Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Hayate Reflections: Elements of Joy - A Hayate The Combat Butler Poem by Roop Banerjee

Elements of Joy -
(by Roop Banerjee)

-They’re rare to find,
But remain hidden
In plain sight.
A beautiful smile,
Unconventional thoughts,
A strange talk.
Cut off by rain.
Expecting help?
No one is there.
More talk,
Whispering mode,
Bitter comfort.
Deafening silence,
The eyes speak all,
Green to blue.
The rain stops,
There's darkness around,
It's shivering cold.
Huddled close,
Moonlit night,
Waiting for death.
Drowsy eyes,
Unwanted conversation,
Slower pace.
Entwined fingers,
Tighter grip,
Latent heat.
Hours go by,
Eyes close shut,
Dreams arrive.
Floating among clouds,
Ceiling of stars,
Galaxy path.
Myriads of colours,
Swirling into depths,
Ring of darkness.
Streams of light,
Rush of wind,
Water droplets.
Wet hair entangled,
Fingers still entwined,
The night has been survived.
Perplexed at the courage,
Expecting death?
Just defeated that.
Beautiful smiles,
Green and blue eyes,
Unconventional thoughts.
An eternal moment,
An endless life,
Everlasting hope.
Elements of Joy,
Remain hidden,
In plain sight.

Fanart Corner: I was able to finish this CG for the week. Her clothes and eyes are based on Eromanga Sensei's art style. I'll share my thoughts on the poem in the comments a bit later. I'd like people to read/listen to it without any preconceived notions first, if possible.

Text: Even if one year, three years, or ten years may pass, my love will remain unchanged. (based on 40mP's "Initial Song")

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hayate Reflections: The HayaNagi Love Story -- Hayate's Side

Last week, I talked a bit about Nagi's side of the love story. This time, it's Hayate's turn.
I actually used the glossy back cover of vol. 52 as well as a piece of Pokemon art as reference for this one.

When it come to Hayate, his feelings for Nagi are a bit harder to pinpoint because he never overtly admits to anything. It's not something that a lot of people are used to seeing in this day and age, but I think it's also an intentional design by Hata to make both main characters the perfect foils for each other.

Foil and Contrast

There is a lot of contrast in Hayate and Nagi. For one, they are complementary opposites by design. Initially, Hayate is super capable and just about perfect at everything except his bad luck, meanwhile, Nagi, while mentally gifted and blessed with amazing luck is lazy and described by Hayate himself to be a failure of a human being.

Therefore, it is justifiable that while Nagi's feelings were always out in the open and easy enough to read, Hayate's feelings were always ambiguous and require a little bit of interpretation -- but based on obvious clues left behind by Hata.

Let's go over some of these "clues" that I'm talking about.

Hayate Goes Berserk Only For Nagi's Sake

While chapter 566 can be used to handwave the fact that Hayate's special move is reserved only for Nagi and you can justify that it was really because of Yukariko's wish, there is one thing that cannot be denied -- and that is, Hayate goes berserk only for Nagi's sake. Let's assume that all the anime versions are non-canon, but even in the manga, Hayate' has gone berserk several times and all of these times they were all for Nagi's sake. To make a comparison, he has never done that even for the girl that other shippers would insist was his "real love," and that is Athena.

In fact, in Athena's arc, when Hayate goes up against Machina, when he's beaten almost to the brink of death, he is on the verge of going berserk -- and what triggered this exactly? Look back on that chapter. The trigger was his feelings for Nagi.

Naturally, this was not a one-time event. When he was outmatched by Himegami (speaking of which, he never did get a rematch. Some combat butler Hayate turned out to be), he managed to muster one last burst of strength while simultaneously losing his cool -- and the trigger was because Himegami told him that "Nagi will lose everything."

Hayate Really Planned To Give Up His Life For Nagi

For people who don't read Hata's backstage, this is actually the same rationale that he gave back in chapter 566 for Hayate's decision.

Basically, the Royal Garden and everything related to it were all written in so that Hayate could make his final choice to the question of: for whom would you give up your life for?

Now you should all know by now that Hayate is the type of person who would stake his life for Nagi's sake. This is one of the very foundations of the manga after all. Now given this premise however, Hayate has never actually had to give up his life for anyone prior to chapter 566.

This is what makes that particular chapter so special. When he says the magic words to Nagi, something that Hata really emphasized in his blog: "there is nothing that I wish for, only that which I do not wish to lose," and when the boy says these words to the girl with a smile, then at that moment, he has made his decision.

Again, implications are all we have to go by here because that is just the type of character that Hayate is. Get over it, there are people like that as well. Not everyone says things explicitly. Hayate's character design demands that he be ambiguous in the way he words things. This is true to his personality and this is what started the whole chain of misunderstandings in the first place.

However, there was no misunderstanding between them at that time in chapter 566 -- as much as people may wish it to be that Nagi saw it one way and Hayate saw it another way. You can wish for this kind of interpretation all you like, but you will find nothing concrete in the manga to support your views except your own personal opinion -- and that is definitely worth keeping in mind as we move on to our next point.

There Was No Misunderstanding In The Final Chapter

This is very important. Again, people who don't read Hata's blog as well as expect definite and explicit wording will feel quite disappointed with the way Hata chose to let the Hayate x Nagi ship set sail. Naturally, haters will be in vehement denial even until now -- but well, too bad for you.

Anyway, even if you think that it's "bad writing" or "what does it say about the author if you have to read his blog" etc. etc. the fact of the matter is that Hata does have the final say on what he meant to say when he wrote the final chapter.

Fortunately, he makes it very clear not only in his blog but in the supplemental books that come with the limited editions of volume 51 and 52 of the manga. So anyway, you can run it through google translate, read it yourself if you want, or have your Japanese friend (assuming you have one) read it for you, but Hata's words will always carry the same meaning about the ending.

The gist of what he says is that Nagi is no longer a rich ojou-sama and Hayate is no longer her butler. Now theirs is an ordinary story of a man and a woman who decided to talk slowly while holding hands.
Japanese version just because. Personally, I'd love to KO Hayate right about now and take his place.
Here's the clincher: the intertwining of hands is explicitly said to mean that it shows that this time (take note: THIS TIME) there is no misunderstanding. So yeah, Nagi totally understands that Hayate wants to be her butler forever who harbors totally PLATONIC feelings for her and she's totally fine with this because that's such a WONDERFUL way to end things, I suppose. (I realize sarcasm doesn't go over well in written text, but you can't be that dense, right?)

Again, he doesn't say anything explicitly -- in a way, he's just as cryptic as Hayate is, still, the implication of his words is so obvious that only the most obstinate of individuals would still insist otherwise -- as a hater, you're obviously one of those, so yeah, sucks to be you.

