Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 26 follows a boy named Hayate, who had a rough childhood. After his parents sold him to the yakuza to settle their gambling debt, Hayate runs away and meets Nagi Sanzenin. She’s 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. As the series progresses, other girls become attracted to Hayate.
Volume 26 opens with a story that takes place at school, where Kaoru is interested in Yukiji, but he overhears her say that he doesn’t make her heart go “b-dmp.” Asakaze decides to help Kaoru out by having him watch Hayate as he talks with girls. This chapter basically seems to be here to provide a comic relief story that doesn’t do anything to progress the plot. Personally, I didn’t find this story to be that amusing or interesting. Perhaps it might interest readers who are more interested in the “harem” tropes than I am. Fortunately, that story only lasts for one chapter.
The vast majority of Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 26 focuses on Nagi moving into an old house her mother had because she lost her inheritance and can no longer live in her grandfather’s mansion. First, they have to deal with a ghost cat that was faithful to Nagi’s mother and had made a promise to her. That cat possesses Izumi, and it’s up to Hayate and the others to find a way to end the possession. But it’s ultimately Nagi who is able to save the day. The dreams of Nagi’s mother that led to the promise with the cat were mentioned in Volume 25, so it was good to see a follow-up of that in this volume. Fortunately, the storyline with Izumi being possessed only lasted for three chapters. It was slightly amusing, but I don’t think it would have worked if it had lasted longer.
Once Nagi is settled in, she needs to come up with a way to make money. Her new home has spare bedrooms, so she decides she wants to rent out the rooms. Since the house is old and doesn’t have the modern amenities that most potential boarders would be looking for, Hayate decides he’ll serve as the butler for the tenants and plays this up in the ads. They get a surprise when their first potential new boarder is Chiharu, one of their classmates from school. Nagi doesn’t seem too pleased about this idea, though. Two important things come out of this chapter: Chiharu gets to experience what Hayate will do as the butler, and Nagi and Chiharu seem like they’re starting to be able to tolerate each other. With Nagi, Hayate, and Chiharu under the same roof, there’s the potential for some interesting character dynamics to develop out of this arrangement.
And near the end of Volume 26, Nishizawa believes that no one remembers that it’s her birthday, including Hayate. Unknown to her, Hayate and the others are planning a surprise party. Of course, this leads to the expected tropes and hijinks that appear in any story that includes a surprise party and trying to keep it hidden from the person it’s being thrown for. To me, this particular story felt rather generic because it’s the same story I’ve seen about surprise parties.
The art style in Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 26 just screams out “cute.” The style of the art looks so cute that I would have mistaken it for a shojo manga if I hadn’t seen on the cover that it’s a title that’s published in Japan in Shonen Sunday magazine.
The series will likely appeal to manga readers who enjoy harem stories that include extremely cute looking characters. But I have to give it credit for the fact that it seems like the story is a little more complicated than what is normally associated with a harem manga. Long time readers of the series should enjoy reading Hayate the Combat Butler Volume 26 in order to find out what happens to Nagi after she moves out of her grandfather’s mansion and the adjustments she has to make to her lifestyle in order to save money.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media