Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. 1 – Manga Review

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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-the-combat-butler-1-cover.jpg

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.

Story:
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.

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Analysis:
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.

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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…

Conclusion:
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.

Many thanks to Viz for sending me a review copy of Hayate The Combat Butler Volume 1!

12 thoughts on “Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. 1 – Manga Review”

  1. I disagree with how specific you are with the references. I find that they bring up Gundams as a title; they don’t reference specific machines or any Gundam otaku in-jokes. It’s stuff that’s been around for ages that’s hard to get through a Wikipedia article without seeing once.

    I can understand it getting difficult when they bring up political figures or famous Japanese comedians’ names, but as far as the other references go, it’s all a mix of modern and classic gaming and anime culture. In addition, they do clarify some things in footnotes, but I don’t believe that the first volume had anything especially noteworthy.

    If you start thinking that the references are too obscure for your tastes, there’s always the anime which tends to reference stuff that’s at most 2 years old (apart from a certain instance of non-Gundam mecha appearance.)

  2. I dunno… They referenced stuff like the factions of Gundam, which I totally don’t understand, and I think one of the reasons I avoid watching Gundam. Like, there’s Zeta or something, right? I don’t even know!

  3. I totally agree with you on translator notes. The least they should’ve done was to put in some notes at the back, or even footnotes for you to “get” the joke. It’s rather difficult to find something funny when the punchline makes no sense.

  4. “other typical otaku stuff (like Gundam… ick)”

    Hung, your soul is being weighed down by gravity. I highly recommend the Zeta Gundam: A new Translation films.

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