To sum things up: Nagi's feelings for Hayate are crystal clear to the reader, while Hayate's feelings for Nagi require a bit of imagination -- but you probably have plenty of that if you like to imagine what-if scenarios for your failed ship, so yeah! I believe in you!

Well, this was partially a vent post, but it is what it is. See ya next week! I leave you with some fanart.

Fanart Corner: Here are this week's traditional art posts. Of course, I also did the digital HayaNagi pic above. The words are from chapter 568.

Oil Pastels on Drawing Paper

Watercolors on Canvas

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku: Light Novel Review

I recently finished reading a light novel that I bought on a whim. I saw it inside a local bookstore and seeing that it was Miku on the front cover and it was in fact a Hatsune Miku novel, I just knew I had to have it.

Anyway, I went into this novel without any strong expectations. Of course, as a vocaloid fan, I was familiar with Cosmo BousouP and the song that this novel is based on. With that said, I had no idea what kind of writer this person was nor was I any more familiar with the co-writer, Muya Agami. Naturally, this has nothing to do with Agami-san’s ability nor fame as a light novelist, but with my own lack of experience in the genre. 

With that said, “The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku: The Novel” just resonated well with me all throughout. It gave me just the right amount of all the little things that I like to experience in a good story and for me, despite a few parts that felt fairly rushed, this was a very satisfying story to read.

A Vocaloid Origin Story

There are many aspects to this novel, but don’t get me wrong. It’s not like it’s overly complex. The pseudo science won’t give western Sci-Fi authors a run for their money anytime soon and this story’s science is definitely nowhere near the believability of something like Steins;Gate. However, looking at it as a vocaloid origin story, it works very well indeed.

In this particular story, Hatsune Miku is first introduced as a very advanced android who was made to be as close to a human being as possible. She is then put in the care of an intern named Shinosato Asano who was chosen simply because his personality tests indicated that he would follow orders without question and he would not be a hindrance to the experiment. Miku then starts living as Asano’s cousin and is introduced to his circle of friends and even his little sister.

Anyway, at the end of the story, without spoiling things too much, let’s just say that the android Miku eventually becomes the Miku that we all know and love.

I like the subtle nods to the actual vocaloid software, such as Miku’s seven personalities: normal, dark, solid, light, sweet, vivid, and soft – which are obvious allusions to her append libraries.

Also, Miku is really talented at singing in this story and everyone who hears her just loves her voice.

A Beautiful Love Story

Of course, you don’t even need to be familiar with vocaloid to enjoy this story as it is. By itself, it’s actually a very beautiful love story between a human and an android. I’d compare it to planetarian but with more focus on romance. I love how Asano eventually comes to terms with his true feelings for Miku.

At first, he is constantly in denial over what he feels for her because he keeps trying to remind himself overtly that this girl is an android and that she doesn’t belong to him. However, when it is Miku herself who confesses her own feelings for him, all his doubts and hesitations are cast aside. Really, if only Hayate Ayasaki had made his feelings just as clear towards Nagi much earlier, then the ship wars wouldn’t have escalated so much and the backlash from the fans over the Nagi ending would have been much less – with that said, that was that and this is this. (I still love the HayaNagi ending for all its flaws, so there!)

What I like about this particular love story is how there is a huge rift between the two of them. Two kindred souls (let’s assume that Miku has a soul. After all, Kunagisa Tomo from Zaregoto claims that the soul resides in the brain) separated by an irreconcilable difference. He is a human being, she is an android made to imitate humans. And yet, both parties are able to cast aside all their differences in the name of love. It’s a love story that may seem cliché for some, but that really sits well with me. Sorry, but not every story needs to have some kind of “avante garde coz I wanna be unique” plot twist.

I also love how Hatsune Miku is never treated as a sex symbol in this story. Asano’s reasons for falling for her are the same things that I believe Hayate must have seen in Nagi: Her smile, her cute ways, the special moments they spent together – nothing about sex or sexual attraction is explicitly or even implicitly mentioned. After all, I don’t think Miku’s creators even built the necessary parts for that sort of thing into her. Still, Asano comes to terms with his feelings and confesses outright that he loves her – so yeah, I love how it challenges some people’s bigoted definitions of romantic love.

Strong But Unobtrusive Side Characters

The side characters in The Disappearance novel all play their roles perfectly without getting in the way of the main story. Their presence is strong enough so that they leave a lasting impression on the reader’s mind, but not so strong that they become the focal point of attention. There’s Ishii Juhachi, a university dropout turned DJ who is actually a very talented hacker. Kurose Aika, Asano’s attractive, strong-willed, onee-chan like co-intern, and Shinasoto Yoruko, Asano’s younger sister who takes a liking to Miku and is convinced that she’s her brother’s girlfriend. In the short time that we come to know these characters, they take on a life of their own and do just enough to come out of their shells beyond their archetypes.

Similarities To My Story

Ever since I started reading this story, I always felt that it was very similar in spirit to my recently completed story: Samantha and The Pieces of A Heart. On the outside, both stories are completely different from each other, but the similarities  in some aspects are so strong, that it almost feels like the author/s of Disappearance and I drew inspiration from the same sources. Is this some kind of shared consciousness in action?

For one, check out these excerpts from actual pages of the novel. Asano makes use of the term “pieces of my heart,” which is already very similar to “pieces of a heart.” To add to this, Miku has seven personalities or “seven hearts” in this story, while in my story, Samantha is looking for seven pieces of a heart.

Also, Samantha is a puppet, or basically a non-human android who wants to obtain a heart to become more human. Meanwhile, Miku in this novel is an android who was specifically built to imitate human behavior.

There are more similarities too. In Miku’s story, the main antagonist is Morisu sensei, Miku’s creator who sees her as nothing more than a tool and eventually a failed test subject to be disposed of. In my story, Professor Ian loathes Samantha because he also helped to create her and like Professor Morisu, he is cold and antagonistic towards Sam because she is deemed as a failed experiment.

Anyway, the similarities to my story were basically just icing on the cake to top things off. All-in-all, I’d say The Disappearance of Hatsune Miku is a must-read for all vocaloid fans. Buy it if you love vocaloid and Miku. Even if you don’t, you will find it to be a very satisfying read.

I must note that the ending can be a bit of a downer, but the journey towards getting there was satisfying enough and foreshadowed the eventual conclusion well enough that I really can’t complain.

