Saturday, December 8, 2012

12/8/12 -- "Oh, Baby, Do You Know What That's Worth?"

Look it up; that joke was hilarious.

This week, we're rejoining Hayate and the gang in his first movie, "Heaven is a Place on Earth". Was it enough to melt away the stresses of finals week, if only for a little while? Find out after the break!

So let me tell you a little about what my week's been like. I go to a university specializing in teacher education, and this semester is the first part of the main teacher ed. program. We don't have final exams this semester, but we do have an abundance of papers and sample lesson plans.

And they're all due Monday and Tuesday of next week. This weekend will be a mad dash to complete lesson plans and paper after paper after paper. I needed a break. Oh I'll be returning to the grind after all of this, but watching a Hayate movie will be a welcome respite from what is likely to be the busiest adult life I could have possibly chosen for myself.

This movie, released in 2011, takes place during the dog days of summer break for Hayate and the gang. Based on the amount of time that's passed in the story, I'm guessing this all takes place later in the story than I'm familiar with. The English manga is only (legally) available up to the middle of the Mykonos arc, and I have no interest in reading scanlations.

"Heaven is a Place on Earth" should not be confused with Heaven is a Place on Earth, which is a Billboard-topping Belinda Carlisle single from 1987. Come to think of it, Can't Take My Eyes Off You is also the title of a Billboard-ranking song, this time from 1967 by Fankie Valli. If this pattern continues, then the next Hayate story should have a subtitle based on a song from 1947. Therefore I declare the next story will be a video game entitled Hayate the Combat Butler: Open the Door, Richard!

Because that's what anime fans love:
References to 1940s rhythm and blues singles.
However, this movie isn't about Belinda Carlisle. It's about me shirking my responsibilities, living vicariously through fictional characters to make up for all the experiences I missed out on in high school. You know, madcap comedy! Let's do this!

This is a really tough one to review. Not only is it based on source material that I'm horrendously biased towards, but it's not one that you can easily classify as far as genres go. There's humor, absolutely, but it's more about moral dilemmas and strengthening characters through their thoughts and actions. It won't come as any surprise to anyone, but I really enjoyed this movie.

Let's get one thing out of the way first, though. "Movie" is a very generous term for something with a 59 minute running time. Even Christopher Nolan's "Following" was longer than this. Heaven was actually part of a double feature in Japanese theaters with the Negima! movie, which is awful. The brilliance and artistic integrity of this Greatest Story Ever Told should never be placed near anything so crude and blase.

Pictured above: Oeuvre
The central plot in this double-wide Hayate episode is that Nagi is feeling particularly lazy as summer draws toward its inevitable conclusion. NatsuComi has come to an end, and she feels unfulfilled, like her life is going nowhere. It doesn't help that she chooses to hang out with the wrong kind of person.

She fell in with the wrong crowd. Friends don't let friends
become anime fans. Remember that.
Hayate is (rightfully) concerned about this. It's highly likely that Nagi will become a shiftless layabout, completely shirking her responsibilities at school and in life... That sounds nice... No! I'm a productive adult! I can't fantasize about doing nothing for the rest of my life! I have students who are depending on me to...

But there are pretty colors and particle effects!

NO! Back to the movie... Hayate's minor crisis is answered when Ayumu offers to let Nagi and the others stay at her family's summer house in the Japanese countryside. Nagi isn't too thrilled about the idea of spending the last bit of her summer out in the boonies, but after some less-than-impressive wordplay from Ayumu, Nagi decides that going to the country would be the best thing ever.

Yeah, something like that. Long story short, Nagi doesn't like it. It's at this point that she starts doing what Rie Kugimiya does best: complain in a shrill voice and insult people. This essentially continues until the real plot of the movie kicks in... which won't be for a while yet. When's Hinagiku going to show up and make things fun?

Oh right, this story isn't about her...
Hayate starts seeing a woman in a kimono who talks about "saving him". I wish a woman in a kimono would offer to save me from Rie Kugimiya. At the very least she could save me from anime fans who want to burn me at the stake for daring to suggest that Rie Kugimiya's performances are even slightly one-dimensional.

As soon as he turns away, the woman is gone and Hayate comes off as slightly insane. Later that night, Nagi continues to complain because it's dark and she doesn't like the dark and seriously, is Hinagiku going to arrive with a basket full of kittens and happiness anytime soon?

The young mistress's crying is quelled when Hayate arrives back at the house after a late night stroll. Despite there being no cell reception at the house, he was able to discover an area with reception up on a nearby hill. He decides to show Nagi how great the country can be by showing her the night sky. He tells her that out in the country, it's not dark at night because of all the stars in the sky.

This is a really sweet moment, because it hearkens back to the promise Nagi's mother made before she died that she would become the night sky and watch over her so that she would never have to feel alone. See how awesome Hayate is at being a gentleman? I don't ship Hayate and Nagi AT ALL, and yet I have to admit that there's something very beautiful about this scene. He really is a smooth operator and a pretty cool guy.

So then he completely ditches Nagi to run after the woman in the kimono, who shows up at a very inconvenient time. Hey, nobody's perfect. Nagi runs after him as Hayate weaves through the woods before arriving to an amusement park out of a Professor Layton game.

If this is going to end in a fight between Hayate and Descole, you
have my full attention, Kenjiro Hata.
The student council trio shows up and starts acting like a bunch of jackasses. Hayate tries to get everyone to calm down until Nagi is grabbed by some park mascots. Tie a bell around that kid's neck. I'm not saying it would stop anything, just that it would help. Hayate runs after her, but just as he's about to save her, the kimono woman appears between them, and Hayate wakes up back in the summer house, as though from a horrible dream.

