Monday, December 10, 2018

Hayate Reflections: A Review of Hisui Hatsushiba

This week, let's take some time to take a look at one of the earliest (in terms of timeline) appearances of the main villain of the final arc. She is none other than Nagi's ultra-violent and super greedy cousin, Hisui Hatsushiba.

Based on appearances and context clues in the manga, it can be surmised that Hisui is probably around the same age or possibly even younger than Nagi. She is the elder sister of "Jenny" who looks nowhere near her age based on Nagi's recollections at the time that she found Tama. Also, there seems to be little family resemblance there. Hisui's face may look menacing, but she's also petite (a little bit shorter than 14 year-old Nagi), has the same body type as Nagi -- and if you really look at her, she's actually pretty cute.

Furthermore, Hisui is an expert hand-to-hand combatant and seems to prefer wielding a scimitar in a fight. She is able to stalemate Hayate when he is actually being serious before she gets her huge power-up in the final arc that basically makes her "the strongest" according to Himegami.

In any case, that's enough about that Hisui -- right now, we're going to look at the Hisui from an earlier time. From a time when she was just Nagi's childhood friend -- albeit, still one with hyper violent tendencies. Still, many people seem to misunderstand her character and count her off as nothing more than a cookie-cutter villain. Therefore, this week, Hayate Reflections seeks to challenge that viewpoint.

For this reason, we're using chapter 529. This is a flashback story and it begins with Nagi reflecting on how much of a weak crybaby she was when she was much younger. Some boys had made fun of her manga and she was walking off alone -- crying. That's when Hisui asks her why she was crying from way up a tree. Nagi is shocked to see that Hisui had climbed so high up, but she replies that the view from there was breathtaking. Nagi tells Hisui about what happened and that's when a group of four boys from the party appear before Nagi and start bullying her about her manga again -- even snatching it out of her hands in order to make more fun of her. When one of the boys shoves Nagi, Hisui decides that she'd seen enough and catches her friend from behind. 

She also quickly snatches the manga away from the bullies and gives it back to Nagi while telling her that if she doesn't like something, then she has to fight. Now the bullies, being bigger and older decide that it's fair game to punch a girl -- and so, the biggest of them smacks Hisui right in the face.

So at this point... this is the point of dissent between myself and most other reviewers of this manga. At the time this chapter came out, all that people were obsessed with was how extreme Hisui's response was. For me however, this was the first time that I saw a more human side of Hisui and this was the chapter that elevated her from being more than just a mere cookie-cutter villain. Also, I believe that the ending -- chapters 567-568 prove my point. Hisui was still Nagi's friend even after she'd resigned herself to being a true villain and she was instrumental in giving Hayate's parents the poetic justice they deserve.

In any case, what happened next is that Hisui basically picked up a giant rock as an equalizer and proceeded to beat the living hell out of those four boys. Hisui reiterates that if you don't like something then you have to fight. Nagi is hesitant because she says that stuff like this will happen (getting punched in the face) if you try to fight back... but what Hisui says next is really iconic. She says that it's fine, then you just have to keep fighting until you win.

So yes, Hisui basically beat everyone up in a very bloody manner off-panel -- however, despite the violence, it should be noted that Nagi's feelings at that time reflect the real message of this chapter. In her own words, watching Hisui beating everyone down by force -- all she felt was admiration.

So allow me to explain -- Hisui represents an indomitable will to fight back against adversity. She was facing four bullies, boys, bigger, older -- and probably stronger than her, but she refused to give in because she knew that her cause wasn't wrong. She did it not only for petty revenge, but in order to show Nagi the value of standing up for one's beliefs no matter the odds.

Certainly, this indomitable will would one day become an omnipresent trait in the spoiled, rich Nagi Sanzenin ojou-sama that we came to know and love in the series.

Of course, Hisui's character development is still shaky at best. Because of how rushed the ending was, various characters and subplots weren't really given the chance to fully develop -- and unfortunately, Hisui was one of the unfortunate victims of Hata's non-stop train ride to the Hayate and Nagi ending. 

Still, it is worth noting that even as she is, she wasn't really a bad character-- just that her potential was never fully explored in the story.

So that's Hisui Hatsushiba for you. A villain through and through -- but also someone who stays true to herself and makes no compromises to get what she wants -- at least that much about her is admirable. Also, she's cute. Even Hata-sensei agrees.

Fanart Corner

Got some new fanart to show off. These are both inspired by Avril Lavigne's new single PV Head Above Water. Heh, I've always liked her music and she's not bad looking either.

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