You ever open up the first episode of a show and you immediately get the sudden feeling this will be something truly remarkable? And right after you’re done with finally getting to experience what most have called a ground-breaking classic, you realize that the show is just decent at best?
Well, that’s what happened with me and Cowboy Bebop. The story was just OK; the characters, while interesting, were also not THAT great; the world building left quite a bit to the imagination; but the music and animation were beyond excellent. Still, I was very disappointed with it. It did not blow me away at all.
After that, I watched Samurai Champloo. It is another work by Shinichiro Watanabe, who directed Bebop up there, which many have hailed as another classic. Now THAT was something. It shone brightly in all the departments where Cowboy Bebop did not excel. Samurai Champloo was a blast from the beginning right till the end. Even the filler episodes were absolutely well crafted.
Going back to the questions I asked in the beginning of this review; I felt like that with Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, and a couple of other shows too. Like Bebop, a number of them failed to deliver upon that feeling. And, like Champloo, the rest went directly into my list titled ‘Annoy the crap out of people who haven’t seen these so they finally crack and be subsequently amazed’. You can guess which light novel I got inspired from.
Michiko to Hatchin (‘to’ – as in ‘and’) gave me that aforementioned feeling. But the catch here is this: did it also deliver?
It did. Mostly.
Synopsis From MyAnimeList: Under the unrelenting heat of the South American sun, hardened criminal Michiko Malandro breaks out of a high security prison for the fourth time in search of a man from her past. Michiko finds a clue in the form of Hana Morenos, a young girl trapped under the fists of her abusive foster family. In her powerlessness, Hana fantasizes about the day when she is finally whisked away from her captors by her very own Prince Charming. Little does she know that her fated prince would turn out to be the buxom and husky convict who charges in atop a stolen motorbike, claiming to be her mother.
The unlikely duo chase down their dreams in the sun-drenched land of Diamandra, navigating through the cacophony of betrayal, poverty, and child exploitation rings hiding in plain sight. However, wind of Michiko’s manhunt soon reaches the ears of criminal syndicate Monstro Preto, and a storm of gang warfare begins brewing over the horizon…
Michiko to Hatchin is the story of vibrant people and their clashing agendas, and of all the unlikely human connections drawn together by one elusive man.
Other than my talk of that ambiguous ‘feeling’ I kept on about, the first thing to note about Michiko to Hatchin is that it’s a lot grittier than both Bebop and Champloo. While Shinichiro Watanabe was involved with the anime, the actual directors are Murase Shukou and Yamamoto Sayo. There are a high number of shootouts, dead bodies, decisions taken by characters most viewers might not expect, and other ‘whoah’ factors. For an anime I’d like to call ‘the South American Bebop’, it is the perfect combination of setting, theme, and tone. Take a Tarantino flick and turn down the eccentric-ness of the scenes down a notch and you wouldn’t be far off with Michiko to Hatchin.
Hell, the very the first episode will bring out your rage when you see the kind of crap Hana, nicknamed Hatchin, is pulled out of when Michiko gets her hands on her. Think of the Dursley’s treatment of Harry Potter and multiply it by ten.
As the episodes flow by the rage will subside very quickly and you will, being quite honest here, end up feeling a range of emotions from annoyance, genuine happiness, and a lingering sense of threat; to actual disgust. There’s action. There’s comedy. There’s a thing for just about everyone. One episode is basically a chapter from the traditional South American soap-operas we all are so familiar with. Michiko to Hatchin grabs all of these ideas and adds its own sense of bloody yet wacky style giving us a, to my knowledge, authentic Latin American craziness.
It is plain to see from all this praise that Michiko to Hatchin has a story that we won’t forget anytime soon but, it’s still not perfect. The anime starts off really slow and it often feels things aren’t really going anywhere. You’ll see Hatchin and Michiko arguing about menial matters in the fourth or so episode and you’ll see them do that again a few episodes later. It almost feels like they don’t really learn from their time together until way later in the story. While this doesn’t affect the story itself as much (things are always kept interesting) but the pacing and having most episodes start with our main duo arguing and making up in the end can feel a trite tiring. It did for me.
Another thing to bring attention towards before I move on to the characters is that plotholes in Michiko to Hatchin are plentiful. There are around two or three in the first episode itself. Exactly who was/is Hatchin’s mother? Just what exactly did Michiko do to get ten years in prison? If there was a third then I recall it, I’m afraid. Keep your eyes peeled deeper than an American stabbing Avocados for all of the other plotholes. It would make a neat treasure hunt, ehe.
The characters, in my opinion, are the real meat of the anime. Discussing them for even just a bit would mean revealing major spoilers so I’ll just briefly go through the main four.
Considering all the crap Hatchin’s put up with for close to ten years while living with the unholy priest’s family, it’s fair to say that she is very different from most kids her age. Haughty, demanding authority, and law abiding (because she ain’t havin’ nunya dat shiet) make for one interesting non-shounen child character. She gets the most development in the series. Though, that’s only in the first episode. She doesn’t change or reflect on her actions even a little over the rest of the anime’s duration. Which would normally be well and good if it weren’t for the fact that the trait of ‘ora?!’ she keeps on pulling with everyone she meets, causing arguments, wasn’t treated like some cheap gag.
Michiko is… Well, she doesn’t change much. Not much to say here. Keep an eye out for buddy cum nemesis Atsuko, though.
Hiroshi gets extremely shitty development. It’s just all over the place. We barely get to know anything about him in episode 1 and and by the end of the last episode, we still know jack shit. He’s treated like some mysterious macho-kindness ejaculating machine when he’s really just very poorly written.
And, finally, Satoshi (Hiroshi’s once best friend). My favorite character of them all. The most interesting. You know you’ve done great with a character when he’s properly depicted as a male African in anime as we all know how black characters usually get treated in our weeaboo productions.
Except for a few, the rest of the characters are far from not being one-dimensional but they still manage to be interesting and fit in cozily with the brutal world depicted.
Finally, technical stuff. Yippee!
The animation is standard for the period. Some episodes have great detail while some look like the budget went into pockets of the designer who thought up all the many different hip threads our dynamic duo adorn throughout the anime. What all the episodes have in common is the wide range of bright color and pretty neatly choreographed action scenes. I reckon more than 23 testicles are demolished by all of the female characters.
While the soundtrack doesn’t have many tracks, it still keeps things exciting and ears perked. Instant entry into the music library~
My original score for Michiko to Hatchin was a 9 but seeing as it’s been a couple of days and the plot holes keep bothering me every now and then, I brought it down to an 8. I didn’t really care about them while watching the show but now they’re being a pain. Nevertheless, I still highly recommend Michiko to Hatchin – especially since virtually no one seems to fucking know about it. Sad, I know.