If there was ever a dark horse in the series whom I feared might eventually win Hayate's heart, it would have to be Izumi Segawa.
After all, Hata has always made sure to remind the audience that Izumi is a bit different from the other two of the student council trio, Miki and Risa. While the two have rather indistinct archetypes and very little in terms of character development, Izumi has always been around and has had her moments with Hayate -- even if it was just to bide time until the next big event in the development of the main story triggers.
In fact, Izumi has even had her own mini Segawa arc that had Hayate fighting the Segawa big four (actually six people including Hatsune Miku lol!) and Kotetsu at the end.
In any case, while Hayate detests the student council trio when they are together, he does seem to have a soft spot for Izumi. He tutors her after school (suggested by Yukiji so she wouldn't flunk out of school) and he generally sees her as a nice girl.
By definition, a dark horse is a candidate or competitor about whom little is known but who unexpectedly wins or succeeds.
Izumi definitely fits the bill as a dark horse. For starters, she does have a crush on Hayate and (along with the other student council trio) even has a nickname for him, Hayata-kun. There were also various moments in the manga devoted to ship-teasing them (just like with all the other girls in Hayate's mock harem... some people tend confuse this with "romantic development," how did that work out for you? ... :P)
Meanwhile, very little is actually known about her -- or rather, there is very little controversy surrounding her. We know her father (some very rich corporate businessman), her brother (Kotetsu), and her personality. But there are zero issues with her. Over-all, aside from being a bit of a doormat and just going along with the antics of her two companions from the student council trio, she is generally a very happy and somewhat innocently oblivious girl. To put it bluntly, Izumi is a bit of a happy idiot.
With that said, Izumi is also the type to show some amazing insight when it really counts. She's that type of character who nonchalantly blurts out the correct answer when the other smarter people around here are racking their brains trying to figure it out. A bit like Mayuri from Steins;Gate. In fact, she has demonstrated this ability before when she figured out that even without his debt, Hayate would not leave Nagi -- which eventually came to pass.
FORTUNATELY, Izumi's ship was definitively sunk in this chapter here, so I could rest easy after that. As for Maria, while some people see her as a dark horse, I never really gave her a chance to be honest. Even if Hayate had seen her romantically (which he didn't, by the way. Seeing her as attractive /= romantic), I just figured that it really wouldn't have worked out based on the plot.
With Izumi however, there were no complications. Like, if chapter 541 hadn't happened, then she could very well have become Hayate's final choice by the end after Nagi sets him free -- of course, THIS DIDN'T HAPPEN and Hayate x Nagi instead became a true romantic couple -- ooooh, you want proof of this? Fortunately, I happened to pass by Hata's pixiv recently and he wrote this in the description: "The final illustration for the countdown. A really sweet couple." link.
Anyway, if you're a hater, stay salty! See you next week!
I was actually working on something else recently, but for now... here's a fanart that I drew online. I plan to digitize this for valentine's day. I have one week~ good luck, me!
|Proportions look kinda mature, so let's just say that this is the ending Nagi - 16 year-old Nagi.|
|Nagi cosplaying as Lotte from Astarotte No Omocha. They have similar personalities, looks, and even the same voice actress, so it kinda works. Also, Lotte-chan won in her manga too~!|