Michiko and Hatchin – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Michiko to Hatchin

 

Similar: Cowboy Bebop

Black Lagoon

Samurai Champloo

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Action Adventure

Length: 22 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Great style in its visuals, music, and characters.
  • The dynamic between Michiko and Hatchin.

Negatives:

  • Plot point of Hatchin running off repeats several times.
  • Lacks intensity.

Have you ever watched a film or series that you know is good, but no matter the quality, it couldn’t appeal to your interests? I am sure all can relate. Hell, I am sure my regular readers have watched a series I highly recommended only to find a story they didn’t feel invested in. Michiko & Hatchin is one such series for me. I couldn’t stay interested.

Michiko & Hatchin follows escaped convict Michiko on her quest to find a man called Satoshi, but first she must free Hana (later Hatchin), an orphan girl in the charge of a corrupt Catholic priest. Hana suffers Dickensian levels of cruelty at the hands of her foster family, as she is their quiet, spineless Cinderella servant – nasty siblings included. Michiko crashes through the window onto the table in the middle of lunch, declares herself as Hana’s mother, and takes her away on the scooter. From then onwards, they travel together, town to town in search of Satoshi, meeting a strange cast of characters, including a gang of children reminiscent of Fagin’s gang from Oliver Twist – another Dickensian influence. Everyone in this world is some sort of crook or scumbag, except Hatchin, who is taken advantage of by said crooks.

I thought these opening few episodes excellent, but once they reach the next town, they settle down, Hatchin finds work under a miserly Chinese restaurateur while Michiko looks for information. This was when I realised Michiko & Hatchin wasn’t for me. The duo are chased by the police and the Catholics, and when they clashed, I enjoyed the hectic pace and stylised action; however, after each escape, the plot slows down for several episodes as we experience a new slum in fictional Brazil. The conflict here usually involves Hatchin running off for Michiko to find her in a blind panic, spots of bickering throughout, which was fine for the first instance. By the third and fourth repetitions, I found it a struggle to stay focused.

Those opening episodes were deceptive, for they promised action and adventure, yet action is rare and the pace is too slow for adventure. However, that isn’t necessarily bad, just not to my taste. In a slow character piece such as this, one that isn’t comedy or romance, the plot has to be either psychological or intense (Perfect Blue sports both, for example) to hold my interest. Michiko & Hatchin has neither. Instead, it focuses on Michiko finding maturity despite her free-spirited, wild nature and Hatchin standing up for herself, growing a spine.

Michiko & Hatchin doesn’t really have a genre. Not enough drama for drama, action for action, mystery for mystery, etc. It’s really about two characters and their relationship. There is style here, not in the way Tarantino has a style, but in the sort of people who would enjoy this story. For my taste, this anime is twice as long as I would like – not enough tension for twenty-two episodes. (I would have also converted the police officer into an assassin, for instance, but that would mean less screen time for something else and a change in tone.) If one compressed the narrative to eleven episodes, however, it would lose the style that its fans love, which I would never advocate in favour of.

In the end, Michiko & Hatchin isn’t the anime for me. I love character pieces, but this anime doesn’t fulfil any of the elements I look for in slow plots.

Art – High

The art is nice, stylised in vibrant colour worthy of the Brazilian inspirations. Good deal of animation, hectic at times to match Michiko’s crazy personality, calm during the slower episodes. I like the soft lighting.

Sound – High

Good acting in both languages – take your pick. Monica Rial is great as the confrontational diva in English. Akin to the art, the music is hectic during chase scenes, calm or absent elsewhere. Portuguese lyrics add to the South American setting.

Story – Medium

An escaped convict and orphan girl search for her father while on the run from the law and slum criminals. Good character dynamic that lacks intensity for the slow pace.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: For fans of slow-paced character plots. If you don’t require intensity, you may love Michiko & Hatchin.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Stunning Art Quality

Negative: None

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