What They Say:
Hayate Ayasaki’s life has never been easy, though after being sold to Yakuza who want to harvest your organs to pay off your parents’ debts it’s hard to imagine things sinking much lower. But since becoming employed as the butler/bodyguard for teenage heiress Nagi Sanzenin, Haytate’s misery has been primarily focused around Nagi’s insecurity, laziness and the frequent attempts by various parties to kidnap her (with the occasional scheme cooked up by her Grandfather on the side).
When a new and unexpected relative arrives without warning and issues concerning Nagi’s long dead father rear their ugly head, Hayate finds himself thrust even further into the deep, dark, messy drama of the Sanzenin clan’s affairs. And that is only the beginning of his troubles, as somehow aliens, haunted swords, an untrustworthy kitten and even a cross-dressing curse all come into the mix as well. Will our embattled butler fight his way through these epic complications? Or will his undoing come special de-livery?
Contains episodes 1-12.
The audio presentation for this series gives us the original Japanese language in stereo only and it’s encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show had a hard time sustaining an English language adaptation during anime’s heyday, so it’s no surprise that it’s monolingual here. What we do get is a pretty solid audio mix that works the forward soundstage well here as it is largely dialogue with a couple of comedy action elements along the way. There’s a couple of bigger action moments in the final episodes, but that doesn’t stretch the show all that much either. What we do get are some decent moments of placement for the characters dialogue and some good areas of depth in the action pieces. Overall it’s a pretty serviceable mix that does the job well while the opening and closing sequences are where things have the warmest feelings. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in the fall of 2012, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. With this being a monolingual release, it’s all done on one disc with the twelve episodes that the season ran. Animated by manglobe, the show feels similar enough to previous incarnations with a bit of an update in color definition and overall detail that works in its favor. The series is not one that really goes big with its animation outside of a couple of scenes, so it has a solid look that isn’t stressed here and the transfer captures it quite well. Colors look good outside of some mild banding here and there in the source, detail is solid in the backgrounds and character animation has a clean look to it with no problems. Cross coloration and line noise are non-existent and the colors have a solid look throughout, which makes this a good looking show with some nice pop and vibrancy to it.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray disc that holds the single disc inside of it. The front cover is a pretty good one that gives us Hayate in the background bu surrounded by several of the main characters of the series. here’s a lot of smiles and expressive characters here that makes it bright and inviting and it’s made more so by the colors used, especially the mix of the light yellow background and the bright pink foreground piece along the bottom. The character detail is good and the designs are solid. I do like that they added the season three tag along the top, as we know more is coming, and the series logo along the bottom is decent, though the show has never had a great logo. The back cover uses the same color design overall for the background which works well as we get a cute image of Nagi and Tsugumi together along the left under the season three banner. The premise is pretty thick here overall but it’s clear and easy to read overall. The tagline is cute and we get a clean listing of the extras under the premise. There’s a good strip of shots from the show under that and a solid block with the production credits as well as the technical grid that lists everything cleanly and clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is pretty straightforward here as we get a single menu that has a static image with Hayate and Nagi in something of a celebration mode here along the right. It’s a kind of awkward image just in the angle that it’s presented at, and being cross cut by the log adds to it being a bit off. The left side has the navigation strip that breaks down the episodes by number and title with a submenu for the minimal extras. The font for the selection is decent but with the show going with a “night”s breakdown for the titles, there’s not a lot here overall. Everything loads quickly and easily and it works well during playback with the pop-up menu.
The only extras on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Three years after the end of the second series for Hayate the Combat Butler, another series kicked off, though at half the episodes with just a twelve episode run. I’d seen most of the first series when Bandai Entertainment was releasing it and obviously didn’t get to see the second series since it was never licensed, so when this was simulcast I was hopeful to get into it. The first series had its moments for me, but something about it just didn’t click in a huge way, though there was enough to like. With this series, and the people involved, I figured we’d be up for a good time. But instead I ended up struggling through the simulcast, and particularly the end. Revisiting it now here a few years later, I do think it comes together a bit better, but it’s still not something that’s a strong season overall.
