Hana is a nine-year-old girl who lives in constant fear of her abusive family; Michiko is a sexy woman who has just done the unthinkable: broken out of the impenetrable Diamandra Penitentiary. After Hana is whisked away by Michiko, who claims to be her mother, the duo sets forth on a high octane ride towards freedom. In the streets of Brazil and aboard Michiko's motorcycle, Hana and Michiko will look for Hana's long lost father, try to learn to co-exist and get along together, and stay one step ahead of the police and afro-clad Atsuko.
StoryHere 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.AnimationMichiko 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.SoundOh, 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.CharactersMichiko 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.OverallMichiko 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.
This anime is so underrated, it hurts some say. Well I say it is very much so. I finished it and enjoyed how it was executed. Each episode (like 'em or not) had a purpose on explaining how Michiko and Hatchin need each other. The story really hit home. The leads, Satoshi and Atsuko all had good backstories and less importantly the music and animation were pretty good. Though I'm not a fan of manglobe's character designs they do pace things well. I knew how Hiroshi was gonna turn out and I was less than surprised when what happened, happened. It made me laugh what Hatchin said about it though. Though I think the biggest treat through it all was Hatchin herself. She was more of the guardian to Michiko rather than the other way around and it made my day, whilst Michiko was reckless and angry and acted like a kid. Making the duo well balanced. So I'd recommend this to Cowboy Bebop and One Piece fans primarily, but I'd see ANY anime fan giving this magnificence a go. And to put a cherry on top, FUNimation dubbed it so it's good english.
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