What They Say:
It’s never easy to be a gentleman’s gentleman, but working for a girl who’s not only not a gentleman but also a lightning rod for trouble (and not always particularly ladylike either) is a job that few butlers could handle. For Hayate Ayasaki, however, fighting off teenage heiress Nagi Sanzenin’s would-be kidnappers is as much a part of butlering as serving the tea.
Nor is that the only dangerous activity that Hayate’s bound to be asked to perform during the course of the average day. Need to nurse everyone through an illness? Then that’s part of Hayate’s job description. Got an embarrassing video that has to be retrieved before it hits the internet or need help returning stolen money? Hayate’s your manservant!
However, as competent as Hayate may seem, there’s one thing he’s not particularly good at: noticing when pretty girls are attracted to him. Which is probably a good thing, as otherwise the silverware might never get polished! But that won’t stop the young ladies from trying to catch his eye, even as the art of domestic service becomes inexplicably intertwined with the martial arts!
Contains episodes 1-12 of season 4, Cuties.
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 spring of 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. While this is a monolingual release and the previous season was on one disc, this one spreads it across two discs in a nine/three format. 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 two discs inside of it against the interior walls. The front cover for it is a pretty good one overall as we get a few of the more prominent girls, but not all of them, hanging around together in their traditional outfits (at least outside of Nagi) while she holds a dessert platter that has a crossdressing Hayate on it with bunny ears. Yeah, it makes no sense, at least here, but it’s cute and it has lots of energy and color about it. The back cover uses the same color design overall for the background, which works well and mirrors the previous season too, as we get a cute image of Ruka sitting sideways with a mischievous smile. 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 layout that has a static image with Hayate and Nagi from the front cover with the rest of the characters excised from it. This keeps it simpler but also more focused, which works pretty well in setting the tone. 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 something that feels a little more elegant but still like a restaurant menu design from something classy. There’s not a lot here overall, but 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)
While the original series for Hayate the Combat Butler wasn’t something I was a huge fan of, it was a series that I liked well enough and saw what was released from Bandai Entertainment. So I was enthused when I was able to watch the simulcast for the Can’t take My Eyes Off You season that aired in the fall, being able to experience it in smaller doses first hand. Unfortunately, as much as I tried to get into that series, it felt so off key and difficult to get though that it became one of my most disliked series in full of the last few years. Watching it in marathon form with the Blu-ray release eased that somewhat, but the structural issues of the show still made it problematic. So with another season, I was certainly cautious, but this one works out better for the most part because each episode after it gets going essentially focuses on a particular girl or pairing, though others filter in and out as needed, so it’s not a forced focus..
Not surprisingly, we only get the briefest of blurbs at the start to highlight the situation that Hayate is in when it comes to how he’s working for Nagi, paying off a huge debt, and is basically one highly capable butler. One that has to deal with an array of women that are in the residence and outside as well. Hayate’s the epitome of a good guy that’s easy to like and as the head maid Maria notes, he’s quite popular with the girls. We get a good run through of several of them early on as he tries to get Nagi up and going, but she’s obviously a pill to get moving in the mornings and some things do not change no matter the season. Though things are kind of light in the first half, we get a basic introduction to several of the girls and the problems Hayate has to deal with, especially when it comes to Nagi and her desire to play games rather than deal with upcoming exams.
With a very laid back feeling for much of it, the show spends its time with everyone essentially hanging out at different time and going through their motions, at least until a wave of “sickness” spreads into the house and they all end up staying home. Hayate, of course, does the right thing and takes care of everyone, but it’s no surprise that he starts to come down with the cold as well and it’s threatening him and his own exams that are coming up. Maria’s the only one that really pays attention to all of this though as the others are mostly oblivious, and it’s good to see that he does have someone like her in the group to make sure that he doesn’t get too extended himself.