Michiko & Hatchin: Scary Good

Discussion in 'Art & Culture' started by Tiassa, Apr 24, 2016.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Michiko & Hatchin: Scary Good

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    In the land of Diamandra―never mind, it's Brasil―Michiko Malandro escapes from prison and sets off in search of her true prize; her only clue is a photograph of Hana, dated 11.4.

    Hana Morenos is nine years old. An orphan, she lives in the home of a glitzy, fraudulent preacher whose only worry is the child support check from the state that comes with the child. Her life is misery, exploited for labor by her foster parents and general amusement by her sadistic foster siblings. The darkest of implications are present; in the first episode her foster father reminds that little girls must either sell their bodies or what's inside them in order to survive. In the second, we learn that the sexual exploitation has yet to start; Father Pedro has reserved that, for the time being, to Maria, the older foster sister. Eventually the pressure becomes to great; Hana runs away, then thinks again, and returns home to face her ongoing hell.

    Like all children, she wishes for a better family. Her circumstance, of course, makes this dream of a returning father all the more poignant. And then, one day, someone shows up to take her away.

    Michiko is on the run from the cops, seeking the lover she believed was dead but could not, for the sake of Hana, actually be. She is convinced that Hiroshi Morenos is alive.

    To the one, it sounds like something of a standard plot. To the other, this is Shinichirō Watanabe and Manglobe, and just for a change the series is directed by a woman, Sayo Yamamoto. The difference is astounding; those laboring under the impression that Samurai Champloo was merely Watanabe's time away from science fiction and the Ghost in the Shell enterprise will find themselves happily corrected. Superficial tropes styled in gangsta-bitch lines and heavy-handed reminders of the real world outside our televisions abound. The muggy spring of hope and despair offers a road trip of unbelievable memory.

    This show is scary. Not frightening in the horror-show context, when timed punctuation aims to send you leaping from your seat. Rather, it is scary-good, so well done as to strike awe into a viewer. As the road-trip buddy show tension between Michiko's street smarts and Hatchin's insistent purity escalates, hard reality forcibly intrudes; poverty and desperation, kids with guns and no good influence, corruption, greed, exploitation. The fourth episode gnaws at the soul, an emblem of motion media at its finest.

    Released in 2008, the series has finally made its way to American broadcast. Monica Rial (Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Anarchy Panty; Dragonball Z Kai, Bulma) voices Michiko; Jād Saxton (Baccano!, Eve Genoard; Dimension W, Mira) takes on the role of Hatchin. Both are stellar voice performances.

    It is easy enough to fall into any new series; Dimesnion W might well be worth the time to watch, but it's also enough to end each episode wondering what's up with the tail. Michiko & Hatchin is, even more than the deliberately anachronistic Samurai Champloo, its own thing; there really isn't anything like it in the marketplace. And while no anime is completely trope-free―no, seriously, what's the thing with scooters insofar as while Haruko Haruhara rode a Vespa SS 180 in FLCL, Michiko's ride looks like the space cruiser version―it is well enough to note certain absences; even Serial Experiments Lain had that dumb line about the nightclub and the hip young crowd, while the anime flashback narratives remind why everyone likes the director's cut of Blade Runner seem nearly entirely absent.

    And it is easy enough sometimes to forget you're watching a cartoon; that happens from time to time with many such series, but reality always intrudes. With Michiko & Hatchin, the only indicator that you're watching a cartoon is the obvious, that the show is animated. And it is easy enough to forget that, too, since Sayo Yamamoto appears to have forgotten, as well.

    That fourth episode ....

    It really is scary how good Michiko & Hatchin actually is.
     

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