Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 427: No Regets - Review and Synopsis

Forgot something, Ojou-sama?

Synopsis: Nagi is so excited about her own manga selling out that she never bothered to check how Ruka was doing. She asks Chiharu who hesitantly tells her that Ruka sold her last copy ten minutes ago. Nagi seems to interpret this as a loss and proceeds to reflect on the things she had learned during the course of this whole manga competition and how she has no regrets.
Whut? Whut? Nagi lost?

Trembling and almost in tears, she finds the will and the courage to smile and congratulate Ruka for her victory. However, the contest isn’t over just yet. Ruka points out that the rule they had was that whoever sold the most wins and had nothing about who sells out first. Then she reveals with a sheepish smile that she actually has one copy left of her doujin – which means Nagi has officially won this competition.
Say it ain't so!

With the long contest finally over, everyone seems set to celebrate, when suddenly, a mysterious person in a suit asks Ruka if he/she could buy that last doujinshi.
It's not so! Haha!

Review: Haha! Hata totally knows how to betray expectations and we’re given a good dose of that starting with the cover for this chapter that seems to be teasing a Maria-centric chapter. Of course, even though her face is plastered all over the cover, Maria’s nowhere to be seen in this chapter – and it’s a good thing because the winner of this contest is finally revealed here and of course, it’s Nagi. The last chapter seemed to be leading towards a draw between Nagi and Ruka, but it turns out that at the end of the allotted time, Ruka had one copy of her doujin left making Nagi the winner based on the rules that they had agreed upon. Nothing can change this outcome now even if there was that mysterious person who wanted to buy the last copy of Ruka’s manga at the end of this chapter. The contest was already over before that person arrived, so it doesn’t matter.
See? She's totally fine with this outcome.

More on betraying expectations, for the first half of this chapter, we’re actually led to believe that Nagi might have lost by her own admission and I was admittedly almost ready to believe that until Ruka showed that last copy of her doujin. I liked how Hata set up the suspense for this scene.

This was another great chapter for us on the Nagi camp because once again, our little ojou-sama gets to show everyone just how much she’s changed in this particular arc. Note how she was totally willing to accept the consequences of her apparent loss and that she did indeed already turn Hayate over to Ruka upon learning of this apparent loss – something that the bratty Nagi from several hundred chapters ago would never have done. (Hayate is MY butler! Not yours! Mine! Mine! Mine!) Basically, she’s doing things that many haters said she could never do or that she should do… well, she just did, but unfortunately guys, she still didn’t lose… because she is loved by God (AKA Kenjiro Hata in the HnG universe).
Nagi wins! Hahaha! Deal with it, haters!

It would have admittedly been also interesting to see how Hata would handle things if he did make Nagi lose this competition, but of course, that’s not the case and anything that could have happened is now purely hypothetical and moot at this point.

Now about the mysterious person that appears at the end of this chapter; we only see that it’s some person in a suit and the most obvious conclusion is that it’s probably Hayate. Of course, we are talking about a mangaka named Kenjiro Hata here and as I’ve mentioned before, he just loves betraying expectations. Thus, if you ask me, I’d say that person probably isn’t Hayate, Himegami, or Ikusa but is none other than Ruka’s own manager Atsumari. It makes logical sense within the context of the plot in my opinion because it would help to re-establish good relations between Ruka and her manager, which will be necessary if she is to happily go back to being an idol (as we see that she has no apparent regrets in Can’t Take My Eyes Off You) with her loss in this competition being the final nail in the coffin.
It's totally Atsumari! Watch my prediction come true in the next chapter

Of course, I also cannot deny the possibility that it might really be just Hayate and Hina and Kurosu have probably also arrived just in time for the end of the competition and we’ll finally learn what they did to “make Ruka happy” in the next chapter. For now, let’s watch and wait.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 426: Destroy The Invisible Wall - Review and Synopsis

Ruka: That's right... I AM ZERO!
Synopsis: Finally, it’s the day of the competition. Everything is all set, but Ruka does still need to hide her identity, which has been taken care of by Isumi via a mask.

Ruka appears before Nagi and company in epic fashion and declares the rules of the competition: 100 books each and whoever sells the most wins.
It's showdown time!
Ayumu wonders where Hinagiku and Hayate are, but it seems they’re stuck in traffic because of The Great Tokyo Bay Fireworks Festival and won’t be able to make it for the competition.