The novel is published in English by Seven Seas Entertainment and may still be available at 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Hayate Reflections: The HayaNagi Love Story -- Nagi's Side

Sure, there's a lot of extra stuff in the two Hayate limited edition booklets that came with volumes 51 and 52 but ya know what? I don't really find them all that interesting apart from the Hayanagi-related editorials from Hata. I've also already covered Maria's after story last week.

Anyway, this week, I'd like to talk about one aspect of Sanzen'in Nagi that I really love and that would be: her love for Hayate. Let us proceed:

Underrated Development

When people talk of a "well developed love story" in the context of Hayate no Gotoku!, manga readers would quickly point towards Hayate x Athena and alternatively Hayate x Ruka or Hayate x Hina and even Hayate x Ayumu or Hayate x Maria. Hayate x Nagi is never an option except for Nagi shippers -- and we are very few and far between.

Why is this so exactly? Are we Nagi shippers simply wrong and deluded? Well, perhaps... but as to the question of who is right or wrong, I think that's a pretty bigoted way of looking at things. I think the more fundamental problem here is that of a misunderstanding -- one that abounds in this series and one that abounds among readers of this series -- in my honest opinion.

The main reason why people who do not ship Hayate x Nagi underestimate this ship so much is because of one simple reason: they expect open reciprocity -- which Hayate is never too keen to show us. Therefore, people tend to mistake the reciprocity that Hayate has shown to some degree for the feelings of all the other girls as "romantic development," of course, I beg to disagree.

Nagi's Love Is The Most Well-Developed

So I'm going to go out on a limb and make this bold claim right here: Nagi's love is the most well-developed one in the series. In fact, it is painfully obvious that it was meant to be so.  Again, I know that some of you out there may already be furiously starting to type up comments about how Hayate x Athena is the one with the most romantic development, but that's why I said that there was a misunderstanding here. You see, have you ever thought of the possibility that you might be conflating "reciprocity" and "development?"

Yes, Hayate x Athena looked very romantic because of the reciprocity between the two, but to call it a "well developed love story" and even moreso, to call it "light years ahead of Hayate x Nagi as a love story" would really be stretching the definition. Think about it, how much have Athena and Hayate really interacted, especially in their more mature iterations, that would lead you to believe that they have a "well developed romantic relationship?" As far as I know, the most that Hayate and Athena came to know each other was back in the End of the World Arc when they were like six years old. After that, they met again as teenagers 10 years later but never really got to interact much until Athena became Alice -- and even then, Hayate would spend more time as Nagi's obligatory butler (but of his own volition at that time, I might add) than he ever did with little "Alice."

I love Nagi's monologue in this chapter.
Meanwhile, Hayate and Nagi came to know each other to the extent that they actually came to develop an inviolable bond that was tested time and time again in the series. People were quick to call it a "platonic" bond but these people tend to forget that Nagi's feelings were far from platonic. You can definitely make a case for Hayate like this, but then again, the ending makes such an argument moot because remember, he chose to seek out Nagi on his own again while fully aware that he broke her heart the first time around. If he comes to meet her again with the full intention of "platonically protecting her future," what kind of idiot would that make our titular main character?

You might be tempted to believe that Nagi is just some lovestruck girl who never got over her initial feelings for Hayate -- and perhaps there is some truth to this. However, if you want to claim that Nagi's love for Hayate was nothing more than a schoolgirl crush, then you would be doing all of us Nagi fans and Hata Kenjiro himself a great disservice. You only need to look at chapter 510 of the manga to understand how Nagi's feelings were developed throughout the series.

Yes, it started with a misunderstanding and yes, it was this misunderstanding that became the foundation for Nagi's love for Hayate. Therefore, the start of the relationship was really fundamentally flawed. However, as Hayate himself puts it in chapter 566, the one year that they spent together was not a lie. It was a year wherein both parties really go to know each other and although Hayate's realization may have come really late, there were definitely enough precious moments between the two of them within this one year to justify that Oh... I dunno... that he might actually love her? Yeah, that's a thing isn't it? A thing that became canon at the end of the series but that haters will deny for all eternity.

Anyway, this was Nagi's side of the love story. Next week, I'll talk a bit about Hayate. For now, I leave you with some fanart.

Fanart Corner: Got quite a few pieces to share today. I also started trying out oil pastels recently. They're a bit messy and not quite as precise as colored pencils or as clean as watercolors... but I think I should experiment a bit more with them. I'm not too disappointed with the initial results though.

I made an emoji set out of these.  I use them instead of facebook stickers. They're based on a new line of vocaloid figures.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Samantha And The Pieces Of A Heart: Chapter 7: Finale + Author's Notes

With no regard for her own safety, Samantha flung herself up and over into the well.

Her one and only goal was to retrieve her precious heart pieces that Professor Ian had purposely tossed inside.

“Hrumph! Got you!”

Suddenly, Samantha felt a powerful arm wrap around her waist from behind.
“D-Dr. Rationale? Please, let me go! I need to get my heart pieces back.”

Dr. Rationale, who had hoisted Samantha to safety, shook his head as he gently placed the little girl down on the ground.
“There’s no need to jump in after them, Sam,” Dr. Rationale said calmly.


“Right, we’ll get them back for you,” a familiar voice said from behind.

“A-Antoinette? You made it out!”

Antoinette placed her hand on Dr. Rationale’s shoulder.

“Yes, a few moments after you got out, the doors opened again and there was my husband waiting for me. I must say, it was quite a remarkable reunion, wasn’t it, darling?”

“Wait, you mean… ?”

Antoinette nodded in reply.
Dr. Rationale was smiling from ear to ear.

Samantha stared bewildered at Antoinette and Dr. Rationale. Of course, once the little wheels in her head started spinning, it was actually easy for little Samantha to put two and two together.

“Sam… it’s all thanks to you that I was reunited with my wife… so now it’s our turn to help you.”
 There was actually a small pail and a long wooden pole right next to the well as well as some rope. People would use this to fetch water from the well. Of course,  the thought of making use of these items had never crossed Samantha’s mind when Professor Ian hurled her precious heart pieces into the well. With a bit of trial and error, Dr. Rationale managed to recover all of Samantha’s pieces of a heart. They were very wet but none the worse for wear.

“Thank you very much!”
Samantha clutched her precious items and smiled happily. She coddled them like a mother would cradle her baby.

Meanwhile Chloe and Milly made a slight nod at each other and crept away silently.
“Hmph! So what does that prove? A puppet will always be a puppet. You should know that as well, Dr. Rationale. The two of us helped to create this… this… thing.”
“What? Is that true, Doctor?”

Samantha was quite confused at this sudden revelation – of course, who wouldn’t be?

