There is a new anime installment of the popular manga Hayate no Gotoku! airing this season. It’s not finished airing yet, but I’ve mostly made up my mind on the show. I don’t like to do that normally, since the ending can really make or break a show, but considering the kind of show this is, there isn’t really ending that can justify the train wreck this show has been so far. Now normally, bad shows pop up every season, so why am I bringing attention to this one specifically?
Hayate no Gotoku has actually had 2 past anime installments prior to this one. And they were both very good! There’s an excellent pedigree of material prior to this show, and the formula is simple enough to translate incredibly easily into another solid season of comedy. But here’s the crux of the issue. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, the new series, tried something different. Change. It’s a scary word, but can lead to a lot of good when applied intelligently. Unfortunately, it didn’t work so well here. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You took an established brand that had an easy formula and tried something different, quite poorly.
The first change is the introduction (or attempt) of a coherent plot the show tries to follow. In this case it’s the arrival of a girl who claims to be Nagi’s sister, Tsugumi Ruri, and the ensuing mystery of the black camellia, a watch in Nagi’s family that’s supposed to bring very poor luck most of the time, and very good luck at a certain time in the day. By itself, the plot doesn’t sound all that bad actually. The show is mostly a comedy series, and while it does have a few plot-like developments from time to time, this is a big shift as being a major arc. And unfortunately, the arc has been implemented quite poorly.
The pacing is interspersed with a lot of comedy, which is normal. However, the beginning of the show is broken up with a lot of filler which causes a huge loss of focus. Then, all of a sudden they kind of jerk you back into what is supposed to be the plot. It’s a jarring shift, and one that I don’t think works well with what Hayate no Gotoku was before this show came along. Moreover, since the show is only supposed to last 12 episodes, the plot is encompassing all of that. Being much longer than a traditional arc from this series makes it feel very dragged out and mostly unwelcome.
The other major problem with this show is the shift in art styles. This usually doesn’t bother me too much, honestly, but here it’s a big issue. I’ve watched 79 episodes of the show, and an OVA and a movie, and for there to be a shift now is awkward and seemingly without explanation. I understand a new studio is working on the series, but there was a studio shift between the first two series and they mostly looked the same (felt the same too, like a natural continuation). As it stands now, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You feels very out of place compared to all the other anime Hayate no Gotoku has had, and is worse off for it.
Fortunately the characters are much the same. I’d normally argue that the characters are most important in a show like this, but considering the strong focus this show is taking on plot, it feels like a weak argument. One side-effect of the characters being the as good as they were is that most of the humor is still okay, though the show just feels a bit different. It’s not something I can explain easily, but the show just isn’t as funny as the previous incarnations were, which is annoying.