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!
Since 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 the movie since a majority of the sounds are dialogue nuanced by subtle background noises, except when Hayate is screaming once he gets into trouble, which is anytime he interacts with one of the girls. However, while a nothing is sacrificed for these elements, it does help if you have a good sound system for the playback, especially during the musical opening and closing themes.
However, where this movie excels, like the rest of the series, is the brilliant usage of music throughout the motion picture. The high energy J-Pop opening theme called Bokura, kake yuku sora e is sung by Shizuka Itō, the seiyū of Hinagiku; this song encapsulates the entirety of Hayate’s outlook: even though all he has seen in his life is misfortune, he will still grasp the future since he knows there is always someone waiting there for him. To bridge the various scenes together, calming classical introductions were used to set the mood of the connecting acts. But the ending theme, Heaven is a Place on Earth, performed by the group fripSide, really pulls everything we had seen in the movie together. The song is sung from the perspective of a lover to her boyfriend – she recalls the day they first met and how she never wants to let their precious memories go. Too bad that the two oblivious protagonists will never know that the song is about them, even though the audience recognize that it is so obvious.
The series is kept to a single disk for the movie, 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. While the composition of the show is shared in both daylight and nighttime scenes, the wonderful usage of vivid colors to display the beautiful isolation of the Japanese countryside and the eerie phantomesque surroundings of the haunted amusement park are in displayed in somber shades of dreary tans and dark blues; both work marvelously in opposition – contrasting the balance of the living world versus the ghostly ethereal side. This separation helps to bring to the forefront the concept of the two existing side by side, allowing the interaction of the characters, which is the theme of the film.
This case packaging is delightfully displayed with a portrait of Hayate carrying Nagi, while leaping through the sky, as he is so oft to do, saving this Mistress. The background of a crescent moonlit night and the ominous Ferris wheel which plays an essential part in the movie, drifts away in the distance, with the guardian butler bringing her back into the light. While we have seen variations of this scene numerous times in the series, this simple image summarizes their relationship like nothing else. But to reinforce the ties they have with their friends, which is the other important theme in the show, a group shot is silk screened onto the disk. The set as a whole establishing that both sides of the relationship are equally important.
Since there is only one selection to made on the disk, the menu is kept simple: Play Feature, Chapter Select and Also Available from Sentai Films. The main image of Hayate and the gang waiting while you choose your selection are displayed while the choices are shown along the bottom part of the screen, 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 Bokura, kake yuku sora e echoing in the background; while this may have been done to get the viewer ready for the show with its energetic J-Pop beat, it quickly gets tiresome once it restarts at the end of the cycle. Sentai should have given us the option to switch off the music, but they might not anticipate the viewer to spend that much time in this area.
Since there are no Extras on this disc to speak of, aside from the obligatory advertising for Sentai Filmworks other properties, this section is nonexistent. It would have been nice to see the biographies of the characters enclosed in this area, but this option was left out.
With summer break coming to a painful end, Nagi and her friends are wasting their time in a local family restaurant, trying to keep cool and deciding what to do with the rest of the free time. But of course, while she is lounging around, Hayate is worried that his Mistress will figure out some way to extend the vacation into another excuse of not returning to school, thus lapsing back into her truancy lifestyle. However, just when he is about to give up, when one of their friends chimes in, announcing that she will be spending the rest of the vacation in her isolated mountain hometown; but this does not impress Nagi, until she is convinced that this lack of city conveniences is actually a good thing and is something which should experience for herself. Everyone else groans in frustration, knowing that this is a bad idea, but Nagi is determined that she should do this, no matter what the others say.
Unfortunately, once they get there and the young heiress understands that this lack of anything to do is, in reality, a VERY bad thing, she has another one of her temper tantrums. It is not enough that the summer heat is making everyone uncomfortable in a house with no air conditioning, but the constant complaints of Nagi make the atmosphere all the more stifling. She lies in the middle of the floor, whining about having no cell phone signal, and makes a general nuisance of herself to everyone, allowing them to consider why they ever came? The only thing that they have to look forward to is the summer festival, which they have been guaranteed will be worth the trip. But once night falls, the eerie countryside reveals some secrets which will change this simple getaway into a spirited adventure that no one will soon forget.
Considering that this film is only an hour long, Hayate the Combat Butler: Heaven Is A Place On Earth does a respectable job of creating an adventure that will please any fans of the series. However, while the foundation of turning a simple vacation into a thrilling escapade is remarkable onto itself, the speed by which it is unwrapped to the viewer is flawed; although the opening scenes and travel to Ayumu’s home are displayed with normal transitions, the rest of the movie feels rushed once night falls. The method of jumping between two different groups, one in the real world and the other trapped within the dream setting plus the need to give us background information via Hayate’s memories is confusing. Then to add to this exuberance the constricted time by which to present the story, it makes the film a jumble of images which take some time to process. Even loyal fans of the franchise will be overwhelmed by the sheer craziness of this escapade, but the end result will make it worth the time of watching this insanity.
If there was a fault in the presentation, it would be the necessity of presenting a majority of the cast within this short span. Some of the girls’ appearances make sense, like Ruka’ video being broadcast on a billboard, but the other cameos do not add any depth to the story; it seems like they were added for comic effect or they got confused and wandered into the production by accident. Aside from this minor infraction, the movie is a fun return to Hayate’s world, but due to the length and confusing elements intersecting with the main plot, only diehard otaku should attempt this journey. While it may seem like fun, the trip is too short to make any substantial additions to the series without sacrificing the viewers’ sanity. As the saying goes: It might be a great vacation destination, but I wouldn’t want to stay there.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Sentai Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: C+
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: December 15th, 2015
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player