Posted by psgels on 19 March 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Michiko e Hatchin



Ah, time to review one of my favourites of the past season. Manglobe always manages to come with some fun, interesting and innovative series, and this one’s no different. While Samurai Champloo had its action, Ergo Proxy had its plot, Michiko e Hatchin stands out in its characters. But like the other two, it really has so much more to like about it.

I often criticise anime for taking place too much in Japan, while there are much more interesting sites in the world to explore. This series does that exactly, giving an incredibly accurate portrayal of Brazil in the 1980s to work with. From the police driving in beetles to the busy cities, everything just screams “Brazil” throughout the entire series. The only other series that I can think of that play out somewhere in south America are more than twenty-five years old by now.

And like mentioned above: the characters are the true highlight of this series. While at first this seems like your average strong character travels together with weak character, it soon becomes clear that the relationship between Michiko and Hatchin is much, much different. Michiko is a sleezebag, she constantly causes trouble and knows nothing about raising children. Hatchin is neat, tidy and ordered, but hates laziness with passion. The personalities between the two constantly clash, and it actually takes a very, very long time for the two of them to get used to each other, but when they do, they really complement their own weaknesses. Especially Hatchin grows into an awesome character, who is constantly fun to watch.

This series can also boast one of the best villains out there in a long, long time. Satoshi doesn’t appear on the screen a lot, but when he does, you instantly know that this guy is incredibly dangerous, and yet at the same time he stands so far away from your standard “Muaha, I’m going to destroy the world because I’m evil!” that you seem to see in nearly every anime nowadays.

What also made this into such a great show is that it’s incredibly varied. It’s a show with many different faces, rather than just one general tone that keeps up for the entire series. One episode may be fun and full of comedy, while the next is an incredibly dark one about the inner clashes of street gangs, while the next may turn into a fun action-game sequence. You’ll never know what the series is going to focus on next, but it’s always going to be fresh and interesting.

Right now, I’m trying to think of a big flaw in this series, but all I can think of is some tiny flaws, like how for some characters the introduction seems to be missing, so you’re often thrown into the blue, or how the ending doesn’t answer all of the questions that you might have gathered through the series, but those are just mere details.

The thing is, that Michiko e Hatchin is an awesome, stylish and mature series and it excels at just about everything that it does. There is a fantastic dynamic between the characters, and never once does it feel childish or anything, despite Hatchin being a 10 year old and all. It’s really got a bit of everything, and it’s my personal favourite series of a studio that had already a record of putting down the most amazing series.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

18 Responses

  1. Avatar I-K says:

    This series was really fun to follow. I am a bit bummed it wasn’t a few more episodes, I will miss M&H.

    I loved the setting of this show. Very unique and locales were highlighted in every episode. One detail I also liked that you didn’t mention was that the main characters wear different outfits (nearly) every episode. It really shows how much work was put into the designs.

    I look forward to future Manglobe projects.

  2. Avatar tealovertoma says:

    I haven’t finished it yet (on episode 20, the last one subbed right now) but I can already tell I don’t love it as much as I loved Manglobe’s previous projects – Samurai Champloo and Ergo Proxy. I still like it, but found the characters to be a lot less compelling and many of the subplots uninteresting. The leaps in time made it harder to follow and tell exactly what is going on and characters seemed in completely different moods every episode. There’s unresolved cliffhangers and non-recurring characters that seem important introduced all the time. All in all, it just felt a lot less like a whole than SC or EP.

    Putting all of that aside, I think it’s virtually impossible for Manglobe to make a bad anime and it still kicks ass, but I’d rate this 75-80% or so.

  3. Avatar Kurisu says:

    1980s? I don’t remember any particular dates though there possibily where some in letters or news reports. I was quite certain Michiko e Hatchin plays around nowadays. The fashion style surely doesn’t say 1980s. The beetles can be misleading. They were produced until 2003 in Mexiko. They are not a rare sight in South America even nowadays. Also most of the music sounded fairly modern. Sure, you see some technical equipment that is outdated in the first world like cassette recorders and nobody seems to have cell phones, only walky-talkies. Though cell phones only became wide spread in Europe and the US around the mid-1990s. Actually, Europe was quicker with adoption than the USA where people sticked to simple pagers for a long time. I doubt that cell phones are useful in Brazil except in the few big cities anyways because it’s a poor country and population is sparse on average. So it probably doesn’t mean much.

    I’m only disappointed that character animation consistency went down the drains during the second half. Also the very obvious use of CGI for streets in the action-ladden episodes looked poorly done. In that regard, I also found the last episode disappointing because I assumed they’d saved some budget to polish final episode. Sure, some scenes look extra-ordinarily fluid and some of the distortion is fitting but I perceive a constant change between good and poor animation as more annoying than some average animation that is at least consistent in itself.

