look similar. Look at Maria and Hayate and you can see the resemblance in facial structure and layout. It's a minor quibble, sure, but it is noticeable.

The rest of the art is quite nice, and the backgrounds in particular help give the Sanzenin mansion the expected degree of affluence and extravagance. That is, when they're shown; without counting, it seems that they're present more than they're absent, but I'd still like to see more of them (then again, I am a background junky).

Text/SFX: I didn't pick up on any grammatical or spelling mistakes on my read through this volume, and the dialog flows well and seems natural. There are a lot of jokes in Hayate and they all come through clear and intact. Needless to say, that's very important for a comedy series, and the translation is more than up to the task.

The sound effects are all translated, with original characters removed. While I do prefer the characters to remain intact, with the translations located nearby, this is almost as good and is certainly better than no translation at all.


Hayate Ayasaki is one unlucky kid. From the time he was little, his parents have been completely irresponsible, avoiding any and all forms of work and effort. Thus it fell to him, at an early age, to work hard and dream of a better (although seemingly mediocre) life. As the manga begins, he's fired from another job for lying about his age (he's only 16), despite being the best worker they have. This helps explain one of Hayate's main characteristics: due to working constantly from such a young age, he has superior strength, stamina, and speed.

When Hayate returns from his latest job, he finds a message from his parents, on Christmas Eve no less, that they've run up a huge debt and have sold his body to the yakuza. With organ thieves literally knocking on his door, Hayate manages to escape and, while wandering around attempting to come up with a plan, spots a young girl and decides to ransom her for the money to buy himself back. This girl happens to be Nagi Sanzenin, only daughter of one of Japan's richest families, and through a series of events only manga could get away with, Hayate comes to be the new butler at Nagi's mansion.

All of this happens relatively early on; after that, Hayate continues to face threats to his employment, spearheaded by the Head Butler, Klaus. Through increasingly bizarre challenges, which begin with the yakuza's attempted recapture and include a battle with a missile-launching nurse robot, a talking tiger, and falling off of a cliff, Hayate manages a tenuous hold on his position. Which really isn't so tenuous if you're familiar with manga at all, but remains amusing nonetheless.

Hayate is a comedy, first and foremost, and therefore leans mostly on its sense of humor and lack of seriousness. Thankfully these are its strongest assets, so the formula works well. The setup is so absurd, with criminally neglectful parents and Hayate's superhuman abilities that, even though his story is a sad one, we don't really feel bad for him.

The story, like a seemingly ever-growing number of manga storylines, is based on a central misunderstanding that spirals outwards and upwards to the blissful ignorance of the two main characters, Hayate and Nagi. Watching over the two are Maria, the young maid of the mansion who acts as the perpetual straight man, and Klaus, the (previously mentioned) Head Butler. Klaus is a particularly amusing character, combining deadly serious speech and mannerisms with randomly amusing actions. There's also Nagi's pet Tama, who doesn't get to play a large part in this volume but will, if the last few chapters are any indication, be included much more in the future.

The best part of Hayate is definitely the tongue-in-cheek humor found throughout, and unfortunately some may find it hit or miss. It deals to a large extent with video game and anime culture, and while the majority of its readers will most likely appreciate the constant parodies and references, potential fans unfamiliar with the "scene" may feel alienated. Thankfully, this first volume contains far less of these in-jokes, so it's simple to pick up and see if the style of humor grabs you or not. Keep in mind, however, that they do become more numerous later on. You can't please everyone, and while I personally love the numerous parodies and sight gags, only people sufficiently "nerded up" will be able to fully appreciate them.

Somehow, in the mass of new manga releases, Hayate manages to stand out without relying on cheap gimmicks or a television tie-in. It relies, rather, on its own two feet, with sharp writing and entertaining characters. It's a bit too early to tell if it's a classic in the making or just another entry into a crowded genre, but if it can keep up its solid pacing without becoming too repetitive or cliché, it may become a true gem.


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