Hayate the Combat Butler, Vol. 21

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.

I’ve given every volume of Hayate since I began this blog a full review, so want to keep up the tradition. Of course, that tends to mean I have to keep finding new things to say. Should I talk about how the North American audience views harems… no, wait, did that already. What about the relation between gags and serious… no, did that too. It doesn’t help that Hata is very slowly putting all his pieces into play for what promises to be an epic storyline… but it isn’t yet. As a result, we get a lot interruptions here, including some characters who haven’t appeared in so long that Hayate and Nagi have to direct readers to the appropriate volume.

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For those who like Maria, enjoy that cover, she’s barely in this volume. (To be honest, aside from one-shot chapters, she’s never really going to be relevant again, unless Hata comes back to her if/when he wraps this up.) The two major events in this book are a beach volleyball game challenge given by Gilbert, the aforementioned character who no one remembers anymore; and Sonia, the nun with a crush on Wataru, trying to steal the Ougyoku Stone. This Stone has come up once or twice since the series began, but here is where it starts to really play a major role, in that Nagi’s Machiavellian grandfather states if Hayate allows anyone to steal or destroy the stone for more than an hour, Nagi loses her inheritance. And there’s a lot of people who want that to happen, including Athena, now 10 years older and living in Greece. The stone is the gimmick that will drive the next few volumes.

The beach volleyball game is the funniest part of this volume. Gilbert immediately shoots himself in the foot by demanding Hayate partner with Hinagiku, as she’s so “weak and frail”. Unfortunately, Hina is dealing with her usual self-image and tsundere love for Hayate, so she decides to pretend to be as weak as Gilbert says she is. Complete with monotone “Eek” noises. Thankfully, Gilbert is *such* an ass that this only lasts for a couple of pages before she decides to kick his ass. (By the way, I note that now that Hata has revealed that Miki is in love with Hina, he’s allowing her to be a lot more open about it, demanding Hina wear a bikini and essentially lusting after her.)

The most romantic part of the volume is the one with Sonia, though she isn’t the reason why. She’s stealing the stone so that she can help Wataru get his *own* family fortune back, and therefore return Sonia’s love. Hayate is absolutely not the best person to figure this out, given that he has all the sensitivity of a hammer. Luckily, Ayumu is there with him, and once again makes you wonder why she isn’t the heroine of some other manga. She calms Sonia down, points out Wataru wouldn’t like her just for money, gets the stone back, comforts Hayate, *and* gets to kiss him (on the cheek) to boot. She would be the clear winner of any other harem manga, but is only a long-shot in this one. Which is a sign of how balanced Hata keeps his harem… and his readers.

Due to the typical low sales of almost all harem manga these days, the next volume will not be out till August. But Hata, for the most part, delivers what readers want – some fanservice, some laughs, some romantic tease, and a few sweet moments. If you read Hayate scanlated, get over the fact that your pairing may not win and buy the manga. As for new readers… why are you buying Vol. 21?

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