Chiharu asks Kayura which manga she thinks will win to which Kayura replies that she doesn’t really know because they’re both terrible and hard to read, but they’re also both good manga.

Nagi reflects on how she got into this competition in the first place because she wanted to become something special with her own hands just like how she saw Ruka as a goddess once before.

As the competition begins, Ruka gains the upper hand by making the first sale, but then Maizumi (y’know, the comiket guy from the previous comiket chapter) picks up Nagi’s manga and pretty much says the same thing as Kayura. He basically forces his assistant to buy one and proceeds to spread the word about Nagi’s manga – which undoubtedly helped her quite a lot in this competition.
Just come out and admit that you're a lolicon, Maizumi
As the day goes on, Nagi begins to understand something: that there is happiness to be found in doing something with the best of your abilities and watching the fruits of your labor. She begins to lose track of the competition and simply lives in the moment.

7 hours after the competition began, all 100 of her doujinshi have been sold – which means there’s no way she can lose now. Chiharu then wonders how Ruka is doing and the chapter ends here.

Review: I’m pretty surprised that Hata didn’t throw a curveball and went straight to the competition for this chapter. Even more surprising, the competition itself seems to have ended within this very chapter – and that’s a good thing, in my opinion. After all, this particular story arc has gone on for hundreds of chapters now, and while this may not yet be the end, we are now seeing our first real glimpse that the end is in sight not only for this arc, but possibly for this manga as well.
One thing that I found odd is that the scene from Heaven Is A Place On Earth wherein Ruka and Nagi are happily selling doujinshi together was nowhere to be found in this chapter – but that’s not really a complaint.
Nagi was drawn extremely cute throughout this whole chapter.
Once again, Hata has filled this chapter with several reminders of how much Nagi’s character has grown throughout this arc, mostly through flashbacks and introspection. I really like the realizations that she had here, because as a creator myself (of OELVN and fiction stories), it’s something that is easily relatable to me. I’ve been into creating visual novels just before mikey of ATP projects and long before current OELVN giants such as SakeVisual and 4LS, but unlike them, I never became famous, nor did my works ever attain the kind of recognition that they are enjoying right now. Instead, the stories that I have written seem to be doomed to forever fade into obscurity. Still, there were those brief moments when I received a heartfelt private message or an email from someone who genuinely liked one of my stories, and after all has been said and done, I guess I can honestly say that not all my efforts have been in vain.  I’d like to think that Nagi felt the same feelings about her manga that I felt when I made my first few crude attempts at creating visual novels back in the day.
Never forget those feelings of happiness, Ojou-sama
In any case, I really enjoyed this chapter. It was simple and direct to the point and Nagi looked really cute here.

Hah! I just feel the need to state that given what happened in the previous chapter, it looks like I was right that Nagi couldn’t possibly lose here.

As for speculations on what happens next, I believe the competition will most likely end in a tie. It would then make sense for Hayate to become relevant to this story again and decide the winner by making his own vote. Which manga is better? Nagi’s or Rukas? More importantly, who will he choose? Yup, it’s Nagi vs Athena all over again.
Nagi sheds a single tear... again

For some reason, I think the supernatural parts of this arc will most likely carry over to the next and possibly final arc of this manga and whatever it is that Hayate and company went to do to make Ruka happy probably has nothing to do with these said supernatural parts.

Edit: As AstroNerdBoy correctly points out, Nagi's manga is the same one from Can't Take My Eyes Off You and it is clearly shown in this chapter.
Same manga from CTMEOY confirmed!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 425: I've Got To Ride - Review and Synopsis