Because there’s so much material before this and it’s a known quantity in Japan, there’s almost no real introduction or reacquaintance with the property here, which is unfortunate. The setup of the show isn’t a horrible one as we get Hayate, a very talented individual in high school, who has found himself a butler for Nagi, the daughter of a wealthy family whose adults are no longer around. He’s doing this to pay off his own parents debts and naturally there’s almost a relationship between him and Nagi, though he’s mildly oblivious and she won’t admit her feelings. There’s also a slew of other girls in the show, several of which are interested in him of course, so there is a kind of standard setup here. But some of the minor trappings just aren’t covered well here as the show gets going, which can be slightly problematic for new viewers, especially since there aren’t a lot of actual introductions as more characters appear.
Since this particular series is focused on one larger storyline, it does have a bit of a theme to it. The general idea is that an item that belonged in Nagi’s family, the Black Camellia, has been found after having gone missing years ago. It turns out that Nagi’s father had it while he was in Las Vegas when he died and the police there have only now come across all the items from then and are telling Nagi that she needs to come claim them. She’s not terribly interested overall, since Hayate says to wait until school vacation to do it and she wants to skip school instead. This device, the Black Camellia, isn’t give much due until towards the end of the season, so there isn’t a lot of real build up for it before it becomes completely central to things. What it actually is, is far more complicated and pretty much supernatural, which is off-putting because it takes you out of the simplicity of the show itself a lot of the time when it’s actually dealt with. Focusing on its bad luck and connections to immortality, which leads to other magics being used, just didn’t click for me and felt forced.
While the show bookends itself with the Las Vegas adventure, teasing us with a scene from near the ending at the start in fact, a lot of what we get is based in Japan and has Nagi and Hayate doing their normal things with the light comedy and humor that comes from it. As mentioned, because it doesn’t really re-introduce anyone, for those of us that are years out from watching this show, it’s rough as I hardly recall anyone and that made it hard to care. What made it harder to care is that early on it introduces a new girl to the mix with Tusugmi, a woman slightly younger than Nagi who claims to be her half sister through their shared father. Her story may have some merit, but its presentation is awful and the way it plays out has everyone kind of just being almost condescending about it in how they play along. They all know there’s some scam involved, and there’s some light investigation into it, but it’s more like this is just one of those things they have to deal with. Which isn’t exactly compelling.
Naturally, Tsugumi gets into the mix a lot as it moves between the characters and we kind of sort of get our reintroductions there. But mostly it just plays through simple gag comedy and situational aspects rather than anything meaningful. The various interactions do slowly bring Nagi and Tsugumi closer together, but a lot of it just plain unmemorable beyond that simply because it’s so familiar within the franchise. Even things like Nagi and some of the others trying to introduce Tsugumi to manga, light novels and anime in order to have a bond with Nagi plays to familiar gags, including Tsugumi wandering into the hentai section and having her mind blown. It’s cute and you’ll likely smile or laugh during it, but it is the kind of material that you get for the most part through the first half and just beyond before a variety of circumstances bring most of the characters to Vegas.
And of course, the Vegas area is definitely a lot more memorable because it’s not the same thing. It does get weird because of the body swapping thing, existence inside a watch and a resurrection plan that’s been going on for a long time, resulting in a living tree kind of attack, but we also get the fun of Vegas itself, sans gambling since they’re all too young outside of their teacher that also ended up there. That actually has some humor to it with how her brief story goes and all, but the rest of the characters that show up certainly force disbelief to be suspended in a big way. A lot of it is just straightforward though with characters separated, challenges faced and the supernatural side that almost gets Nagi to admit things, but not quite because that would ruin the show for many. The chase and suspense is what drives it for far too large of a segment of fandom, and for the writers (and original creator) that are just looking to draw out a moneymaker as much as they can. It can be fun, but it can also be draining.
The third season of Hayate the Combat Butler brings us down to just a twelve episode run that involves fun at home, a surprise new half sister and then a trip to Vegas. It has some interesting areas to work with, and explores Nagi’s family history a bit that provides an echo for Hayate to follow within it, but it also essentially leaves us back at the same place at the end as we were in the beginning. There’s some new knowledge, a few more laughs and plenty of misunderstandings along the way, but story progression is not something we get here in the bigger scheme of things. Series like this are ones that do make me wish that the anime side was given the ability to strike its own path and work the story on its own with adhering to the rules of the manga after awhile. But what we get instead is a continuation of things without much in the way of meaningful material for the characters outside of a couple of minutes with Nagi and her family.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: April 28th, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.