Imagine, if you will, two loveable characters making their way across an exotic country, with nothing but a dream between them. Meeting colourful locals in each location, these characters form a bond that can never be broken, as proved by the numerous bond breaking situations they find themselves in. It is a kindly story, an inspiring story, a story about one escaped prisoner and the orphan she kidnapped…did I not mention that? I probably should’ve mentioned that.
Yes folks get ready to have your heartstrings tugged by a brash, loudmouth by the name of Michiko Molandro and the far more reserved Hana “Hatchin” Morenos. Not exactly a heavyhanded series, if my previous statement implied, you will nonetheless have a few emotional moments as these two trapse and trek through a number of less-than-idyllic situations. Having lived as an abused child, adopted by one of the most hate inspiring priests in anime, Hana is one day saved by Michiko, who drives her bike onto the breakfast table of said jerkbag priest (and family), before whisking her away with the promise of finding her father. Though by that point (the end of episode one) anywhere seems better than the house she lived in. Is it wrong that I wanted to punch the priests real kids, the ones who actively choked and tried to burn Hana? Like, I know child violence is wrong, but does it count for evil anime kids?
Anyway, this simple premise propels our heroines throughout their journey, undergoing all manner of trials and torments in order to see its end. Over the course of the series however, it is revealed that the initial balance of interest and desire rest largely in Michiko’s side of this team up. Though she cuts a brazen figure, at her core Michiko is a lovestruck fool who refused to let go of the one who got away. Though she is initially a symbol of hope for Hana, she becomes less so as he true intentions are brought to light, yet somehow she also becomes moreso as well. Contradictory I know, but true regardless. Through the time they spend together, Michiko and Hatchin form a vitriolic bond that, due to the unshakeable laws of anime, becomes the truest one either have ever shared. Sure they threaten to (and actually do) desert each other more than once, sure they hit each other on a fairly regular basis, sure they’re both using each other for their own reasons…I forget where I was going with this, but they’re friends. That’s what matters.
In this vein, the series is ultimately one with an odd central theme. Simply put, it revolves around shattering illusions and the harshness of reality. Though our deuteragonists wander the country, meeting people along the way, this is not an upbeat journey about solving problems. Each situation they encounter is far from resolved by the time they leave and not all of their new acquaintances make it out alright. Some issues are not even resolved by series end, whilst others conclude away from our heroines’ gaze, robbing them of closure. This is not a story of victories. This is a story of making the best of a bad situation and hoping your choices were the right ones, or at the very least justifiable in some way. This viewpoint is aided by the lack of purity in any one character, allowing the audience to see an escaped prisoner such a Michiko in a positive light, given that surrounding characters, such as the priest, are either comparable or worse. The largest example of this theme however has got to be Hiroshi Morenos himself, the self proclaimed goal of Michiko and Hatchin. Though seen through Michiko’s eyes as a charming, handsome man who was far too kind for a life of crime, reality sinks in as we begin to question his motivations. Namely, why did he never come back for Michiko or Hatchin? Sure you could say that he might not have known about his daughter, but his ex-lover? The woman he was apparently still very much with before the unfortunate event that led to his rapid exodus. That just doesn’t sit right. Ultimately, it is the series inclusion of these poor character traits that sold me on this series, particularly one throwaway line in the final episode. By showing that Hiroshi is not the bastion of purity Michiko believes him to be, the series shows a confidence in itself that doesn’t care if you dislike the figure who stood as the final goal since episode one.
Easing off on the existential, introspection that drives characters to question their place in the universe, let’s talk about how pretty this series is. It’s very. Owing to their particular living situation, the hotels Michiko and Hatchin stay in are…less than picturesque. That being said, the surrounding locations are usually…not bad. Ok, so most of the towns they visit are rampant with crime and violence, but sometimes they manage to evade the law long enough to find a brief respite in a visually striking town. That being said, the series retains a vibrant colour palette regardless of the safety of their particular surroundings, something that is only overpowered by Michiko herself. Owing to her personality (which probably also explains how “affords” this), Michiko changes her outfit as frequently as possible, sometime going through two or three and episode. This provides a nice visual variance in an aspect that is often overlooked in anime, with characters often sticking with one signature outfit for the entirety of a series. So it’s refreshing, to say the least.
So, Michiko & Hatchin is an interesting one. One part journey of self discovery, one part realisation that self is often less than ideal. It’s a series mired in reality, despite the over the top style it relishes in. The most impressive aspect of the anime however, would be its ability to retain some positivity in light of the horrors it shows.Though mostly attributed to the fact that Michiko and Hatchin’s situations are not the worst depicted in the series, there is at least some hope presented to show that sometimes things do work out. Is this justification in order to forget the truly unsalvageable situations they come across? Maybe, but sometimes you just have to believe against all odds. It might not always be the right thing to do, but sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.
Anyone who would try and get in the way of these ladies is truly a Madman