A hyperactive sword-swinging girl, yuri overtones, and an interesting sword-bearing all-girl school makes for an interesting premise. I can’t get the idea out of my head that this reminds me a little of the Jubei-chan anime.
Story/Art: Shizuru Hayashiya
What They Say
The all-girls boarding school Tenchi Academy isn’t just known for its quality academics—it’s also known for training the top sword fighters in the country. Students in the special “Sword Bearer” program compete in a school-wide battle known as the Star Stealing, striving to win both money and fame.
Enter Kurogane Hayate. While her sister, Nagi, recovers from a lingering injury, the spunky and cheerful Hayate offers to take her sister’s place at the Academy until she is well enough to return. When Hayate learns of the mountain of debt her old orphanage, the Dandelion Garden, owes to Yakuza loan sharks, she decides to become a Sword Bearer and win the Star Stealing.
There’s just one problem . . . she needs a partner to compete—and the one girl Hayate has her eye on wants nothing to do with her!
The front and back covers of this book setup an interesting pairing that I predict will wrap up the series with an epic battle between the sister-in-arms pairing of Hayate and Ayana (front cover), and the school president Hitsugi and her partner Shizuku (back cover). If there is one thing Seven Seas does well, it is book production. The print quality itself is clean throughout the book. No text is lost by being too close to the spine nor is there any cut off at the page edges. Extras consist of a note from the author, honorifics guide, translation notes, and a preview of Inukami.
The art in Hayate Cross Blade is quite good. The art style is mostly clean with a fair amount of detail and speed lines for action sequences. Facial expressions and slight SD moments enhance the story. I enjoy the character design, as all the girls are different enough from each other to make it easy to keep the large cast straight. However, I am disappointed with the lack of detail during the sword fights. Considering how hyperactive Hayate is in normal situations, I feel the sword duals don’t live up to the energy level of Hayate’s everyday antics. I am also on the fence with the school uniforms. The four large buttons on the front and Hayate’s ‘futuristic-looking’ shoes are a turn off for me.
The translation/adaptation reads really well. While my Seven Seas pet peeve tends to be the number of grammar mistakes in some of their books, this first volume of Hayate Cross Blade reads smoothly without a single error that I can remember. Honorifics remain while most SFX remains with an English translation alongside. In a few instances, the Japanese SFX remains without a translation, while at other times it is overlain with an English translation. I really don’t have a preference as long as the majority of SFX are translated.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Hayate Kurogane and her twin sister Nagi grew up in an orphanage before being adopted by the Kurogane family, where they learned kendo. Now that the sisters are in Middle School, Nagi has decided to attend Tenchi Academy, an all-girl school where many of the students carry wooden swords and participate in sword duels for points and cash prizes. Hayate planned to attend a different school, but after her sister fell ill, their father asked Hayate to take Nagi’s place and impersonate her until she can recover. If Nagi doesn’t begin school before the semester is over, her name will be removed from the ‘Sword-bearing Student’ list.
Always, ready to help people, Hayate accepts without a second thought and heads off to Tenchi Academy as Nagi. Only problem is, Hayate is hyperactive and not incredibly sly, so it doesn’t take long for her true identity to reach the School President, Hitsugi. Hitsugi can see something special underneath Hayate’s clownish exterior, so she allows her to remain in school if she can find a Sister-in-Arms and win her first match.
This is an interesting aspect about Tenchi Academy. For those students that choose it, they can carry a sword and form a two-girl team called Sisters-in-Arms. One girl becomes the ‘Earth Sword’ and focuses on defense, while the other becomes the ‘Heaven Sword’ and focuses on attacking and striking the opponents stars. Each girl has a star that she must defend, when her opponent strikes it, an alarm sounds and she loses. The Heaven Sword wears her star on her left shoulder while the Earth Sword wears her ‘Shadow Star’ on her hip, hidden underneath her uniform. Beyond that, pairings have a letter Rank between A and D. Winning moves a pair up the ranks while losing moves them down. Along with winning comes a cash prize supplied by the school, or more truthfully from the School President Hitsugi.
Hayate has arrived at school late, so most of the sword-bearing students are already paired, leaving only a few ‘Lone Wolves’. The Lone Wolf Hayate sets her sight on is Ayana, a highly skilled older student who refuses to join with anyone since her last pairing dissolved. The reason for her former partner leaving remains a mystery, but Ayana is obviously bothered by it and does nothing but rebuff Hayate’s advances. This creates some funny moments as Ayana uses Hayate as her personal servant in an attempt in the hopes of getting rid of her. Like the hyperactive little monkey Hayate is, she does everything Ayana demands without hesitation.
Eventually Ayana gives in and Hayate immediately begins to act lovey-dovey, creating plenty of yuri-toned humor. Ayana’s brash attitude only enhances the comedy duo. With all that said, I do feel a connection to Ayana and her struggle with whatever it is she did in the past and the overall difficulty of being her age and trying to find your path in life. Hayate may mostly annoy Ayana, but she can also see there may be something really special hiding underneath Hayate’s antics. I look forward to seeing how their relationship develops.
There is a lot to like about this book. I like Hayate’s desire to help those around her and the fact that it extends from her childhood spent in an orphanage. This creates Hayate’s strong desire to fight and win money so she can help the orphanage pay its debts. Hayate’s pairing with a darker, brooding Ayana is well planned, especially with the reason for Ayana’s regrets in life remaining a secret for the time being.
The idea behind Tenchi Academy and Sisters-in-arms sword-bearing students is a good vehicle for exploring the various character’s personalities. Finally, there is the obvious yuri for comedy situations that most yuri fans will enjoy. Overall this is a fun title that I would like to see animated and directed by the guy that did Jubei-chan 2: The Counter Attack of Siberia Yagyu. I believe that kind of treatment for the sword duels would lend itself well to Hayate Cross Blade.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date: October 28th, 2008