Yuri Manga: Hayate Cross Blade, Volume 1 (English)

October 30th, 2008

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.

Ratings:

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.

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25 Responses

  1. DezoPenguin says:

    My copy was shipped yesterday. :) Seriously, I really hope this sells, if not necessarily “well,” then at least “adequately to maintain continued sales,” not only for its own sake but because the better it does the more likely it is we’ll get Strawberry Shake Sweet ’cause of the author appeal…

  2. Anonymous says:

    IT’S FINALLY OUT?! *runs to Japan Town*

    I have been waiting for this to come out, for like a year now. I read some previews and all of your reviews on it. I can’t wait to read it in it’s licensed, English-translated glory…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Although I’ve always enjoyed your writings since I started reading Okazu a few months back, now that you’ve revealed yourself to be a “pro” in the manga industry I’m even more impressed. As superficial as it sounds, I also suddenly feel there is more gravity and importance in what you have to say. Since you work as an editor is is safe to assume that you’re proficient in Japanese? How and when did you learn?

  4. anonymous – I’ve been a pro in the field for 5 years now. I just happen to be working for Tor at the moment, as well as being the publisher of ALC manga.

    I am nothing like fluent, but my Japanese is good enough to translate, edit and review Japanese manga here.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I have high hopes for this and totally expect it to deliver. But mine probably won’t arrive in the mail for at least half a week, sadly.

  6. Katherine says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading this in English after it arrives in the mail. ^^ More Hayashiya goodness!! Yuri aside, this title has everything I normally like in a series (and executed wonderfully to boot!). Hopefully it’ll get the attention and promotion that it deserves.

  7. deanbcurtis says:

    I’d be a bit curious in seeing how many people follow the blog that aren’t fans of HxB. I suppose it would actually be pretty diverse. Still, it seems like reading the work of Hayashiya Shizuru is practically a rite of passage. Nonetheless, it’s a great release. I think what I treasure most is the preservation of the Lawson Kamen gag. It’s not the most essential line in the manga, nor is it particularly complex wordplay (Kamen=Mask). So, changing it wouldn’t be a Brooklyn Osaka thing. But, knowing that it will be used again, makes it infinitely better.

  8. dean – I hope that many Okazu readers have become Hayate fans, certainly. But even more, I hope that the people who pop in here randomly are wooed by tales of comedy-drama and swordfights.

    I was also pleased at the Lawson Kamen gag, there were many other things that they left that I liked as well, like leaving “Hoshitori” intact.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I can’t wait ’til this hits shelves in my area. Sometimes I curse that I live in Pennsylvania….

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh man! I’ve been waiting for this for months ever since I first read your review on it. <3

    Thank you for making me a fan of Hayashiya Shizuru’s work. :D

  11. /t. says:

    Ahahaha…I bought it all because of YOU extolling its virtues at the first MangaNext (or was it Onna?)!

  12. Eric P. says:

    I won’t be able to go to the mall until the following weekend, but when I do I’ll be sure to pick this title up. And congratulations for having been a part of this–it’ll certainly make the English-release of this manga more interesting for me!

  13. Hynavian says:

    I’m still waiting for my local bookstall to ship this in for me but it’ll arrive probably 2 weeks later. I’ve placed a special order for it after reading your review, again, thanks for the recommendations.(:

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so very very very much
    without this blog I would have never known to pick up this gem.

  15. Shanejayell says:

    Bought and liked it, since it just hit my local anime shop. Looking forward to #2!

  16. Woah, I didn’t know you were the copy editor for this Erica.

    So, ummm, what did you think of my adaptation?

  17. bec says:

    i found something kinda strange in the text that i was wondering if anybody had picked up on – when hayate jumps on ayana’s shoulders after the whole suzuki episode where she draws her sword outside of battle times in the lunch room, hayate is shouting “adrienne! adrienne!” is this a reference to the translator?
    So happy i got my copy though.. Shizuru hayashiya is genius

  18. Hi bec- – It’s a reference to the movie “Rocky.”

    Later there are references to the TV show CHiPS, as well. You’re going to find a lot of pop culture references, both japanese and American, in this series.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’m considering buying this manga, but ANN’s review of it has been pretty critical, so i’m not yet sure if i will (well, that and i don’t quite trust Seven Seas to release the whole thing).
    In any case i’ll put this one in the “maybe” pile for now and might buy it once i finish collecting the Claymore, Seirei no Moribito, Maria sama ga miteru, Aria, Lucky star and Nanoha DVD releases.

  20. @Anonymous – Well, obviously, if you like ANN’s reviewers tastes, then that might be a valid choice for you. But, like my reviews, all reviews are merely personal opinions – you might want to develop your own. :-)

    Since the manga in ongoing in Japan (the author is currently working on the chapters that will comprise Volume 10,) there is *no* way to know whether Seven Seas willl ever have the opportunity to put out the whole series, and waiting for them to do so would take years. It doesn’t seem likely that you’ll have the opportunity to get Volume 1 by that time.

    I don’t quite understand the attitude of waiting to see if a series will be complete. If you want a series to ontinue the only way we have as a consumer to communicate that is to *buy* the book. That sends the only message of support that makes any impact and gives them the ability to put out the next book.

  21. Emma says:

    I’m excited about this, but in case the translation falls through, as they sometimes do . . . does hayatexblade have furigana? Kanji is a bit beyond my level without an aid, at the moment . . .

  22. @Emma – No, there is very, very little furigana. This comic runs in a magazine for adults, not kids.

    Just to complcate matters, characters have accents (Momoko), uber-casual street speech (Akira), speak in absurd Keigo (Hitsugi), speak in foreign languages – indicated by odd fonts (En Suu and Mai), use English curses (Sid), speak with weird old-fashioned style – indicated by odd fonts (Isuzu) and just plain old speak weirdly (Hayate).

    AND, just to make it even more challenging, Hayashiya uses alternate kanji for common words. Seriously.

    This is probably the most challenging non-technical, non-fantasy/scifi manga I’ve ever read.

    Start practicing now. ^_^

  23. Emma says:

    Well, good lord! Lol, I guess I’d better hope the translation is a success . . . otherwise it will be several years before i can read the blurb, let alone the actual text.

    Well, I still have Sasameki Koto, thank goodness. :D

  24. Rinu says:

    I simply have reader’s crush on Hayashiya-sensei and HxB proves it. She is so gifted (please, be an active mangaka even in age of my retirement, sensei :D). I am glad I can read her even without solid knowledge of Japanese.

    HxB is pretty good and one of its plus points is that it contains unforced Yuri jokes.

    Hehe, I can’t forget about her line in Sister Red where she wrote in her afterword how tired she is after drawing so many beautiful girls. I wonder how did she feel after HxB?

    A chat with a friend made me realize something – she can do an adult jokes without ecchi. Rare and definitely good.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I read some of this and it is so AWESOME! I love this manga! I hope it continues, volume 3 and 4 are scheduled to come soon! Can’t wait!

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