I missed watching Hayate 2 last night because the TV room was closed and I don’t have a TV in my room

I did however get a raw this morning. I didn’t know that CR was streaming it, but that’s neither here nor there because those douches block Japanese IPs! I got a sub rip though, and I’ll just watch that later on.

The story so far: A year ago, the final episode of the near perfect first season of Hayate no Gotoku! was punctuated with an announcement of  a second season. After that, details were sparse at best for many months.

Throughout Zettai Karen Children’s run, Synergy SP–the studio that had worked on Hayate–often times had Hayate characters cameo in select episodes. In one episode it was even a small plot point. This lead me–and undoubtedly many others–to believe that Hayate’s second season was to be produced by Synergy SP.

Then the news came.

I don’t remember when, but at some point it was announced that J.C. Staff was going to produce the one off Hayate OVA to promote the new series, which then lead people to suspect that J.C. Staff would also be animating season 2. The rest is history.

Anyway, on to the premier episode of Hayate no  Gotoku!! (take note of the two exclamation marks.) The previous OVA that J.C. Staff put out demonstrated their familiarity with the cast of characters, but also quite clearly demonstrated that they lack the same directorial competence as Synergy SP. The episode flowed like any other anime episode and that’s a big problem, because what set the first Hayate series apart from the rest of the pack was its incredibly energetic pace and crazy direction.

This first episode of the second season proper is not necessarily an improvement in that respect, but I enjoyed it a lot more. The series is resetting the timeline back to that of the manga (probably to please the anal purists out there, and to them I extend a enthusiastic “fuck you”) and opens with Nagi’s attempt at running the marathon–which is incidentally where I left off on in the manga.

What sets J.C. Staff’s work apart from Synergy SP’s work immediately is the visual aesthetic. Synergy SP’s characters had a lot of solidity to them–lines tended to be more straight than curved, and in addition to that the colours weren’t very saturated. This looked great. J.C. Staff’s linework is more fluid–there is a lot more curvature, and the colours this time around are more saturated. The blur effect is gone, too. This looks great. Different, but great.

The key aspect that really sets season 1 and 2 apart is what I outlined above–the direction. I walked into the first Hayate series with no expectations, and came out of episode 1 completely a totally convinced. If I had watched the first episode of this season without any prior experience with the franchise, I wouldn’t be as sold.

That said, I did really like this first episode. Nagi’s struggles to break out of her otaku shell are adorable, and I like how Hayate plays a type of big brother figure for her. Where the show lacks in comedy, it makes up for in moé. There are a lot of very cute moments, and it seems as if they’re making more of an effort to sell the thing on fanservice. Just as I expected, really.

Doing this is fine, but in a way it cheapens the series. I really enjoyed the first Hayate as a brilliantly executed comedy that made references to the likes of Gundam and Evangelion whenever it damn well felt like it. I’m not feeling it here. Which is strange, since I know J.C. Staff has it in them. I don’t know, maybe they’re just too used to making Zero no Tsukaima now.

Season 2 comes with a new opening song, which is unfortunately not by Kotoko, and instead by that ef girl. It’s pretty good, but seems all too serious for what should be a comedy show. The animation that comes with it is good enough. The ending sequence is a real kick to pants for people like me and my comrade mt-i, as it centers entirely around Hinagiku. Hinagiku is a fine character, and I know she has legions of fans, but having an ending sequence focused entirely around someone who is not the main character makes absolutely no sense in my mind. Seriously, what gives?

But the important part was that I liked it. I wasn’t blown away, but more Hayate is always a good thing. Hopefully J.C. Staff will find it in them to flip the bird to the purist douchebags and go Excel Saga nuts with the series after a while. Probably not, though.