Mixing both the flair and beauty from Brazil with the brutal and shocking is the main current which runs through the tale of love, betrayal and friendship that is Michiko & Hatchin. Amplified by Shinichiro Watanabe’s signature musical composition, this current attracts and repels like Brazil’s lethal capoeira.
The story follows the titular characters Michiko & Hatchin in search of Hiroshi, the love of Michiko’s life and father to Hatchin. It begins at a women’s prison where we first meet Michiko in the midst of a jail break. Following her escape, we come to meet Hana (later Hatchin) living with her abusive adopted family and whose life is about to abruptly change as Michiko quite literally bursts into her life.
Rescued (or kidnapped) from her life of hardship, the duo makes haste closely pursued by the law which includes Michiko’s childhood friend turned police woman Atsuko, teasingly nicknamed Jambo. This frantic cat and mouse chase continues from village to village and town to town, bringing with it chaos but also leaving lasting memories with individuals they come across and manage to form short-lived bonds with.
The female leads are polar opposites both in terms of appearance and personality. Michiko exudes a wild, sexy almost Amazonian like aura with little to no regard for those around her. Hatchin on the other hand, is mature for her tender years and strives to be law abiding whilst attempting to steer Michiko in the right direction. As the series progresses, their resulting clashes and rifts are enough to break any bond but they soon come to realise how important they are to each other.
The voice actresses produce a stellar performance and really bring both characters to life, in particular Yoko Maki as Michiko, giving rise to her a mature yet “spoiled childlike” personality.
The anime does appear episodic but in truth its episodic format lends to the on-the-run nature of the series. It makes for a slightly disjointed feel and one I wasn’t entirely happy with. Furthermore, secondary and seemingly important characters we’re only briefly touched upon, serving as little more than signposts. A little more fleshing out could have given rise to more interesting dialogues.
In terms of artwork and design, the character designs are stunning and individualistic, commending each characters traits and persona, from the old and frail to the psychotic and loud; the artwork is indeed beautiful and with a constant tint of sunset yellow it manages to give the towns and villages a distinctly South American feel.
However, the South American sunset gives way to long and dark shadows, through which gangs and characters from the underbelly of society appear, providing the anime’s static shock by producing some rather brutal scenes. Children also feature quite heavily in the series, echoing the hardship and realities they face but the anime injects enough innocence so as to not distract from the story.
Packed with concrete hard action, comedic touches and musical flair, studio Manglobe have extracted a winning formula with Michiko & Hatchin, producing a fresh icy-cool show which echoes of Lupin and Cowboy Bebop. With its drum beats, guitar strings and Portuguese lyrics; Michiko & Hatchin is not your run of the mill anime but it’s better than a large number of them. It’s most certainly a series which belongs in any collection.
Distributed by MVM Entertainment, you can find the series here