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The 2008/2009 anime series Michiko & Hatchin is a bright, vibrant action series and Part One of the DVD collection contains the first 11 episodes of the 22 episode show.
Michiko Malandro is a harden criminal who escapes from a maximum security prison. Hana is a 9-year-old girl who lives with an abusive foster family who use her as slave labor in a Cinderella story, until Michiko rescues the young girl. Together Michiko and Hana, renamed Hatchin, go on the search for Hatchin’s real father and Michiko’s ex-lover in the criminal underworld of a Brazil like nation.
Cowboy Bebop director Shinichirō Watanabe produced Michiko & Hatchin, which shows the quality of people that were working on the series. Michiko & Hatchin is a mostly light-hearted, very colorful series that has many action sequences. The title sets out this tone, using purples and oranges, having samba style music and showcasing some of the action. The action ranges from shoot outs, fights and some entertaining car chases. One of the most entertaining action sequences is in the sixth episode where Michiko disguises herself as a matador and having to fight a bull and a sword fight with a gangster. It was a gleeful experience.
Despite the upbeat tone of the title sequence and action sequence Michiko & Hatchin is not afraid to go dark and grim. In the first episode Hana’s foster siblings are not just cruel, they are outright sociopathic with their treatment towards her, including in Hana’s older sister holding a hot iron towards her face. This leads to jarring tonal swifts as the series turns to action packed to more controversial scenes of a women selling children for God knows what. The scenes set in the Favelas, with the street kids dominating the area, were similar to the Brazilian movie City of God and the fourth episode ended on a tragic note.
The relationship between Michiko and Hatchin is central to the series, Michiko promising to protect Hatchin, being willing to throw herself into danger while being a mother. Both characters have different sets of values, Hatchin being very moral and upright and Michiko does what she has to do to survive – so has a more flexible scene of morals. The relationship deteriorates as the series progresses as Hatchin rejects Michiko. Hatchin is a character who wants to move on from her traumatic past as Michiko has to go back to her old world to find her presumed died lover.
In comparison to the Japanese voice acting and the American dub, the Japanese version is the superior one, having the better acting. But the drawback from the Japanese version is the subtitles go by too quickly, particularly when there is both a character talking and a news report is in the background. The American dub is still solidly acted and there has been an effort to ensure the mouth movements match the spoken words.
It’s a bit weird that some characters have Japanese names and others have Portuguese/Brazilian ones. Michiko & Hatchin is a delightful anime series for the most part, filled with action, fantastic animation, great music and moments of humor.