Hayate the Combat Butler, Vol. 25

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 had said last time that after the emotional catharsis and darkness of the Athena arc that we’d fall back towards comedy here, and that’s somewhat true, but the fallout from that arc still lingers. Athena describes to Hayate how she was rescued from the castle at the end of the world, and it turns out to have been none other than Hayate’s brother who achieved it. We’d seen him in silhouette before, but here we finally get to see his face, mostly so that he can have a distinguishing scar that lets Hayate reassure Athena he’s not dead or trapped. (Even though we haven’t seen him in years… he’d better have a damn good reason for leavin g Hayate to the mercies of his parents).


Athena’s parting is also bittersweet, though there’s a tease that implies that she isn’t giving up entirely. But she sees Hayate talking about how much of his life he owes to Nagi, and realizes that she can’t take that away from him now. So she confesses to him, again, but in the past tense, implying that she’s moved on. I try to remain unbiased in my reviews, but I fully admit to being an Athena fan, so this saddened me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Nagi and Hayate’s relationship, but if they’re going to end up together I do think that a) she needs to mature a bit, and b) he needs to show at least a smidgen of attraction to her. We’re slowly seeing the first but not the second, and with Athena is was very nice to see two people who really did desire each other.

After this, it would be hard for the rest of the volume not to feel like an anticlimax, and it does struggle to keep the same level. Hina being cursed with donkey ears is amusing but goes nowhere, and Hayate trying to figure out what’s haunting an old mansion (turns out to be cats) is a bit pointless. Possibly the most interesting part of the volume is a flashforward showing Nagi rushing to the top of a tall building to scream in pain and frustration about someone named Ruka, followed by a title page featuring a new character (spoiler: it is Ruka). We wonder if we’ve done some sort of time skip, but no, it’s just a tease, and we’re soon back to the aftermath of Greece, with Nagi having to leave the mansion.

Nagi’s idea to be a landlord and rent out a building is actually quite clever, and of course will lead to many comedic situations – don’t be surprised to see the building fill with many of our cast. But it’s also a symptom of her biggest flaw, which is her dedication to inactivity – this is a way to make money by sitting around and doing nothing. Nagi can’t apply herself to any hard work that doesn’t pay off instantly, and it will come back to burn her in future volumes. For now, though, Athena is gone, and Hayate the Combat Butler prepares to enter a newer, less dramatic story arc. That said, don’t expect the drama to simply disappear. It just won’t be 24/7 like it was in the last two volumes.

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