I admire Hata's innate flair for drama and his ability to tell a touching love story (I'm talking about Hayate x Nagi and not Hayate and his ex, Athena) within the complicated framework of pseudo romantic relationships that he has invariably tied Hayate to throughout the run of the manga, but in my eyes, there are many glaring weaknesses to the entirety of the story and how it was handled.
For today's Hayate reflections, I will discuss some of these perceived weaknesses as best as I can remember them. Don't expect me to cross-reference specific chapters since my INTJ personality just doesn't like such a codified form of journalistic writing.
In any case, let's begin:
Many characters suffer from inconsistent characterization in the series but for me, the most glaring ones would be Sakuya and Isumi. First of all, Sakuya was supposed to be the slapstick, comedy relief character with her paper fan and all and with Nagi actually drop-kicking her for her silly antics. Sometime after her birthday chapter, she even stopped carrying her paper fan completely and that part of her character just disappeared for no reason. Let me get this straight, I didn't like her wannabe comedian aspect, but there is no denying that it was a prominent feature for her personality and was part of what defined her as a character (even if the comedy aspect is mostly lost in translation across cultural borders). The fact that it just conveniently disappeared and she became this reliable onee-san type character that even Hayate would rely on speaks of inconsistent characterization on Hata's part.
As for Isumi, I think it's pretty plain to see. She used to interact with Nagi, Sakuya and Wataru a lot and even though she was always demure, she had more expressions than just angry, shocked, or bored. Over time however, her dialogue got shorter and more blunt and she stopped caring for anyone entirely unless it was for Nagi's sake. She became Hata's convenient little plot advancer for the King's Jewel Backstory.
The King's Jewels Was A Mistake
The fact that people were actually trying to keep count of the King's Jewels is particularly amusing for me. I had a hunch as to how Hata's mind works and it turns out I was right. All that King's Jewel counting and focus on the technical aspects of the plot all came to nothing in the end. Now I personally do not blame Hata for this because I personally am exactly that type of writer. I was amused at people keeping track of stats on this series because well... that's just not how it was written.
In any event, while I do not blame Hata on how he handled the King's Jewels backstory, I do think it was unnecessary, or rather, it was the wrong plot device to use if all of it was just meant to have Hayate make his final decision to give up his own life for Nagi. There are simpler ways it could have been done and/or better ways it could have been pulled. Heck, I could write a HayaNagi fanfic based on the King's Jewels with more cathartic drama and a more competent conclusion than Hata did.
Too Many Red Herrings
Hata dug his own grave here. Simply put, he used way too many clues within the plot that many of them ended up being either unused or underused.
This can be seen in several aspects of the plot but is most prevalent in the romantic department. Hata kept everyone guessing until the end because he left so many strong, obvious clues for an eventual romantic development between Hayate and all of the other girls in the harem except for Nagi. Of course, as it turned out, we Nagi shippers were correct all along. The fact that Nagi only has subtle clues in favor of her and not blatant, extremely obvious signs of romantic interest from Hayate turned out to be the plot twist that no one wanted but they'll always claim they expected because you do have to save face after being salty from having your ship sunk hard after all, right? With that said, these romantic or "shipping moments" with the other girls were so blatant that it gave many people delusions of grandeur and actually caused them to count Nagi out of the harem race -- rather amusing when there was no actual harem in the end because Hayate never developed romantic feelings for the other girls throughout the one year timeline he was with Nagi and he only developed romantic feelings for her at the very end.
Gag Ex Machina
This is something that Hata himself admits and has dedicated a chapter to, of course. With that said, the reliance on gags to lighten up what would otherwise be a serious plot development can get old after a while. Because Hata used his infamous gag ex machina so often, many veteran readers were in disbelief and denial when events with actual permanence actually started happening in the story. There are many examples of this, but off the top of my head, there's Nagi's strong character development, the debt being actually cleared, Maria leaving Nagi for real, Nagi setting Hayate free and of course, Hayate coming back to see Nagi two years after their rather bitter parting.
There are also some character arcs such as the Segawa arc which are purely gag-based and which do not serve any actual purpose to advance the plot even a little.
Pandering To Fans
I think this is the sad result of Hayate no Gotoku! being a commercial product after all. In the end, Hata, while being a more whimsical author than others, still has to bend and pander to the fans to some extent. Which is probably part of the reason why the other ships (all probably more popular than the canon pair) were kept afloat for so long and Hayate is so noncommittal and indecisive about his relationships with the other girls. Also, this may have influenced the gag-driven nature of the series because if Hata had merely sprinted headlong for the HayaNagi finish, we probably wouldn't have had 568 chapters to read.
It Was And Always Will Be A Hayate x Nagi Love Story
Fortunately, despite all these criticisms, I still love Hayate no Gotoku! That is because I've always seen it as only one way: A Hayate x Nagi love story. When stripped down to its bare elements and without all the embellishments on top, that's what the manga is really all about. And of course, as a love story between the two main characters, it is and will always be the most satisfying story I've ever read.
See you next week for sure. Stay salty if you're a hater~
I have a few new ones for today. Here they are~! I'm planning to try out my Gansai Tambi watercolors on canvas to see how they look. I've tried watercolors on canvas before and it actually looks pretty good.