In Volume 17 of Hayate x Blade (はやてｘブレード), three things of major importance happen. All at once. Then a fourth important thing happens afterwards which isn’t important, but I want to remember to tell you about it. ^_^
Important Thing the First: Ayana and Hayate are now A-rank and their next battle will have to be against the single Special A-ranked team at Tenchi, Kamijou Maki and Soumeya Yukari. Yes, at last, Ayana will have to face her former friend and shinyuu and, as a result, her own past.
This is made slightly difficult by the…
Important Thing the Second: The ranks of the students at Tenchi have been swelled by the “Black Group,” an allied group of talented fighters who (we are told in the final pages of the volume) want to “steal the fighting students of Tenchi” from Hitsugi. What this means, really, or why, we don’t yet know. We do know that Hitsugi knows of the existence of the “Black Group” and appears to be supremely uninterested. In fact, she’s out haunting the B, C and D Hoshitori areas in a costume, masked, on a white horse.
The Black Group attempt to stop Ayana and Hayate from reaching the A area and commencing their battle, which lead us to…
Important Thing The Third: As Hayate and Ayana are surrounded by the Black Group, they find that their friends have come to rescue them…again. This leads to a pun on page 106 that is so excruciating, so egregious, that 1) I think Hayashiya-sensei has written 17 volumes of this manga solely for the purpose of creating the pun and; 2) I hope she laughed until she made herself sick. I really do.
(You know the famous Japanese folk tale of Momotarou? If not, go read it first or this will mean nothing to you. Also Momo=Peach, Inu=Dog, Saru=Monkey, Kiji=Pheasant.)
So The Black Group surrounds Hayate and Ayana, and in steps, Momoka, Isuzu, Kiji, Michi, Mizuki and Sou to let them go running off. As Hayate runs, she screams, “Thanks, Momo, Inu, Saru, Kiji!” and I groaned for an hour.
I believe that all 17 volumes of the series were created to lead up to that one joke.
Akira and Sae face down Hajime and Shingetsu (who appear to be the leaders of the Black Group, but are not) and learn their somewhat allegorical intention.
And the volume ends with the Hoshitori in full swing.
Which brings us to the final Important Thing: The cover, inside pages and slip cover all contain very cool cut-out-and-entertain-yourself things. As the Black Group points out in the omake, “Do It Yourself” is the theme for this volume. In other words, this is all so complicated, you do it. ^_^
Art – 9 I always know exactly who I am looking at and why. With this many characters, that’s genius
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Yuri – 0
Service – 0
Overall – 10
Momo, Inu, Saru, Kiji. Really?