Escaping from prison to rescue a young girl and to find a man that may be dead, an intriguing little adventure brews slowly.
What They Say:
Michiko is a stunning escaped convict with lethal looks and a deadly disrespect for the lawmen trying to hunt her down. Hatchin is a hapless orphan pushed to the breaking point by the sadistic spawn of her fiendish foster parents. On their own, these chicas are nothing more than a Yin searching for its Yang, but when fate – in the form of a mysterious hombre from their past – brings them together, the world better watch out!
With the future dead-ahead and la policia hot on their heels, Michiko and Hatchin burn rubber through exotic locals where danger lurks around every corner. It’s two against the world in this sun-soaked, Latin-tinged tale of partners in crime who won’t stop running till they chase down a dream.
Contains episodes 1-11
The audio presentation for this release comes with the original Japanese language track in stereo and a new English language adaptation that’s done in 5.1, both of which are encoded with the lossless Dolby TrueHD codec. The show is one that works through a couple of standard phases where there’s a lot of dialogue and back and forth among a few characters and then the bigger action sequences. They’re not huge sequences when you get down to it, but they play well and have fun with it as they race around various towns, buildings and even a little jaunt in a hot air balloon. The two sides of the coin work well, all with some music thrown in to add some extra warmth to it, and the result is a good sounding mix that covers the bases well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the opening and closing sequences are top notch here.
Originally airing in 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This set contains eleven episodes with eight on the first and three on the second, giving it plenty of room to work with. Animated by Manglobe, the show has a great look to it as it works the South American theme and gives it an earthy tone but one bathed in a lot of sunlight. It’s not a murky looking piece but it has that kind of dry, beaten down look that gives it a life of its own without being too oppressive. The vibrancy really comes in the fluid animation we get throughout, especially when it comes to how Michiko moves and grooves across the screen. Colors are very strong and solid in general with some gorgeous scenes throughout but it also has a lot of still moments with just characters talking that all you to take in the well designed and solid backgrounds. It may not be a flashy show but it’s a very good looking show.
The packaging for the limited edition version of this release gives us a heavy chipboard box that will hold both of the Blu-ray cases for the series. The box has a great image on the front that has Michiko and Hatchin together on the bike as they go across the cityscape in the background, which has the softer colors that works well to highlight the atmosphere of the series. The logo fits into this as well along the bottom and it has the expected nods towards other series from the team behind this. The back panel provides the pair again on the bike from a different perspective and with a different color design that’s quite striking and looks great as it shows the different ways the characters can look
Within the box we get the black and white spacer box for where the second half of the series can go it and it has some great looking artwork on it of Michiko against a car where she has on this greatly detailed outfit. The logo looks good and the back side of it has the tattoo that Michiko has as its centerpiece. The Blu-ray case itself is a bit thicker than normal as it holds both formats in it and the front cover has the same artwork as the front of the box, which looks just as good here. The back cover is a whitish background with a few widgets to it softly along it that gets a bit of pop from some circles that have shots from the show of the cast. The premise for the series is covered well and we get a clean listing of the episodes and the various extras that are included. The back cover is also rounded out with the technical grid that covers both formats cleanly and clearly. While the release doesn’t have any show related inserts to it, there is artwork on the reverse side that has the episode listings on the left and a stylish image of the main two characters on a strippers pole. Which is strangely appropriate.
The menu design for the release is rather simple as it just has a basic clip playing in the background that’s put through a purple filter where we get a touch if character animation but not a lot. This dominates two thirds of the screen easily and it fits well enough, though it doesn’t exactly sell the show or set the mood in a great way. The navigation strip along the bottom is done with a purple filter that has the basic selections that we always get but it’s not really all that theme oriented and is just sort of there, which is how the clip section feels as well. