Finishing up 2012 reviews – Chuunibyou and Hayate Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

One-cour fall anime and two-cour spring anime are now ending these final weeks of 2012, and as usual, I plan to review the ones I’ve seen. The first two I’ll be discussing today are the ones with the longest names and a love of exclamation marks: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! and Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You…


Chuunibyou

Chuunibyou is one of the few anime where I first watched the trailer for it and thought it looked really good; an amusing mix of cute, school comedy and over-the-top, psychological romps are the first impressions I got from the trailer and hearing a bit about the story. Of course I would have watched it no matter what since it’s a work by my favorite studio, KyoAni. I can’t say I was particularly hooked by the first few episodes as we were just getting to know the characters and the gags were pretty much just focused on Rikka’s total obsession with her chuunibyou and Yuuta’s total aversion to it. They weren’t bad per se, but I couldn’t get that into the characters and humor. However, I’m not sure when but I think it was around episode 5-6 when the main cast had been assembled and were interacting with each other, that I really started liking the show. I started getting a lot of good laughs once the contrasting personalities of all the “Far East Magic Nap Society” members were together and bounced off each other, especially the antagonism between Nibutani and Dekomori and Isshiki being smitten by the clueless Kumin. I guess I just found the characters together as a group more humorous and likable than focus on just pre-character growth Rikka and Yuuta in the early episodes.

Not long after I started getting into the show and its humor, it took that dramatic turn and focused on Rikka’s backstory and the romance between her and Yuuta. I’ve heard complaints that the drama in the show didn’t work, but for me, I thought it was done quite well. We learned why Rikka holds on to her chuunibyou, we gradually see the feelings grow between her and Yuuta, there’s confessions, new-couple awkwardness, a separation, and then a reunion – I thought it all flowed well and having all these parts of their relationship didn’t make it feel rushed despite only the latter part of the series focusing on it. While there was some angst, I thought it was just the right amount and not oodles of tears and cries of agony, AnoHana-style (though I did feel Dekomori’s breakdown in episode 11 was a bit overdone). The ending made me tear up and it felt mostly satisfying except for the fact that I would have liked to see some kind of epilogue showing what happened with the characters – did Isshiki ever get together with Kumin? Did Dekomori really get over her chuunibyou too? And what did Rikka and Yuuta do after they got away from that police car?

All in all, despite a slow start and a few minor issues, I thought Chuunibyou was a very sweet show with a few good laughs and a lot of heart-tugging drama and romance. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece but definitely a good anime.


Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

While Chuunibyou did end up pleasantly surprisingly me, I unfortunately can’t say the same for the new Hayate anime. Just to give a bit of background, I’ve seen the two Hayate series by J.C. Staff. The first one, a whopping 52 episodes long, was very humor-centric, and while episodes were hit or miss, a lot were very funny and I got quite attached to the characters. Season 2, 25 episodes long, focused a lot more on the characters rather than the gags and I liked it very much, even more than the first season. A couple of years later a Hayate movie, produced by Manglobe this time, came out and I actually haven’t seen it. Judging by the synopsis, it just sounds like a long side-story which I think is supposed to follow the same storyline as the first two seasons and is not a prequel to the new Hayate anime I’ll be reviewing.

Going by what promotion said about Hayate Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, it was supposed to be something brand new, an independent version of the story not following the previous installments, and the manga author himself, Kenjiro Hata, was among the writing staff. But despite all this, it simply was not that good of an anime, whether for someone who’s already a fan of Hayate or someone brand new to the franchise. One of the issues I had with the series was that it failed to cater to either of those audiences. Most of the cast from the original series appear in this one, but with no introduction whatsoever, like the series is expecting us to already know who they are – Hayate is already Nagi’s butler, Hinagiku, Katsura, and the other side characters already know Hayate and Nagi, etc,. If Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is supposed to be a brand new Hayate series not related to the others, then why was there no introduction to any of these characters? Anyone watching this as their first Hayate series would fail to see the character-driven humor that the show has because they haven’t been properly introduced to the characters’ personalities. The only character I felt was actually introduced into the series and not just “placed” in it was Tsugumi, and that’s just because this is the first series she’s in. I was especially annoyed when Isumi suddenly appeared out of nowhere and started using her Shinto magic…again, anyone watching Hayate for the first time with Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and thus having no knowledge of Isumi would be like “Who is she and why can she do that?” But on the flip-side, for those who have seen the other Hayate series or manga, there’s a lot of differences with the characters that made it difficult to imagine that they’re exactly the same characters we know and love and we should just think of them as such in this version…so either way, this insistence on just placing characters in the show (and a lot of them at that for just 12 episodes) rather than introducing them was not a good move for whichever crowd they were trying to cater too.

