Hayate the Combat Butler

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Hayate the Combat Butler
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Released: 8/18/15
Reviewed: 11/27/15
Rated: 14+

Story

In this comedy series, the hero is a high schooler named Hayate who has the worst luck imaginable. He works very hard at various jobs but his parents are constantly spending all of their money on frivolous things. One night he gets home to discover that they’ve taken out a large loan from some shady individuals and have left him to pay it back. Now he’s homeless and deeply in debt with no idea on how to pay it back.

While walking around a park he sees a rich young girl and his intention is to kidnap her and hold her for ransom… only it all goes wrong and she takes his wording as a confession of love. It does eventually get sort of cleared up but Hayate’s debt is repaid by the young girl named Nagi but in exchange Hayate must now work as her butler and take on all sorts of different challenges.

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The Good and the Bad

Hayate the Combat Butler is a series that is hard to review. Not because it’s particularly good or bad but because there is so much to talk about that it’s hard to know where to even begin.

For starters, this is a series where after only a couple of episodes you know what you’re getting into. This is an over the top comedy series that will never take itself too seriously even in the most dramatic of moments. It will constantly break the fourth wall and reference things that only the most hardcore of fans will recognize. That doesn’t matter though because it doesn’t change the fact that Hayate is one very funny series… at least it is for certain sections of the population.

One of the biggest problems with Hayate the Combat Butler is that it is absolutely steeped in Japanese pop culture references to the point where constant on screen liner notes are required in order understand half the humor. While some of the jokes are based in visuals, many of them require you to read over a line or a paragraph of text in order to get the joke and that isn’t always fun to do. Sometimes you have to act quickly to pause the disc in order to read the entire liner note before it disappears which can be frustrating to say the least.

The second biggest problem with this series is that the first season is 52 episodes long and if you have a completion complex that can feel like quite the challenge. Luckily for the audience most of the series is episodic in nature and so the series can be easily dropped and picked up at a later time without ever missing a beat.

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Then there’s the animation quality which, and I’m being generous here, isn’t always the greatest to look at. To be perfectly honest, there are times when it looks downright hideous and seeing it on blu-ray only highlights those moments when the studio cut corners or just plain slacked off. Those frames are pretty few and far between but when they do appear it can really take you out of the moment.

There’s no denying it though, despite its flaws Hayate the Combat Butler is a quality comedy series which will make you laugh. The jokes aren’t always the most clever gags ever written (most of them involve Hayate being abused in one way or another) but when they hit, they knock it out of the park.

What I found most interesting about this series however is that despite having over fifty episodes in the first season alone, there isn’t nearly as much character humor as you might expect. Sure, there are jokes about the character’s personalities but most of the time the jokes are based in pop culture references or physical gags rather than being based on character traits and personality points.

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Music

As with many comedy series of this nature, the music is not the reason why you’ll be buying this series. For lack of a better term, the music is very cartoony and sounds like something you might find in a western animated series. It’s never particularly bad or obnoxious to listen to but again I have to stress the point that you won’t watching this series for the brilliant background score.

Extras

Just clean animations which is disappointing to say the least.

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Overall

I like Hayate the Combat Butler. I don’t love it but it’s more than decent and never fails to put a smile on my face which is the most important part. If you think that 52 episodes is a bit too intimidating be assured that you can watch as you please and don’t have to marathon the entire show in one sitting. In fact, it’s probably for the best that you not do that.

Final Grade: B-