photo courtesy of: amazon.com
photo courtesy of: amazon.com

Anime: Michiko & Hatchin
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Retail Price: $39.98

Michiko & Hatchin tells the story of Michiko Malandro, a fiercely independent woman who radiates independence, strength, sex appeal, and an undoubtedly aloof attitude. Michiko is a criminal who escapes from prison (not her first time) and hunts down her young daughter Hatchin, saving her from her increasingly abusive (both emotionally and physically) foster family. Michiko claims to know the identity of Hatchin’s father Hiroshi, and the two both set out to discover the whereabouts of Hiroshi and the pursuit of answers. Michiko & Hatchin end up on the run from law enforcement and the evil foster family, searching for freedom in their own way while getting to know each other under odd circumstances.

It is soon revealed that both Michiko and Hatchin have had involvement or experiences with the crime syndicate known as Monstro Preto, now led by Satoshi Batista, a man with a grudge against Michiko and a desire to additionally locate his former ally and best friend Hiroshi. Another character who has importance is Atsuka Jackson, a woman raised in the same orphanage as Michiko with an unsettled grudge match. Atsuka is now a police officer, and is searching for Michiko (and yes they have numerous encounters) with the two having very different personality attributes. Despite their differences, there is a somewhat obvious connection where Atsuko’s actions show subtle hints of complex compassion for the protagonist. It soon after becomes known that Mitchiko’s personal relationships all are under similar circumstances, with old acquaintances (like Ivan) who appear to tie loose ends and sometimes add comedic relief. Mitchiko goes to the gay bar run by Ivan seeking advice and sharing stories of the past where the two can noticeably have friendly feelings, but an underlying tension also makes it hard to completely break down old walls.

The series is directed by Sayo Yamamoto (making her directorial debut) and is produced by the superbly talented Shinichirō Watanabe, known for his conceptions such as Cowboy Bebop, one of the most influential anime series of all time. I could go on a rant regarding his accomplishments (Space Dandy, Kids On The Slope, Samurai Champloo) but his work simply speaks for itself, spawning consistently gripping series. Watanabe’s presences can be felt throughout Michiko & Hatchin in the contained storylines that build character development and help the series progress to an overarching plot with direct answers. The series, though based in Brazil, has a spaghetti western direction that has accurately been compared to Kill Bill, and other Quentin Tarantino works for it’s stylized atmosphere. Michiko & Hatchin is musically influenced by Brazilian musician Alexandre Kassin, who composes the series catchy score for its 22 episode run, and a stellar opening and closing theme.

Michiko & Hatchin successfully focuses on two very different characters, but also reminds viewers of their similarities (for example, the two are both extremely hard-headed when it comes to their views or belief system.) However, Michiko tends to have more unfortunate characteristics as well, like her gravitation towards unhealthy relationships with the men in her life. It is revealed later on that there is more issues regarding Hiroshi (not getting too spoilery) and at one point Michiko has a fling (of sorts) that is doomed from the jump, providing evidence that Michiko can self sabotage, making her a more complex character to appreciate from a creative standpoint. Hatchin exudes wisdom for being a young girl but aside from the family traits she has her own way of doing things, which shows that while she can learn from her mother she is in fact her own person; Hatchin only begins to explore what that could mean for her life as she goes on to discover her independence.

Michiko & Hatchin treads action, comedy, and the meaning of family in this very triumphant female centric series. In the end, the series overcomes female anime stereotypes (minimal fanservice) and provides an illustration of many different women who possess self determination and power in a world where men are placed on the back burner. Michiko & Hatchin continues to prove that any Watanabe project is executed in a remarkable fashion, and like his other series, has a sensation different from general anime altogether. The ending is bittersweet after learning of certain events, but is extremely fulfilling in a sense that they find a family connection they sought out in an unexpected way. From the dispersed action sequences, to the comedic timing, or the sheer heartbreak that the Michiko & Hatchin can provoke, it is an astonishing anime. It may not be the action packed, high-stakes series that Bebop was, but the riveting characters and western storytelling makes Michiko & Hatchin a series you’ll want to return to.

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-I view Watanabe as an animation God.

-Of all the characters, Michiko may be the character that develops the most over the series, as she try’s to comprehend the notion of family.

-Hatchin is a fascinating lead as well, being a young girl who is often the wisest of her peers.

-The animation is completely stunning, especially in the Blu-ray addition

-There are many episodes in Michiko & Hatchin that remind me of the real life situational humor and sadness that go hand in hand.

-Short story arcs involving side characters like Lenine and Pepe both equally attained an emotional and engrossing direction for the contained stories

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