On the surface, this show, “Michiko e Hatchin” is just another ‘journey’ show, not much different than “Noir” or “El Cazador”, although potentially allied closer to “Samurai Champloo”, as least in attitude.
The tale takes place in ‘Alternative Brazil’; although it is never named, there is enough to imply that we are in South America. Michiko Malandro (that rather bounteous babe astride the scooter) is a felon, having run with Monstro Preto, a rather notorious gang, and has spent the last eight or so years in prison. Michiko is tormented endlessly, both physically and emotionally, by Atsuko Jackson, the police officer who arrested her. Here’s the odd thing: they grew up in the same orphanage, but obviously took different paths. By her telling Michiko that her daughter, Hana, is living with a foster family, Michiko breaks out of an ‘escape-proof’ prison to rescue Hana.
Hana (yes, that boy is really a girl; it’s just the presentation) is in a Cinderella-like situation, in that her foster family is those pretentious and insufferable religious types that we like making fun of. Dad is a priest who uses the position to feather his own nest, mom is a social climber and the kids are bratty beyond belief. Michiko steals the scooter, busts into the house, rescues Hana (whom she now calls Hatchin) and thus their journey begins to find dad, who Michiko knows is not dead, despite reports to the contrary.
Now, remember that Michiko is a wanted felon and Atsuko (who is called Jumbo, but it’s really Jambo) hunts her down. They meet all kinds of weird people and get into tight situations, but manage to soldier on, sometimes in almost bulletproof circumstances, despite that her picture is flashed constantly on the TV, between some really over-acted soap operas.
Two things about the show bothered me: one, where do they get all the money they spend on hotel rooms? Even if we place the currency at a dollar, things are still pricey. Is Michiko turning a trick or two? The old badger game? Two, why are the policia, for the most part, really ineffectual? Even the Keystone Kops did a better job of getting things done but I guess it’s hard to be taken seriously when the patrol car is a VW and can get outrun by that scooter! Put another hamster in the wheel! Pedal faster!
The show plays out in real time, although you may have two ‘days’ in a single episode. And please ignore the fact that we have an April 31st; this is alternative Brazil. Oh, and even though we have a lot of boobs flouncing about (and in the early part of the show, lots of references to Michiko’s breasts by Michiko herself), the fan service is rather reined in, so she may wear an extreme Brazilian thong, but there are no fully unclothed bosoms. Also, there is a run-down, worn-out look to everything: peeling paint, cracked windows, grime and slime and general dust and debris. If you are expecting a neat and tidy show as you see in a lot of anime, it’s won’t be here.
Despite her hard-as-nails approach, Michiko has those soft girly dreams of a man who loves her and a romantic family life, but it comes to a halt amid the stained walls and the scuffed-up tables that denote their current status in life. People cannot be trusted, even those that you have to rely on and you do things to have to do for survival, although it makes you no better than the other people out there. Hana may be the tougher of the two, as she has given up all hope for anything. Needless to say, this causes endless conflicts between the two of them. She wants a loving daughter; she wants a caring mother. Mick Jagger was right: “You can’t always get what you want”.
Still, it is a show about hope. It is the only thing that keeps driving these people through brutal encounters, police shoot-outs and uncertainty as to whether your friend might put a bullet in your back. Some of the character designs are a bit on the loony side, as though they wanted you to know that this guy has gone off the rails, but you needn’t go that far, and I would swear that Jambo’s afro gets bigger and bigger every time we see her. If you want to see a show that is far from the Tokyo nexus of anime AND is worth watching, I recommend this one.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 9 (Interesting artwork and approaches)
Plot 8 (A simple plot done well)
Pacing 8 (Sometimes, you can have too many police chases)
Effectiveness 8 (It does tell its story well)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but doesn’t really end)
Fan Service 5 (A similar show would be “Maburaho”)
Overall 8 (Well worth the watch)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Get back on the scooter.