Maybe I’m simply ignorant about some cultural references, but if I’m not mistaken, this is perhaps the Hayate episode with the fewest number of overt references to other anime/manga yet. It’s emblematic of the way the show is turning toward a more traditional plot and character development after some of the finest anime satire this season; in the past few episodes a plot has begun to brew, complete with pendants and a character quest. Even the opening intro to this episode is relatively subdued and unjokey by comparison; the 4th-wall breaking is beginning to seem more obligatory than anything else.
Now this episode wasn’t as funny as last week’s excellent episode, which finally revealed the eating pigtailed girl I was beginning to refer to as Fanservice A. Glutton not only had a name (Nishizawa), but actual character–plus the best Haruhi Suzumiya joke I’ve seen since…well, Lucky Star. :) A good part of that gets replayed in this episode–the first third almost feels like a recap–and there is an extended sequence where the two of them wonder where each other are that I felt was unnecessarily drawn out. (Though I do wonder if it’s actually parodying something. Anybody know?)
I loved the whole riff on “Redmond-style” (ie, Microsoft-style–I’m surprised they didn’t say MS’s name and bleep it out like they do for other brands) interviews, where you’re tested on logic puzzles and random questions. It would be hilarious if there was actually a school that used those kinds of interviews instead of more traditional entrance exams. Though of course, soon enough, the kinds of questions that get asked will get leaked just as they have for MS and Google interviews. I’m not sure what the Star Wars opening crawl explaining all this was there for, though.
If anything, the “interview” that the proctor gave Hayate was like this classic Monty Python sketch, which is still the gold standard for all job interviews everywhere.
The episode’s end seems to promise some genuine tension and danger–and even pathos. Let’s hope they keep heading in that direction.