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 didn't want to give Michiko to Hatchin a chance, I can fully admit that. When I began watching it I came to the series with a mighty wariness. It wasn't fantasy. It wasn't sci-fi. It wasn't medieval. It wasn't something I generally go for--on the surface Michiko to Hatchin sells itself short; you think you're probably getting yourself just another slice-of-life anime series that will leave you with warm, fuzzy feelings about life for a while and then you'll go on about your day and forget about it. And that's where Michiko to Hatchin sneaks up behind you, kicks at the back of your knees, takes you down and giggles off merrily daring you to follow. And you do. Or at the very least, this is what I found myself doing. STORY: You have to give Michiko to Hatchin a chance and it's not something I'm usually fond of doing, but the first episode of Michiko to Hatchin isn't very afraid to lay bare the good, the bad and the ugly that the series is just as brave as exploring later on: at its own pace. You're thrust into this setting much like a newborn baby is plopped onto a weighing table after the first few seconds of birth, with no idea how you got there--why it's so bright, who keeps poking you with things, and where, exactly, is that thermometer going to go again? But you kind of get this sense that you're going to like where everything's eventually going. You aren't given much explaination to the setting, only that it's a fictional place in a fictional world heavily influenced by Brazillian like languages and culture. Hatchin is a young girl who has been plopped into the foster care system with two soul-sucking, monstrous human beings who are pretty much only interested in her for the money they earn for taking care of her. They and their children pretty much make Hitachin's like full of suck in every means and way possible. Now, that's not exactly a terribly original opening or plot: the quiet, determined orphan, the awful horrible parents, cue lightening, and cue bad music, cue the cries of, ‘we’ve seen this before!’ But then we learn a few interesting things. Hitachin wasn't really abandoned entirely on purpose (as the story leads us into thinking) And, that scantily clad, sawed off shot-gun wielding, somewhat marginally hot-topic accessorized smokin' chick that just drove into the side of Hitachin's demon foster parents living room is apparently her mother. Enter Michiko, one of the craziest female leads I've met in a while in anime that doesn't eat babies or kill worlds or take over mecha's or shoot lasers out of her nostrils...But still happens to convey a sense of nuttier than a bat house and kind of fun, too. Michiko is on a quest too, (One that I won't speak of here in order to not spoil the entire story) and she's there to take Hatchin with her, whether she likes it or not. STORY: Without spoiling the story entirely I will say that, yes, Michiko to Hatchin at its very core, stripped away, pared down, shaved and otherwise mangled--is a slice-of-life, family-ish tale about relationships, how they form, break and the struggle to adjust as they change and about never giving up on a dream, at any cost. But it's not presented at all in the manner I find they usually are. Few anime strive to surround such a story in such ambitious, complex plot weaving as you will find here. It's episodic, weaving in tiny, delicious Easter eggs of tales featuring the main characters, the side characters relationships with the main, a little bit of the past and--surprisingly, well done stories about the setting these characters are living in. All without it being too inexplicable. Yes, there are small bit players that are only used for one episode to tell that particular story at that moment...But it's not done in a means that defies all logic and sense. Things are tied up neatly without the aura of being rushed as quickly to the end as possible just because. This story, while not gore-ridden and a shock fest, does tip-toe around some rather serious and interesting flaws in humanity when you aren't looking. When you least expect it while trying to figure out a certain piece or why something has happened and how it fits in with everything else--there's a very real, very dark side to life in this story and setting Michiko to Hatchin presents to the viewer on a very no-frills sort of plate for us to devour. On top of that amazing four-layered-cake of story awesomeness, where each episode is it's own self-contained tale and the main plot arch carried through for every episode? There are other, smaller, but just as important and just as connected to the main story--smaller stories being spun out like a fine web and unraveled carefully. I found myself looking forward to each episode, not just to see what utter chaos Michiko was going to rain down on unsuspecting heads, but how the story would be progressed and how the sub-plots