Eight Butlers Battling

Butlers Battling

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Eight Butlers Battling,
Seven Mingin’ Monsters,
Six Shower Showdowns,
Five Flag Furores,
Four Gundam Bishies,
Three Empty Paragraphs,
Two Heroes Dueling
And a Bloodstained Euphie.

Butler-related comedy and I have a long history. When I was on the threshold of adolesence, there were few things I enjoyed more than settling down with a Wodehouse, and Wodehouse’s most famous creation is the superlative ‘gentleman’s gentleman’, Jeeves.

You might say that Wodehouse had prepared the ground for me to enjoy Hayate the Combat Butler many (?) years later. And enjoy it I do. In a reversal of the standard approach, Hayate is mostly composed of material which in other shows would be considered omake or filler. The neat thing that Hayate does is to hit the viewer with so much parody, allusion, fast-paced comedy and self-aware fanservice that it makes a virtue out of what would normally be a vice. It goes so deep into the ocean of filler-type content that it comes out into a New World of entertainment (or something like that).

Hayate also breaks the fourth wall. A lot. In fact, it doesn’t just break it, it bulldozes it down, crushes the rubble to dust and schedules the area for aggressive re-zoning. It’s also (yet) another chance to hear Kugimiya Rie playing a loli tsundere. Typecasting looms like an iceberg in the mists of her future career (Sotonians love Titanic-related similes). But – let’s face it – she does know how to play a loli tsundere by now, so hooray! for that.

Jeeves & Wooster
‘If I’m Hayate, who’s Nagi?’

If I had to pick a highlight from the whole series, it would be the tenth episode. It’s covered in greater depth here, but suffice to say it’s the most parodic, bizarrely hilarious piece of comedy I’ve seen in a while. Now, it may just be that Hayate appeals to my personal sense of humour particularly, but whatever the reason it certainly qualifies for a mention in these twelve days.

Finally, I do find myself speculating. What if Hayate and Jeeves were to have a butle-off? Hayate ‘trains’, and is seemingly-indestructible, but I picture Jeeves in a hunting jacket, hefting an elephant gun with an air of quiet confidence. All those Wodehouse books, and we never learned what Jeeves’ secret technique was . . .


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