Manga Review: Hayate the Combat Butler – The Golden Week Arc

There comes a point in any manga where the status quo, as it exists, can no longer stand. Where if things stay as they are, the work will stagnate. In Battle Angel Alita, it is in the leadup to the Motorball arc. In Hayate the Combat Butler, that arc is the Golden Week arc.

First, a quick setup – Nagi’s grandfather put an additional condition on Hayate’s ability to be Nagi’s butler – he intrusted Hayate with a magic stone, a “King’s Jewel”. Should that stone be taken from Hayate or destroyed, Nagi would lose her inheritance, so Hayate must protect the stone.

Additionally, we learned that when Hayate was very young, he was taken in by a very young, fabulously wealthy girl named Athena Tennos. Athena taught Hayate basically everything he needs to know on how to be a battle butler. She also gave him a (probably) magic ring, which the more naive Hayate showed to his parents, who in turn stole it. Hayate was then cut off from Athena (or “Ah-Tan”), who was in turn consumed by rage and despair, and who vanished from Japan, with the site of her estate becoming the school that Hayate and Nagi now attend.

Back in the present, Hayate, Nagi, Maria, Isumi, Sakuya, along with (begrudgingly) Hinagiku and the Idiot Trio (more begrudging for Hina than for the Trio) take a flight to Greece for a Mediterranean vacation for Golden Week. It’s begrudging for Hinagiku because she’s afraid of heights and this trip involves a plane ride (strike one), to a place with lots of historic sights on high vantage points (strike two), and also steep cliffs (strike 3). However, Athena is waiting and has been planning for revenge for years.

So, this arc is a strong mix of high action melodrama, with a nice seasoning of slapstick. It, in a lot of ways, feels like an arc that lends itself well to an animated adaptation, to enough of a degree that considering that the first couple seasons of the anime (making up Hayate the Combat Butler! and Hayate the Combat Butler!!) were out at this point, I almost wonder if an animated adaptation was part of Hata’s intent as he was writing this part of the series. Consequently, this arc also makes me a little bummed that it was skipped over entirely in favor of the semi-original story adapted in Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

Further, Isumi’s role in the manga’s climax adds a further barrier to any adaptation of this arc, since her seiyuu is no longer with us and so consequently she would need to be re-cast. This puts one more barrier on top of the manga’s conclusion in front of this arc ever getting adapted to the screen.

This story is definitely one where Hata pulls out all the stops both in terms of the story and the visuals. This is particularly notable in the action sequences, not only in terms of the visuals but also in terms of the choreography. Why we don’t have Hayate picking anyone yet (and indeed, this doesn’t happen until the series conclusion), we do have at least two prospective love interests coming to terms with their feelings and deciding whether or not they want to pursue Hayate’s heart – which is still a pretty big step, narratively.

While this isn’t even remotely a good jumping on point in the manga if you’re coming in cold – if you’d read some of the earlier volumes or watched the show, you should be able to jump in here and have a good time.

The Golden Week Arc is contained through Hayate the Combat Butler volumes 21 through 25. All 5 volumes are still in print and are available from Amazon.com and RightStuf.com. Links are to Volume 21, and buying anything through those links helps to support the site.

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