Dr. Rationale hesitated for a bit but then he turned to face Samantha. Looking into her clear, unclouded eyes, Dr. Rationale knew exactly what he had to do – he had to tell the truth without holding anything back – whatever the results may be.
“It’s true, Sam. We made you… we both did. I was Professor Ian’s assistant back then. We wanted to create the ultimate puppet. Something that could walk, talk, think and act like a real human being… and that was how you were created – but, the one thing that we could not replicate is the function of the heart.

No matter what we tried to do, we could not replicate human emotion. We couldn’t program you with the component of uncertainty that is the human heart… and so, you were…” Dr. Rationale’s voice cracked.

“You were discarded, little girl. What you are is a reject. A human substitute pretending to be human even though she doesn’t and never will have a heart,” Professor Ian interrupted.
Samantha sank down on her knees dumbfounded and unable to fully process everything that she had just heard. As if echoing her feelings, the sky rumbled with a thunderous roar, and without warning, it began to rain heavily.
Professor Ian quickly ran inside his house slamming the door behind him as he went. Everyone else reluctantly followed suit and began to walk away to find some shelter. In the end, only Samantha and Dr. Rationale remained. Even Antoinette had left the scene.
“Dr… Rationale… ”

Samantha looked up at the doctor. He was standing over her in silence; his bangs cast a grim shadow over his eyes, so his expression could not be seen. He was trembling, but this was only natural. After all, his clothes were drenched by the rain. Still, he stood there next to Samantha – unmoving.
 A whirlwind of emotions washed over Samantha. She clutched the five pieces of a heart that she had gathered – no, the useless pieces of wood that she had worked so hard to earn. If she had the strength to break them apart at that moment, Samantha would have done so without hesitation.


Piece by piece, she allowed the wooden pieces to slip from her hands and drop to the muddy ground.

“These things… are really worthless, aren’t they?”

“No, they are not, darling.”
A familiar female voice came from behind Samantha. A soft, warm, hand gently rested itself on her shoulder.
“Definitely… they are not worthless…” This time, it was the doctor who spoke.

Dr. Rationale stooped down to pick up the pieces one by one.

“It’s true that I thought you were a failed project… but I was wrong about that, completely wrong! Sam… it’s not that we couldn’t create a heart for you, it’s just that we didn’t understand the true meaning of a heart.”

“Ah, as expected of my dear husband, he finally gets it.”

Antoinette closed her eyes and smiled contentedly.
Dr. Rationale smiled as well. This time, Samantha could clearly see his expression.

“Sam, is a heart really something that beats inside of us in here?”

He clutched his chest.

“Or… is it something beyond that?”

“Something beyond that...,” Asked Samantha.
Dr. Rationale took out a handkerchief and began to assemble the five wooden pieces that Samantha had collected during her journey.
“Look, Sam… why do you think these five wooden pieces fit so well together? Don’t you think they almost look like a heart?”

Samantha examined the five pieces carefully and confirmed the doctor’s words with her own eyes. It was true. While they seemed to be awkwardly shaped and didn’t exactly match each other in color being all different shades of red, the five pieces of a heart actually fit so well when put together, that they unmistakably formed an unfinished heart.
“They really do…”

“That’s proof that these wooden pieces didn’t come together by mere accident. No matter what their origins were, each piece was deliberately made to fit together with the others. They are the proof of your connections with the people you have met in your quest, Sam…”

“Do you understand now, my dear child?”
Antoinette scooped Samantha up from the ground and held her up to her shoulder – the same way that she used to carry her own daughter. Antoinette’s dress was soaked with muddy water, but she did not care.
“It is not about the wood and the crude paint from which they were made, it is about the feelings of the giver that they represent. So therefore…”

“Don’t just throw those feelings away like they were nothing… umm… is that right?” Chloe said with much hesitation.
“Chloe? And Milly too!”

“Umm… here Samantha… l-let’s play together sometime okay?”
Milly held a small pouch out at Samantha.
“Go ahead, dear child.”

Antoinette placed Samantha on the ground.

Samantha held out her hand. Milly cupped her hands around Samantha – a hand that was ever so slightly smaller than her own.

Opening the pouch, Samantha’s eyes lit up at what was inside.

“Why these are…”

As she poured the contents of the pouch onto her hand, Samantha saw that they were actually two pieces of wood – hastily cut up and sanded down and awkwardly colored red with a marker pen.
“The last pieces of a heart!”

Dr. Rationale beckoned for Samantha to take the pieces to him.

“As expected, a perfect fit!” Dr. Rationale exclaimed excitedly.

“Umm… but, they’ll fall apart if you try to move them though,” Chloe noted.

“Why yes, that is a problem, is it not…?” Added Antoinette.
“Not at all, I have just the perfect solution. Make way, make way!”

The voice had come from a new participant to the conversation: Billy the android.
Billy crouched down next to the heart pieces and began applying a liquid substance all over their edges.

“What’s that?” Asked Milly.

“Well… some people like to call it glue… quite a fascinating substance, really. I mean, it can mend just about everything – perhaps even the most fragile of broken bonds? “ Billy said with a wink.
“Sounds creepy.”

“Oh, whatever…”
Billy stared intently at his handiwork, and being quite satisfied with the precision with which he had stuck the pieces together, he held it up over his head as if he were praising some deity. Which made him look a bit silly as raindrops kept getting into his eyes and he had to squint to hold the position.

“Oh, sorry, got carried away… here you go, Samantha… sorry, I couldn’t do anything about the color. They’re definitely red, but each piece is a slightly different shade… but hey, you can think of it as a symbol of your multi-colored experiences or something?” Billy said sheepishly.
“Well, with that much, my brush should be of assistance… now give that to me, young man.”

This time, it was Vincent the painter who had joined the fray. Producing one of his many paint brushes and dipping the point inside one of his paint bottles strapped to a belt pouch, he painted the entire wooden sculpture a bright shade of blood-red with a few expert strokes of his brush.
“Here you go, Samantha.  I have painted many things in my time, but this project, as short as it may have been, was definitely the most satisfying.”

Samantha grabbed the now completed heart with both hands. No longer fragmented, but one complete piece all put together. It was still somewhat awkwardly shaped, held together with super glue, and although Vincent’s paint job was flawless, there was really no way to erase the shades of amateurish colors scattered all throughout.

She smiled and let her most honest thoughts escape from her lips.

“Thank you for everything. It’s truly beautiful.”

Holding the precious item to her chest, Samantha looked up at the sky. It was still raining but not so much as before. Beyond the clouds, the sun had begun to shine.

