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 in Hayate the Combat Butler – Cuties!
While the audio presentation for this release is only available in a Japanese track with Dolby Stereo 2.0 and encoded at 224 kbps, this is satisfactory for this series since the majority of the sounds are dialogue nuanced by subtle background noises, except when Hayate is screaming when he lands in trouble, which is every episode. However, while a nothing is sacrificed for these elements, it does help if you have a good sound system for the playback, especially during Ruka’s concert.
However, where this series excels is the brilliant usage of music throughout the anime. The upbeat J-Pop opening theme called Haru Ulala Love yo Koi!!! is sung by Shizuka Itō, the seiyū of Hinagiku; this fitting song projects the entire attitude of the show which is to make sure that you have as much fun as you can since life it too short and it will pass you by quickly, so always do your best in everything. To bridge the episodes together, calming classical introductions were used to set the mood of various scenes. But the best part were the ending themes, which were gleaned from the limited edition DVD/Blu-ray release of Hayate no Gotoku! third season, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You. These twelve character songs were all sung by the original seiyū, which imparts with them the characters’ attitudes, therefore making them all the better.
The series is broken down into two disks of six episodes each, encoded in the standard DVD media MPEG-1/2 video format and 720×480 resolution. The playback is acceptable for this medium with no visible digital artifacts considering the complex palette used within the series. Most of the episodes are drawn in a bright color tones, projecting the positive emotional setting of the show, while dark shadows are infrequently used since those hues always convey negativity. However when they are used, the opportunity is used to the utmost to set up common theme in the show: no matter how much the girls may like him, Hayate cannot ever catch a break, even when the right mood is established. In one way or another, he will trip up and make the actress catch herself and then punish him for his inappropriate behavior.
This disc set is presented with all the character and attitude for a female dominated show, even though one might consider it part of the harem genre since all of the girls are in one way or another in love with Hayate. However, they always abuse or use him for their own comical needs, and this is mood is reflected by the cover display: on a pastel pink background, a few of the cast are shown posing in amusement while Nagi is holding a plate full of sweets. But if you look closely, you can see that one of those deserts is actually Hayate cosplaying as a maid with bunny ears dressed in a strawberry skirt. This scene just brings to front the common theme that all of the girls like to make fun of him, all at his expense.
The artwork on the disks are simplistic and yet still reflect the lighthearted fun of the show with a few girls posing in embarrassing or amusing reactions. Nothing is taken seriously, so why should the packing be either?
The same main image of Nagi and Hayate which was on the case is also used for the menu screen but with a fading pastel purple to a bright blue background accented with filigrees. The episode names are listed on the left using an apple as the cursor, all in keeping with the lighthearted feeling of the series. However, the discomforting flaw in this area is the repetition of the first minute of Haru Ulala Love yo Koi!!! echoing in the background; while this may have been done to get the viewer ready for the show with its J-Pop beat, it quickly gets tiresome once it restarts at the end of the cycle. Sentai should have given us an option to switch off the music, but they might not anticipated the viewer to spend that much time in this area.
The Extras menu seems to be added only as an afterthought on the disks so we can see the obligatory clean open and closing animations and advertising for Sentai Filmworks other properties. It would have been nice to see the biographies of the characters enclosed in this area since all they had to do was take screen captures from each episode, but this option was left out.
(This collection takes place shortly after the events of the third season, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.)
Once Hayate, Nagi and Maria return to Violet Mansion, the daily tedium of life slowly returns to normal. The combat butler resumes his daily chores and prepares for the coming of a new school day. His routine seems the same by waiting on the inhabitants of the apartment and trying to keep up his grades. But of course, once Maria walks into the kitchen and pleads that she can’t wake up their Mistress, he sighs and knows that everything is back to the way it was before. Of course, once she does rouse from her sleep, she berates her poor servant for not trying to do so sooner, by which Hayate knows he cannot win this argument and nods in agreement.
As the other students leave for school, the helpless pair try to hurry the clueless girl along so as not to be late, though they know nothing they say will make any difference. Finals are coming up and with his dominating schedule taking precedence, there is barely any time to study, though he knows that he must pass so as not to disappoint Nagi. The loyal bodyguard yet does not complain and tries to persevere against all roadblocks which life has but in his path, but even with his multitude of misfortune, Hayate will not give up. With every opportunity he tries to sit down to cram for the upcoming tests, another one of the building’s needy residents interferes with their own selfish request; he knows he can always say no, but that is not in his nature, and thus the long night begins.
Hayate The Combat Butler Cuties is not like the previous seasons in the series, since it lacks any feasible plot to tie the anime together. Each episode is dedicated to an individual character or set of related ones by the nature revealed in previous interactions; they are thus set up to give us the best summary of the person or persons base personality and try to reflect that in a day in the life of that actor as they relate to Hayate. The combat butler is the only true key that interlocks all of the chapters together, since the actions of each do not carry over to the next. And it is this true charm of this collection – the viewer is given an opportunity to see how each actress relates to this singular male lead and how they will try to use him or charm him for their own immediate needs.
Since the previous collections always have the girls in a group, they are constantly competing to have Hayate all to themselves, even if they don’t want to admit that openly. Of course, the shy butler will never admit he has any feelings, or depending on how you interpret the emotions, is completely clueless that any of the characters have an attachment toward him. While this is supposed to be a harem anime, this lack of motivation is sometimes frustrating for both the viewer and the ladies, but is also what keeps the show moving along. Though he serves Nagi and at times shows some attachment to his Mistress, that same sentiment can be said for any of the others in the show. It is this sincere compassion that he equally shows, much to the chagrin of the all girls, which makes this series the success it has been for over the past decade.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation and Sentai Trailers
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C+
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: June 23rd, 2015
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPWG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player