Its difficult to talk about someones own happiness and what that means relative to their financial wealth. People often say that money cant buy happiness and yet this saying betrays just how utterly miserable being povertystricken can be everything from personal relationships to material belongings to familial security can be taken away from you with a reality that what little you have can be stolen at any second. Hayate Ayasaki lives one such life where he works day in day out sacrifices any and all connections he may form with others in order to have a better future away from his parents only for his parents to inevitably walk all over him and take whatever material belongings he has for their own egotistical reasons. This culminates in his parents quite literally selling him off to the yakuza for 150 million yen. It takes a chance encounter with a girl who mistakes his kindness in saving her from kidnappers and giving her a jacket for a confession to finally turn his life around with the seemingly minor and swept under the rug inconvenience that ironically he himself was planning to kidnap her out of desperation. This introduction sets the stage for a long long long semiepisodic romcom about Hayate paying back his savior in Nagi who paid his entire debt in exchange for him being her butler. Hayate has clear issues in how it structures its narrative and comedy. The series is often very tongueincheek about lampshading events before they happen yet this can often feel somewhat like its a parody of itself even in instances when the narrative takes itself seriously. The comedy while incredibly funny even if certain gags overstay their welcome takes up a sizable chunk of the middle of the manga and this can make it difficult for readers to go through this entire behemoth of a manga they may not even find comedic. Kenjiro Hatas values are occasionally reflected through Hayate himself chastising this or that female character for being a woman and not behaving accordingly this gets fades away as the manga goes on before disappearing entirely near the end. The antagonists are rather onenote and serve their purpose without doing anything more there is one noteworthy exception in the mangas first half but the finale in particular while definitely thematically fitting suffers from this. Theres a fair amount of fanservice this doesnt bother me but I can see why it bothers others. And obviously 52 volumes is an absurd amount to read for what is essentially a romcom parody that only occasionally takes itself seriously. What there is for a narrative is a story about abandoning material comfort in order to connect with others and how all the material gains in the world wont mean anything without a drive to succeed a passion to embrace and people to love. Nagi herself epitomizes this being deeply in love with manga and desiring to be a manga author for much of the manga yet theres many instances where its clear that her life is a lonely one minus Maria who she literally sleeps next to in order for that emptiness to fade away. Several excellently written foils to Hayate exist in Hinagaku and Ruka who both were abandoned by their parents and suffered considerably because of it the former being saved by her sister and thus grew to have a functioning life later on albeit one where she still occasionally shows scars of her old life and the latter due to working for her parents sake to be an idol only to be abandoned later on. More examples can be given via the side cast Wataru and Saki struggling to manage a store together yet finding comfort in each others presence despite the former being left behind Marias abandonment issues that come to surface later on in the manga Athena being isolated and alone for so long despite her desire to reconnect with Hayate or Ayumu taking Hayate for granted before slowly but surely realizing that her chance to be with him has come and passed. This struggle to find connection with other members of the cast is at the center of Hayate both in its largely comedic content and its more serious moments and without the more funny moments over the course of the series that involve the cast literally goofing off together the series would simply not work. The last quarter of the manga and especially the last few volumes is where somehow over a dozen character arcs discussing these themes are flawlessly wrapped up. The manga ramps up its story to 11 it goes absolutely bonkers with its villains and theres a damsel in distress arc and yet the manga was careful enough in building up to this moment that this somehow manages to work out insanely well. More than anything the ending wraps up the series with the characters in many cases having less materially than where they started yet somehow this is portrayed positively rather than negatively since the characters find happiness in each other rather regardless of distance lifestyle or occupation. This is a message that has aged insanely well considering our current economic situation unfortunately and I believe that it is one that would resonate with many a reader in these troubled times. Do I recommend Hayate? I would but with the nuance of approaching the story when the narrative focuses on it for what its trying to tell and understanding that its flaws are as part of the experience as its highs. When the manga ends much of the less than ideal moments across the series or the long stretches of comedy become fond memories of a more nostalgic time yet its those precise moments that make the ending all the more powerful and memorable. Otherwise then Id completely understand why someone wouldnt be into this series the comedy isnt for everyone and the middle of the manga takes quite a while to get through. Aside from that...I cant recommend this series highly enough even with all its numerous flaws. Thank you for reading.
100 /100
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