Author’s Notes

Well…? That’s how it all ends. What happens to Samantha and her newfound friends after this is a story for another day – one that I personally don’t have to write.
What did you think? If you felt something – whatever it is, while reading this piece, then I believe that I have done my job as an author. Of course, I will never know about your thoughts if they are not communicated to me, so do tell me.

 With that said, there are a few things I’d like to talk about regarding the elements of this particular piece.

What Were the 7 Pieces Of A Heart All About?

While Dr. Rationale and company already explained the significance of the hearts, there is also an underlying structure behind Samantha’s adventure. The use of SIRI was not just a cheap trick or an early “hook” to grab your attention. I for one do not believe in “hooks,” but if you do, then that’s all well and good.

The real reason why I used SIRI was to leave a clue as the structure of Samantha’s quest. This is also the reason why Dr. Rationale seemed to know a whole lot about what Sam was trying to accomplish. Simply put, the 7 pieces of a heart represent different stages of acceptance or “how to mend a broken heart.” I didn’t use one particular source for these, of course. You will not find an exact match for the 7 different emotional stages of the people that Samantha encountered during her journey by doing a Google search. The reason for this is because I used theories from different sources and pieced them together as I saw fit. To me, their real importance was that they allowed Samantha to encounter all types of people from all walks of life.
It’s worth noting that the title was actually inspired by a make-believe story title that my 8 year-old niece concocted once upon a Skype voice chat.

On “Heartless” and “Heart-Less”
You may have noticed that figuratively speaking, Samantha was never really heartless from the start – and if you did, then congratulations! That is what the main theme of the story is really all about. Everything that was written from chapter 1 and until the finale were all intended to subtly move the reader towards asking that final question: “What is a heart, really?”

In Samantha, we have a puppet girl/android without a heart. At the same time, this apparently inhuman thing has more empathy for others than many real living, breathing human beings. This is the true essence of Samantha’s story.
Why Didn’t Everyone Show Up In The End?
You might be tempted to believe that it was a fairytale happy ending with everyone coming together to support Samantha in the end, but it’s not, really. If you still recall, Alexia and Melania, the sisters from chapter 3 never showed up.

The reason for this is because in this story, I wanted to show some form of realism.  Not everything always turns out perfectly in life, and so, even in a fictional story with elements of the absurd such as this one, a picture-perfect happy ending would have been hard to swallow.

There are other similar elements within the story that depict my view of reality. The bad guy (Professor Ian) never really got what was coming to him. I’m sure he at least deserved a good punch from Dr. Rationale, but again, things don’t always turn out the way we want to in life – so it shouldn’t be any different in this story.

It Is Still An Idealistic Children’s Story

With all these dark and sometimes imperfect elements added into the story, I would like to believe that Samantha and the Pieces of A Heart is still an idealistic story that can be read and understood at some level by young children and of course, by full-grown adults. While writing this story, I tried to pay close attention to my diction and use appropriate wording but while also keeping it simple and readable for everyone.
Samantha does get her somewhat happy ending in the finale, but the reality is that people will still continue to judge her if they know/have heard about her story. Of course, the difference is that Sam has gained a little bit more self-awareness and self-worth after her journey – and sometimes, that can make all the difference.
On Inspiration and Motivation

The initial inspiration to write this story was an image through a make-believe title of the same name from my niece once upon a voice chat. Basically, she mentioned that she had a story called “Samantha and the Pieces of a Heart” (she was making stuff up on the fly, of course) but the image of a little girl searching for the pieces of her own heart really stuck in my head. 

Of course, inspiration is one thing but motivation is another. While I had been brewing the story in my head for a few months, I was never really motivated to write it until I met a friend online (through my Nagi obsession) who read almost all of my stories from my Visual Novel Creator days and (I’d like to believe) sincerely liked them.
This was something new to me and it was both extremely touching and extremely flattering. It’s not like no one ever liked my works before, but so very few people are willing to actually tell you how they feel about your own stories. 

If you know someone who is a writer/artist/creator, never forget to pay them a simple compliment – if and only if you truly like their works. As an author, I could hope for no greater reward than to know that someone sincerely liked my works for what they are.  Yes, critique is important as well, but not everyone wants to be critiqued or wants your advice on how to improve. Let the person decide whether they want your help or not and don’t unnecessarily volunteer critique unless the person specifically asked for it. People forget that creators are human beings as well and as creative individuals, we tend to come with a lot more pride than usual. If consider yourself creative and you do not happen to have pride, then don’t apply your personal standards upon everyone else.  That is the attitude of a tyrant.

Anyway, this person urged me to start writing again since it had been years since I actually wrote a story. I felt that I could not betray this individual’s expectations after that, and thus, the result is this piece: Samantha and the Pieces of A Heart.
That’s all I have to say for now about this story and I hope to see you again in future stories to come – lordcloudx out.

Samantha And The Pieces Of A Heart Chapter 6: Heart To “Heart”

With five heart pieces down and two to go, Samantha had a spring in her step as she bounced along to her next destination. She took a quick glance at the list that Dr. Rationale had given her and then confirmed her next heading.

Along the way, she came upon two girls who were playing house with a foldable pop-up tent, or rather, two girls who wanted to play house, but for some reason were not.

As Samantha got closer, she noticed that they looked quite sad – almost as if they were about to cry.

You might have realized this by now, but Samantha was simply not one to ignore someone who was in trouble.

“What’s wrong, girls? Why do you look so sad?” Asked Samantha.

“Our friend Anna and her family moved away to a different neighborhood today.” Said one of the girls.

“We used to play house together – just the three of us. Milly as the Mother, Chloe, that’s me by the way, as the father, and Anna as our child, but starting today… we won’t be able to do that anymore. We already miss her.” Said the other girl.

“I see, that really is sad. I wish I could help.” Samantha said sincerely.
Chole’s eyes lighted up.
“What’s your name, little girl?”

“It’s Samantha. I’m pleased to meet you, Milly and Chloe.”

“Milly… what do you think?”

“Yeah, she’s just about the right size. She even looks a bit like Anna… sure, she’ll never be Anna but, that doesn’t mean we can’t play together, right?”

“How about it, Samantha? Would you care to join us? Sure, you’re not Anna, but it’s fun making new friends as well, right?” Chloe offered.
Samantha lowered her gaze and thought for a while, and then she held out her hands in front of Chloe and Milly.

“I’m sorry, girls. I can’t… at least not right now.”

“Huh? Why not?” The two girls shouted simultaneously.
“It’s difficult to explain.”

“Try us.” Milly giggled.
“Well…” Samantha reached out for her backpack.

“It is because, children… she does not have a heart.”

The three kids looked up at the new voice that had entered the conversation. It was not-so kindly old Professor Ian who had overheard everything.

