What is the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about anime? Surely, nothing like what Michiko to Hatchin is about. This 2008 series expands the concept of what anime can be like and the potential it holds if produced through genuine passion and extensive research.
Michiko is an escaped convict and completely wild individual, crazily in love with Hiroshi Morenos, a man she has not seen for years and who is supposedly dead. She kidnaps young Hana (who she calls Hatchin), believing she is his daughter, and that she will somehow lead her to him. In their adventures and travels together, Michiko and Hatchin create a very unique bond that changes both their lives.
Plot & Story
An interesting point of view to examine this anime from is how it gently balances between cultures by staying true to some anime tropes while at the same time being utterly original in terms of story and setting. Location, probably the most intricate part of the anime, plays a huge role. In fact, the story wouldn’t have been possible without it. During Michiko and Hatchin’s travels, they meet and engage with personas that act in raw, unpredictable ways, and that are in most occasions completely subdued to their passions, something that is directly related to their environment and what it takes to do in it to survive. Michiko is crazy in love, Atsuko is obsessed with Michiko, Satoshi desires power, and Hiroshi (who everyone considers a pure, angel-like character) turns out to be a compulsive truant who really cares about no one. All of them seem to have very little regard for their own lives and hardly fear death. The only leveled character in the whole show is young Hatchin, who lets herself be dragged around by fate (and Michiko), looking for her so-called father without exactly knowing why. Unlike Michiko, who lives her life on the very unrealistic expectation that she will find Hiroshi (and then the two of them and Hatchin will happily live together despite the fact that she is a wanted criminal that has mobilized police forces all over the country), Hatchin understands that Hiroshi doesn’t care about anyone and unknowingly sacrifices her own wish (staying with Michiko) to allow Michiko to fulfill her dream of finding him. The relationship between the two girls is intense, emotional, and based on recurring themes of self-sacrifice and unconditional love; but the character development is universally seen in the show, gradually giving out glimpses of the hidden personalities of even the most manic of them, like Satoshi.
Art & Music
The art of the show is stunning. The animation is effortless and breathtaking, with Michiko’s kicks and flips feeling like they have an actual weight on people’s faces. Battle scenes, shootings, and the various objects that constantly fly about give the show a very dynamic setting and a spectacular ambiance. Color is brutally dominant everywhere: from the very first moments in the latin-disco stylized opening to the almost derelict buildings everyone resides in and, of course, in Michiko and Hatchin’s varying fashion choices. The music is exactly where it needs to be: the opening theme (‘Paraiso’ by SOIL & ‘PIMP’ SESSIONS) sets the perfect mood with its upbeat retro rhythm and I can guarantee it’s something you’ll be humming later. Various Portuguese songs play during intense scenes, carefully picked to complement each setting. The voice acting, especially that of crazy grown women such as Michiko and Atsuko, is so spot-on you can hardly remember that there is a vast cultural gap between the Japanese actors and the Latin American divas they impersonate.
Themes & Trivia
Michiko to Hatchin themes are also mostly originating from its Latin American character. First and foremost, it features more people of color than any other anime I have ever watched, and not as side characters, but as leading and powerful personalities. Women especially, with Michiko as the main example, are being portrayed as a serious force to recon, despite being mistreated, abused, and underrated by their male counterparts in the show. They act as compulsive and rebellious as the guys that are constantly trying to kill them.
The show also does a great job creating a traumatically accurate view of South American reality. The series director Sayo Yamamoto, involved in the production of excellent works such as Ergo Proxy and Samurai Champloo, did some serious location scouting visiting favelas and witnessing the human condition in large South American cities first hand. The constant presence of violence, children’s gangs, poverty, sex workers, gangsters, and overall corruption and decay, all under the hot southern sun, make the scenery what it is. I was especially shocked to watch the scene where Hatchin (while looking for missing Michiko who went to get them fake IDs) comes across a woman trying to get people to step on her baby that is stranded on the street, in order to ask them for money. Not the type of imagery you get to see in high school dramas…
Last but not least, Michiko to Hatchin very much reminds me of the movie The City of God. Then again, how could it not? If you haven’t watched it, I would definitely recommend it. One could even say this is what the movie would look like in a feminine anime form.
Every anime fan who respects themselves should give Michiko to Hatchin a go. Not only does it provide the viewer with an uncommon take on the medium, but also offers the industry a view of its full potential; one that goes against the norm of typicality and repetitiveness, that steps outside the anime comfort zone and dares to work with subjects that are almost invisible in the culture of Japanese animation. We need more show like this, to push the boundaries of what we are watching and break the mold! I enjoyed every single minute of it and would gladly watch it again.
So how did the two ladies riding a bike under the sun do?
- Vibrant, warm colour palette
- Fashion choices
- Outstanding animation
- Edgy characters
- Great ending
- The use of Japanese names
- A bit slow near the middle
- Michiko was threatened to with a gun so often that I actually stopped worrying
- Hiroshi, what a piece of crap
I hope this review has motivated you to watch Michiko to Hatchin. It is a hidden gem and worth every second you will spend on it! If you have watched it already, let us know what you thought in the comment section below. And don’t forget to keep checking MANGA.TOKYO for new anime reviews every week!
Michiko to Hatchin
Official Site: http://www.michikotohatchin.com/