Hayate the Combat Butler, Vol. 33

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

The manga had taken a six-week break in Shonen Sunday towards the beginning of this book, and so Hata amusingly tries to do a “let me remind you of the plot and cast” for those who have not been reading this for 32 previous volumes. Mostly what it does is remind us of Hayate’s near-inhuman stamina, which vies with his legitimately inhuman bad luck for dominance. Hata knows the value of setting up an obvious joke and letting it play out as far as he possibly can. We start with all the residents of the getting colds, except Hayate, who has to take care of all of them (despite such minor setbacks as being hit by a truck). Then, of course, he gets a cold right as he has to take a “fail this and you’re expelled” test at school, and runs into infinite obstacles on the way, not least of which is Fumi at her most annoying… well, OK, that’s Fumi all the time. The punchline, which involves Yukiji’s PSP, is the perfectly timed icing on the cake.

Last time I mentioned the debut of new character Kayura, but like most of the cast she made her big debut and then faded into the ‘brought out as needed’ category. On the bright side, she does not appear to be in love with Hayate, which puts her into a relatively rare category. (Though to be fair to the author, it’s not as rare as other harem manga. There are a good 6-7 girls we see in this title who are not in love with anyone, and of course there’s Miki, who loves Hinagiku.) Those who do love Hayate get a few spotlights here. Izumi’s birthday leads to a lovely cake and a desperate attempt by her to eat it alone with Hayate. Ruka also shows up again, needing bike lessons from Hayate, which gets very amusing when he asks her if she wants a gentle or strict teacher and she says “strict”. Hayate’s sadistic aspects don’t come out very often, but when they do they’re hilarious, especially combined with the low-simmering romance we see here.

And then there’s Ayumu, whose love for Hayate is the most explicit but also likely the most doomed. She’s getting the old high school career survey, and “Hayate’s bride” isn’t going to cut it, especially as she has these visions of what life will be like as said bride, involving a series of “Hayate’s bad luck means we lose everything” disasters. She talks with Nagi about becoming a musician, but lacks the drive and the talent for it. Actually, given how we’ve seen her handling Nagi and Hinagiku throughout the series, a counseling job might not be a bad idea, though she needs to restrain her more head in the clouds moments. Hopefully she’ll fare better than Hinagiku, who was once the ensemble darkhorse of the series that everyone loved, even getting an ED theme in the anime devoted to her, but now is entirely used for fanservice. Poor Hina.

This is the 33rd volume of Hayate the Combat Butler, and I applaud all of you still buying it every time it comes out. Its humor is consistently funny to me, which helps to get through plot-absent volumes such as this one. It is currently projected to end in North America in the fall of 2028. Thought I’d put that out there.

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