Anime that are set out of Japan whilst not as uncommon as many may think are still few and far between but what is even more rare is an anime that takes place in Latin America. Michiko to Hatchin is representative of everything that is uncommon but amazing about the anime industry: it has style, nice characters, a unique setting and a vast array of themes, and whilst at times it is harsh it never forgets to be light-hearted in its ingenuity.
Michiko to hatchin's story is rather unusually executed; my original impressions was that the series was episodic but upon completion that statement was a fairly inaccurate description, but in saying that I still find that each episode is 'episodic' in its own way. Each episode does contribute to the story being told, but interestingly enough they also provide detail on many background details: such as the lives of a group of kids growing up in the slums Sao Paulo, or even settling in on the business motives of an organized crime network hosting a bullfighting tournament or a prostitution ring etc etc...
To its credit these many moments scattered throughout the series helped maintain my interest throughout the series entirety; each scenario was new and refreshing, each life had something different to offer. Unfortunately, criticisms still need to be considered, as whilst all these many moments managed to pique my interest. I could only feel that they somehow seemed to be a foot-hold in grabbing the viewers attention because the actual story seems kind of trivial in comparison to many of the side-stories.
This observation still only further justifies why i believe this series to be good, as it came up with such a variety of side-stories that managed to maintain a consistently high level of quality, that made the long journey all the more worth it in the end.
One thing that I wanted to point out upon entering this series, is that at the period of time in which Michiko to Hatchin is set. Brazil was going through a revolution. I was personally a little disappointed when I discovered that this series covered very little of that historic event. Not to discredit the series for this because instead of doing that, it's vivid portrayal of life in Brazil at the time seems particularly plausible and in many ways makes up for my disappointment. Underneath every garbage bin and behind every building, the place oozes with a deep sinister corruption. Everything from the police cover-ups and false justifications, money laundering, prostitution, you name it, this series probably has it.
A positive to all this, is that the series doesn't try to make a bad name out of all of this. It simply lets its vision unwrap itself never bombarding its audience with moral preaching. This is the lives of these people, are they happy with it? Maybe, maybe not, but at least they are making a living out of what they got, and if what they have is morally ambiguous then why not use its absolute best.
The actual story whilst being rather trivial as I mentioned earlier is twisted around with the many side-stories adding a bit to the series worth. What irks me though is the motivations behind the foundation of the story, our main character Michiko being one of the soul main characters comes across as ditzy and in many ways, really gullible which does little to help with story progression, and most of the story is moved forward by side-characters.
Even with these criticisms, I still must say that Michiko to Hatchin's ending is probably one of the best conclusions to an anime series that I have ever encountered. One problem I have found with many shows is that they take too long to conclude or the exact opposite where they don't have a conclusion. Michiko to Hatchin falls fair and square into the middle. Covering everything that it had previously established and no noticable plot threads are left unresolved without seeming to rushed or too slow.
One of the most notable things about Michiko to Hatchin's story is its interesting cast. The show takes the time and effort to construct a diverse quantity of personality and character traits. I do have a couple of issues with some minor and the main characters, some minor characters (not many) are occasionally used as plot conveniences but even these characters still get some level of development. Emphasizing that this series waste's no time in establishing its characters personalities, ambitions and motivations, which is certainly a good thing.
One of the best things about watching this series was watching Michiko and Hatchin's characters develop as the series played out, they're an unusual and possibly eccentric combination of mother and daughter. Many times I began to wonder if they are even related, like at all, but as a member of the audience, I could feel a relationship present, whilst being slightly unorthodox it was not an impossible relationship to envision. It is entertaining to watch as they interact, learning from each others mistakes. Watching the unusually mature Hatchin take care of the naively reckless but caring Michiko, and vice-versa.
My complaints with some of the characters, are that their motivations are occasionally very vague. A good example would be some of the interactions between Michiko and Atsuko, a few of the outcomes from there encounters are occasionally poorly explained and sometimes a little stupid. Without giving away any spoilers, there was one particular scene where I was screaming at Atsuko in my head for not carrying out a particular action that she had tried so hard to achieve but in the end didn't carry it out. The reason? Well I might have missed it because the motivation behind it was sort of precarious but the consequences for iit rendered their reasons completely arbitrary.
Our main character Michiko isn't without fault either, very prone to some questionable actions throughout the series, chasing someone who is clearly trying to get away from her just seems to be a motivation that is slightly beyond my comprehension.
Other than these complaints it was an interesting cast nonetheless and despite these people's shortcomings, these actions (even the ones that I previously mentioned) never felt out of character and becomes a small plus in my book.
The Art whilst not anything spectacular is very clean and this quality is constant throughout the entirety of the series. The most notable moments are seen in the many action sequences. Each scenes choreography was well animated rarely ever resorting to cheap techniques (and if the series did they were very well disguised). Each scene had a fluidity all on its own, it was fast-paced when it needed to be, retrospectively it was slow when demanded and normal between these many moments. Each frame never felt out of place when actions were being displayed. I mention this because the sheer breadth and style of the many action sequences in this series never lets up and the art knows how to dictate the adrenaline pumping moments and thus contributes to the series well-established atmosphere.
One of the best things about Michiko to Hatchin is the background designs. Never before have I seen a 3rd world/2nd world country presentation as detailed than I have in Michiko to Hatchin (with a possible exception of "Flag") in an anime/manga series. Everything from the large open spaces accompanying a desolate road; to the slum, crime ridden districts of Brazil's many cities, towns and communities. The level of detail that goes into many of the locations emphasize the tensions building in each district and community.
The character designs across the board are very commendable, and I loved how all the characters have a degree of acceptable realism to them. Whilst Michiko the main lead has a busty accentuated figure, her figure is complimented by the shows diverse characters and as mentioned previously with their large range of personalities, the same can be said for each character's designs. Figures often appear in a versatility of chubby, well-groomed and formal, poor and hungry, old and young character types. Serving to make the characters far more relatable, increasing the series impact.
One particular aspect of the art that I wish to take into consideration is actually the opening and ending credits. One thing I loved about this series was the mesh of beautiful textures that I witnessed upon entering and leaving every episode. With a hint of photo-shop thrown into the blend of pseudo-phantasmagorical art reminiscent of a retro-American psychedelic hippie movement.
Michiko to Hatchin's soundtrack is a well-made and thoroughly appropriate soundtrack with a collaboration of string instrumentals, mostly of the ukulele and acoustic guitar, with a common accompaniment of percussion instruments such as the timpani, bongos and such. A lot of the songs in the series ost are wildly and energetically presented, catering to the fun and adrenalin-soaked and occasionally sexually fused atmosphere that the series provides.
Some of the tracks are particularly memorable, most notably the opening sequence with its bubbly bebop jazz style. Effectively melding its complex harmonics making it an absolute blast to listen to, with the show forcing me to listen to it every single time I started a new episode, and that is definitely a good thing.
Each track adequately sets the tone of each scene and never fails to boast an exciting entourage. Overall I see no reason to complain about the ost. It is effective, different and great to listen to.
Overall, this show does have a couple of faulty points, where entertainment value can be somewhat lacking on a couple of occasions and at times I felt the characters make stupid decisions but they are few and far between. And as I mentioned before, rarely do those stupid decisions seem out of character, so if anything it helps benefit the series.
Altogether this series is a quality adventure taking place in an untouched landscape. It has a positively balanced story with non-repetitive scenario's, the show never tries too hard at what it does and loves to revel in its own world. It knows its limits and actively makes use of that boundary. It is a vision that is both refreshing and entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone who shares a delight in venturing into a world of interesting characters and constant thumping of a glorious beat in every background.