So, at last I’ve now gotten caught up on Hayate the Combat Butler – at least the official English release of the manga, so I might as well get through these last 5 volumes at one big whack!
These five volumes are a little bit of plot development, combined with a lot of episodic slice-of-life. We get the results of Wataru’s suitcase of money getting… misplaced (it wasn’t exactly stolen) and leading ultimately into the first big Not-Comiket showdown between Ruka and Nagi, with Ruka selling on the strength of her work, in spite of Nagi printing a massive number of copies and selling them with a candid photobook of Maria.
These books also get us Ruka’s backstory, that she, like Hayate and Hinagiku, also was left a massive debt by her parents (though her parents weren’t the same kind of flakes their parents were). Ruka is working as an Idol to work that debt off, with the difference being that Ruka’s parents dreamed of living vicariously through their daughter if she became a successful Idol, and groomed her (somewhat successfully) for that role – she’s very good at being an Idol. It’s just that what Ruka really wants is to be is a mangaka.
Other than that, we get a lot of slice of life chapters, including a handful that got included into Hayate the Combat Butler Cuties – we get Hayate teaching Ruka how to ride a bicycle, we get Hayate’s back rubs, and we get Nagi trying to get Hayate to find dirt on Maria (with an utter lack of success).
This block also introduces a new character – Kayura – who transfers to Hakuo after Wataru withdraws to focus on his business. Her role is basically to serve as something of an encouragement to Nagi – and not in a good way. She’s about as much of a hardcore otaku as Nagi aspires to be, almost to the point that if left to their own devices, they’d basically hole up in the house together and never leave, except maybe for a trip to Akihabara. I think her introductory chapter, where she is given a tour of Hakuo by Hayate also gets adapted in Cuties.
The conclusion of the last volume is more heavily narratively focused, with basically the other 3 major girls in moving into the apartments – Hamster, Ruka, and Isumi – Hamster because she wants to make sure Hayate isn’t surrounded by so many girls without her, Ruka to focus on her manga, and Isumi because we have to get into the weirder part of the plot at some point. In this case, because the ghost of Father Radiostar (remember him) and Tama discovered the attic is a little too small – like there’s a room that’s closed off and heavily warded.
Thanks to some investigations by Isumi and Hayate, they find a room with a magic circle on the floor and a very creepy – and empty – coffin in the middle of the room. Well, not completely empty, there’s also part of a picture of Nagi’s previous butler, Himegami.
In all, this is generally light and fluffy fun, up until the very end when it hints at a little seriousness to come – though we shall see if it gets as serious as the Golden Week Arc – and we’ll have to wait, because the next volume doesn’t come out until February of next year!