I will draw more manga!
Synopsis: Riding high on the wings of inspiration from her moment of introspection and with a little push from Chiharu in the previous chapter, Nagi proceeds to draw her manga in epic Yagami Light-esque fashion. Not even Chiharu’s slight doubts can quell her enthusiasm. She manages to finish all the drawings in a single day with markedly improved quality from her previous wasted manuscript. Still, Chiharu reminds her that she only has two days left and she still has to do the backgrounds and inking. Will she able to finish in time?
She really does help out quite a lot.
Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a wild Hamster appears. It seems she’s suddenly over her summer cold and wants to help out (with a shirt that cries out “Energetic” at that). Nagi bluntly refuses her offer since she knows nothing about drawing manga. Unperturbed, our dear little hamster suddenly pulls out a PC workstation from out of nowhere complete with a program specifically for digital drawing. Nagi and Chiharu assume that she probably borrowed it from Ashibashi sensei.  Furthermore, she enlists Koutarou Azumamiya’s (Currently Ashibashi Gouji's assistant and the kendo club guy whose butler is Ichimaru Gin from Bleach. You guys still remember him, right?) in drawing backgrounds over the internet.
I will take a potato chip... and EAT IT!
There is a problem however since Chiharu doesn’t know how to use said digital drawing program and neither does Nagi. Again, from out of nowhere, Kayura, who has finished helping out Ruka, appears to help Nagi. Of course, she would know how to use said program since she’s a much better mangaka than either Ruka or Nagi. Chiharu adds that she could also help out if they had another computer. Nagi’s stream of good luck continues – almost as if she were loved by God (God being a Mangaka named Hata Kenjiro). At that exact moment, she receives a mail delivery with a brand new computer workstation from “The Sadistic Princess of Ise.” Of course, as you all know, it has to be A-tan or Alice, or Athena in Alice form if you prefer, since she’s rich enough to prepare a tank if needed.
Got that, Chiharu?

With everything pretty much going her way, all that’s left is to finish drawing and at the end of this chapter, Nagi finally accomplishes the epic task of drawing a complete manga within 3 days – no compromises whatsoever. All that’s left now is the final showdown with Ruka.

Review: Epic! This chapter was epic! Na-gi! Na-gi! Na-gi! Go, Ojou-sama! Man, this really was an epic chapter that really cements in place Nagi’s role as the main heroine of this manga. People have been complaining for a long time that Nagi is still pretty much the same bratty spoiled princess that she always has been over 400 chapters ago, and while that may still be true to a certain extent, she has also definitely changed a lot over the course of this doujinshi arc, and the full extent of her development as a character is really shown in this chapter. Nagi’s become a full-on determinator here and nothing’s gonna stop her dammit! (Albeit, with a lot of help from her friends in true shonen manga style.)
There's something satisfying about seeing Nagi tell her to shut up.
Truthfully, this chapter was totally unexpected as Hata set up the previous one so that we’d all be led to believe that we’d go straight into the competition. It seems that Hata’s not satisfied with Nagi’s emotional turnaround in the previous chapter just yet; he needs to show that his princess is EPIC – and everyone reading this manga should realize this as well! Well, as a 100% Nagi fan, I certainly don’t need any convincing, but this was a pretty welcome chapter for me. It’s worth noting that Sarge Doughnuts actually more or less predicted that this would happen with this little write-up.

Also, as expected, Maria’s reaction from the previous chapter was most likely an early setup for the next arc and hasn’t been touched on any further. In fact, Maria was nowhere to be seen in this chapter, but that’s okay. Her spot in the limelight should be coming up as soon as this arc is over.

This chapter brings up two important points about Nagi’s character that I’m sure Hata has been subtly developing over the course of this manga. First of all, with all the determination she has shown here, we’re shown that she can be capable when the situation calls for it – and this is because of all her experiences up to this point. Secondly, and this one is not quite as obvious unless you were looking for it specifically, with all these people helping her, it seems that almost everyone in this manga really likes Nagi. Even Ruka who has been set up to be her rival doesn’t really hate her – even if she is hell-bent on beating her in this particular competition, she wants it to take place on even grounds so that her victory is not an empty one.
I can help too!
One thing that surprised me here is how both Ayumu and Kayura somehow showed up at the last moment to help out. With Ayumu, I had assumed that Maria actually did take her to the hospital and she was still confined there, but here she is in this chapter, amazingly all over her cold and full of energy. Then there’s Kayura who was supposed to be over at the rainbow village helping out Ruka. Her appearance is conveniently explained away by the fact that Ruka’s done drawing and has asked her to help out Nagi with her manga. I can’t help feeling that Hata’s employing a little bit of plothax just to ensure that Nagi’s manga gets published, but still, it’s pretty good use of Deus Ex Machina in that it’s barely even noticeable and it actually works well given the epic nature of this chapter.
Who else could it be from?

One thing I've noticed is that ever since the end of her arc, Athena has been shown to actually favor Nagi and she does her own bit to help out here as Alice by sending in that second workstation just when Nagi needed one.

