Here at anime-planet, we have to give ratings for our reviews, which although convenient snapshots of a show's worth, also mask a lot of valuable and necessary detail. Some shows do not readily lend themselves to pigeonholing and there are times when I’d like to warn readers simply to disregard the rating. This is one of those reviews. Michiko to Hatchin gets a 6.5, but that doesn't mean it is average; that means my thoughts on it are complicated.
If I were the Bill Gates of anime and could write blank cheques, I’d write one each to the likes of Shinichiro Watanabe, Mamoru Oshii, Masaaki Yuasa… and now Michiko to Hatchin’s debuting director, Sayo Yamamoto. She is not playing in Watanabe or Oshii’s league but she could get there if rewarded with more projects like this to hone her evident skills. The show has several flaws of execution but it offsets them with an abundance of passion and pathos, and an addictive overexcitement that admittedly leads the plot to meander like a squirrel in a nut factory. But I’d much rather see another thousand Michiko to Hatchins somewhat overzealously documenting the misadventures of gripping characters than one more white-washed shounen that starts on a mediocre promise only to peter out a gazillion episodes later.
The setting is a fictional Latin America with Japanese influences (character names include fusions like Atsuko Jackson and Satoshi Batista) where street urchins become gangster bosses in epic revolutions of fate, life is chump change, and everyone makes their own fortune in a hostile urban jungle. In this environment, a biological mother and daughter meet for the first time and have to bond as they journey in search of the father. The show soars when on track about the hunt for mother Michiko Malandro’s old love, Hiroshi Morinos. He is the mcguffin, the reason why the two women break their status quo and embark on an adventure that spirals breathtakingly out of hand. We keenly sense Michiko’s desperation to find him and, in sharp contrast, daughter Hana’s apathy towards a man she feels no attachment to. Much of the drama hinges on Hana and Michiko’s tentative relationship, which sometimes cracks under the pressure of their clashing personalities and other times hums beautifully with virgin tenderness. This is, after all, the first time Hana has ever been loved as well as the first time Michiko has truly loved anything.
Mixed in is a much weaker diversion of gangsters and police detectives hot on their heels. The show attempts a similar jive to Watanabe’s Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, with randomised, action-packed adventures driving the character studies. It’s just not as good. What it gains in an effervescent style and sensitive characterisation (Hana and Michiko are better developed than the Champloo lot, although fall short of the immortal cool of the Bebop crew), it loses in insipid episodic narratives. Let’s not forget, Watanabe’s scripts, though equally fanciful, are concise and masterfully composed to ensure consistent climaxes. Here, we get the feeling Yamamoto saw interesting possible threads springing up from the main narrative and, rather than judiciously select the strongest of them, decided to follow them all up in detail. As a result, every ‘what if’ becomes a new episode and, in spite of the rip-roaring action, feels utterly inconsequential.
Michiko to Hatchin offers a funky, dancing visual style full of gunfights and car chases and extremely pretty women who kill and maim even as they smile coquettishly. It’s not a technical masterpiece, considering some of the movements could be smoother and the stunts could easily have taken a few more liberties to seem memorable, but it has a distinctive visual concept.
My favourite feature of the animation is actually the women’s changing wardrobe. They model big bulky afros or pert little bob cuts; they wear big gold earrings and heeled boots; and after spending one morning strutting in hot pants, they’ll switch to a sixties-style dress for the afternoon. Their clothes change constantly - an attention to detail I’ve thus far only seen in Red Garden - and are noticeable because everything they wear makes them look gorgeous.
Oh, I wish so much that I were a jazz fan, because I could then delineate the score in erudite phrases and metaphors of compelling grandeur. Alas, the truth is that I find the music suitable but not particularly memorable.
As for the Japanese voice acting, Yoko Maki (Battle Royale II: Requiem) strikes a perfect note with a snarling, bratty Michiko who rolls words in her mouth as though she were chewing a gobstopper. Suzuka Ohgo (Sexy Voice and Robo) sounds a little old to play nine-year old Hana, but she emotes a tough combination of vulnerability and world-weariness that I find enthralling. What’s remarkable about them is their inexperience of voice-acting, with both having stronger tradition in live-action movies. Working in a less physical medium, however, doesn’t stop them delivering authentic performances that ripple with nuance.
Michiko could not be more irresponsible; a product of Latin American-ish slums and a prison escapee, she has no sense of refinement or self-control. Imagine an Angelina Jolie figure with the same purring, primal sexiness but who just won’t shut the fuck up. Even when you beat her face to a pulp. In those moments when her obnoxiousness makes an interrogation go much faster or leads a car chase into strange new dimensions, it becomes clear that she’s the show’s source of untameable energy, its unique maestro of madness. Even so, the point of real gratification comes when she starts to learn responsibility not just for her daughter but for her mistakes too.
