Direction: Right to Left
by: Shizuru Hayashiya
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Genre: Seinen, Comedy,
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. With her sister Nagi recovering from a lingering injury, the spunky and cheerful Hayate must take her place at the Academy until Nagi 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!
Kurogane Hayate, our rather absent minded air headed heroine. She takes enthusiasm and guts to the max, never really thinks things through, and pretty much always ends up annoying the hell out of her friends. However she doesn’t do it maliciously, it’s just she gets over enthusiastic about things and over does them.
Mudo Ayana, the partner for Hayate and pretty much ends up regretting it. She refuses to fight initially because of past events, but is won over when she learns of Hayate’s reasons, and then later to confront her own past. She’s a dark character, brooding and move than a little violent. However she hides several dark secrets that she’s afraid of confronting.
Amachi Hitsugi, the current dean of the school, and also the top of the sword fighters, and the target of the rest. She’s your typical rich girl, in so much as she is whimsical to the point of lunacy, yet she’s also dedicated to her own ideals, and defends the traditions of the school vehemently.
Miyamoto Shizuku, partner of Amachi. Like her partner she’s a bit of a loony toon, and has monstrous strength and speed, to the point she’s able to ring the huge school bell (think church bell in a tower!!) by hitting it with her fist. She’s utterly devoted to Amachi, who she’s been with since she was a child. However she’d now concerned over a comment made by Amachi over who is faster, her or Hayate.
There are a few other pairs i was going to go into, but these two are the main ones, so i don’t see the need to go into the other pairs.
I ordered this series after a recommendation by someone on twitter (i think it was @ShroudedDancer). Initially I was a bit reluctant, since frankly I didn’t like the cover art, but I do try to not judge a book by it’s cover….to often. The series is a pretty fun one to read though, and well worth investing the time in to read through.
You learn fairly early that this isn’t going to be a serious manga, rather a mick-take, and from early on you get a few giggles over the way things play out. Given that a lot of what I’ve been reading of later are dark, deep and serious, this made a rather nice reprieve. However that is not to say that this series isn’t without it’s flaws, it has several; though thankfully none are game breaking ones.
One of the flaws, or rather, one of the sticking areas, is the art. I don’t think it’s fair to call it a flaw, rather it’s a clash of styles. While reading the first volume I found I didn’t like the way the art was handled, at times it feels to much like it’s a literal two tone comic, pure black and white. But at the same time this does sort itself out as the volume continues, and while it does creep back in at times, it never really becomes a huge problem, more an annoyance.
The other aspect I find a bit off putting is the time span and pacing of the the series. There’s not real sense of time passage in the story, we suddenly get told ‘x’ amount of time has passed, but with nothing to show for it. This is especially true with the main characters. By the end of volume six there’s no sense of change to their relationship, true we do get a some changes, but they’re minor and don’t really have any feel to them. One of the biggest things I found annoying was the way Ayana handled telling Hayate about her past partner. It had a feel of “oh we haven’t explained this yet, get it in now” to it, which made it feel rushed. This was exasperated by the fact that the explanation was short, and only a partial one, because of Hayate’s nature and her response. Those bits aside, I really enjoyed the series, especially the antics that Hayate gets upto trying to save the orphanage she grew up in.
The story does lose it’s way a little as time goes on and I’m not really sure what the story is anymore. It starts out as being Hayate just filling in for her sick twin sister (who so far has not appeared). It then goes on to saving the orphanage from the loan shark, and while this does provide for some interesting elements, it’s dropped rather suddenly and no longer seems to be impacting the story. Finally we don’t really have a story anymore, no real goal for the characters to be aiming for, or driving force.
However when all is said and done I did enjoy this series, there wasn’t a volume I didn’t get to chuckle over, and I don’t regret buying the series. While it’s not on my instant buy list, series I buy as soon as they’re released, it is one I will pick up as time goes by.
Both praise and criticism for Seven Seas sadly. Firstly the volumes are handled amazingly well, the covers are nice and glossy meaning they’ll last a while before falling a part (*cough*Tokyopop*cough*). I also loved the fact that they left the original naming conventions, rather than westernising them, and leaving all the the honorific’s and titles in as well. Each volume also has a well equipped glossary of terms explaining things really well, made it easy to read, follow and understand.
Sadly, the criticism part comes in not with the individual volume releases but rather the omnibus release. While I do like the covers of the omnibus, the timing of the release, and the way Seven Seas handle their omnibus’s make me want to pull my hair out (if I had hair hehe). Firstly the content. While it does contain the first three volumes, and in that regard it’s excellent value for money, it’s also missing the glossary, and all the extras of the first three volumes. So suddenly the excellent naming conventions, titles, and other original conventions that weren’t westernised, suddenly could become a hindrance. This is because Seven Seas seem to have a decided to put all the extras and glossaries at the end of the last omnibus, so you won’t get them until the second volume is released in April. It was the same for their omnibus release of Kashimashi sadly.
Also the timing is abysmal, all of the original volume are still readily available and relatively cheap to pick up. So there’s no need for an omnibus, I can’t help but see this as being a stop gap measure. Hayate x Blade moved publishers and they haven’t been able to license the series for the new publisher (yet). But rather than just admit that they say they’ve shifted focus to the omnibus version. Sadly this seems to be a bit of a repetition with Seven Seas, when something goes wrong or unexpected happens, they blame everything else rather than just come up and admit.
My personal views on this is that it’s well worth spending the few extra quid and getting the individual volumes rather that the omnibus, i consider them to be better value for money, and easier to read.