The other big issue I had was the story as a whole. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You tried to balance between fun slice-of-life stuff while occasionally shifting focus to the rather convoluted plot involving a soul-stealing pocket watch. Eventually the plot took over in the later episodes and the tone shifted to drama…and that just didn’t work with the Hayate characters. The characters of the Hayate series have personalities and such that are all about fun gags and simple, light character-driven misadventures, so having them all involved in this rather bizarre and not very well constructed plot didn’t click with me. It was especially laughable to me in the final episode when it emphasized the strong bond between Nagi and Hayate when we hardly see any significant interactions between them throughout the whole series! Hell, Tsugumi gets more screentime in this show than HayatexNagi. In the final episode when all we got were those quick flashbacks Nagi had of the time she spent with Hayate, all things we never even saw in the show, I again thought, any person new to Hayate watching this couldn’t care about their bond because it’s barely been shown, while someone already familiar with Hayate watching this couldn’t care either because they’re not really the same Hayate and Nagi they know…Hayate wasn’t with Nagi when she was little in the old series for one thing (this “new” series didn’t even deal with how they met actually, something very important). So again, the show fails to cater to either audience of viewers. And who the heck was that crow guy? And that talking stuffed toy inside the watch? And having to sing in drag to make a miracle happen inside the watch…what the hell?

Anyway, as you can tell, I did not think highly of this Hayate installment. It was messy, lacked focus, couldn’t tell what audience it was catering to nor whether it wanted to be comedic or dramatic, and it just threw in one-dimensional rehashes of the old characters into the fray without introduction amongst a needlessly complicated plot. I’m not sure what the future holds for the next new Hayate anime coming out in spring, but if this is what Manglobe plans to do with the series, I wish J.C. Staff would take it back!

—–

Next week I plan to review Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Sword Art Online, and K, though since the latter two won’t finish until the end of next week, my post will probably be delayed. I’ll keep you updated via Twitter. And since I won’t be posting again until after, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas~! ~^__^~

19 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Cytrus says:

    Hayate was with Nagi when she was little during the time-leap incident at the end of the very first season. Nothing in this new series is contradictory with current canon.

    Doesn’t change the fact it’s a wreck though xD.

    I’m a fan of the manga first and foremost, so how Hayate anime adaptations fare doesn’t affect me much (none of them can compare with the original…), but that was one bad anime experience xD. The character designs are off to begin with, their running gags fail too often, it’s annoying to see Isumi job half the series, Ruka has nothing of the wow-factory she is supposed to give off etc.

    That said, the series gave us more of a glimpse of Yukariko than the manga has thus far, and manga readers know that the late Yukariko will be the one to make or break Hayate’s plot, “beloved by God” as she was. So I can forgive the series for that ;).

    I wonder if you’ll change your mind about Hayate characters =/= drama if they ever animate the End of the World arc…

    I should watch the final ep of Chuu2, too…

    • Yumeka says:

      Hmm, I thought some things were different about some of the characters in this series…but it has been a lot of years since I watched the first Hayate anime so I must have forgotten. Didn’t it show how Hayate and Nagi met in the first episode of the first series? Obviously I don’t remember about this time-leap thing you’re talking about =P But yeah, either way this new series was not good. I didn’t even mention the character designs since I was complaining about everything else XD If that was the only problem it wouldn’t have been a big deal =P I also agree that Ruka got all this hype (she has the whole ending theme to herself!) and she hardly plays any role in the show at all.

      I do hope there is more Hayate anime, preferably with J.C. Staff again. I look forward to this End of the World arc you speak of ;)

  2. Kal says:

    Oh, I totally agree about everything you say about the Hayate anime. It was pretty much a mess. I’m still reading the manga, and there are quite a number of decent arcs in the manga that they could have used for this anime, and they went with one that just did not make much sense. They wanted to introduce Nagi’s father I guess (he does not appear in the manga), but I just did not like the story overall. It just does not fit well, and was not really engaging for me. The only good thing about the anime, were the intro and ending. I liked the songs and animations in them (specially the ending), so at least that was good… Which is not much :(

    Ok, now with that out of the way, we come to Chuunibyou… Oh man, I loved that show. Unlike you, I liked the characters from the first episode. The funnies are funny, the drama was dramatic, and the romance was romantic. To me it just all fits so well, and wrapped in a high-quality animated package that Kyoani is known for, we get a really enjoyable series. Nibutani was kind of pushy when introduced, but I think that was on purpose. She became much more later. Sensible, aware of her surroundings, and very helpful. Dekomori was also kind of weird at the start, but I liked her character as well. Very smart-des, and she’s actually quite centered-des. Her relation with Mori-summer was funny, and engaging as well. Kumin-Senpai was not too well developed, but she was not given too much importance either, so she fits fine as a side character. The voice actors did a good job… I’m ranting too much aren’t I? I just loved this show. I think they made a really good job, and fit all the pieces nicely. Very nice indeed, and one I will definitely rewatch in the future :)

    • Yumeka says:

      It’s interesting that even readers of the Hayate manga – like you and Cytrus above – didn’t like this new anime series either. Seems like it failed to please anyone – readers of the manga, those who watched the previous anime, and probably those watching Hayate for the first time.