Hana “Hatchin” Morenos, on the other hand, is a premature adult at nine years. While her mother guns down crooks and mows through police blockades, she concerns herself with the daily practicalities of providing food and working part-time jobs to sustain them. To Hana, none of the adults in her life have proven capable of pondering one sensible thought, creating in her a nigh-constant exasperation that we tend to attribute to hardened middle age. Only Michiko breaks through her disinterest to trigger a special kind of reaction, although it’s not automatically love. At the start, Hana’s abusive foster family is all the excuse she needs to go with the mother she’s only just met in search of a father she doesn’t care about. Anyone can see they’re a mismatch, and their interactions predictably spark into - sometimes funny - furious fights. Eventually, as their adventure turns treacherous, we sense her frustration stemming from an entirely different reason – deep concern for Michiko. That’s also the point when love flowers and the two ladies’ journey becomes far more than just a whimsical road trip.
If only the supporting cast were as good. I’m impressed enough with the plethora of women in it; some anime give the impression the world’s population is ninety-five percent male, but here we get a representative fifty-fifty split that doesn’t patronise either gender. Many have boisterous personal quirks befitting the show’s unruly style – like a brittle-tempered detective with a majestic afro or a boy who sings to his tin of corned beef. Regretfully, colourful is the best we get; the names of most of them will elude us as soon as they leave the screen and their scenes will seem no more memorable than the funky music that tinkers away in the background.
Michiko to Hatchin is not an average show – it is a brave and infinitely interesting one about gangsters and mothers, love and redemption. Granted, much of the middle, despite being tremendously stylish, is not entirely needed. Many of those episodes invoke thoughts like ‘My, another shoot-out’ and ‘Oh, that car chase is quite something but a whole episode of it, really?’ Gutting them out would have left a leaner, snappier product. But sometimes, shows that trip conspicuously do so because they’re attempting bold new steps; despite its flaws, I adore the unique protagonists and the general wild, exuberant gumption with which Michiko to Hatchin expresses its themes. I just hope Yamamoto gets another chance to improve upon her technique.
I came to view MtH as a weird combo of Black Lagoon meets Cinderella … in BRAZIL ! It has a hot MILF with guns and a cute loli… without them. It has great animation, gun-hos, immoral and dirty characters, an exotic setting, a somewhat coming-of-age story, a family bonds flavour between shootouts, and lots of flashy car chases. What can go wrong?
… Um... well… it’s not like it did anything wrong. Simply said, there wasn’t enough material to keep you interested for a full season worth of duration and the chemistry between characters and the magic of the setting were not that complicating to get used to and eventually get bored of. This is relevant of course as some people get bored a lot harder than others. To me, this ranks amongst the better in the field; probably third after the “let’s talk philosophically about how immoral the world is before we start shooting at everything” Black Lagoon, and the “let’s have good personal drama for a change before we start shooting at everything” Requiem for the Phantom. All the rest of its brood are monotonous and apathetic (screw you Bee Train!), and the gloomy setting is just too depressing to care following it through after awhile. MtH does a better job; it is mostly light-hearted, balances the dark with the exotic, has perky characters, has humour, and has some interesting battle sequences. These helped me not to get bored right away… five whole episodes that it.
Beyond the flashy exterior, this is still a mostly guilty pleasure series, with shallow conflicts, unrealistic battles, and convenient plot armours. As long as you can suspend your disbelief, all that can actually work on its favour, but as I said it still has very little going for it in terms of context. Here, lets me tell you what it’s all about in a nutshell: “Well, duh, there is Brazil and, duh, some MILF gets out of prison and goes to take her daughter and, duh, they are being chased around by police and, um, they shoot stuff”. There you go, not exactly a mind-boggling plot, is it now? Any attempt to be dramatic or serious is replaced fast with good old fashioned shootouts and the grammar/pronunciation of the native language is problematic as usual.
On the other hand it’s not like the characters are flat as pancakes or something. You actually see how they somewhat develop and the finale of the show is actually quite bittersweet and better than 99% of anime endings. It feels logical in a way, not far-fetched or fake. The thing is, as I said you will most likely lose interest along the way because of the loose and simplistic plot. In all honesty, this show did not deserve a full season with the context it had.