Our little ojou-sama has never achieved anything with her own hands in her entire 13 years of life – now with her manga complete, it’s time to show the world just what Nagi Sanzen’in can do… which will have to wait until the next chapter. 
Nagi: It is done! *sheds a single tear*
I’ve said before that I don’t think Nagi can pull out a win here given her current abilities and the direction the story was taking. With this chapter however, I believe I’ll have to retract my statement and say: With the amount of determination she’s shown and with all these people helping her, how can she not win? So I’m going to predict either an actual win as well as a moral victory, or a tie for Nagi, but I really don’t see her losing now with these developments.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hikari's Ribbon 2013

Hikari's Ribbon was one of my first attempts at making a crude "visual novel" using very amateurish character art, music and over-all presentation, but it is also a story that I am quite proud of - one, which to this day, I can confidently proclaim to be my most technically complete story despite its apparent brevity and simplicity. 

At its core, Hikari's Ribbon is a simple children's story, but with a mature theme that is intended mostly for adults to young adults. That aside, this story should be quite fitting for readers of all ages.

This 2013 release is a movie-only version of my original visual novel (which is still available at with all new CG art featuring a cartoony style that was mostly inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is magic. (Twilight Sparkle is best pony! Thar, I said it. Lawlz!) The reason that I chose this particular art style is because it is quite simple and I believe that it will probably never become outdated - which gives me the peace of mind to call this remake the final update to this piece.

With that said, please enjoy the movie.

As a bonus, I've added an ebook version of this story for download with additional author's notes for those who are interested.

Download the ebook:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hayate The Combat Butler Chapter 424: Something Special - Review and Synopsis

Might I point out that there's an anatomical error on her shoulder? That aside, awesome cover!

Synopsis: After spilling ink on her manuscript and declaring that she’s had enough of this whole competition, Nagi indulges in some negative self-talk and proclaims that she doesn’t have a chance at winning anyway with only 3 days left. There’s really no time to re-draw everything at this point.

Alice is apathetic about the whole issue and Maria smiles like an understanding mother, while Chiharu narrows her gaze sharply; trembling with anger.

Nagi engages in more defeatist talk and even goes as far as to say that everything that she’s done so far has been in vain because there’s no way she could beat someone like Ruka.
Nagi: Shut up, Chiharu. I'm being emo here.

Maria moves in to play her part and comfort Nagi since she’s just given up, but Chiharu holds her hand out in front of her. Chiharu attempts to instill some fighting spirit in Nagi through several shonen anime references. This flips some kind of switch in Nagi and she goes into introspection and reflects on her life (no Nagi 360 elite this time). She realizes that this whole competition was never about Hayate nor winning against Ruka. It was always about her goal to “become something special” with her own hands. (Thus further reinforcing my theory about DAT APPLE).

Snapping back to reality, Nagi suddenly comes to life and goes full shonen protagonist mode and boldly stating that she’d scrap the previous manuscript and re-draw everything from scratch because she is a genius who will sell a trillion copies of her manga (come to think of it, has Hata Kenjiro himself even made that mark yet?).

Maria seems shocked by Nagi’s reaction and feels as if her role had been taken from her because Nagi snapped out of her depression without her being there to comfort her when she apparently “failed.” Alice sleepily walks away and tells Maria that her role as a mother is no longer needed.

Review: First of all, awesome colored cover and pages on this chapter. Looks like Hata still favors my preferred seafaring vessel. :P
Lovely picture of Nagi here.

With that said, I have mixed feelings about this chapter. As a Nagi fan, a part of me wants to say that this was a really good chapter since it did wonders for her character development and it shows that she really has grown a lot as a person – even going as far as to say that she no longer needs Hayate and Alice adding on that Maria’s role as a mother is no longer needed. This whole arc – nay, even this whole manga can be said to be Nagi’s own coming of age story, as much as it is about Hayate and his misfortune. Furthermore, Chiharu finally does something useful in this chapter. As pathetic as Nagi deemed her shonen anime references to be, they did actually help alleviate her depression.
Hold it! (Phoenix Wright Style)
Now for what I didn’t like: After the build-up in the last chapter, I find it to be a bit disappointing that Nagi can simply recover from her depressed state through some shonen anime references. I expected something more epic, dramatic or otherwise awesome like Kayura’s words of inspiration for her when they first met/when Kayura was first introduced in this manga.

