From the creative minds at Manglobe (producers of Samurai Champloo and Ergo Proxy) we have Michiko e Hatchin (translated Michiko and Hatchin). Some have called it a cross between Thelma & Louise and City of God; that’s some damn good critical praise. I’m not gonna lie though – I have seen neither of these movies, but from what I do know about them (Wiki and IMDB ftw, son), it seems to fit the bill.
The story begins with Hana Morenos, a well mannered, moral-minded young girl living with her foster family who treats her like crap, being rescued from her Cinderella role by not a prince, but her wild and fiery, convicted felon of a mom, Michiko Malandro. Michiko is in jail for a number of reasons, but after catching wind that her lover who was presumed dead may still be alive, she breaks out of a supposedly inescapable prison to fetch her child in hopes to win him over/start a proper family. Since she becomes an escaped convict, Michiko is on the run and is forever being hunted by a childhood acquaintance turned enemy Atsuko Jackson, who is now a cop. I know, concept too awesome already. I swear, it gets even better.
The story is set in a fictional South American country that is modeled after various modern day Latin American cities, most noticeably Brazil. It’s a rather impoverished world and everyone is just doin’ what they can keep their heads up, but the gangs and mafias present run the show and are pretty wild, making what would be a bad situation terrible. This doesn’t stop Michiko from running wild herself, driving her motorcycle through crowded streets, shop windows and homes, steadily kickin’ ass and… well, just kickin’ ass, whatever it takes to reach her goal. She has roots in gang life herself (which comes to surface as the story progresses) and is a formidable fighter when pushed. Hana being pretty opposite from Michiko comes at odds a lot with her mom and her behavior, and Michiko as well has a hard time dealing with her daughter. Somehow though, through all the bickering and fighting, they find ways and reasons to stick to one another.
Now although there is an established official plot line, the show tends to focus more on the relationship of Michiko and Hatchin; things that happen seem to serve the purpose of helping or harming the bond between the two of them, but their relationship is sorta the plot, so it works out. I would argue even that more of the point of the show is to get you more emotionally invested in the two of them rather than the pay off of the story. But that’s fine, their tale is really heartwarming, though heart wrenching and frustrating at times too.
But that’s not all there is. There is also plenty of action, humor, lewd comments, explosions, gun fights – all the things we all know and love well, or should, because guns and explosions are the best things ever, right? The animation is also rather nice, very smooth and fluid. There are many savory characters that enter the scene along the way that help pull the plot together and make every episode worth watching. There are also some that enter and leave with no explanation as well, which makes for some interesting plot twists.
Now those familiar with the shows Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo may find themselves at home with this one, as the music is produced by Shinichiro Watanabe (director of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo). He does not disappoint; Bebop was jazz, Champloo was hip-hop, Michiko and Hatchin is bossa nova and samba. Lots of trumpets, drums, timber – at relaxing times, very relaxing, and at high energy points in the show, very festive.
All in all, I enjoyed the show; I found it to be generally well put together. The plot takes detours here and there, so things get a bit confusing along the way, but it flows well enough. The flash and flare of the heroine coupled with the seedy side of of life makes for some compelling moments, and the back and forth between Michiko and Hatchin, as well as between the people they meet can be pretty hilarious at times.
For the Casual Fan – This might be a good show for you. It’s got its flaws, but is mostly fun to watch. It’s not all pretentious like some shows can be, and is quite different from most anime you will find out there.
For the Anime-weathered fan – It’s not just a cheap Bebop/Champloo rip off. It is in the style of these shows, but I’d argue the plot is more concrete than either of them. It isn’t the most fantastic thing in the world, but if you’re willing to look past a plot hole or two, it’s entertaining.
Reply Value – I’d could see myself watching this one more time someday, but I’m not getting the DVDs or anything.
Story – Cute at times, sad at times, crazy at times. It can post you up, has mid range game, and can shoot the long ball of emotion on you. It also turns the ball over a bit with the occasional WTF moment, so watch out for that.
Animation – Lots of gorgeous shots and smooth fluid movement. The style and fashion that appear in the show are rather neat.
Verdict in a sentence: Michiko e Hatchin is not a must watch, but most people should be able to appreciate and enjoy it.