The B side of the Negima/Hayate double-billed combo is Hayate no Gotoku – Heaven is a Place on Earth. Unlike the Negima movie, nobody was really sure what this one would be about before it was screened. Many hopes were dashed when it was announced that the movie would not cover the End of the World manga arc (one of the popular theories right after the movie was announced) but instead show an all-original country-themed story. So what did we get instead of our sword loli?
Warning: the following post may contain some slight spoilers (it’s mostly safe, though).
The movie opens with none other than the idol singer (and doujinshi artist) Suirenji Ruka. It will still be some time before we can see her in the anime, so Hata-sensei found a way to slip her in here. And what a first impression it is! With the spotlight solely on her flowing moves and the power of a cinema’s sound system to carry her singing, we see Ruka as Nagi must have seen her during their first meeting – a near divine, unreachable existence.
Other than Ruka’s dancing, the opening of the movie is composed of humorous still images showing Nagi and Hayate’s first meeting and some romantic scenes with all the girls of Hayate’s life (including those who have already gotten over him, like Isumi, and Athena attempting to kill him with her Gate of Babylon.)
The story is simple enough – Nagi tries to survive a week in the country (no games! iphone doesn’t connect!) and Hayate confronts a supernatural occurrence that threatens to tear him apart from his mistress. All of this is spaced out with a huge dose of heartwarming bonding and typical Hayate humor.
Visually, the movie is a joy to look at. The character designs in Hayate are so simple it’s difficult to screw them up. We all know Hata can’t draw to save his life (or rather, he can’t draw anything too fanciful), but he doesn’t really need to. Less is more. The movie’s bright colors really bring the characters to life. And where the characters are simple, some of the backgrounds are stunning. I’ve been to the country here in Japan, and I don’t recall everything being so green and full of life >_<.
The movie has some presents for fans of all the popular characters. It is particularly commendable how the fanservice never wastes time or feels forced. Even a Hinagiku bath scene flows seamlessly with the developing plot. Other than seeing the girls in a selection of unusual clothing (and, in Hinagiku’s case, the lack thereof) we also get some more fuzzy scenes sure to make the hearts of all the shippers beat faster.
There are also short battle scenes just to remind us that, yes, the characters who are awesome are awesome. Hinagiku summons Shirosakura at will, Isumi is being Isumi, Hayate has been practicing his jumping skills… and Nagi’s screams can destroy dimensions. Probably.
The plot wraps up nicely, not introducing anything new to the Hayate universe, but reinforcing the main message of the series. And the ending shows that the unluckiest butler in the universe knows exactly how blessed he is. I know at least a few other main characters who should take after Hayate and appreciate what they have instead of complaining all the time…
The movie closes with Heaven is a Place on Earth by fripSide. I guess fripSide can’t be accused of being too original when it comes to making songs, but I for one couldn’t help taping my foot to the rhythm when this one started playing during the credits.
Bottom line: Pure fun and a mandatory watch for all fans of the unlucky butler and his otaku mistress.
(Also, third anime season confirmed!)