Hana Morenos is your typical 10 year old orphan. She’s a nice & obedient girl who does whatever her overbearing step-father and neglectful step-mother ask while constantly being harassed and abused by her step siblings. She wishes for the day her real father will come and take her away from the hell she calls life and in a way her prayers are answered when an escaped convict named Michiko Malandro literally crashes into her life. Choosing to go with the strange woman, Hana & Michiko embark on a quest to find Hana’s real father and also find themselves.
Brought to us by Manglobe, the same studio that produced Samurai Champloo and produced by Shinichiro Watanabe the same man who brought us both Samurai Champloo and the classic Cowboy Bebop, Michiko & Hatchin is definitely a show that most anime viewers have never seen or heard before. Just like Cowboy Bebop fused Sci-fi, Western, & Noir elements, all to a smooth jazz soundtrack and how Samurai Champloo combined chanbara samurai movies with hip-hop; Michiko & Hatchin fuses some Japanese cultural elements with Brazilian music (courtesy of the shows composer Alexandre Kassin) and tone setting the entire series in a fictional land similar to Brazil with the characters having a mix of Japanese & Hispanic names.
While following the standard “opposites attract” formula during it’s 22 episode run, Michiko & Hatchin also manages to bring a lot to the table in terms of character, setting, pacing, & quality. The locations are pretty immersive and you can defintely feel the atmosphere set in each episode, whether it be a dusty town in the middle of nowhere, a highway, a seedy strip club, or a lucious metropolis at night time.
The animation is top notch and style is certainly the name of the game as almost every scene has an underlying theme of cool and is far from stale. Things pop and mute when they need to and there really isn’t a moment where unecessary things take focus away from the story.
Speaking of story, fans of shows with a linear plot might be turned off by this show at first. Some episodes end abruptly without resolution on plot elements, for example there is an episode when Michiko gets kidnapped and Hatchin gets a man and his son to help her but we don’t really see Michiko return, and another episode where Michiko engages in a fire fight with a hitman on the highway but then when the cops show up she gets in the car with him and they drive away. While this doesn’t ruin the show as a whole, far from it, it does take a bit of getting used to.
In terms of the dub the voice acting it stellar. Monica Rial does an amazing job capturing Michiko’s badass attitude as well as her loving side in later episodes. Jad Saxton is also the perfect yin to Monica’s yang as the lovable Hatchin. Sametria Ewunes does a great job of pulling off the cool as well as emotional moments as cop & Michiko’s childhood friend Atsuko Jackson. Chrisopher Bevins does a pretty good job as Hatchin’s father Hiroshi, and Scott Freeman performs well as Satoshi’s right hand man Shinsuke. VA vets like Philip Weber & Cynthia Cranz as Hana’s adopted father and mother respectively, Brina Palencia as Hatchin’s circus girl friend Rita, Caitlin Glass as stripper Pepe Lima, Brandon Potter as Atusko’s partner Ricardo, and others perform well in their minor roles too. However, if anyone shined the most in the dub it was Akron Watson as the cold and calculating Satoshi Batista. Satoshi is a man from Michiko’s past and childhood friend of Hiroshi and the leader of the criminal organization Monstro (which Michiko & Hiroshi used to be apart of). Watson does an excellent job of keeping Satoshi menacing and frightening presence, whether he is killing his foes or slowly drowning one of his former generals.
The box sets contain quite a bit of extra goodies. Commentaries on episodes 1, 2, 20, & 22 with ADR Director (and voice of Hiroshi) Christopher Bevins and various cast members. A live promo of the anime’s unveiling in Japan spotlighting the Japanese Seiyuu’s (voice actors) for the show. 2 featurettes where Monica Rial and Jad Saxton talk about Michiko & Hatchin respectively. Textless versions of the show’s opening and ending songs (which is typical of anime releases) as well as trailers of other Funimation anime releases, so there is certainly lot in these sets to keep you occupied.
All in all Michiko & Hatchin is a very different but also spectacular show with lots of great characters, moments, and lasting appeal. Despite a few hiccups in some of the themes the show tries to bring out, it is certainly nothing that will keep you from enjoying the series as a whole. With it’s engaging atmosphere, memorable, music and strong female leads; Michiko & Hatchin is certainly a show that belongs on the shelves of anime fans as well as fans of stuff that is different from the norm while still being fun to watch.