Hayate The Combat Butler shows that while poor people might not have money, they do have super resistance to everything! Which is almost like a kind of super power.
Hayate is a poor kid. Like literally, he has no money. His parents are pretty bad at balancing their checkbooks, so Hayate has been forced to work ever since he was young. One day for Christmas, Hayate gets the one present that keeps on giving. The gift of having your bodily organs sold to the Yakuza. Oh wait, that’s not a gift.
So anyway, Hayate escapes and tries kidnapping a cute girl in order to get a king’s ransom! But his plan backfires and he ends up saving her from other kidnappers. She’s grateful, and makes Hayate her butler. With the help of Maria the maid, Klaus the head butler, and a talking tiger named Tama, Hayate will have to pay back his debt. Over 40 or so years.
Hayate The Combat Butler is a wacky comedy. I mean, any story that involves a person being put into butler servitude must be, right? The main plot point (Hayate paying back his debt) is absurd, and so are the other parts of the plot. Is Hayate going to risk being fired to try and hook up with Maria? Or will he become a lolicon under the advances of Nagi? Or will Klaus try to hook up with crossdressing Hayate? It doesn’t matter; what matters is that the manga is funny.
Hayate The Combat Butler really targets the Japanese otaku demographic with the humor. There’s a lot of references to h-games (like when Hayate wonders if Maria’s decision flag is coming up), Gundam (which I totally don’t understand) and Japanese manga publications. I can understand why these jokes should be funny, but only occasionally did I actually find them funny and laugh. I think Viz did a good job of translating the book, but a bad job of explaining any of the jokes. They should’ve done a Del Rey style thing at the end with culture notes, especially with this type of culture-centric humor.
This is not to say that Hayate is Lucky Star. There’s still some random humor thrown in that I like. Such as the Tiger calling Hayate a complete loser.
Character Designs and Art:
I don’t know why exactly, but the character designs sort of bug me. I think it’s because the characters barely have any facial features at all, and sometimes I could even get them confused. The art itself is also kinda inconsistent. It’s still better than a lot of the manga I’ve read, but there’s something weird I just can’t describe about it…
Hayate The Combat Butler is really targeted to the otaku crowd. If you’re into the memes and other typical otaku stuff (like Gundam… ick) I could suggest this manga. If not, you’ll just be totally confused. This manga seriously needs translator’s notes.