Manga Village

Hayate X Blade Volume 1

May 13, 2009

But trust me, kid. You don’t want to hang around me. You’ll get hurt.

By Shizuru Hayashiya
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Age Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Genre: Drama
Price: 9.99 USD

Another exclusive all-girls school. Another unlikely student accepted into its ranks. Another special characteristic that makes this school “unique”. Are all shoujo manga moons orbiting the exact same planet? It seems like we see this generic foundation over and over and over again. And if this is what fans want, then there is no reason for creators and publishers to start fishing from different holes.

As I read more shoujo titles I have discussed my frustration with the similarities in the fundamental story lines. I do know I am not the target audience, and what I am looking for may not be what hardcore shoujo fans are reading for. To be honest, I am not 100% sure what I am looking for. I thought it was for originality, but if that isn’t what Hayate X Blade has, what it does have is something more.

Hayate fills in for her ill twin-sister at Tenchi Academy (a plot point that is emphasized early, but fades in significance). The elite students engage in the Sword Bearer program, adding sword battles at the ring of a bell along with their regular school work. The rules of the Sword Bearers is are as complex as a card game, but thankfully they are introduced at a comprehensible pace, and Hayate’s ignorance of the rules often plays into the story’s humor.

What is interesting is Hayate’s energetic and glass-half-full personality. Sword Bearers work in teams and the fish-that-doesn’t-know-she-is-out-water personality of Hayate is enough to convince Lone Wolf Sword Bearer Ayana to team up. (This process is one of the funniest parts of the first volume.) Hayate’s enthusiasm is infectious and is the perfect Yang to Ayana’s brooding Yin. The growth in their relationship, both in school and on the battlefield is what makes Hayate X Blade a sharp and solid title.

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John Thomas

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