Hayate the Combat Butler, Vol. 18

By Kenjiro Hata. Released in Japan as “Hayate no Gotoku!” by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Shonen Sunday. Released in North America by Viz.

We have arrived at the end of “The End Of The World” arc, and just as predicted, things quickly turn sour. This is not a fairy tale with a happy ending, but a story of two children getting broken, one by supernatural happenstance, the other by his own “loving” parents. Hata has said he had this arc planned nearly from the start, but it kept getting put off. My guess is Sunday’s editors wanted to wait till the series was popular enough that it could withstand 10 chapters that are nothing whatsoever like what has come before it.

These three final chapters to the arc are heartbreaking. I’ve gone on about Hayate’s parents before, so won’t do so now (they’re loathsome monsters, FYI). The rift between Hayate and Athena, though, is that of two six-year-olds who find that sometimes you say things you can’t take back. We don’t know exactly what happened to Athena’s parents, though certainly we can guess based on her reaction here. And so they fight (and Athena seems to be possessed by evil at some point), and she tells Hayate to leave. Which he does. And again, words you can’t take back. There’s a nice mirror of both children looking up desperately to hope the other has returned, only to find cold reality instead.

We have no idea how Athena left the castle, but we do get Hayate’s aftermath – and we also meet his brother! Yes, a family member of Hayate’s who is not hateful and deceptive. While you’re left wondering why his brother leaves Hayate with those parents, his advice is certainly good… though it comes a little too late. And so Hayate is resolved to become the best he can be, but also closes off his heart to a certain degree. He’s also resolved, if he ever meets Athena again, to tell her that she was right and he was wrong, at least in regards to his parents.

And hey, what a coincidence! Athena is now 10 years older, and in Athens! And dressed entirely in black – not suspicious at all! But I doubt we’ll see her again. After all, it’s not like the entire cast is going to wind up in Greece anytime soon…

So we have the rest of the volume, which is devoted to the entire cast, in various ways, ending up on a holiday in Greece. We’re not there yet, of course, so it’s also an excuse to catch up with characters shoved to the side by the enormous Hayate/Athena story. (Nagi and Maria lampshade this, in one of the funnier parts of the book.) Maria in particular gets a rare focus here, as she goes on a pretend date with Hayate, who is being stalked by a mysterious girl who is obsessed with him and wants him dead. (Well, no, not really.) They’re cute together, but you’re reminded that Maria still sometimes sees Hayate as a toy to dress up rather than as an actual male – she’s far less comfortable when reminded of that.

And then there’s Ayumu and Hinagiku, who continue to bond here – in fact, Hina makes a big sacrifice in order to advance her cause in a contest (the winner of which gets two tickets to Athena – subtlety went back out the window once Athena left the manga, in case you weren’t aware). And Nagi seems to be starting to learn the value of money – very slowly. And of course, there’s Fumi, who in a manga composed entirely of eccentrics manages to outdo them all – her answer for the ‘what is a fire station symbol’ question makes your jaw drop.

Casual readers will get nothing out of this, as it’s entirely dependent on knowing the characters. But longtime Hayate readers will enjoy it, and may be happy we’re back to the standard comedic antics after a long hiatus of drama. And Volume 19 is only 5 months away, rather than 6! Progress!

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  1. I read this volume yesterday. Glad to finally get another volume in and like you said, only a five-month wait this time for volume 20. Its kinda frustrating that the volumes are so slow, especially since in Japan, they are WAY ahead of us. Its all I can do to stop myself from reading ahead. *lol*

  2. Oh man, the end of the Hayate/Athena storyline. It was interesting to see what happened between the two, but I was wondering it took Hata this long to focus on Hayate’s past. Would if it had a greater impact if the story was covered in the Vol. 8-10 range? I wonder. Also, Fumi is awesome. :D


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