    After all, it was a road movie-like show as I had expected not so unlike El Cazador, except with much more style, action, realism and a good mix of dark, gritty seriousness with comedy. It is more about the growing bond between the two protagonists than the search for Hiroshi, although you could have guessed that from the title. I think it’s also due to realism that you don’t get a fully conclusive ending. In real-life there a many questions for which you’ll never get an answer and sometimes when you reach a goal, you’ll see that it was fairly pointless but the experience itself wasn’t. They found Hiroshi, he’s alive but he’s completely useless and could have just been dead as far as Michiko and Hatchin are concerned. As in real-life, the way is usually much more important than the actual goal and there’s never an end until you’re dead anyways.

  4. Avatar kuro says:

    it was more likely a rushed ending… But we had a great journey gonna miss them T.T
    btw grow up hatchin was very cute :))

  5. Avatar Loz says:

    If I ever met a real life michiko, I think I would fall in love…

    Absolutely loved this series. Everything about it just oozed with a certain style that just appealed to me in so many ways.

    I must have loved every single episode, although the ending probably doesnt hold the same status as the rest of the episodes in my mind, but it really was the only way they could do it. Slight unleft answer in the terms of Hana’s real mother, but I guess I can look past that.

    On the whole probably not quite a masterpiece, but extremely brilliant.

    Im sure ill be recommending this one for years to come!

  6. Avatar TCoFA says:

    I wasn’t too interested in these series at first , but I decided to give it a go. I almost hurled over the first episode, I’ll admit that, but since I down’d 12 of ’em anyway and you were actually very positive about it, I watched another and damn this is good stuff.

  7. Avatar Syphin says:

    Ah, this is a great series, loved watching it. So many good things about it. Setting and the music were great. Michiko and Hatchin are awesome. Sad to see it end but amazing :D.

    Thanks for blogging this series, enjoyed reading them =).

  8. Avatar c160 says:

    I just hate Hiroshi so much…Number 1 on my hate list…They went through so much to meet him,but yet that bastard..Michiko is waaaay to good for that bastard..

  9. Avatar senerikfred says:

    I love it when a series I have a good feeling about actually turns out well.
    Atsuko’s climax was over dramatic, and it didn’t help that 19 was the worst animated episode of the series, but the last three were all fantastic, and really did a good job with exchanging sheer quality for fluidity during the action. I liked that the last was mostly quiet, and didn’t go out of the way to wrap up each and every loose end. Also, I think I prefer it the way that they didn’t say anything about Hatchin’s biological mother. The girl Atsuko met, Satoshi and the tomato woman were as much extra depth as was needed to show the way the various people Hiroshi met were affected by him, and they’d have needed to do an extra two or three episode arc either totally about her or where she was totally in the background in order to not end up detracting from Michiko and Hatchin’s relationship overall. As was demonstrated, the creators don’t seem like they had the budget for that.
    As for Michiko, I think she wasn’t realistically planning too far ahead where the show started, and really did go after Hatchin more as an excuse to see Hiroshi again. As she spent more time with Hatchin, however, she became a little more down to earth and accepted the way things would ultimately turn out, but only directly dealt with the situation in front of her. She even realized Hiroshi’s flaws to a certain extent, but wouldn’t allow herself to believe in them. It’d been foreshadowed for the longest time that Hiroshi wasn’t quite the ideal Michiko had in mind, so Hatchin flying off into the sunset with him and NOT living happily ever after felt like a perfect fit for the show’s themes, too.
    Long comment apologies, but even with its flaws, when Michiko to Hatchin was awesome, it was AWESOME. I can only nurture this small hope I have that the DVDs/Blurays/whatever THORA are subbing will include corrections for the necessary episodes.

  10. Avatar Pegah says:

    I really loved how Satoshi was portrayed, especially towards the end, and I actually felt bad when he died :( my favourite part, though, was when he and Hatchin teamed up, they made a really cute team, haha

  11. Avatar kiz-chan says:

    It’s a lovely series, but I can guarantee you that it’s not an accurate portrait of brazil (since its where I live ^^). It’s more like a crazy mix of some latin america countries (the exotic parts).

    And answering somebody who commented, we have cell phones here. A lot of them and they’re pretty cheap. 8D Oh, and the equipments that are outdated in the first world will probably be outdated here too. Brazil is a rich country but with huge social inequality. Please, people, don’t take the anime so seriously. ‘^^

  12. Avatar starred says:

    I’m so glad I followed this series, it is definetely one my favorite animes EVER. The only thing that really bugged me was the lack of explanation about the tattoos.

    Also, about the cellphone use in Brazil: Gotta agree with kiz-chan, I don’t know anyone around here who doesn’t use it, and even most 10 year olds already have one. In fact, in 2006 Brazil was 6th in a world ranking of cellphone use. \o/ I loved the varied settings of MeH but they were far away from being a realistic portrayal of the brazilian cities nowadays. Anime =/= Reality, folks.

