The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Michiko to Hatchin

Title: Michiko to Hatchin aka Michiko and Hatchin
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: Manglobe/Caliente latino
Format: 22 episodes
Dates: 15 Oct 2008 – 18 Mar 2009

Synopsis: Hana Morenos is an adopted girl who lives with her abusive foster family, and has lost any hope of gaining her freedom. The family receives a strange call from a lady who claims to be Hana’s mother, saying that she will pick her up the following day. The lady turns out to be Michiko Malandros, a feisty and sexy inmate who successfully escaped from the supposedly “inescapable” Diamandra Prison. After forcefully freeing Hana from the household, the two embark on a perilous journey to track down a man who Michiko strongly believes is Hana’s estranged father.

The Highlights
Characters: Intriguing and fully fleshed out; relationships explored through well-executed flashbacks.
Theme: Oozing Spaghetti Western style with a rich Latin American flavor.
Action: Lacks tension and ambiance.
Ending: Satisfying; a massive curveball right at the climax.
Yamamoto Sayo: Great start to her directorial debut; expect more to come from her.

Watching this indie-spirited show is like watching a Brazilian street fiesta: entertaining, absorbing and psychedelic. What makes Michiko to Hatchin special is its fusion of rowdy style, well-developed characters and an engaging cat-and-mouse storyline. It has strong traces of Cowboy Bebop‘s Spaghetti Western theme, yet it’s a completely different show because of its distinctive Latin American flair and feminine touch. Furthermore, the music is a unique cocktail of jazzy tunes, samba beats and psychedelic rock, courtesy of music producer Watanabe Shinichiro and Brazilian composer Alexandre Kassin‘s ingeniousness. It has flaws here and there, but they’re minor when comparing them to the series’ sheer quality.

The characters are the strongest favorable aspect of Michiko to Hatchin. It doesn’t merely show their quirky personalities and individual traits; it explicitly illustrates how they are different from one another, and more importantly, exhibits how personality differences can render the characters more multi-faceted and their relationships stronger and more empathetic. Friction is often seen between the two protagonists, especially when both have polar idiosyncrasies: one is the impulsive and hotheaded Michiko, and the other is the outspoken and righteous Hatchin. Yet, their underlying similarity of hardheadness often offset their differences, and twists of fate always bring them back together. Apart from Michiko and Hatchin, Atsuko also serves as an outstanding character, a figure continuously in conflict between her cherished long-time friendship with Michiko, and her moral ethics and ideals.

The characters are fleshed out not only through their chemistry-oozing relationships, but also through well-executed and timely flashbacks. They serve as an important component in both portraying their pasts and understanding how their motives influence their present actions. The flashbacks add more dimension to the story, and support characterization and plot development as well. Speaking of plot development, several episodes feature episodic short stories that deviate from the main plot. Although they don’t add anything substantial to the plot, they do the main characters a huge favor by viewing their situations through different angles, such as Michiko’s duty to protect Hatchin and Satoshi’s reasons for yearning to be a crime syndicate leader.

What brings the show a few notches down is the absence of tension and atmosphere during climatic scenes. It does well in painting the Latin American-influenced backdrop through explicit instances of depravity and violence. But, the setting lacks the essential grim ambiance and this makes even scenes featuring flying bullets and people getting brutally shot underwhelming. It’s also quite hard to accept how several impossible situations, such as being cornered by cops, are overcome with the simplest of solutions, thus needing some suspension of disbelief.

Although it can get a tad underwhelming at times, this is quite a minor issue when the show is in overall, one snazzy adventure. Director Yamamoto Sayo has done remarkably for her first series, and it’s exciting to see what other shows she can come up with in the future. Building characters and relationships seems to be her forte, and I’d love to see if her future works would witness it becoming even better. This series is a hidden gem within the anime community in the year 2008, and it’s definitely worth the time to watch. Do yourselves a favor: be enthralled by a carnival of beating tamborims and wailing trumpets and let’s samba!

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: AC

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