Saturday, May 16, 2009

Anime: Michiko to Hatchin

Hark, I seem to have stumbled upon a treasure trove of excellent anime! This time a somewhat more recent series, just having concluded in March of this year, and one of the most unique and interesting I've seen in quite some time.

ミチコとハッチン immediately struck me as appealing for the simple fact that it's an anime with a little bit of cultural diversity. Don't get me wrong, it's quite understandable that a sizable portion of anime is based in the country it's made in, set in or around high schools because of its target demographic, and so forth - but it all just gets a little boring and stale eventually, doesn't it? Especially in this decade, anime has seriously been bumping down a path of cliche, and don't even get me started on this whole モエ craze...
So how often does an anime set entirely in a (fictional) country resembling South America come along? And how often does a foreign-based anime manage to get everything so right? From the culture and architecture of the Brazilian-esque cities, to the copious use of written Spanish and Portuguese, Michiko to Hatchin quickly demonstrates that not all anime has to be about schoolgirls and ninjas.

The premise is perhaps even more unique, as it follows a mother and daughter (that is, Michiko and Hatchin, also known as Hana) on their journey to track down the girl's father. While this plot might sound a little dull on the surface, it eventually leads to some interesting situations with a colorful (and often dangerous) cast of characters.
Michiko is brash, tough and would more often than not prefer to beat the living tar out of someone rather than put up with their crap. In contrast, Hatchin is far more calm, rational and independent (and quite intelligent and mature for a 10 year old girl), which often causes clashes between the two - quite often, in fact. But ultimately, it's the relationship between mother and daughter that makes this story so compelling and almost believable. The characters of Michiko to Hatchin are, at their core, all too human and vulnerable, capable of succumbing to their own weaknesses and often taunted and tormented by the pains of their past. This leads to some interesting events and revelations, and numerous unexpected outcomes which I daren't spoil... Let's just say that I've rarely seen an anime that breaks the kind of ground Michiko to Hatchin does in terms of storyline and characterization.

If you're looking for something a little different with a dash of crime drama and a whole lot of culture, you could do far worse than Michiko to Hatchin. Fans of Cowboy Bebop should feel right about at home.

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