What They Say:
It’s no understatement to say that the stormy relationship between Nagi and her butler Hayate is often the result of the fact that they see things from entirely different social perspectives. However, when Nagi decides to bring Hayate, her maid Maria, and their friends to a secluded vacation retreat, our star-crossed couple soon find themselves seeing things from completely conflicting realities!
In a bizarre turn of fate, Hayate finds himself in a world where his mistress is Maria, and Nagi no longer seems to exist! Meanwhile, Nagi is having her own problems, trapped in an amusement park of doom! What’s going on and how does this relate to a mysterious silver-haired woman who seems to hold the key to everything? It’s nothing like they’ve ever seen before as both their worlds are turned on their heads in Hayate the Combat Butler Heaven is a Place on Earth!
The audio presentation is similar to the TV series incarnations for this release as we get the Japanese language only encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. It does get a bump up to a 5.1 format since it did hit theaters, but it’s also not the kind of film that really takes advantage of it. We do get a few areas where the throws to the rear channels are a little more noticeable in design, but a lot of what we get is a largely forward soundstage based film and that works well. The 5.1 mix gives it extra warmth, clarity, and impact during some of the “bigger” scenes and it’s certainly stronger than the TV series for obvious reasons. The end result is a solidly put together mix that gets the job done and comes across in a clean and clear fashion with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally in theaters in 2011, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The sixty-minute feature was animated by Manglobe and the production values are pretty strong here overall, giving it a solid leg up over the TV incarnation while still adhering to the designs that make it what it is. The color design, in particular, gets a nice pop and vibrancy here where it has a better feeling to it, coming across as richer and with more warmth to it than the usual flat colors that we get with the TV incarnation. The transfer is one that’s pretty much problem free here as it brings out the details of the designs and backgrounds quite well with clean lines and no noticeable noise in the backgrounds. Fans of the property should be pretty pleased with it overall.
The packaging design for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the single disc. The cover artwork is definitely good in terms of the backgrounds, but the character artwork is just very awkward. While Nagi comes across okay here, if a bit thinner than usual, the artwork for Hatate makes him look like a Nendroid more than anything else. He simply looks goofy and all the more so against the really nicely done coloring job for the background that has an almost pained feeling about it while conveying the details well. The logo along the bottom is nicely done with some good coloring here while also avoiding taking up too much territory.
The menu layout for this release thankfully doesn’t use the same artwork as the front cover as instead we get a static image that’s brighter and more colorful with most of the main girls together with Hayate, whose hair is still kind of awful, standing outside the train as they just got off from it for the trip. The train dominates the left but it’s nicely balanced by both the characters and their color and the richness of the countryside in the background. The navigation along the bottom goes for a simple light gray background with blue text so it’s all easy to read and get around in for what little is here since there are no extras or language options and just scene selection and trailers for other shows.
With a couple of TV seasons under its belt and a couple more to come afterward, Hayate the Combat Butler brought out a movie in 2011 called Heaven is a Place on Earth. The 60 minute feature film was directed by Hideto Komori based on the screenplay from Yasuko Kobayashi, which in turn comes from the story and creation by Kenjiro Hata who continues to crank out the manga. Having caught up at long last on all of the TV material this year, the feature film from manglobe is essentially the last piece of the puzzle until some new work gets created. And I suspect there will continue to be more as there’s just something about the property that keeps drawing the fans back and there are a number of those fans who are very much anime-only fans.
The feature here is one that really does play as an extended and slower version of the TV series if you had a two-part story unfolding. Working through the last days of summer break, where Nagi thinks it should extend well into the fall so that the holidays there don’t get the short end of the stick, Hayate again finds himself trying to find a way to give her the energy she needs to be a productive person. Nagi’s character core has largely remained the same over the years with little deviation as she just wants to do her own thing and little care for anything else beyond Hayate. And even that’s a kind of awkward relationship because she continues to believe that the only reason he remains is because of the hold she has on him with his debt that he’s working off. While she really does want me, she’s also just too young to realize how much of what she does is simply wrong.
Once the gang gets out into the countryside, which happens pretty quickly overall, it doesn’t take long for Nagi to be even more bored since the place has absolutely nothing. Some of this leads to some nice and simple moments of the gang hanging out and the like, but it also reinforces the sheltered and overly protected side that Nagi has in her life as she’s even afraid to go to the bathroom alone in the middle of the night. Some of it is certainly understandable, but it just reinforces for me the disparity between the two leads and that it’s easier to understand why Hayate really doesn’t view Nagi in any other way than a caretaker. I do enjoy the dynamic between the two as it’s an old and familiar bit of character storytelling, especially in anime, but it’s also why I really don’t get any sort of relationship aspects between them played out in my mind, even when the property tries to go there.
The film does actually present a story along the way, but it’s admittedly not all that interesting in a way because it goes back to that central idea of someone trying to rescue Hayate from his situation. We’ve seen it happen in the series a few times over the years and invariably he ends up sticking with it. And we know that the movie essentially resets things back to zero by the end, so there’re no surprises there. This one goes for the supernatural angle as a mysterious young woman is doing her best to sway him to leave and sets up an elaborate spiritual amusement park nearby where they’re staying. It ends up drawing in a number of the regular cast and we get to see Hayate and Nagi’s relationship put to the test, but again, I really don’t find there to be a relationship in the “true” sense of what they’re trying. I did like that the reveal of the spirit made things a little more personal, expanding our knowledge of Hayate a bit, but mostly it’s another ethereal situation of weirdness that the cast gets to deal with.
The film does give us a little side story, mostly as a bookend, that involves some of the teachers that get kind of close to the area but end up having their own adventure. It’s an opportunity to sorta kinda advance their relationship a bit, but it also falls prey to the usual problem of nothing is able to truly change and the status quo must be preserved. The film also provides for several minutes worth of additional epilogue-ish material after the main Japanese credits and before the English language credits that helps to ease us back into the normality of their lives and also just to show that everyone is sold with each other after everything.
Hayate the Combat Butler: Heaven is a Place on Earth is a solidly put together piece of this franchise that’s essentially a slow-paced double episode. It’s well animated, the characters all stay true to who they are, and it all resets to zero by the end of it with no real changes, growth, or advancement to the main story of their lives. It’s a charming little tale in its own way but since it continues to work the Hayate/Nagi angle it ends up not doing all that much for me in the end. I continue to like the characters individually and some of the subplots with them, but after four seasons and now a movie I’m still struggling to truly connect with it and find it as amusing as others seem to.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: December 15th, 2015
Running Time: 60 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.