“Eh, Uncle Ian, what do you mean by that?” Asked a bewildered Chloe.
“Exactly what I said. You two stay away from this one. She’s bad news. Don’t you know? She doesn’t even have a heart!”

“But that’s impossible, there’s no such thing as a girl without a heart!” Chloe retorted

“She’s right!” Milly backed her up.

Samantha closed her eyes and covered her ears. She wanted to run away at that moment… but then she remembered Billy and how he had said that they were pretty much alike. She thought of how he had faced adversity head on without trying to escape.

Slowly, she uncovered her ears and opened her eyes.

“Everyone, please stop arguing.” Samantha said gently.
“Hmm? What do you want, heartless girl?” Professor Ian said snidely.

“She’s not heartless! There’s no such thing!” Chloe insisted.

“It’s fine Chloe. Your Uncle Ian is right. I really don’t have a heart. I don’t know why, but I have always been this way. That thing which beats here…?” Samantha pointed at her chest where heart should have been, “there is really nothing there, you can even come closer if you want to try to listen.”

Chloe and Milly reluctantly approached her and placed their ears to Samantha’s chest.

“It’s true there’s no beat … you really don’t have a heart?” Chloe retreated a few steps backwards, unable to understand what was going on and Milly reluctantly followed suit.

“You see? This one is different – a totally heartless girl. I was right! I was right all along! She even admits it? Now do you see the error of your ways, children?” Professor Ian pointed at Chloe and Milly.

“Yeah, but… so what? Does that matter?” Chloe said hesitantly at first but then she gathered her resolve and stared defiantly at her uncle.

Milly smiled sheepishly and looked around frantically -- unable to understand what to make of the situation.
Meanwhile, Samantha carefully took out her five pieces of a heart from her drawstring backpack. Carefully cradling the precious little pieces in her arms, she raised them up to Professor Ian so he could see clearly.

“It’s true that I don’t have a heart right now, but look! Siri told me that all I needed was seven pieces of a heart in order to have my own heart and I’ve already found five of them. Why, I just need two more pieces and I will soon have my own heart!”

“Why, that’s wonderful Samantha!” Milly clapped her hands joyfully.

“What do you say to that now, Professor Ian? Samantha will have her own heart soon and then you’ll have to let her play with us, right?”

Professor Ian snorted.

“Hmph! Pieces of a heart indeed… gimme those!”

Without warning, he roughly snatched the five precious heart pieces from Samantha’s small arms.

“What the…? These are nothing but painted wood! Look at these things! What kind of stunt are you trying to pull here, Samantha?”
The little “heartless girl” smiled.
“Of course, Professor Ian. I understand that they may look like wood pieces right now but… if you please?” Samantha held out her hands motioning for the Professor to return the heart pieces to her.
Professor Ian hesitated for a moment, but he eventually returned the pieces to Samantha due in part to the accusing glares of Chloe and Milly.
“Here… see?” Samantha said proudly.

She had assembled the five wooden pieces and when put together, they really did resemble a heart. In fact, only two more pieces were indeed missing at the top part in order to complete the shape of a heart.

Professor Ian eyed a nearby well. It was about two meters away from where they stood.

“Now then, Samantha. Let me tell you a little secret.” Professor Ian said menacingly.

“Umm… I don’t think I like secrets, Professor.” Samantha could easily see through the malice in his voice.

“You see, Samantha… no matter what you do, you will never ever have a heart. These five wooden pieces of junk aren’t heart pieces. THIS is what a real heart looks like, you silly child.”

Professor Ian showed her a diagram of an actual human heart which he had taken from his coat pocket.

“You see, child? I am a professor and I deal in human anatomy. That is the study of the human body, just in case you didn’t – no, you probably DON’T know. And this, you heartless little girl, THIS is what a real heart looks like… now, does that look anything like your picture.”

“N-no, it doesn’t but…”

“Ah-ah-ah!” Professor Ian shook his head, “no buts, little girl! Your stupid little wooden carvings will never be a substitute for a real heart… and besides, there is another reason, why you will never have a heart, Samantha.”

Suddenly, Professor Ian grabbed the five precious pieces of a heart from the ground and with one single motion, he launched them into the air and straight into the well which he had been eyeing earlier. One by one, the heart pieces fell into the depths of the well and landed with a faint but audible splash.
“You see, Samantha… you are a puppet. Wooden puppets have no hearts.” Professor Ian said coldly.
Samantha bowed her head low and stepped forward slowly… one  step, two steps, three steps, four, five, six, seven…
“S-Samantha… where are you going?” Chloe shrieked.

In the blink of an eye, Samantha had charged towards the well – determined to retrieve the five heart pieces that she had worked so hard to attain.
With no thought as to her own safety, she jumped as high as her little legs could carry her.

To Be Continued

Next Chapter

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Samantha And The Pieces Of A Heart Chapter 5: The Hate Driven Boy

“I guess he’s not here anymore.”

Samantha had meant to stop by at Dr. John Rationale’s house just before she continued on in her quest, but the good doctor was not at home at the moment, therefore she simply moved on.
Her next destination was a riverbank where an oddly unique boy was hanging out. The place was only a short distance away from Dr. Rationale’s house and after 10-15 minutes of walking, Samantha arrived.

There were plenty of people by the riverbank. Most were kids who liked to stop by here before coming home from school. In the distance, Samantha caught sight of a boy who looked exactly as Dr. Rationale had described. He was sitting by the shore throwing and throwing stones by himself into the river. Apparently, he was trying to make them bounce, but he didn’t seem to be very good at it. Every once in a while, he’d get a stone that bounced two or three times, but most of them sunk immediately. There must have been something wrong with his technique, Samantha thought.

She moved closer but didn’t approach him yet. She was fascinated by what he was doing. This is because he threw each stone the exact same way every single time – expecting a different result. There was a label attached to a person who liked to do this, but Samantha did not dare let her thoughts go in that direction.

At that moment, three older-looking, taller kids approached the boy from behind.

Then, without warning, one of them kicked his back causing him to tumble face first into the muddy ground.

“Serves you right, you splashed water into my expensive school uniform, you little brat.”

Samantha was astonished at this sight. She immediately thought about rushing in, but what happened next made her stop cold in her tracks.
“Oh… bullies… typical.”

The boy simply got up and lightly dusted his clothes off. Then, he stared straight at his tormenters with a look of pity on his face. It was almost as if he was looking at a bunch of insects who were not even worth crushing beneath his feet.
The biggest and tallest bully of the group grabbed the boy by his shirt and then drew back and began to punch him over and over again in the face.

