It has been almost three and a half years since I first reviewed Hayate x Blade and in all that time, never once has my delight in this series lessened one iota. So you can imagine how thrilled I am to tell you now about the English-language edition of Hayate x Blade, Volume 1. (In case you somehow missed my raving about this manga, please feel free to check out my reviews of the volumes already out in Japanese.)
The story of Hayate x Blade is an entertaining mix of comedy, action, drama, chicks with weapons, and a a Yuri-ish setup that grows ever more Yuri as the plot develops. Pairs of girls, sword sisters, competing in battles for supremacy, power and money….and mostly for the amusement of the chairwoman of Tenchi Gakuen, the wholly whimsical Amachi Hitsugi. This is awesome stuff.
In terms of the reproduction there’s something I really need to tell you. It was my pleasure to be able to be the copy editor on this book. No, seriously. Remember way back last spring when I told you that I had gotten a side job? Well, that side job was to be able to edit manga for Tor. I love working on the Seven Seas manga, not just because it gives me the opportunity to see the books early (because, frankly, I don’t really feel any need to see Inukami ever, much less early) but because they do such good work. It’s very enjoyable to be part of the process.
So, before I tell you that the English edition is damn good, you need to understand that it’s pretty much a conflict of interest. ^_^; Nonetheless, I honestly think they did a pretty damn good job with this book!
The volume is not entirely without problems, but those that exist are so small – slightly too thin paper, slightly too dark print, I don’t really love the design for the logo – are so incredibly small and tedious that they bear mentioning only in the interest of fairness. The important stuff – the reproduction, the translation, the adaptation, the lettering, the sound f/x, etc. are all top-notch.
Yuri in Volume 1 is mostly confined to the existence of openly lesbian (i.e., shounen-style pervy girl) Kuga Jun, roomate to one of our leads, Mudou Ayana. But don’t be disheartened, the Yuri quotient rises as the series goes on. And I just finished reading the most recent chapter and can swear to you that the series has never let me down in any way. Yuri, comedy, drama, action – it’s all there in spades.
I am so very, very glad that Hayate x Blade made it out in 2008, so I can happily name it the best English-language Yuri manga of the year.
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 6
Service – 2
Overall – 8
Run! Run! Buy this for yourself and two copies for friends. Yes, it’s that good.