The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Hayate no Gotoku! Heaven Is a Place on Earth

Title: Hayate no Gotoku! Heaven Is a Place on Earth aka Hayate the Combat Butler! Heaven Is a Place on Earth
Genre: Comedy
Company: Manglobe
Format: Movie; 58 minutes.
Dates: 27 Aug 2011

Synopsis: The super rich and always bored Sanzenin Nagi is well on her way to wasting another summer break playing video games. Her butler-in-debt, Ayasaki Hayate, attempts to circumvent this by taking Nagi on a vacation out in the countryside for some open air. Curious events shake up Nagi’s peaceful vacation, however, and she disappears from the lives of her friends and must find a way to restore her existence.

The Highlights
Comedy: Almost none to speak of.
Story: Sounds far more exciting than it actually is.
Characters: Zero development; several are reduced to pointless cameos.
Heaven: Might be a place on Earth, but this movie definitely didn’t find it.

This brief Hayate no Gotoku! feature film commits the cardinal sin of comedies: it’s not funny.

I’ve found the first two seasons of Hayate to be mixed comedic experiences. It’s definitely of the “throw anything and everything at the wall and see what sticks” mold of comedy, and when something does stick with Hayate, it’s often hilarious. That is not the case here. Now, I’m not some irritated schoolmarm. I love to laugh, and any excuse I can take to laugh—no matter how stupid—I will grab it. That said, I laughed maybe twice the entire movie.

Heaven Is a Place on Earth is an undeniable chore to watch, even for the most ardent Hayate fan. The experience feels mailed in to a sad degree; it’s as if the movie is written by people who have a cursory understanding of what makes the Hayate characters tic, and proceeds to have them sleepwalk through the most rudimentary jokes and interactions. Hey, Nagi sure does like to play video games and is dependent on modern technology. That’s funny, right? Oh, and Hinagiku gets embarrassed easily when people confront her on her feelings for Hayate. That’s a gold mine of humor!

There’s nothing fresh about the comedy in this movie. It’s like watching one of those depressing late-night commercials about CDs that cobble together a bunch of nu metal tracks that nobody has cared about in a decade.

Since the comedy doesn’t work, the movie has to rely more on an aspect of Hayate that has always been precarious: the story. Nobody watches Hayate no Gotoku! for the story. They watch it to 1) laugh and 2) ship one of the girls with Hayate. Heaven Is a Place on Earth proves why nobody watches Hayate no Gotoku! for the story. It could not possibly be more inconsequential and lazy. The main conflict of the story arises from lame supernatural elements that grow into a tepid ghost story whose resolution feigns at furthering the relationship between Hayate and Nagi but actually doesn’t. In the entire 58 minutes of this movie, there is never a single reason to care about what happens.

The fact that the story is dull and meaningless wouldn’t sting quite so much if anything of worth were done with the characters. Alas, outside of Nagi and Hayate, the massive cast is largely reduced to cameos. Maria, Hinagiku, Sakuya, Ayumu, and on and on and on are nothing but soulless versions of their normal selves. I’m likely a rarity among Hayate fans in that my favorite character is Hinagiku’s selfish, foul-mouthed sister, Yukiji, and even I think her appearance in this movie is pointless and stupid. It’s one of the few times in my life I’ve felt sorry for a fictional character.

Heaven Is a Place on Earth isn’t terrible so much as it is boring, which, to me, is worse than if it had been terrible. At least then it might be memorable.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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