The boy made no move to shield his face. Samantha grimaced and covered her eyes at this brutal sight.

However, the boy did not so much as wince or even make a pained sound as he was relentlessly beaten up.
“Hey, what’s wrong with this kid? Is he okay? .. in the head, I mean.”

“Yeah, he’s not making a sound… what’s wrong with him?”

The bully who was beating him up finally let go of the boy who just stood there with his face hidden in the shadow of his somewhat long bangs.
“There! What’s wrong? Too scared to say anything? Next time, be careful where you throw those things,” the bully forcefully placed his index finger on the boy’s forehead, “got it?”
“Well then… is that it?”

The boy raised his head at the bully in front of him and he flashed a menacing grin. His eyes were wide and expressionless – like that of a dead fish.
A brutal onslaught of epic proportions followed.

First, he grabbed the nearest bully’s index finger and quickly twisted it upwards causing the larger kid to squeal in terror. After that, he quickly jumped onto the flailing bully’s head and used the momentum of the jump combined with his own weight to topple the bigger boy over and fall onto the grassy riverbank. With his opponent mounted, the boy then unleashed a barrage of punches on his victim – each blow struck with full power and pure bloodlust.
“He-hey! That’s enough, let go of him!”
While one of the other kids quickly ran away to safety, the other one was obviously more loyal to their leader. He grabbed the smaller boy by the neck in an attempt to drag him off of his friend.


But the small boy bit down hard on the arm that was around his neck. He bit down so hard that his teeth actually dug into the other bully’s arm and drew blood. The bully forcefully withrdrew his arm tearing some of the skin off even further. He kicked and punched at the smaller kid who quickly turned his fury upon him and unleashed a barrage of scratches right on his face. This disoriented the stronger, larger attacker for half a second, which was more than enough time for the smaller boy to grab a nearby rock and smash it into his opponent’s face.

At this point, the bully who had tried to help the fallen one staggered back and stumbled onto his knees. He then managed to crawl away into a gallop and eventually run away on both legs.

The boy then turned to the weakened, fallen bully who had managed to slowly stagger back onto his feet. He held out his hand in surrender but his former victim would have none of that. The boy clenched his fists and prepared to launch another brutal assault.


The voice did not really startle the boy, but it seemed that it was enough to make him stop.

Samantha’s sudden intervention gave the bully just enough of an opening to turn and run before the boy could reach him.
“Well, hello there, miss. Sorry you had to see that.”

The boy turned to Samantha with a genuine smile on his face. In fact, there were no traces of hostility left in his expression. It was as if nothing had happened.

“My name is Billy, by the way. Pleased to meet you.”

“Uh… I’m Samantha and pleased to meet you too, Billy… but… just… how do you do that?”

“Do what exactly?”

“I mean, attack those bullies… not like they didn’t deserve it… but I mean, how could you attack those bullies so… viciously and be so friendly with me the next moment?”

“That is simple, Samantha. I have no quarrel with you, after all and you did stop me from going too far. If anything, I should thank you.”
“But… weren’t you really angry at them just a few moments ago.”

“I was… but I am not angry with you. Actually, you’re too cute for me to be angry at you.”

“I… I see,” Samantha hesitated for a moment. In truth, she did not dislike the compliment at all.

“But, Billy how do you manage to do that? To switch from angry to umm… not-angry on a moment’s notice.”

Billy grinned for a moment and then said the following words with a wink, “That’s quite simple, Sam… the truth is that I’m always angry?”

“Eh… what?”

“It’s a long story… but, I think you have time to listen, am I right?”

Samantha knelt down into a sitting position on the grassy bank. Billy understood that she wanted him to continue.

“You see, Samantha… I am a robot.”


“I wasn’t always like this, of course. I was once just a normal kid… maybe kinda naughtier than other kids, but still normal. Still, I was very healthy kid unlike my older brother who was very sickly.

Anyway, I really like him and look up to him. He never allowed his frail body to get the better of him. He taught me all kinds of things from how to play the guitar to roller blades and even boxing. He was sort of the star of the family and I really idolized him… but…
This didn’t change the fact that he was sickly. One day, we were just playing around and he started coughing up blood. I knew it was serious because this had never happened before. I rushed to call my parents and we immediately took him to the hospital.

I’m not sure what the doctor told them exactly, but it was something like he’d have just one week to live if he didn’t get a kidney transplant. It seems that he needed one from an immediate family member… and my parents both agreed to be the donors, but the tests showed that they were both incompatible, in fact, the tests showed that I was the only one who had a shot at saving my brother.

While the doctors tried to tell me what the organ transplant would entail, I didn’t care. If it was to save my brother, I was all for it. Of course, my brother himself was against this idea. He warned me that if I agreed to this, then there would be trouble in the future.

I didn’t truly understand what he meant at that time… and maybe I never really understood it but…

At the very least, the kidney transplant was successful. After spending a month in the hospital to recover, my brother was back in tip-top shape again. Of course, this was only the start of things. Six months later, he again started coughing up blood. The doctors said that this time, he needed a liver transplant. Again, I was the only possible donor. They said that they could create an artificial liver for me which would work just as good as my old one. They couldn’t do the same for my brother because of his weak constitution.
This time however, I didn’t want to undergo the same procedure again. I felt that I lost something… not a physical something, the first time around… and I didn’t want to lose another thing again… but, my parents insisted that it was to save my brother. I refused and my brother was always on my side with this matter, but my parents wouldn’t listen. They insisted that if we both could be saved then it’s better if one of us was left with an artificial liver.

Of course, after that, it became a habit. Unfortunately, it seems that my brother’s body was so weak that it was always meant to malfunction one by one as he grew older. Meanwhile, as the years went by, I would donate more and more of my organs to him. Lungs, bone marrow, my other kidney, and eventually… even my heart.”

Samantha twitched a bit upon hearing this.

“Is something the matter, Sam?”

“N-no. Please continue!”

“Well, it went on and on like this for a while. Always, I was forced to be the donor for my sickly brother until eventually, almost my entire body had been given to him. And that is why, I am a robot. Now… Sam, after hearing a story like this, let me ask you… how does it make you feel?”

“Angry… It makes me feel really angry. Really angry, to the point that I could… hurt someone!”

“PFFT” Billy couldn’t resist a chuckle. “H-hurt someone, you say? Really… is that the extent of your anger, Sam?

“Umm… is that bad?”

“No, it’s really good. I’m happy to know that there are still people like you left in the world. My anger… it empowers me. It makes me strong, Sam… but you? Someone like you doesn’t have to be like that… and I’m glad that I’ve met someone like you.”

