Hayate no Gotoku S2 Ep 1: And Now For Something Completely Different

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With the Spring 2009 season officially here, the first show I see is the new season of a personal favorite, Hayate no Gotoku. A while back, I wrote  a block of text on the OVA in my Spring 2009 preview. In a nutshell, I was worried that the new season of HnG would not live up to my expectations. Now after watching the first episode of the new season, I had good reason to be worried. While I enjoyed it, it was just not what I was expecting at all.

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So the episode starts with a surprisingly mellow OP sung by a singer named Elisa, who I’ve never heard of before. This is a pity as I was expecting some upbeat KOTOKO like the first season. This is followed by a nice summary of the premise narrated by the voice of god, Norio Wakamoto. I’m glad that despite changing studios, all the voices are the same. However, I was personally bothered that the narrator didn’t play as big of a role in this episode. The first season was full of times where he wasn’t necessary, but they would include him anyways just to break the fourth wall. It was a great touch, especially since they got someone with such an amazing voice to be the narrator. So the writing style is a bit different, while it wasn’t bad, I just preferred the style of the first season.

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Another difference is that this season feels more plot centric than the last. Naturally, I’m only basing this one one episode, and the preview of the second, but it feels like enough the know how the series is going to be. This episode is a direct adaptation of a footrace chapter of the manga. The adaptation is loyal almost to a fault. I haven’t read this chapter in a long time, but based on what I remember, the writers might of well had adapted the manga frame for frame. This leads to the problem that this chapter wasn’t particularly funny for a romantic comedy. This may be because I’ve already read the manga, so I saw all the jokes coming, but it also shows the weakness of the writing staff. My favorite part of the first season was its humor, especially the references to other anime. This is absent from the second season. Not once did I hear a bleep or the censorship man to block copyrighted material. I’m worried that this may alienate fans of the original who loved that style of humor.

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A big complaint for me were the eyecatches at the commercial break. This may seem trivial for those who weren’t big fans of the first season, but one of the interesting points was that the eyecatches were an ongoing game of shiritori. I was expecting this to continue this into this season. Instead, we get this boring set of cards with that episodes central characters. I don’t think it was too much to ask, but ait made me realize that J.C. Staff is doing all it can to make this season completely different from the first. Established points from the first season like the songs, style, and eyecatches are all changed. It feels more like a reinterpretation of the material than a true sequel.

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Finally, theres the ED sung by the voice actresses for Hinagiku and the student council trio.. It seems that one aspect of the fanbase that the staff was aware of was that most people are fans of Hinagiku, thus dedicating the ED to her. I’m also a big fan of the character and her character songs, so I look forward to the single. I’m also curious about what the lyrics mean, but those will come out once a better fansub group gets around to translating them.

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So what do I think of Hayate no Gotoku Season 2 so far? It’s not bad, but not what I was expecting at all. To give a bizarre analogy, it was like going to your local diner and asking for a patty melt, but getting a cheeseburger instead. While the ingredients are essentially the same, and it still tastes good, you really just wanted a patty melt. Part of it is a personal problem, when I have expectations, and they are not met, part of me is unhappy, even if what I got was not bad. This happened to me before with Mtchiko to Hatchin. It wasn’t a bad show, but I was expecting something completely different, so I stopped watching pretty early on. I just don’t want the same thing to happen with Hayate.

That’s all for now. I’m probably not going to do a review on Gundam 00 as I had originally promised due to a lack of motivation, and general writers block. I may try writing something completely new instead of episode reviews for my next article. Look forward to it.

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