Something is wrong with my Hayate TV cartoon: It doesn’t have a KOTOKO opening song and the jokes are missing, I want a refund.

Also, where’s my giant Gundam silhouette in the opening? Why is Elisa singing a song without Tenmon doing the instrumentals? What’s wrong with this show?!

That said, when I first wrote that title (back in May 9th–it’s been busy) I was slightly more angry at this show then than I am now, but there’s still things to say about J.C. Staff’s fling with Hata Kenjirou’s Hayate no Gotoku!

It more or less goes without saying that this new Hayate cartoon is a bit different from the first one. First off, the timeline is reset to make everything work in the context of the original manga (an issue I addressed in a comic); secondly, the show is now in the hands of J.C. Staff; and thirdly, the show is now also in a more otaku-oriented late-night timeslot. I don’t think I need to tell you that this has changed the tone of the show dramatically.

What probably hits the hardest–at least at first–is the resetting of the timeline. As a rule I hate shit like this, because it cheapens everything that happened previously. Of course, this is Hayate we’re talking about, so continuity isn’t that important (oh wait, I guess it is) but it just kind of seems like a giant “fuck you” to people like me who liked the first series better. Other than that you do get some repeated scenes, but nothing too major.

The new timeslot isn’t really worth talking about, since the first series was more or less a late night show that aired at 10am on Sunday, but the fact that J.C. Staff is behind this second series is something that should be discussed.

I wrote a fairly wordy post about the possibilities of a Hayate anime made by J.C. Staff before this series began airing. I was cautiously optimistic, but it seems I placed too much faith in J.C. Staff, who have–by the way–been really phoning it in lately. To be blunt, the execution of this new series is completely soulless. Sure, there is a decent amount of spirit carried through in the writing (which is lifted wholesale from the manga) but there’s nothing in the direction that really takes any of the source material up to 11. In fact, J.C. Staff’s careful, clinical and scientific approach to making cartoons actually robs the work of some of its charm.

Synergy SP really knew what they were doing, and I think if they were making this second season–in all its reset timeline, closer to the manga glory–they’d do a better job. J.C. Staff plays it too straight and safe. I don’t think the concept of even making an artistic directorial assertion even crosses the mind of any of the boring people there (who I imagine all look like the Anti-Spiral.) Their work is simply taking manga panels, colouring them, and putting them on the small screen. That’s it.

Synergy SP makes the most of it all. While their Hayate series didn’t adhere to the source material at all, I get the impression that Zettai Karen Children was fairly faithful. I haven’t read the manga, but Synergy SP injected so much energy into that show, even in the dark, serious moments–moments that could have been trite, horrible and clichĂ©, and made them good by simply giving it their all. The team over at SP knows how to present things in such a way that is just totally and completely entertaining, and I think their touch would really work in this new series. Heck, the serious moments in the first Hayate series were handled splendedly–the Radical Dreamers episode is better in the anime than it is  in the manga. J.C. Staff’s approach is dull–there’s no energy put into dramatic moments, jokes incite chuckles–maybe real laughs, if lucky, and everything just moves slower than it should.

With all that badmouthing, I’m still enjoying the show. At its core, Hayate is still Hayate, even if it’s gone from Keroro-grade parody show to romcom. I’m enjoying the characters, do appreciate a stronger focus on story, and J.C. Staff’s animation work is pretty topnotch. That said, I still want more random Gundam references.