A thrilling tale of swords and slapstick.
Writer/Artist: Shizuru Hayashiya
What They Say
The all-girls boarding school Tenchi Academy isn't just known for its quality academics - it's also known for training the top sword fighters in the country. Students in the special "Sword Bearer" program compete in a school-wide battle known as the Star Stealing, striving to win both money and fame.
Enter Kurogane Hayate. With her sister Nagi recovering from a lingering injury, the spunky and cheerful Hayate must take her place at the Academy until Nagi is well enough to return. When Hayate learns of the mountain of debt her old orphanage, the Dandelion Garden, owes to Yakuza loan sharks, she decides to become a sword-bearer and win the Star Stealing.
There's just one problem: she needs a partner to compete and the girl Hayate has her eye on wants nothing to do with her!
The cover here is a rather nice one, with the president and Shizuku standing back to back and striking a dramatic pose over a pink background. The back cover opts to simply include an extended summary over a background instead of including any form of image. Paper quality feels solid, and extras are limited to notes from the other and a quick gag comic at the end of every “volume,” as well as a quick preview of the series Inukami. Honorifics are maintained, sound effects are left in their original form and translated, and text reads smoothly.
The art provided here is clean but doesn’t particularly stand out. However, actions and emotions are displayed well, and character designs are interesting and varied. Backgrounds appear when needed and look fine.
Tenchi Academy isn’t your average all-girls school: in this school there exists a group of students called sword-bearers, who hone their skills against one other and attempt to climb their way up the ranks. It is this school that the hyperactive young girl known as Hayate Kurogane is entering, as a sword-bearer. As it turns out, Hayate’s twin sister Nagi is the one who is actually enrolled, but as she has fallen quite ill, Hayate takes her name and place and heads off to the Academy.
Upon arriving, Hayate meets Hitsugi Amachi, who is not only student council president, but also chairman of the board of trustees and dean of the academy, as well as her sister-in-arms Shizuku Miyamoto. Afterwards, she meets her roommate Momoka Kibi, who introduces Hayate to the basics of Tenchi Academy. According to the rules, sword-bearers must participate in an event known as the Hoshitori, in which sword-bearers fight in order to steal one another’s “stars.” These stars are placed on their shoulders, and are stolen by landing a hit on them. However, in order to fight in the Hoshitori, one must first officially pair up with another sword-bearer and become “sisters-in-arms.”
At first Hayate thinks she can get by simply by hiding until Nagi gets better and changes places with her, but upon returning to the orphanage in which she was raised, she learns it is deep in debt to crooked debt collectors. Upon learning that she can earn money quickly by winning matches in the Hoshitori, Hayate decides to participate after all. Since she transferred in late, however, the list of unmatched sword-bearers is down to rather slim pickings. However, there is one that catches her eye: a skillful girl by the name of Ayana Mudou, who has remained unpaired for personal reasons. Through sheer force of will, a large amount of pestering, spiteful words from Ayana’s formal partner, and an explanation of her circumstances, Hayate is eventually able to get Ayana to agree to be her sister-in-arms. Unfortunately, Hayate is foolish enough to put her own name down on the approval form, meaning the gig is up. Luckily, however, the president finds Hayate and her circumstances amusing, and allows her to officially enroll on the condition that she and Ayana first win a battle, which they quickly manage in a rather flashy yet silly manner.
From there, we see Momoka participate in an intense battle for a close friend’s sake and gain a partner, see Ayana and Hayate face an enemy willing to use a multitude of underhanded tricks, learn of the strong resolve of Shizuku, and watch Ayana and Hayate rapidly climb the ranks to B while slowly becoming closer. As the volume comes to a close, things become tense between our main pair and Ayana’s roommate Jun and her partner Yuho. Yuho has been quite sickly for a long time, and it looks like she may even be pulled from the school. Though Yuho and Jun have been close since childhood, this still puts quite a strain on their relationship, and during all of this it comes out that Yuho wants one last fight, in which she fights Hayate and Jun fights Ayana. Yuho does this because she wants Jun to push herself and finally pit herself against Ayana, before the chance slips away. The request is accepted, setting the stage for an intense battle between the two pairs. Will the substantial power of Jun and Yuho finally be able to defeat the winning streak of our main pair, or will they manage to pull off a win in the face of such strength?
With an energetic and often rather goofy main cast, Hayate x Blade makes for quite a fun little read. Add in a surprising bit of depth in each character’s back-story and a surprisingly deep set-up for the combat, and you have something quite enjoyable. Though the battles for the main pair seem to be lacking an edge through most of the book, the final bout in this book really picks up and makes for quite an intense conflict. Hopefully the next omnibus will really manage to capitalize on the type of action presented in that final fight, because that sort of intensity combined with the slapstick fun provided here would really make for something special.