      Glad you liked Chuunibyou so much =) I’d rank it pretty highly among the KyoAni titles I’ve seen too.

  3. Bryce says:

    I am not too sure that Hayate is one of those that can be judged separately from everything else. I read the manga once and liked it, but have not continued (following too many series), but Astronerdbody seems to be a huge fan and says that Hata lets the things be covered in the anime so he does not need to do so in the manga, but it sure does sound like something not for newcomers.

    I have not really seen the other series you mention, but I just hope the people behind it do not head down the road Bones and Gonzo are on right now.

    • Yumeka says:

      I’m not much of a manga reader so I haven’t read the Hayate manga either, but that’s interesting about Hata letting things be covered in the anime so he can do other things in the manga.

  4. Cirris says:

    I enjoyed the heck out of Chuunibyou. It was just a GREAT story with a nice premise/plot, good characters, amazing music sound and animation. I’m not going to over-analyze it. I’ll just say that I looked forward to each week and will miss it now that it’s over.

    I’ve never seen Hayate before so I didn’t bother watching this incarnation.

    I’ll wait for your review of SAO and other before i give my two cents.

    • Yumeka says:

      Glad to hear you liked Chuunibyou so much =)

      Heh, obviously I don’t think you’re missing out by not watching this Hayate incarnation XD If you ever feel like giving the series I try, I would recommend the original 52-episode series by J.C. Staff to start.

      I look forward to your comments on SAO.

  5. Mikoto says:

    I’m on the same boat with Chuunibyou, kind of. Thought the characters and humor were good enough for a casual watch, but I really got into it after episode 5. It has to be my favorite anime during the Autumn season besides Little Busters

    • Yumeka says:

      Seems like we felt the same way about Chuunibyou =) Unfortunately I can’t share your enthusiasm for Little Busters though…at least not yet =P

  6. Adziu says:

    Just finished Chuunibyou and I’m afraid I’m also in the camp that enjoyed it for the first half but didn’t feel the dramatic turn worked very well – or at least, that once it went dramatic it didn’t follow through in a way I could agree with. I’ll post up my thoughts tomorrow!

  7. chikorita157 says:

    Believe it or not, while I enjoyed Chuunibyou, it had some flaws, especially after Episode 9, the drama just didn’t quite fit in such a lighthearted show. It’s not bad, but it just got too ridiculous in Episode 11 with Sanae crying. It just like a train came in a short period of time. Still, I still think it’s pretty good after letting the finale settle down, although it’s clear that Kyoto Animation isn’t really strong in making original story writing (Mento was a flop and that they kind of diverged away from the light novel), which kind of got me worried about Tamako Market, which is 100% original story. If they can prove me wrong by making an enjoyable original story similar to the success that PA Works did, maybe I will have more confidence in them. Aside from that, I think their strength lies in faithful adaptations instead of being overly creative.

    • Yumeka says:

      I really just thought that one scene with Dekomori in episode 11 was a bit over the top, but all the other drama wasn’t too bad. But yeah, like I said to Adzui above, viewers seem to be split between whether they liked the drama in the later part of the show or not.

      I too wonder how Tamako Market, a totally original work, will do. We shall see soon enough.

  8. Yuriko says:

    Yes, I heard many people complain about Chuuni sudden turn out to drama. I think like you, it was done good. I haven’t got anything against it.There were some signs that it will be something more that a gag comedy. I think Dekomori haven’t quit her chuunibyou, we see her in twintails in the last minutes.

  9. Kai says:

    I’m pleasantly surprised by Chuuni. I’m also one of the type that think the sudden drama in Chuunibyou is actually a good thing. In fact, it’s that sudden shift that surprises me.

    I didn’t watch the new Hayate series though, judging from how bad a reception it was receiving, I just kinda.. deleted all of the episodes I downloaded, lol.

  10. Barton Parsons says:

    Hmm, an entire episode dedicated to Tama. Not exactly what I was looking forward to when this second series appears to be only 26 episodes, so here’s to hoping that the last five episodes will involve more of Hayate’s “girl problems”.

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