Hayate X Blade 5

December 28, 2010

Shizuru Hayashiya – Seven Seas – 2009 – 12+ volumes

I forgot to talk about this book! I read it a year ago or so, but I noticed it was absent from my review list when I was flipping back through my old thoughts on the series.

Interestingly, the first half of the book deals with Shizuku, her relationship with Hitsugi, and a challenge that the two accept for the Hoshitori. The challengers are the usual brand of silly and potentially dangerous that colors all the characters in this series… there are way too many characters, and it’s background characters like this pair that tend to slip through the cracks, but to the credit of the series, they really shouldn’t, because they are always horribly funny.

The challenging pair uses tricks to get ahead in the fight, and their strategy for Shizuku and Hitsugi is to target Hitsugi’s leg. It doesn’t work, and Hitsugi manages to humiliate them in grand style, as she does everything. The humiliation is extreme, and involves an amazing musical sequence, made even better by flashbacks and humor and wonderful swordfighting… just everything.

Again, this really isn’t my type of series, but the more of it I read, the more I really, REALLY like it.

The second half of the volume is just exposition for the big fight in volume six, setting up the school festival and maid cafe business. I don’t know how it did it, but this book even made me laugh at maid cafes again. Possibly because Jun just seems to genuinely enjoy it so much, and she is truly one of the greatest characters ever.

Highly recommended. I would strenuously suggest you buy it, since Seven Seas seems to… not have made enough on these six volume to continue. Pick them up and support the series so that I can read more! It’s funny stuff, you won’t be sorry.

Hayate X Blade 6

December 28, 2010

Shizuru Hayashima – Seven Seas – 2010 – 12+ volumes

It makes me sad that this series worked so hard to win me over and looks to be not quite popular enough to continue publishing in English. Here’s hoping the recent omnibus grabs enough new readers to make it worth Seven Seas’ while to continue with new volumes. Plus, it would be really cruel to leave this fight unresolved.

This volume… does two things. The cultural festival is going on throughout, but the first half is about members of the Akira fan club ganging up on Hayate and the friends she’s made in the previous volumes coming to her rescue in silly, selfish, and absolutely over-the-top ways. The characters here are charming and genuinely entertaining and funny, just because they all have their distinct personalities (admittedly, some tinged with a touch of cliche), and they all know just how to push each other’s buttons and upstage each other for maximum effect.

The problem I have with this series is that there are just too many characters. We run into that here especially, since there’s a whole gang that runs to Hayate’s rescue. I remember them, and I vaguely remember who they are, but I don’t know any of their names. It’s not really important, since the jokes stand on their own, but it is annoying to have so many characters floating around as of volume six.

The second half is about Ayana’s former partner, Yukari, taking on a pair with her current partner to ascend to the Special A Class rank. The pair that she’s fighting to ascend? The same one that scarred her face and broke Yukari and Ayana up. It’s a really great fight, and it’s interesting that it’s still so enjoyable considering the characters involved are the very definition of side characters, the outcome doesn’t have much bearing on the story, and the comedy is toned way down for the fight itself. But what is the story in this series if not all these little fights between the side characters? They’re always interesting to read, no matter who’s involved, and the swordfights are so well-paced and beautifully handled that they don’t need comedy to stand on their own.

I do love that this series balances comedy and action so well, and has interesting enough characters that it’s making even the huge cast work pretty well for it. I’m most impressed by the fact that it’s taken jokes I normally hate and made me love it for them. Seriously. It’s just so stupid sometimes, but you can’t help but laugh. Especially jokes about how predatory Jun is. Both by her and at her expense. She just pulls it off so well.

Hayate X Blade 4

February 25, 2010

Shizuru Hayashiya – Seven Seas – 11+ volumes

This series is totally not my style, and yet I like it anyway.  Why is that?  Maybe it’s Jun, who’s awesome and is an anomaly as a side character that wins popularity polls by landslides (but yes, she really is that awesome).  Maybe it’s Wanko, or Ayana, or Hayate, or any number of the other insane characters.  Well, yes, that’s what it is.  There’s borderline too many of them right now, but they’re so easy to like, and… the stupid jokes are just so funny, that it’s easy to overlook a lot of things I normally dislike.

Mainly it’s the sense of humor.  It’s pretty over-the-top and chock full of the kind of obvious jokes that I hate, but somehow the jokes go so far over-the-top that they reach back around to the bottom and are funny again.  Everything from Jun’s lecherous comments to Hayate’s often dim-witted observations and Ayane’s surly moods is just great.