Hayate wakes up Suzanne Pleshette to try and tell her about the crazy dream he had about being a butler as the audience laughs hysterically and applauds.

"Yeah, a Newhart reference! Those anime fans are sure to
accept me as one of their own if I make this joke!"
He frantically runs outside to ask where his ojou-sama went to discover that... Maria is now his mistress. He doesn't question it. He and everyone else seems to have forgotten about Nagi, yet I retain all memory of Rie Kugimiya.

That's because Nagi is still alive and well in the amusement park, which has been trapped inside of a closed-space bubble a la Haruhi Suzumiya. They make that joke first, unfortunately, as Kayura had Haruhi's school uniform in her bag. Damn prop comics.

Nagi, Kayura, and Hakuou's resident knuckleheads try to find a way out as Hayate lives a semi-normal life with Maria and the others. All the while, lingering memories keep bothering him. Even Maria, who doesn't have the will to retain memories of Nagi feels compelled to perform her duties as a maid, impulsively helping Hayate cook lunch.

Back in the bubble, cell phones are starting to die, but Kayura had a single bar of reception for just a second. Risa has a brilliant idea to take all of the dying cell phones and boost their reception by scaling the facade of the wonder castle with three cell phones to combine their powers. She then suffers a fall that would have killed a non-anime character.

Nagi has a better idea after remembering what Hayate said about the hill. She decides their best bet for making a call is getting to the top of the Ferris wheel.

Isumi and Sakuya arrive at the countryside after getting a concerned call from Hayate, and they instantly realize that something is wrong when they ask about Nagi only to receive a blank stare from Hinagiku. MYSTERIOUS.

The amusement park exploration team arrive at the Ferris wheel, and they all declare that they will use the power of teamwork and friendship to escape. Unfortunately Hakuou's best and brightest think that means pretending to be ride ambassadors while Nagi goes up alone. Kayura decides to be a true friend to Nagi and take the ascent with her.

Then she accidentally locks Nagi in the ride alone as it starts up again.

R.I.P. Rie Kugimiya. You definitely were a voice from that one show.
The kimono woman confronts Hayate in the sunflower field to give him a gem that is worth enough to pay off his debt and free him from his life as a butler. He doesn't want to take it, but he's torn. The idea of being free from debt, having turned around his luck, is certainly enticing. His loyalty is unwavering, however, and he refuses the temptation as he chases the woman through the field. She gets away.

Hayate rushes to the amusement park to save Nagi, who is trapped atop the Ferris wheel with the Kimono woman, who is behaving menacingly. She says that Hayate is free now that he has enough to repay the debt. He won't be shackled to an ungrateful mistress any longer and he'll have the future he wants (Which is with Hinagiku, obviously).

Maria slices up some watermelon at the house, and Hayate's memories instantly come flooding back, shattering the field of illusion surrounding the amusement park. Mr. Ayasaki evidently suffers from the same condition the Superfriends had. The one that renders their logical process completely inoperable until a random thought, word, or object leads them to the right answer.

Kimono woman's powers are no longer effective as the amusement park starts to collapse around them. Kayura and Miki are on the run from park mascots, and a horde of animatronic  dinosaurs from the Jurasic Park knock-off section have come to life to chase Izumi and Risa. Isumi and Sakuya save them at the last minute.

Miki and Kayura are in a desperate situation on the other side of the park as a swarm of robots are on the attack. Just as they are looming over the girls, the thing I've been wanting to happen the entire movie finally happens.

Hinagiku shows up with a can of Campbell's Chunky Whoopass Stew and makes this movie AWESOME.

Nagi is in a desperate situation atop the Ferris wheel as it begins to collapse. Kimono woman continues to taunt her, saying that her butler isn't coming to save her. She reveals herself to be the spirit of Hayate's grandmother (!?) after she lets it slip that Hayate's debt is the fault of her son's careless actions. She asks Nagi if she still thinks he'll show up with all of the weight lifted off his shoulders, when Hayate shows up like a badass and leaps from the roller coaster to save his Mistress, the girl who saved him from his old, terrible life.

He kicks in the glass of the wheel, reuniting with Nagi at last. Grandma Ayasaki is evidently okay with his answer, as she disappears, leaving them alone to live out their lives, whatever that may bring.

Hayate leaps out of the collapsing structure with Nagi and survives because he's the hero of a shounen anime.

In the light of day, all that remains of the park is a wreckage, and Hayate explains that it was built long ago, but failed because nobody wanted to visit a park out in the middle of nowhere. He remembered that he went there when he was a child. As everyone leaves to get ready for the night's summer festival, he promises his grandmother's spirit that he'll be okay, and leaves. And that's the movie.

This was a fun watch. The pacing is pretty slow, but the final scenes make up for that with sheer content and spectacle. The music is beautiful, and the art and animation match this beauty. If you're looking for a wonderfully written, fun anime movie, you can't go wrong with Hayate, as usual. The run time is short but there's a lot of quality and care put into this one, and it made for a fun relaxing morning.

Welp, relaxation over. Time to get back to all those papers I have to write. I'm beginning to know how Nagi feels. Much like Hayate, though, this is a hardship that I'm willing to face. Come what may, the easy way out isn't always the best course of action, and I'm willing to face whatever challenges my future has in store for me. Thank you for reading.

Remember, I'm taking a break for the next two Saturdays as I move back home to celebrate Christmas with my family. I'll see you again on the 16th for a mini-review but then you won't hear from me until the week of the 29th. As always, this has been Jake O'Jack, your humble host and clueless anime enthusiast. Stay in school!

No comments:

Post a Comment