The quality of screencaps in my first post was seriously lacking, as many people have pointed out to me. So as compensation, in classic Random Curiosity style, I’ve decided to appeal to both quantity and quality by littering this post with pics from the best looking torrent I could find. Enjoy!
Well, it’s finally here. It may have taken two weeks, but it was worth the wait. Michiko to Hatchin’s second episode is at least on par with its first, and in addition to maintaining the same high level of general production value, this episode succeeds in a few ways that I don’t think a lot of people were expecting.
But, before getting to the episode itself, I’m going to quickly address a few lingering misconceptions about Michiko to Hatchin that I’ve seen floating around the blogosphere in both posts and comments with hopes that it will help to quell the confusion:
Setting: Michiko to Hatchin is set in Brazil, not Mexico. Brazil, Brazil, Brazil, Brazil.
Language: As such, there is no Spanish. Portuguese. Portuguese, Portuguese, Portuguese. Accurate Portuguese even…
Ethnicity: Many seem to be wondering why a series set in Brazil would have characters with Japanese names. As it turns out (or so Wikipedia tells me), Brazil is home to the largest Japanese emigrant population in the world, including people of mixed ethnicities, which is probably the case with Michiko, Hana, the Belenbauza Yamadas, Atsuko, and Hana’s real father (more on them later).
The episode starts off with a twelve year flashback, taking us simultaneously to the event of Michiko’s arrest and the introduction of another key character. This time it’s Atsuko Jackson, who one can fairly safely assume will be the main antagonist of the series. Atsuko, or Jumbo as Michiko affectionately calls her (perhaps for her giant afro), is the old childhood friend turned police sergeant that brings Michiko to justice. Their interaction suggests a very tumultuous history. Michiko’s interrogation after her arrest even ends in a fist fight between the two that has to be broken up by the prison guards.
This wouldn’t be all that interesting of a relationship if not for Atsuko’s tendency to take conversation in the direction of nostalgia. She constantly makes attempts to talk with Michiko on level terms, but every time she tries to get sentimental, Michiko pisses her off with her usual flippant and disrespectful attitude. I get the impression that Atsuko was never as important to Michiko as Michiko was to her, and Michiko knows it.
After the flashback, we rejoin Michiko and Hana on their flight from the law, only hours after Hana’s “kidnapping” from the Belenbauza Yamada house. The focus of this episode is on the conversations they have on the road, most of which revolve around Hana’s real father, Hiroshi Morenos, and Hana’s likeness to him.
Michiko tells Hana the deliberately misleading story of how Hiroshi “died”, only to turn around and ask Hana if she’s seen him or knows what he’s up to these days. Hiroshi was supposed to be killed in a bus accident 11 years prior to Michiko’s escape (soon after her arrest, according to the news), but the thing is, Hana doesn’t even turn 10 until the 11th of April.
This revelation makes the plot of Michiko to Hatchin, in a couple of ways, a lot more interesting than I initially expected it to be. If Hiroshi didn’t die in that accident, then where is he? What happened to him? And, who is Hana’s real mother? Michiko and Hiroshi were clearly lovers, but since Michiko was incarcerated when Hana was conceived, she isn’t likely to be Hana’s mother. That, and Michiko doesn’t appear to know about Hana until Atsuko gives her that baby picture we’ve seen a dozen times already.
All of this means then, that Michiko has rescued Hana, the child of her old lover with another lover, solely for the sake of hoping to track him down through her. She even goes as far as to say that if Hana isn’t who she seems to be, that is, if she doesn’t have that mysterious tattoo on her stomach, which she at first claims to not have, that she intends to abandon her completely.
With a remark like that, it goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyways), that Michiko and Hana don’t exactly hit it off. Michiko’s abrasive, hot-blooded personality doesn’t mix well with Hana’s kind and responsible demeanor, and as a result, they fight constantly. Hana chastises Michiko for her delinquent behavior, and in response, Michiko pitches fits, yells at her, and commits more delinquencies.
However, over the course of the episode, the two of them start to behave more comfortably around each other. Even though Michiko’s disposition is still generally nasty, she comes to behave like Hana’s surrogate mother very quickly. When Atsuko and her police posse finally catch up to them, Michiko offers Hana a pact of mutual trust that seems to override her earlier claim to discard Her if she isn’t of any use.
Along for the ride in one of the police cars is Pedro. Once hell breaks loose and the obligatory chase scene starts, sinking to all new lows, even for a Belenbauza Yamada, Pedro gets the horrendous idea to try and kill Hana amongst all of the confusion so that he can claim her life insurance policy. After Hana falls off Michiko’s bike, Pedro chases her up to the top of a nearby building where he intends to shoot her dead. Michiko, of course, comes flying off a nearby, slightly taller rooftop just in time to save her.
Right before screaming for Michiko, Hana rips off her little wooden cross necklace and throws it in Pedro’s face, an act that I believe symbolizes both her rejection of Pedro’s authority (religious and paternal) and her acceptance of Michiko’s pact, a deal with a dangerous and hotly pursued convict, which is more than a little like a deal with the devil if you ask me.
The second episode of Michiko to Hatchin is, from a technical standpoint, just as good as the first. The animation is still crisp, detailed, and consistent, and the little Brazilian towns depicted in the background art are comparably beautiful to the little church in Laranja. The music is also solid, but not quite as dynamic as I was hoping. A lot of the same pieces from the first episode make a return in the second, and there aren’t really any unique standout songs yet like the kind that enabled the producers of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo to put out nearly a dozen soundtracks for each.
Characterization continues to be a major focal point, and Michiko in particular is developed a lot in this episode, something that was lacking in the premiere. The interaction between her, Hana, and now, Atsuko, is enjoyable and fascinating to watch. The plot has progressed a lot as well, more than making up for its near absence in the first episode. In fact, when I think about it, almost every aspect of this episode is on par with, if not better than, it was in the first. The action is still silly and largely unimpressive, but it is well animated, and much to my liking, not in any way stealing attention from the story or its characters.
This episode probably won’t top the first for many viewers in terms of emotional impact, but since no innocents are suffering unspeakable abuse (except for one poor vending machine that Michiko beats on with the heel of her boot), it wouldn’t really be fair to expect it to do so.
If there’s one minor complaint I have for episode 2, it’s that it isn’t far enough removed from episode 1. Michiko and Hana, in spite of all the driving they’ve done, haven’t put much distance between themselves and their pursuers. Even though she’s a compelling enough character, I really hope there isn’t a run in with Atsuko in every episode. It’s fine for the first couple episodes, but if the pursuit follows Michiko and Hana too closely for too long, I’m afraid it could greatly lessen the sense of grand adventure the series could potentially achieve. If we’re constantly seeing the same characters, it’s going to make the world of Michiko to Hatchin seem rather small. Bring on the episodic narratives already!
Oh yeah, that, and the fact that the people at Manglobe must have thought that Michiko’s promiscuity alone wasn’t enough fan service so they decided to have Atsuko lift up Maria’s dress to get a shot of her panties. In fact, we’re 2 for 2 when it comes to loli panty shots in this series. Gabriel did the same thing to Hana in the first episode…No, I’m not posting them!