Again, the number of characters is beginning to become a little hard to follow, and I was completely lost after a few more side characters got wrapped up in the main story.  I know that the side characters are repeating themselves, and I really should know characters like Hayate’s roommate by now (who is forgettable because she is probably the most normal), so it’s not as bad as I make it out to be.  The most difficult part is tracking what appears to be the approaching ongoing plot of the series, involving a lot of the S-rank girls.  Other than the school leader and her sister-in-arms, I can’t remember any of those girls, so their scheming and whatnot means very little to me despite the fact that it’s clearly important.  I’m sure it’ll all come together later, though.  The good thing is that the plot is never really over-complicated, so leaving the series for awhile doesn’t mean I’ll have problems picking it back up later.

This volume finishes up the story about Jun and her partner, and then moves on to a sub-story about Hayate trying to improve herself, and most of the rest of the volume is a story about Wanko and her sister-in-arms, Hayate’s roommate, working through some partner issues.  A girl with supernatural powers wants to pair with Wanko and uses the fact that Wanko and her partner don’t know much about each other to split the pair up.  As I said, Hayate’s roommate is the most normal and thus leaves the least impression, but Wanko more than makes up for that.  I love the lengthy description of exactly how terrible Wanko’s powers were that came at the end of the volume (and that Wanko took as a compliment), and I also love the fact that Wanko still speaks in the special creepy font, even though her appearance is now much cuter.  And there’s a bonus Jun side story at the end, but it was a little less silly than what I was hoping for.

I’ve got one more volume here with me, so I think I’ll go right into it, the better to follow all the characters and whatnot.  I do hope that the issue of Hayate’s twin will be addressed soon, that’s really the thing I’m most interested in.  Other than Jun.  And Ayana and Hayate getting married, of course.

Hayate X Blade 3

April 24, 2009

Okay, you win, Hayate X Blade.  I can’t find it in my heart to condemn any manga that makes a CHiPs reference.  Ayana and Hayate as Jon and Poncherello was just too much for me.

Aside from Hayate’s random American 70s pop culture reference, I liked this volume much better than the other two.  It definitely seems to be getting better and better with each volume, and at this point, it seems like the series has found the right balance between action and comedy.  It’s really fun to read now.  I don’t mind that Hayate is a spazz, and I expect Jun to be lecherous, and I like the Kaicho’s strange brand of cruelty/caring.  And seeing some of the other eccentric characters is a pleasure at this point, because none of them were over the top.  There was even a really great breast gag at the beginning of one chapter, and I didn’t think those actually existed.

After wrapping up the “bogus landlord sends her daughter after Hayate” storyline from last volume, there’s a gag chapter, then a long story about Jun and her partner that takes up most of the volume.  It was pretty serious stuff, and I enjoyed the backstory for Jun and her partner Yuho quite a bit more than I thought I would.  Yuho is ill, and her mother is insisting she be pulled from the academy.  The thing is, though, that Yuho wants Jun to fight Ayana just so she can participate in a serious fight one last time before the pair of them have to leave (Jun is also some sort of bodyguard for Yuho, ancient family thing, ninjas, et cetera).  Getting parents and family histories and the Kaicho directly involved was all good stuff.

I think the only two things I disliked about the story was an out-of-character moment from Jun when she baited Ayana, and that Hayate’s ego seemed to be going through the roof due to her team’s winning streak.  The fact that character discrepancies like that were the only flaws is a pretty good sign that the characters have grown pretty likable by now.

Of course, there was also the issue of the entire volume building up to the fight, then cutting off just as the fight reached its climax.  I… really want to read volume 4, and that’s quite something considering how much I disliked the first volume.

This was a review copy provided by Seven Seas.

Hayate X Blade 2

February 25, 2009

This series is still a little too silly for my taste.  And while I can understand it’s yuri label, since it involves an all-girls school with girls that have to pair up, and there are a lot of jokes made about the pairs being together, I kind of disagree with calling it a yuri series since there is absolutely no romance whatsoever.  It really is more of an action-comedy type thing.

Though, to be fair, if you were to tell me Momoka and her childhood friend had something going together, I would probably believe you.  They’ve been the most believable pairing so far.

The plot meanders a bit… the eventual goal is, of course, to have Hayate pay off her caretaker’s loan.  This is mentioned, and some progress is made towards paying it off, but the bulk of the volume is spent on two one-shot kind of stories that develop the characters more than they do the plot.

