Gabe finally Watches: Michiko and Hatchin

So Toonami recently started airing Michiko and Hatchin, which I’ve used as an excuse to finally watch the series in its entirety myself.

michikoehatchin title card

On paper, the series is incredibly easy to hype up. Producer’s Shinichiro Watanabe (of Bebop and Champloo fame), and the series itself *isn’t* an adaptation of a pre-existing work, plus it features a strong female protagonist. Where is bad?

Well, when your initial concept is honestly the only thing you have going for a show, that’s probably an indicator of something. For the uninitiated, Michiko and Hatchin tells the story of Michiko, an all-around badass that breaks out of prison and her polar opposite daughter Hana (or “Hatchin” as Michiko refers to her). Together the two try to get past their obvious differences in temperaments and travel through the beautiful backdrop that’s of clear South American influence in order to find Hiroshi—an old flame of Michiko’s and biological father of Hana. Throw in a female cop that’s got some childhood roots with Michiko and you’d think the rest of the plot could write itself.

And that’s where the problem is.

Michiko and Hatchin is a clear example of what happens when you have a list full of nothing but cool bullet points and no actual interest in stringing together said bullet points into any kind of narrative. You would think that the series’ general episodic format would help hide this flaw—and it does, to a point—but after a while, it becomes clear that the characters themselves aren’t the only thing meandering about.

That’s not to say that stories about large journeys starring goofball characters with tendencies for getting lost are destined to be crappy by default. On the contrary, series like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Samurai Champloo both feature characters aimlessly wandering about with only a vague endgame and not much else to go on. But what makes those series more worthwhile is that as meandering and apparently helpless as their characters may seem to be, there still exists some inkling of progress come the end of the episode.

michikoehatchin cap01
Not so much with Michiko and Hatchin, which feels like you could honestly skip to the last two episodes after watching the first two without missing much of anything. Throughout the entirety of the series, both titular characters feel like they have progressed very little as far as character arcs go. Yes, things like backstory and interactions are brought about every now and then, but they feel like nothing more than an additional “hey, isn’t that cool” bullet point to add to the list without any care given to how said bullet point is weaved into the overall story. Characters and plot points come and go without much thought put into them, making for a rather messy narrative. It reaches the point that I’ll think I’ve missed an episode or so because episodes tend to drop you in the middle of an already continuing story which is far from where things left off previously.

Getting into specifics, Michiko and Hatchin’s general treatment of its cast is questionable to say the least. Considering Michiko’s rough-and-tumble personality and daughter Hatchin’s more subdued responsible personality, it’s clear that the two will bump heads on a regular basis as they journey together. However, nothing is developed past their initial bickering, making their scenes together feel more like the viewer is witnessing an adult violently reprimand her child in the middle of the grocery store. It’s endearing in a weird way and you’re sure the two love each other at their core, but that’s just the problem—you never really get to the core of either character, so it just comes off as awkward. Michiko’s intentions for bringing Hatchin along on her journey are fuzzy at best, and the supporting cast trying to clarify things just end up making things more vague.

michikoehatchin cap02
The character Jambo for example has a love/hate sort of relationship with Michiko, having grown up with her but is also the cop currently in charge of hunting her down. While it’s clear their history together will mean the inevitable change of heart when the two finally face each other, her mood and actions seem fully at the mercy of the plot (or at the least what’s attempting to be made into a plot). Other characters come and go to take the place of Jambo’s flippant role as the series’ antagonist, but they all suffer the same fate in that they’re clearly introduced as a lifesaver to sort things out story-wise only to further complicate matters.

…which is a real shame, considering that series director Sayo Yamamoto would move on to direct The Woman Called Fujiko Mine—a series fully engrossed in the lore of the Lupin the Third series and yet doesn’t feel limited or clumsy in its storytelling. If I had to choose between the two shows, Fujiko Mine would definitely be my better option for anime starring a kickass female lead.

Current word-count is at 821 and I’ve done nothing but poke at the stuff I’ve hated about the show so far so lemme just delve into one major thing they could have done to improve the show:

THEMING.

That’s it. All good essays need a thesis to better organize their concrete-detail paragraphs and stories work in a similar manner. Michiko and Hatchin spend a good chunk of the series doing nothing but wandering without much thought as to what they’d do when they find Hiroshi. Rather than using the down time on the scenery or another fight scene, it would have been nice to see just what the series is about as a whole through some theming. Considering Hatchin spent the better part of her life under foster parents, it would have been interesting to see the theme of parenthood made more prominent. Thoughts on what it means to be a parent, and just what exactly defines “good parenting” or “bad parenting” and the influence of absent parents suddenly showing up in the child’s life are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this issue. Shows like Usagi Drop and the animated feature Wolf Children are proof that the theme can be put into a mainstream work, and I would have loved it if the show tackled this topic more head-on.

As it stands, however, Michiko and Hatchin is a show that went from “this could still be redeemable” to “they really just wanted to end it at this point” real quick.


Michiko and Hatchin may be viewed on hulu and has been recently re-released under Funimation’s discount S.A.V.E. line of anime titles.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

2 Responses to Gabe finally Watches: Michiko and Hatchin

  1. dandylion13 says:

    Hey I really enjoy your blog so I nominated you for a Sunshine award. Do whatever you want with it, you can even print it out an frame it for all I care.
    https://viewersdiscretionisadvised.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/sunshine-award-part-5-the-return-of-the-return-of-questions/

  2. I enjoyed this series, but I agree it would have benefited from having an ongoing story. Alas they went for the epiosodic approach.

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