were going to tick forward, bit by bit. It is a surprisingly simple and complex bit of tale weaving with a ninja like sneaking in of: no matter how bad things get, don't give up. ANIMATION: I'm not going to lie. I thought it was fantastic. Not just because, as you already might be able to tell--I liked the story, but because the animation movements are smooth and well done. The action is minty-delicious. Movement is crisp and crazy, things are moving, the scenes are cut well, your eye is often following what it should and the pacing for action or character driven scenes is fantastic. There are parts to this where I have found myself pausing it just to look at a scene. How realistic, gritty a wall texture is, how a shadow falls, how an expression is so simplistic and yet conveys to me exactly what a character is feeling. Again, eyes and faces are a little simplistic but the one thing that stuck with me was that...For the most part? Almost all of the characters, major, minor, or side had distinct, separating features, hair styles, body shapes and posture. They didn't feel like a carbon stamp hurriedly drawn to fill a scene with a crowd so the animator could get back to drawing cute short skirts and pink ribbons. SOUND: Right from the get-go I found myself instantly impressed by the opening theme song. Jazz-influenced featuring the brass instruments, there aren't any catchy lyrics or screamo-guitars or tunes that fit better with the 80's to break in the episodes. Scenes themselves are often paired with unique or very fitting songs that don't distract you from what's going on, but add to it and in some cases, amplify the emotional impact they want to depart to a viewer during a certain scene. I cannot think of a better compliment than the above for the score chosen for a series. The sound effects had to be good--because they sounded natural enough I don't have any complaints. Usually, if you notice sound effects too much, it's generally thought that the sound department hasn't done its job right. CHARACTERS: You get the sense immediately that Michiko is a hurricane. She comes into the lives of people who know her, picks up everything around them, shakes them up, then blows on through leaving everything exactly where it isn't supposed to be and somehow it all turns out alright. She's a strong female lead that I enjoyed watching evolve. Sure, she puts on lipstick, lines her eyes, dons mascara, shrugs into that small but questionable shirt with matching low-slung pants...She's brassy. A little thick-headed and prone to making some pretty great mistakes. But it makes her human. She's not perfect at all. In fact, she is so far from perfect she's remarkably flawed without being annoying. There's no, as I like to call it, "Guy Syndrome" with Michiko. She doesn't kick butt in one scene, but suddenly turns into a wishy-washy, swooning, trip-over-my-own-feet sort of girl when a man arrives on scene, either. She just continues to kick butt and blow things up. Hitachin is her complete and total opposite. She's Michiko's perfect foil. She's the one picking up the mess and blindly trailing after Michiko, eyes filled with the glitter and unfortunate clutter left behind. Hitachin wants to do the right thing, and she tries to remind Michiko of this at every turn. They butt heads more than anything else, and at first you wonder if the two of them are really suited to even be in the same room together. But their dynamic truly works like two pieces of a jig-saw puzzle meant to click together. There are many other characters that I loved and won't get a chance to cover here, because what's the fun in that? Nobody really likes knowing what's under the wrapping of gifts before opening them on Christmas day, and I don't believe in spoiling you too much before a series is watched. Besides that, as any good story goes, some of the characters become so integral to the plot that explaining them might as well be giving everything away. You'll have to watch this to meet the rest of the cast. OVERALL: If you've been hesitating or talking yourself out of watching this series, now's your chance to pick it back up. Seriously, catch a few minutes of this online and then go forth and find a way to purchase it and add it to your collection. I began the first few minutes into my forray with this anime skeptical. I walked away a fan. This is a series that cares about the story, the characters, the music and what it's showing you. It cares, because it wants you to care, too. And that sort of effort conveys itself well in a rich, if not heart-warming manner. It's funny, it's sad; it's crass, violent, loving, cute and full of bullets and explosions all at once. If this sounds like something you go for? I whole-heartedly recommend giving it a chance. Hopefully, you won't walk away disappointed.
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.
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