Nearer to the likes of Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo than Yuri on Ice, Sayo Yamamoto’s Michiko & Hatchin is each bit as deserving of consideration.
There’s little doubt that 2016’s smash-hit Yuri on Ice is a good present, providing one thing for nearly everybody, from boys like to determine skating and normal sports activities anime followers. Whether or not by way of its music and choreography or plot and character improvement, the collection hits nearly each single notice with aplomb. Nevertheless, director Sayo Yamamoto has created different anime titles, together with Michiko & Hatchin in 2008 — and this directorial debut is simply pretty much as good, or arguably even higher, than Yuri on Ice, and each bit as deserving of consideration both means.
Set within the fictional nation of Diamandra (itself modeled intently on Latin American countries, primarily Brazil), Michiko & Hatchin follows the 2 titular characters, a mother-daughter duo, as they journey collectively so as to monitor down Hana “Hatchin” Morenos’ father. Nevertheless, Hatchin’s relationship together with her beginning mom Michiko Malandro is much from clean crusing, as Michiko is a fiercely unbiased younger girl, to not point out a current escapee from some of the closely guarded prisons in Diamandra. Their travels are subsequently as a lot about studying to simply accept each other as they’re about evading the regulation in an in any other case incessantly lawless land.
One among Michiko & Hatchin’s best strengths lies in its portrayal of its chosen setting. Whereas many anime titles can and do use foreign countries as a backdrop, Yamamoto’s research and personal travels around Central and South America is obvious within the anime’s numerous visible and cultural presentation. From dusty desert highways that stretch out empty for miles to ramshackle barrios and densely-populated slums, the present is vibrant and dynamic. Its places are populated by the likes of pickpockets, farmhands, waiters, circus vacationers, bullfighters, small-time mobsters and everybody in between, and in a fashion that’s down-to-earth and relatable reasonably than fanciful or romanticized.
As talked about, the evolving relationship between Michiko and Hatchin is on the coronary heart of the collection. The previous is wild and reckless however powerful as nails, the latter simply as strong-willed and in some ways extra mature, however missing in Michiko’s expertise or avenue smarts. Regardless of complementing and sometimes counting on one another (even when they don’t at all times acknowledge it), Michiko’s extraordinarily laidback perspective as a mom determine and her tendency to see the previous, particularly her former lover Hiroshi, by rose-tinted glasses, clashes with Hatchin’s way more critical nature and cussed pragmatism.
Yamamoto’s debut collection additionally touches on quite a lot of feminist themes. A number of the side-plots and far of the subtext revolves round males both exploiting or making an attempt to use ladies, however the present may be very a lot invested in viewing these occasions by a female-centric lens. Most of the time, it’s the ladies who ultimately flip issues round, overcoming their imposed limitations by a mix of braveness, ingenuity, and sheer grit and resolve. Irrespective of what number of instances they’re taken benefit of or crushed down, they don’t permit themselves to develop into passive victims or stay unvoiced.
Evidently, by way of each plot and tone, in addition to in its general look and sound, Michiko & Hatchin is nothing like Yuri on Ice. Primarily an motion/journey highway journey piece with a number of quieter and extra introspective episodes scattered all through, the collection is nearer to the likes of Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo by means of Thelma & Louise than anything. This isn’t shocking, provided that Yamamoto was working alongside Shinichiro Watanabe as an episode director for Samurai Champloo when she first conceived of Michiko & Hatchin throughout a visit to Brazil.
Certainly, the music featured in Michiko & Hatchin was produced by Watanabe himself. Composed by Brazilian musician Alexandre Kassin, it’s a delightfully eccentric and spirited assortment of jazz, samba and even somewhat rock. The show’s opening credits sequence is very distinctive, and arguably some of the inventive and distinctive OPs in anime historical past. The paintings is equally revolutionary, and if the animation is often patchy, this doesn’t reduce the impression of the anime’s unconventionally and unapologetically vivacious ambiance.
Though Sayo Yamamoto should still be greatest identified for Yuri on Ice, as her earlier Michiko & Hatchin makes it very clear, that is somebody who’s in a position to weave advanced, nuanced narratives with creativeness and panache. The place Yamamoto’s directorial journey could take her after the upcoming Yuri on Ice movie is anybody’s guess, however in any occasion, this can be a director nicely value keeping track of, and whose work other than Yuri on Ice has greater than earned an equal quantity of viewers recognition.
Michiko & Hatchin is accessible to stream on Funimation.