    Anyway, thanks for your reviews, they were part of the fun of watching Michiko e Hatchin for me. =)

  13. Avatar Oya says:

    Great anime, thanks for blogging it.
    Michiko is damn cool!!!

  14. Avatar Mark K says:

    I must say while I was waiting for this anime I somehow came across this site and took the time to read your review (the only thing I hate more than typing is reading reviews)

    However what an EXCELLENT read this review was, I am so looking forward to watching this (mostly because of this review)

    Thanks

  15. Avatar AlexS says:

    Finally I got to see this series. I originally dropped it because I found frustrating to wait for the subs, and preferred to marathon it. Now that I have watched it, I can only say that it’s AWESOME.

    The level of detail, research used to create the music, backgrounds, clothing, character design is just flabbergasting! It oozes of style and really is a homage to the richness of Brazilian culture. You can see that the creators are anything but lazy: every jingle is different, styles change all the time, even character designs. It’s brilliant!

    As for authenticity, I disagree with the comments of the brazilian posters. Of course this is not how Brazil is, because it’s a mix of different eras: beetles, walkie-talkies, cassettes from the 70-80’s, but also disco lasers and genetic engineering: different periods of Brazil are compressed into a single setting, aiming for the soul of the country. This distance taken from exact realism is what allows the series to go to the essentials. You can notice this approach in other aspects: all the town names (or money) are invented, but the general maps are always of Brazil: in this way the authors creativity is not pointlessly constrained by details, and they can directly focus on what interests them.

    The only reservation I have in this topic is the episode with the pre-colombian ruins: really, that has nothing to do with Brazil, but in the end, who cares. The rest of the series is all about Brazil specifically, and not some general “south American” country.

    By the way, it’s also very interesting to see how a different culture (the japanese) views one’s own culture, and I find that in this series there was a real love and respect for the culture portrayed. Although as in any work based on “exotic” settings, there were stereotypes, but these were never soulless, and care was taken to make them really work.

    These people must have read and watched tons of Brazilian books/movies/soaps, because the anime is full of references to those (for instance “Cidade de Deus” comes to mind). I really laughed with the references to the “telenovelas” (the local soaps).

    Storywise, the anime really conveys the notion that life is cheap in third world countries… there is violence, and death happens, but people move on, and are not that sensitive to it. On the other hand the need to be cared for, resentment, betrayals and revenge are the much more gripping emotions that guide the characters. Nobody acts to right a wrong because of an absolute sense of justice (as is common in anime), but simply to get even on some personal offense, or to get back what they want.

    I also liked that the backstory and plot were not spoon fed to the audience. We were treated as grown ups, and I appreciate that. Character’s deaths are dealt with swiftly, no time is lost elaborating the dots we can connect by ourselves. This series had plenty of drama, and even romance, but surprisingly little cheese.

    In regards to comments on the mother of Hatchin, her absence is in itself the most important statement about her. She is so irrelevant, as one of Hiroshi’s many one night stands, that she does not even have an identity. Hard to bring the case more forcefully home.

    As for the end, I found it extremely satisfying. No character went “out of character” for the sake of an ending, they followed their logical trajectories. And I really loved to see the grown up Hatchin/Hana, suffering from the typical ills of her lack of parenting (doing small jobs because she has no education, being a young and single mother, etc), but still striving to do her best, because that’s the energy she has in her, like many people in her situation.

    There was social commentary going on, but without patronizing, which is incredibly refreshing.

    Together with Kaiba, this is my favorite 2008 anime.

    • Avatar D says:

      *SPOILER*

      Michiko went completely out of character. She consistently resisted arrest and tried to run throughout the series, but suddenly gave up when the bald man appeared. She also spent the entire series trying to find Hiroshi, then delivered Hatchin to him and left as soon as she found him. She left before he t even spoke five sentences.

  16. Avatar touchinstinct says:

    I absolutely loved this series! Michiko was a character that you loved, hated, and thought that she was a selfish bitch. she was selfish, reckless, beautiful, charming, imposing, and dangerous. In the end you fell in love with her because of those qualities. Hatchin, though she was only 10, acted more mature than her counter part. She was everything that Michiko wasn’t. She was adorable. Now the story and setting on the other hand was amazing. It was colorful and explosive. The villains were well scripted. Satoshi Batista was probably one of the BEST anime villains that I have ever seen. Now, Shinsuke Sasse Rodriguez I loved even more. He was a psychotic villain, much like The joker.
    All in all this anime totally ruled.

  17. Avatar Sasna says:

    Loved the characters, the culture, the animation and all that, but I think there were WAY too many loose ends when it came to secondary characters. They’d often just appear, bring a critical climax to the series, and then never appear again, their case and their motives unresolved or explained (there are ways to explain things without forcefully showing everything). There were also a lot of little plot holes, elements that did not make sense or weren’t realistic enough to my taste. But other than that it was really entertaining to watch. The ending was really cute and truthful. But I’d still give the anime a 7.5/10 for all the inconsistencies.

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