Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hayate Reflections: The Humor In Hayate No Gotoku!

Time for this week's Hayate Reflections... so yeah, I'm not exactly in the best condition today as I've been sick for the last two days and I'm just recovering.

Anyway, choosing a topic off the top of my head and right now, I'd like to talk a bit about the comedy in Hayate no Gotoku!

While I'm sure many people have fond memories of the comedy aspect of the show -- especially from the many references in S1, people who dropped the manga 300 or so chapters before the finale might have a hard time getting into it again because the focus of the series just changed so much.

Furthermore, even the side characters that both Hayate and Nagi used to hang out with are not really as involved in the weekly stories anymore. I say the weekly stories here because characters like Isumi and Sakuya as well as Nagi's grandfather Mikado still do play major roles in the ongoing plot, but they do not feature as prominently in the weekly stories that mostly revolve around Nagi's daily life.

With that said, I actually stopped finding the series funny quite a long time ago and was in it mainly just to see what happens to Nagi -- yes, I'm that single-minded and I'm glad it worked out for me.

There are several kinds of humor used throughout the 568 chapter lifespan of the manga and some of them featured more prominently during certain stages of the development of the series. Now don't expect me to make accurate references while I'm sick... you can help me out, though. I'm pretty sure these are present somewhere in the manga, I just can't pinpoint specific chapter numbers.

Cruel Humor
This was of course present throughout the entirety of the manga, but I think it was a lot more pronounced during the earlier parts. We have the very first chapter wherein Hayate is run over by a car and while seemingly on the verge of death, he still makes like a zombie and asks the kidnappers to free Nagi.

Of course, Hayate isn't the only recipient of violence. There's also Kotetsu whom Hayate is quite happy to inflict all kinds of pain on. Even Sakuya is drop-kicked by Nagi in her very first appearance in the manga.

There's also almost forgotten characters like Robot 8 who is almost always destined to end up as a pile of junk whenever he encounters Hayate -- until one day when he didn't and Hayate needed Ikusa to rescue him.

Sometimes the dark nature of the humor in the series is actually a prelude to a more serious backstory. A good example would be Hayate's parents who are often played out for laughs or Hayate's own miserable situation -- especially at the start of the series. The situation is exaggeratedly so cruel and unfair that it's actually kinda funny -- but of course, when Hata does decide to take things seriously, suddenly, all those jokes seem so much more meaningful.

Crossdressing Humor
While mentioning Ikusa, this brings up another aspect of the humor used in Hayate the Combat Butler, which is the crossdressing aspect. Ikusa himself cross-dresses as a beautiful girl -- which is kind of hard to swallow considering his very muscular physique -- but whatever.

Hayate has a very girly face, which is I think one of his most defining aspects as a character. When my sister once said that Hayate doesn't really qualify as a bishounen, I responded with: of course not, he's obviously a bishoujo.

In fact, he even has his own Hermoine Ayasaki figure, which also comes in nendoroid form. Nagi herself enjoys teasing Hayate and cross dressing him (together with Maria) in both canon and non-canon.

Perhaps at some point, these two actually broke Hayate because he starts cross-dressing by himself in the mangaka arc in order to spy on Nagi and make sure she's all right.

Fanservice Humor
When it comes to fanservice, it has to be Hinagiku. I mean, you can probably count more on doughnut gunso to point out specific chapters on this than me. There were also times when Nagi, Ayumu, Athena and some of the other girls were the target of Hata's lewd humor, but somehow, I think Hinagiku and Maria were often exploited for fanservice much more than the other girls.

Off the top off my head, there's Maria and the first bath scene with Hayate as well as the naked in the greenhouse scene -- which even got an anime version. As for Hina, Hayate himself even realizes this when he says that there's a good chance that whenever he walks into the student council room, he'll find Hina changing. The most memorable moment for me would be the scene where Hina is trying to change into her pajamas while sick and Hayate comes in to help her out because that was almost to love ru level fanservice right there.

With that said, while there are those scattered moments here and there, I would say that Hata treats his female characters with a lot more respect than most modern mangaka -- at least.

Self-Referential Humor

Hata isn't beyond making fun of himself and this is usually done through Nagi and Hayate in the extra omakes included in the manga volumes. Also, some of these make their way into the official manga chapters as well -- especially when Nagi just decides to break the 4th wall from out of nowhere. Personally, I find this type of humor to be the easiest to relate to.  Some of them are pretty direct such as talking about the time he got sued or referencing ad astra per aspera. While others are more subtle, such as Nagi talking about what it means to be an otaku.

Ending With A Gag
This is the infamous "this is the type of manga you are reading" aspect of the series. Personally, I really hate it when Hata goes this route, but it had become so predictable  near the end of the series that it's actually a refreshing break when the gag doesn't come. Like how Hayate's debt was actually permanently paid off, which shows that the status quo was really beginning to change in the series (at last.)

Fumi and Sharna
These two deserve a category all on their own because seriously, they have nothing to do with the main cast except the very faint connection that they go to the main school. They could star in a 4koma manga all by themselves and no one would notice. Personally, I'm fine with their presence as they can be used to effectively break up the serious story arcs every now and then -- but other readers might not be so tolerant.

While the gags and humor in Hayate were fun for a while, they were not what really hooked me on the series. Or rather, I was hooked on the series initially because of the gags, but I stayed because I liked the character (Nagi). If you were in the series for the laughs, then you would probably find the display of humor inconsistent as Hata's style has definitely changed a lot throughout the manga's run. As I've mentioned before, there are many flaws with the way the story was written and the use of humor could definitely have been done better.

Fanart Corner: Today, I'm corrupting an old classic with my take on it. This was rendered using watercolors on canvas. With that said, I broke my fine tipped brush, so I had to make do with a slightly bigger one on an 8" x 10" canvas since I haven't bought a replacement yet. I couldn't make the lines a bit finer, is what I'm saying. With that aside, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. Also, the new watercolor set I'm using is semi moist and takes a long time to dry unless you really press the paint firmly into the canvas -- didn't expect that, but that's part of the fun in painting... the impromptu stuff where you improvise because the paint didn't behave the way you expected it to.

I actually did sketch a full face on Hayate, but I realized I couldn't paint it properly without my fine-tipped brush. You'll have to do with that vaguely happy expression now, Hayate-kun... ain't it sad?

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