If you're reading this review, you've probably seen the 52 episodes of season 1, the 25 episodes of season 2, the 12 episodes of season 3, and if you've ever gotten around to it, the movie. But none of this is quite as disappointing as season 4, labeled "Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties" and revolving around random events within the lives of the girls of Ayasaki Hayate's harem. I really hope I'm finished watching one of my favorite anime shows plummet to the ground and hopefully if they ever get around to producing a Season 5, it'll get back into continuing where the manga left off.
I get it. For writers, the industry calls for new material, all the time, and since writers are the ones pulling the strings for TV scripts as well, it means new material, all the time, and a distinct lack of fear when it comes to pushing new ideas. However, as I'd like to point out, Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties is one of those new ideas that doesn't actually work.
Story: While I admit that there are elements of the manga that can be easily translated into this show and the storyline is based on whichever character is the main focus of the episode, the last two episodes are about kissing someone, anyone, to save Sanzenin Nagi from the Black Camellia-wait, what? The Black Camellia incident again?
See, as I was told, Hayate no Gotoku! Can't Take My Eyes Off You is an epilogue for the series as a whole, although it only takes place a month after the events of the movie. I was more convinced that this would be a [somewhat] fitting end to Hayate's harem with the confession that takes place at the end, or whatever you'd like to call that display of affection. However, the last two episodes of season 4 seem to show otherwise, saying that the Black Camellia incident is still very much happening and it's still an issue in those last two episodes. To be honest, it just doesn't flow.
And what about the fact that the entire plot of the series is crammed within two episodes? I'd like to think that they just needed a basis by which they'd end the series, but that's definitely not the way I would have ended it either, using the world's fastest anime story. Think about it: a season that doesn't push a heavy story line like season 3, focusing only on character introductions, yet at the end, something happens. That's exactly why the story makes very little sense. It's like Stephen Colbert, during any one of his shows, saying, "oh, by the way, I'm trying to be serious now." That just doesn't happen, and when it does, it just doesn't work.
Art: The quality of the animation has improved over the years. It doesn't look the way it appears in a manga and a good number of the characters receive a "style refresh", but this is the very thing I'm not too fond of. Sure, the quality is better, but I loved the animation style this show began with in season 1. The animation may have improved the show from then to now, but if I can be anal for one subject out of this entire review, I would much rather prefer the old animation style. Why? The old animation style was used in the first two seasons, which I really, really liked. The new animation style was used for every other installment of the series, which I didn't really like. I'd take the old animation style anytime, just to remind me that at one point in time, this series wasn't as disappointing as it is now.
Sound: Okay, who really has time to talk about a bang, a beat, and a bop? I came to realize that I have no clue how to judge sound. I might be tone deaf, but I honestly don't care.
Character: Make the connection from previous seasons, and the only thing that didn't change is the cast of characters. They're still their same bubbly selves and watching them is always a blast, especially with the new addition of A-tan as a regular character (in past seasons, A-tan got anywhere from a couple seconds of screen time to none at all).
A common occurrence in harem shows is the fanbase's ability to divide their support amongst the characters. There's nothing wrong in that, and as an avid reader of the manga, I can proudly say that I was and have always been a fan of Katsura Hinagiku even after the appearance of Athena Tennousu. But don't you get the feeling that the writers are trying to place her in every conceivable situation, without entirely focusing attention on her? That's what I feel like is going on. She's basically tagging along as support cast. Here's a note for the writers next time: we don't want to see Katsura Hinagiku. We want to see Katsura Hinagiku, doing things. Having a fan favorite in a slide as an Easter egg doesn't make up much of a difference.
Enjoyment: Sure, it's funny, and sure, it was a great show, but this season 4 is really difficult to watch for me. For the first-time viewer, who hasn't seen a single episode of Hayate no Gotoku, this show will be easier to take in, enjoy, and not think too deeply about, but having been a fan of Hayate no Gotoku for a while, watching this particular season was like watching an angel fall from Heaven. You just don't want to believe that something so great has come to be so bad, but eventually, you'll have to come to terms with it.
Overall: If I watched it without having seen the first couple of seasons, I'm sure I'd like it a lot more, but having seen the other three seasons, the movie, and the manga, speaking as a fan of the series, this season is one of the last things any one of us would expect to see from a work that used to be so brilliant. If the writers decide to continue writing side stories and straying from the roots of the manga, here's my advice: watch the first couple of episodes, decide if you like it, and if not, drop the series and read the manga, which is a hundred times better.