Anyways, it is not a bad anime if your expectations are not too high. It is rather different than the norm, has good production values, interesting characters, and it’s not a ridiculous Brazilian soap opera (although it moves in the same speed). It has otherwise a low replay value since its context is way too simplistic to offer you anything more with a second watch, and the duration will be painfully boring if you know what will happen later on.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 9/10
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 2/2, Visual Effects 2/2
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 3/4, Sound Effects 3/3
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: Premise 2/2, Pacing 0/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 2/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 2/2
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 2/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Art 1/1, Sound 0/2, Story 0/3, Characters 2/4
Allright. It's been a while since I've done something like this so bear with me as I try to find my way again.I did quite a lot of them in the past on a different website which you can find here: http://legendsofsatura.net/index.php/forum125/6-reviewing-guild.html
....They probably aren't very good though but please do stop by if you have the time and inclination. Originally the site was for writers, mostly original but also fanfiction.
Also I'm Dutch so there will be spelling errors. If you find them annoying give me a shout and I'll try to fix them.
Oh, I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but there will be some. Usually the worse I rate an anime the more spoilers this will contain. You have been warned
So, you have probably already read what the animation is about in the discription given by Anime-Planet, which is the same as on the box. I will therefore try not go into the story that much unless I'm ranting about something (spoilers).
ART: The art is rather distinctive and reminded me a lot of anime such as Cowbow bebop. Sadly that is where the comparison ends but then again Cowboy Bebop is one of my favorite anime and very few measure up to it.
Still the style and characters are drawn the same as Cowboy Bebop so I wouldn't be surprised if the same studio made both series.
SOUND: Like Cowboy Bebop the soundtrack is also distinctive to the point where even I took notice of it. The soundtrack is heavily influenced by South American music and, considering that the anime takes place in a Brazil look alike country, it fits very well.
Voice acting is great also although Hatchins' voice can be a bit grating at times. Other than that I have no real complaints.
CHARACTERS: It all starts with Michiko. She is in prison with a lengthy sentence ahead of her but all she can think about is re-uniting with Hiroshi, the only man she ever loved. In order to find him she abducts Hatchin as she has the same tattoo as Hiroki and he is likely her father. Michiko cares for nothing and nobody and will anything to find Hiroshi.
Hatchin has never known her father and her mother has died years before. She is being abused by her foster family and longs for someone to take her away but she really wished it was someone other than Michiko. She does not share Michikos' belief in her father but goes along anyway since she has nowhere else to go.
Atsuko is the police officer tasked with hunting down Michiko and it is clear from the start that they have a long history together. Atsuko at the same time hates Michiko and loves her as the friend they were long ago.
STORY: Well, I've already pretty much explained the story and plot in the character section so I'll skip right along. It is pretty much a race with several people chasing after each other. Michiko is chasing Hiroshi with Hatchin along for the ride while Atsuko is following Michiko with the aim to bring her down.
Mixed with this is a subplot involving the organized crime syndicate that Hiroshi used to be involved in. If you think that this is a road series than you are correct but if you think that it is a pleasent story than you are wrong. The anime is surprising brutal and they don't shy away from showing it.
This is not done in a overly bloody way though as there is almost no blood in the series but it is more than a little implied that some characters get murdered quite brutally. This usually happens off-screen but sometimes not.
Sex slavery and slave trade in general are also subjects that are broached from time to time but the anime doesn't really go into much detail there. Not sure where my stance is on that. On the one hand I'm glad that heavy stuff is not in here on the other.... Still, regardless there is plenty grimy stuff in the anime already.
Dispite the heavy subjects in the anime it is surprising light and comedic. Most of the comedy was actually fun but not all.
Still an interesting anime that could surprise you if you gave it a chance.
Here we go, back to writing some reviews. Keeping it quick as always
This series is one of those that has very littile surface appeal. A shallow fugitive kidnaps / rescues a child from an abusive family, and they go on the run to find the kids father, who also was the fugitives lover prior to when she was convicted.
Now, there is nothing epic about this anime. Surprisingly, it is the strong point and the reason it is worth watching. It's all about poverty, lies, crime, slums, pain, death, despair, hope, love and growth. This show will make anyone feel things, over and over again.
There is no big story to this show, as I mentioned earlier. You could argue that the journey and all the things make up an epic story, but all in all there is no grand theme outside the chase of that one man. It is somewhat episodic, altho all episodes sit tightly within the timeline, but all episodes have content. Why I rated the story so high? The characters are the focus in this story, far more so than the main theme. The show contains so much variety with its struggles and development that I just grew to really care for the characters. This is one of the best animes out there characterwise. Hence the 10.
Sound and animation are good, no complaints, no big wows.
Concluding here. This show is not a very fun series to watch. It is painfully real, not as in realistic, but in the feels it puts on the viewers. If you are looking for a show that is mature, insightful and emotional, this is your ultimate pick.
Watching this will probably make every viewer grow as a person. It certainly did it for me.
Despite Hatchin always yelling at her mom, the stroy was a great perspective of living in a 3rd world country with gang violence. Plus a BLACK FEMALE KICK BUTT CHARACTER. More cosplaying options for darker colored people.