Still, it was a pretty good transition chapter over-all. Now Nagi’s in the right mindset to win this doujinshi competition again. Hata says that this is the climax of the doujinshi arc, so I believe we can expect the actual doujinshi competition to come in the next chapter unless there’s another unexpected plot twist incoming. Personally, I don’t think Nagi can win this one in terms of sales, but I get the feeling that she’ll have her moral victory – which is actually all that she’s after now, during the actual competition.
You show em, Ojou-sama! I believe in you! Sorta...
One other thing worthy of note is Maria’s reaction in this chapter. In a way, she’s actually been a bit of an overprotective surrogate mother to Nagi and it’s understandable that she’d be in shock when she sees that Nagi no longer needs her and can stand on her own two feet now – in manner of speaking. Her aura of near-perfection has been broken (and not in a comedic way) in this chapter – as I believe this is the first time that she’s shown any actual emotional vulnerability. This is possibly an early foreshadowing for the next arc after the events of the future timeline anime (Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and the last two episodes of Cuties). Hata did say that Maria’s arc would be the last one and her reaction here could be an indication that this manga really is approaching its final arc.

All the pieces are almost in place now as far as Nagi and Ruka’s rivalry is concerned. Still, it would be nice to know how Hayate feels about the whole issue pretty soon, since he’s still pretty oblivious to the fact that he’s hurting as many people as he helps – especially the ones who care for him the most.

As a side note, there’s this Yandere Nagi fanart that I made and wanted to include in this post, but I decided against it coz Hata’s colored pages make my art look like scribbles :P.

By the way, have Nagi's feelings for Hayate been a little "unsteady" lately? ;)

Edit: you know what? I changed my mind. Have a Yandere Nagi.
You're first, Hayate!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hey look! I'm working on a new Visual Novel

Well, actually just a remake of one of my older works. It's the story that I consider to be my most technically complete and competent story even if it does take the average reader all of five minutes to read through it. In any case, I've never been a writer who goes for length.

Anyway, to get this out of the way, I've been working on a remake of Hikari's Ribbon for quite a few months now and just a few days ago, I finally finished all the CG work for this remake, which would be like 90% of the VN done. All that's left now is to code it into whichever VN engine I choose.

I'm on two ways on whether I should keep going with Ren'Py or if I should try out NVList. In any case, the actual release will be a youtube video because actually releasing it in VN form seems redundant and unnecessary nowadays because it's a linear story with no choices. 

Expect the remake out pretty soon (which is like a month or two in my vocabulary).

Meanwhile, enjoy these teaser pics.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Hayate The Combat Butler 423 Addendum - What's with that apple?

Hmm... this might become a habit as this arc kicks into full gear.
You ARE special, Ojou-sama!
So, this chapter was particularly well-received and sparked all kinds of discussions all across the internet. (it's a good thing.) One particularly hot topic would be that apple that was alluded to in this chapter and which features prominently in the opening sequence of Can't Take My Eyes Off You.

Naturally, people have put forth several theories on the subject of the meaning of said apple? After lurking around a bit and rereading this chapter, it finally hit me that the apple might just be a metaphor for Nagi's dreams (or perhaps Nagi and Hayate's respective dreams).

As to what those dreams are: I hesitate to say anything with committment, because it might have something to do with Hayate, it might be related to Nagi's mangaka ambition, or it might be "to be something special," which makes perfect sense as you can see in this page I uploaded.

Based on this page, we should look at the apple as an allusion to the forbidden fruit (or fruit of knowledge) from Adam and Eve, but instead of knowledge, it symbolizes unreachable dreams/wishes as far as Nagi and Hayate are concerned (especially Nagi). Notice how she says "I won't gain a thing" with the apple used as imagery.

To further back this up, the lyrics written by Kenjiro Hata himself talks about wanting something when one was small, but being unable to reach those things because they are so high until a fated meeting with someone special. Check em out at Mandoran's blog.

So that's my take on the subject. I could be wrong, but I feel pretty confident that I'm not. Feel free to discuss/dissent in the comments.

Nakoruru: The Gift She Gave Me (Dreamcast): A VIsual Novel Review by Mid-Tier Guard

To Derek Pascarella, Marshal Wong, Duralumin, Lewis Cox, Piggy, Nico, Danthrax4, Lacquerware, EsperKnight, SnowyAria, VincentNL, cyo, and Ha...