Samantha noticed that Billy had been fiddling with something in his hand for a while.
“What’s that?”

“Oh, this? Catch.”

Billy tossed the thing that he had been working on to Samantha.  She caught it with both hands and then began to inspect it with large, curious eyes.

“But this is…”

“Yup, it’s a piece of a heart. I figured you were needing something like that.”

“But, how did you know?”

“Well… I happened to look inside your drawstring bag, which I’d snatched while you were busy listening to my story.”

Billy showed her the bag that he had indeed stealthily stolen away from her.

“Eh… what? How mean! Don’t do stuff like that.” Samantha quickly snatched the bag away from Billy and clutched it tightly to her chest.

“Haha! Now that’s how you get angry.”
Samantha shook her head and then closed her eyes and smiled sweetly at Billy.

“No, not at all. You’re a weirdo, but you’re not a bad person. I thought that I could help you, but I see there’s nothing that I can do for you. So… thank you for sharing your story with me, Billy.

“And thank you for listening, Sam.”

“Well then… I’ll be on my way.”

“Sure thing, later… oh and Samantha… one more thing…”

“Yes?” Samantha turned back at Billy just as she had begun to walk away.
“Aren’t you… a whole lot like me?”

To Be Continued

Next Chapter

Hayate Reflections: Volume 52 Limited Extra Story: The Future Beyond

Synopsis: This is an extra Maria after story that comes with the limited edition Hayate Great Reflection book from volume 52 of the manga.

Basically, Maria reflects on how she was born alone, met a lot of important people, but in the end, she is alone once again. The world is still wide and there are lots of things to see, so she decides to move ahead. (The timeline appears to be the 2 year gap between chapters 567 and 568 of the manga and before the extra epilogue in volume 52.)

Nanahi Yakumo. Her character design is kinda similar to Hina, but her personality is definitely based on Nagi.
Anyway, after that rather touchingly worded intro and Maria narrating that she's super rich and super capable, we are introduced to a new character -- a girl named Nanahi Yakumo who wants to become a viral youtuber basically.

She spots Maria introducing herself as the local nursery school's new maid and immediately decides that an interesting person has appeared and she has to make a video using Maria.

Next, we see that she has a pushover guy named Kaname whom she basically orders around. After a short Hayate x Nagi-esque conversation between the two of them, they meet Maria to ask her to be in Nanahi's video.
That silly expression on Maria's face
Maria responds by charging them with an outrageous amount -- believing that Nanahi would give up. Instead, she declares that it's fine because she's going to be a youtuber who will have over a trillion subscribers. Naturally, this strikes a sensitive chord in Maria and she becomes interested in Nanahi. She asks Kaname to describe the girl and he responds by pointing out all her hikkikomori like ways like staying inside her room all day watching youtube videos.

Maria asks Nanahi what kind of videos she wants to make and she names off a few generic type of videos that she'd like to make like about a clutzy girl, an onee-san type of girl and most of all, a video about being someone's salvation.

Kaname interrupts her touching moment by pointing out that she's really in it for the money as a youtuber, which she points out is fine coz she's poor.

Maria: You want my services? Sure thing... pay me!
Maria agrees to defer the payment until Nanahi becomes a successful youtuber, which further inspires the girl's delusions (a lot like Nagi) much to Kaname's dismay.

Afterwards, it's just Maria and Kaname talking and when she asks if he likes Nanahi, he says that it's just a misunderstanding because he's the class rep. Maria says: "I see... if it's that kind of misunderstanding, then I think I can do well this time."

Then she diverts the conversation and says it's time to find Nanahi and make a fun movie together.

Then we have some nice narration to end things.

"Walk, walk, keep walking forward. Someday, for sure. You will grasp that path in your hands."

Just a few short thoughts on this story. I'll organize them under subheadings for easier reading since I tend to ramble.

An Analog for Hayate x Nagi
It's pretty obvious that Nanahi and Kaname are analogs for Hayate x Nagi's relationship. Nanahi has many similarities to Nagi but there is enough info about her character in the short time that we come to know her to show that she's not completely a Nagi clone. Just the fact that she isn't rich by default and doesn't seem to be romantically interested in Kaname is enough to distinguish her from mai waifu. Yes, there can only be one Nagi after all -- and she has achieved her happy ending with her one true love :).

As for Kaname, he seems like the reliable type but not the reliable but really broken inside type that Hayate was. Not enough details on this guy to know what he's all about really. He has that same kind smile as Hayate, but he looks a lot wimpier with those nerdy glasses on.

More importantly, he declares that it's a misunderstanding that he likes Nanahi and we all know that Hayate x Nagi's relationship all began with a misunderstanding.

This short story also serves to further affirm Hata's choice and the type of shipping that he prefers.

Hata's Writing Works Well Here For Me
I was honestly surprised at how much I ended up liking this short piece -- especially given the fact that there's no Nagi anywhere in it. This short story shows where Hata's writing can truly shine. I believe that Kenjiro Hata is really the type of writer who is best suited to writing short stories instead of a 568-chapter long piece of serial fiction with too many characters and wherein only a few significant arcs really matter. While I'm not sure if I will be following Hata's later works, I do hope for his sake that he takes a good lesson from Hayate so that he writes a more coherent piece from start to finish next time.
They're all singing some kind of weird song. I think it's from Samba De Amigo. I looked up the title and it's a really strange song... it's nice and lively though.
In any case, I think this short Maria-centric after story really shows us what Hata is capable of when he doesn't have to worry about having enough material to write about every wednesday. While this story didn't have much of an impact on the manga itself, it was a nice piece to top things off -- sort of like dessert after a good meal -- to make an analogy.
Rare moment wherein I actually find Athena cute. Her pensive expression there (3rd panel down) just works for me. Still not as cute as mai waifu.
With that said, there is plenty of content in the extra books, but most of them are in the form of editorials and unused ideas that Hata was planning to work into the manga. To be honest, I'm not that interested in those -- except maybe for that one HayaNagi centric editorial -- which was pretty much just more confirmation for my ship.

Maria Has A Maid Fetish
Seriously, she's super rich, knows several languages, can travel to any part of the world with her passport and yet, she chooses to become a maid at a nursery school. Also worth noting that she's still wearing her maid uniform in the epilogue of chapter 568 when she revisits the Sanzen'in Mansion. Perhaps she's planning to sell it to Nanahi and Kaname (who might have gotten together off-panel)?

Anyway, I might or might not do more of the extra content in both volumes next time. In any case, I guess I should talk a bit about the future of the characters as outlined by Hata.

I'll leave you here with some slightly NSFW fanart. See you next week!

Sorry for sullying your pristine image with this, Nagi.