|PG-Rated Fight Club with Swords|
This is a bit odd manga series that seems to be a weird fusion between Fight Club and Kill Bill only with a PG Rating that features an all-girl’s academy which is run by an incredibly rich and awfully unorthodox high school girl who gives the whole ‘when you got money, you’re not crazy just eccentric’ truism a real run for its money. She’s been sponsoring a “sword club” for several years now where the twist is that you cannot fight solo but only as two-women groups known as “sword pairs”. They duel for honor, for glory, for money, and sometimes for the thrill of battle.
Into this strange tournament is thrown a young girl, Hayate Kurogane whose twin sister Nagi has eagerly been training for this “sword club” for years only to suffer an injury that leaves her incapacitated until her rehabilitation therapy is complete which will take several months. In danger of losing her slot at the academy, Nagi begs Hayate to attend in her place. Hayate agrees to serve as a placeholder and has no intention of participating in this strange sword club as she hasn’t wielded a practice sword in years. Or she didn’t until she discovers that her beloved old orphanage is in danger of being foreclosed by a shady loan company. To save it, she needs money. Lots of money. And she immediately seizes upon the idea of using the “sword club” to raise the cash.
The problem is with Hayate’s delay in signing up has resulted in all of really good partners have already been snapped up. And to win (and for the cash), Hayate needs to have a really strong partner and she chooses a cynical loner named Ayana Mudo who has a lot of emotional baggage she’s dealing with but can’t bring herself to say no to Hayate’s plight.
First as a word of warning, this manga has more than a few implied yuri (lesbian) scenes and couples although nothing graphic. Hayate for example, has a huge crush on Ayana which further complicates their relationship as she wants to evolve their partnership to a more romantic level and Ayana would prefer Hayate practice with her sword more and act less like a twit.
Despite a rather intricate setup, the plots really isn’t that complex and usually revolve about Hayate and Ayana’s sword battles, Hayate’s friends and associates, and sometimes about Ayana’s troubled past and former partner who is now a rival to them.
For the most part, there isn’t that much depth to the characters as this is primarily a comedy series. There is a sort of zany viciousness to Ayana when she goes berserk and inflicts pain on Hayate or her somewhat perverted roommate Jun who likes fondling her too, but there isn’t much graphic blood and violence otherwise nor are there awe-inspiring sword battles so it’s not big on the action either
Hayate X Blade instead relies on the wackiness of the various personalities of the characters interacting with each other and there are quite a few odd and eccentric individuals populating this series.
The artwork is drawn well enough but it is somewhat on the cartoonish side. Realism isn’t exactly a major factor in this series with Hayate being the most extreme example of it, often having the most awe-dropping expressions and visual reactions. Most of the other characters aren’t quite as extreme as her though and are a lot more realistic in appearance. The background sets are fairly well done otherwise.
It's a bit of an odd series but there is a quirky appeal to it along with moments of genuine humor and heart but it’s overly contrived and overly focused on female characters and girl-girl romance. There’s little in the way of action or slapstick comedy, basically it’s moderately amusing for the most part but the humor isn’t quite enough to elevate this series to being one of the truly great comedies of manga and merely settles for mediocrity.
RATING: 3 STARS.