Manga Review: Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 25

Hayate Ayasaki is an unlucky teenager who’s had to work since childhood to make ends meet due to his parents’ irresponsible behavior. On Christmas Eve, he finds out his parents shoulder him with a massive gambling debt, and that the yakuza plan to settle the debt by selling his organs on the black market. Hayate runs away and meets Nagi Sanzenin, a young girl who is the sole heir of the Sanzenin estate. Due to a misunderstanding, Nagi falls in love in Hayate. After Hayate rescues her from some kidnappers, Nagi hires Hayate as her new butler. In addition to being a butler, Hayate must also fight in order to protect Nagi from harm.

Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 25
Written by: Kenjiro Hata
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 10, 2015

In full disclosure, I have to admit that I have not read any volumes of Hayate the Combat Butler prior to Volume 25. Because of that, I have to piece a lot of things together and in the process, I could potentially get some things wrong.

Volume 25 starts off with a story arc about Athena, a girl who knows Hayate is reminiscing about their shared past and feeling regret over pushing him away. Meanwhile, Hayate’s older brother Ikusa hears a voice calling out, and he finds Athena. She tries to claim that there’s no way for her to escape the castle. Ikusa proves her wrong and helps her to escape.

We then learn that after the escape, Athena slept for over a year. She never knew her rescuer’s name or what happened to him. She reunited with Hayate, who says her rescuer was his brother and that he’s all right. Hayate tries to make things right between him and Athena, but she has no plans to stay in Japan and she walks away. However, in the next chapter, we see Nagi bumping into Athena, and Athena makes it clear that while she let go of Hayate this time, she might not the next time.

There’s a brief story about Hinagiku suddenly having donkey ears appearing on her head, and then the remainder of the volume focuses on Hayate trying to find a new place for Nagisa to live because her grandfather tells her to leave. This story goes to show how little Nagisa understands about how the world works due to living in the lap of luxury like she has up to this point. According to the preview for Volume 26, it looks like this storyline will be continuing in it.

As I read Volume 25, I was getting a sense that this was potentially a harem series. From the research I’ve done online, it seems to confirm that my suspicion was correct. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for me to comment on the harem aspect since I hardly know any members of the harem and how they ultimately interact with Hayate and with each other.

Jumping into the series mid-stream like this does make it hard for me to review it as well as I could. The storyline with Athena looked rather interesting, and I think I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had knowledge of Athena and Hayate’s relationship prior to reading this volume. I admit that I was feeling rather lost while reading that particular story, because it did rely on the reader having some prior knowledge. While I may not have known much about Nagisa before reading this volume, her storyline about having to move out was a lot easier for me to follow. And the story about Hinagiku and the donkey ears really didn’t do much for me. Yes, it relates back to something that was referenced in the first storyline in the volume, but this particular chapter just felt like “filler” to me rather than truly adding anything to the series. I understand that the mangaka was probably wanting a light-hearted story to provide a breather between the two story arcs, but I wish the filler story could have focused on something else.

When it comes to the art style, it screams out “cute.” In fact, it looks so cute that I would have mistaken it for a shojo title instead of a shonen title if I hadn’t seen on the cover that it was published by VIZ Media’s Shonen Sunday imprint. While a harem series isn’t unheard of for shonen manga, since there’s been titles such as Nisekoi: False Love that have fallen into this vein, but this series has much cuter artwork than I would have expected, and the storyline feels a little more complicated as well.

From what I’ve read, Hayate the Combat Butler seems to be a decent series, especially for a harem story. I hope at some point to have the opportunity to read earlier volumes in the series to figure out whether or not this assumption is true or not. But I think that if you’re already a fan of Hayate the Combat Butler that you’ll enjoy reading Volume 25.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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