Hayate the Combat Butler, Vol. 19

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.

Hayate has reached the point now here, popular and enjoyable as it is, its cast is simply too large to use in one complete plot. So while I said last time that the cast was all going to wind up on a holiday in Greece, there are exceptions. And so Wataru, Saki and Sakuya end up in Las Vegas, which coincidentally has its own subplot waiting in the wings for them! This would be highly unrealistic and a detriment to any manga that is not as silly as this one, but (even after the Athena arc) the reader still has a tendency to say “Yeah, OK, whatever.”

The Las Vegas chapter introduces Wataru’s mother, who is… not a nice woman. Oh sure, on a scale of one to Hayate’s parents she’s still small time, but it’s clear she loves gambling and is not above humiliating her son and his friends just to show off how lucky and powerful she is. (You get a sense of where the manga is going with her when we see a flashback where Wataru hands her a doll he has made. It appears to be Nezumi Otoko from the children’s series Gegege no Kitaro. Oh kid, little do you know your mother is more like that doll than you think… In any case, the cliffhanger for this volume involves Wataru’s mother gambling with Saki (who doesn’t know how to play cards) for Wataru’s fate. It also includes Sakuya as a fanservice magnet, something that I think started in Japanese fanart circles and that Hata might have picked up on. Unlike those circles, Sakuya stays (mostly) decent, though.

Meanwhile, earlier in the manga, we get a chapter devoted to one of the Idiot Trio, Miki. She’s arguably the most intelligent and perceptive of the three (given she got a 36 on her most recent exam, this is very arguable), but that’s not really why we get this chapter. For a manga where every single woman seems to be in love with the hero, it is refreshing to see someone who isn’t. And, Ayumu’s teasing of Hina aside, we haven’t really had any yuri in this manga to date either. Now we get both – Miki is not interested in Hayate, mostly as she has her heart set on someone else. It can be a bit disheartening to hear Miki say she knows she’ll be rejected so has no plans to confess… but, knowing Hinagiku like we do, Miki’s probably correct. Oh well. Maybe she’ll get lucky if Hayate ends up with someone else! (By the way, notice how Hayate immediately makes the connection between Miki’s vague allusions and Hina. He’s very perceptive in anything not involving himself.)

Other than that, well, there’s plenty of humor in this volume. Which is good, as folks read Hayate for the gags. For those who worried that we’d be returning to the mood of the previous 2 volumes, that’s not happening right away. Of course, not much else is happening right away either. By the end of the book, half the cast are either in Greece or Vegas, but our hero and heroine are still stuck at home. The main flaw of this book is that, for everyone except maybe Maria fans, very little happens in this volume. We left off with the cast getting ready to go to Greece (where Athena awaits, let’s remember), and we’re still waiting here. Ah well. At least we haven some ominous foreshadowing with Hayate’s ‘King’s Jewel’ given to him by Nagi’s jerkass grandfather. Foreshadowing of dark, terrible events is always welcome in comedy gag manga.

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