The first story is about Hayate’s roommate Momoka, who is a lone wolf who tries to avoid the Hoshitori.  We find out that this is because she’s building up her strength in order to duel with a rather abusive girl who beats up on her partner, a childhood friend of Momoka’s who started at the school the year before Momoka did.  There are no surprises in the way the story plays out, but I have to say… that twist at the end… yeah.  On one hand, it was kind of funny.  On the other hand, it was quite literally out of nowhere, and just seemed to strike down all the hard work for no reason.

The second story was about Hayate’s loan and some sabotage that goes on inside the school.  Hayate learns to focus on what’s important for herself.  The end.

I did like two of the characters introduced, though.  One was a girl named Inugami who is this sort of creepy girl that tends to follow the characters around and scare everyone with her presence.  Admittedly, she’s kind of awesome, especially when she fights in the Hoshitori.  The girl introduced in the second story, Sou, I also kind of like for being so similar to Hayate.  I kind of like the way Hayate tends to deal with everyone in a friendly manner, so having two of her around isn’t so bad… even if Sou is sort of a jerk in the end.  I am hoping she’ll come back in a happier role next volume, though.

And were I to be pressed, I would also admit I like Ayana, though I hate how she has an anime over-reaction to everything Hayate does.  Hell, I like the pair in charge of the school too, Hitsugi and Shizuku.  The series is populated with a ton of potentially fun characters.  I just hate the jokes they make.

Hrm.   I really have to be in the mood for a series like this.  I sort of like the Hoshitori tournaments, but a series like this really has to have a premise that grabs me.  It’s comparable to something like… Stray Little Devil, which I did like, but only because I have a soft spot for demons.

Hm.  I’d be willing to believe it gets better, though.  Maybe the characters will grow on me even more and the plot development will steadily pick up if I keep reading.

This was a review copy provided by Seven Seas.

Hayate X Blade 1

November 10, 2008

Action/comedy series like this aren’t so much my thing, I don’t read them very often.  I was curious about this one since it was apparently a yuri action/comedy.  I would say that this isn’t so much the case, it’s more like lots of jokes are made by the main character about her partner being her wife, but maybe something more will develop later on.  I suspect it won’t, since romance doesn’t seem to be the focus.

The plot is basically that the main character, Hayate, is standing in for her injured twin sister at her elite fighting school for the purposes of her sister not losing her standing in the Hoshitori, the school’s fighting system.  Mysteriously, the sister is not seen or really talked about through the entire volume, no mention is made as to why Hayate isn’t attending this school as well, nor what’s happening at Hayate’s school.  Hayate had intended to keep a low profile until the orpanage she and her sister grew up in was being threatened with debt, so then she decides to fight in the tournaments with a partner for cash prizes.  Her partner is a stoic older student with veiled problems of her own who is eventually coerced by Hayate into being partners.  The parner, of course, has a comedic hate-type relationship with Hayate, where the two make a good team, but she sort of hates Hayate because Hayate has to be as annoying as possible when they’re together.

A lot of the comedy has to do with Hayate, who is the type who gets… very excited about things.  Most characters don’t mind.  Her partner does, mainly because this involves Hayate riding on her shoulders or the two of them wailing on huge groups of girls or talking about how she’s Hayate’s wife.  You know.  Stuff like that.

There’s some other characters introduced, including the somewhat eccentric head of the school, her hoshitori partner, the secretary (who mysteriously just gets beaten out of every scene), and the girl who used to partner up with Hayate’s partner.  The two of them have some sort of past that needs to be settled sometime down the road, but first Hayate and partner must catch up in rank.

I like the nuts and bolts of the plot, but it doesn’t do any more than it has to for being a “students at a school who fight all the time”-type series.  I would rather read Tenjho Tenge, and while I haven’t read it, I bet Ikkitousen is probably better than this series as well.  I also didn’t like… well, most of the jokes here.  It just wasn’t my style of humor.

It reads kind of like an anime.  I don’t really watch that much anime because I don’t like the humor, nor do I know if there’s a specific term for this type of manga series.  Maybe you’d like it if you were really into action/comedies, because it seems like it sticks pretty firmly to some genre specific devices.  I’m not so much into it.  Though I have to admit, it did leave me feeling curious about a bunch of things it left open-ended (what the deal was with Hayate’s partner, and whether or not her twin sister would reappear), so I can’t say I disliked it that much.

This was a review copy provided by Seven Seas.