Hayate the Combat Butler is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kenjiro Hata. It was serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine from October 2004 to April 2017. Shogakukan released 52 volumes in Japan from February 2005 to June 2017. Viz Media publishes an English edition in North America. The manga is about a boy who starts a new job as a butler and the events he experiences with his employer. The style of the manga has a comedic gag with a slight harem feel and constantly breaks the fourth wall. The series includes numerous references to other anime, manga, video games, and popular culture.
A 52-episode anime adaptation of the manga by SynergySP aired between April 2007 and March 2008 on TV Tokyo. A second, 25-episode anime season by J.C.Staff aired between April and September 2009. Bandai Entertainment licensed the first anime series in 2008, but the series went out of print in 2012. An anime film adaption produced by Manglobe was released in August 2011. A third, 12-episode anime television series by Manglobe, based mostly on an original story not seen in the manga aired between October and December 2012. A fourth anime season aired between April and July 2013. Sentai Filmworks has licensed all four seasons of the anime.
Hayate the Combat Butler is written and illustrated by Kenjiro Hata. It began serialization in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shōnen Sunday magazine on October 20, 2004, and concluded on April 12, 2017. Shogakukan published the chapters in 52 tankōbon volumes from February 18, 2005 to June 16, 2017. Viz Media publishes the manga in North America and released the first volume on November 14, 2006. The most recent English release is volume 34, on September 9, 2019. The English translations are done by Yuki Yoshioka and Cindy H. Yamauchi, and the English adaptation is done by Mark Giambruno.
Over ten million copies of the manga and other Hayate-related books have been sold in Japan as of January 2009. Carlo Santos of Anime News Network gave Volume 14 of the manga a C+, citing Hata’s overextension of a complex work with multiple simultaneous plotlines and constant scene changes. He does note that Sakuya’s birthday party as an example of the work’s strong point. Chris Beveridge of Mania.com gave part six of the anime an overall B rating. Although, in his opinion, the storyline and nature of the anime has not changed much, he was suddenly captivated. Beveridge sums up these feelings for the final episodes by noting that they “had a certain flavor and flow to them that left me pretty happy, which is a surprise after five volumes that left me feeling ambivalent at best.”
Hayate Ayasaki is an unlucky 16-year-old boy who has worked since childhood to make ends meet due to his parents’ irresponsible behavior. On Christmas Eve, he finds out his parents have run away from home while shouldering him with a massive ¥156,804,000 gambling debt. The Yakuza (from whom the money was borrowed in the first place) plan to settle the debt by selling his organs. While running away from the debt collectors, Hayate meets Nagi Sanzenin, a 13-year-old girl and the sole heir of the wealthy Sanzenin estate, and her maid Maria. Due to a misunderstanding, Nagi falls in love with Hayate. After he rescues Nagi from kidnappers, she hires Hayate as her new butler.
Aside from performing his ordinary duties as a butler, Hayate must fight to protect Nagi from harm, a difficult task since her life is always in danger because she is the target of individuals who covet her family’s fortune, and sometimes must deal with her extravagant requests, oblivious to Nagi’s true feelings for him. Later in the story, Hayate must juggle the feelings of several other girls, Ayumu Nishizawa, his former classmate; and Hinagiku Katsura, the student council president of Hakuō Academy. Hayate had a romantic relationship with a childhood friend, Athena Tennousu, who is chairwoman of the board of Hakuō Academy.
Due to the events of Golden Week, involving Hayate and Athena, Nagi ends up forfeiting her inheritance. With the last of her savings, Nagi and Maria move with Hayate to an old apartment building called “Violet Mansion” owned by her late mother Yukariko, and rents its extra rooms for income: having Chiharu Harukaze, the secretary of Hakuō Academy; Hinagiku, Ayumu, Athena (in child-form), Kayura Tsurugino, an “elite otaku”; and Ruka Suirenji, a pop idol who also develops feelings for Hayate, as its tenants.
After a series of adventures with the tenants, Nagi manages to reclaim her fortune. On an excursion in America, Hayate finally pays off his massive debt, but decides to keep working as Nagi’s butler, especially when the battle for the Sanzenin inheritance intensifies. Athena eventually regains full strength and Maria resigns as Nagi’s maid. On Christmas Eve, the “misunderstanding” of Hayate and Nagi’s relationship is exposed, creating a rift that leads to the final battle. Hayate rescues Nagi from the godly Royal Garden, but she decides to relinquish her status as an heir and concedes the rights to her cousin Hisui Hatsushiba, before firing Hayate to set him free. Two years later, a self-sufficient Nagi reunites with Hayate in the place they met for the first time, where he tells her that despite not being her butler anymore, he still wants to be with her, and that there is “something he needs to tell her”, before locking hands and walking together under the starry night sky.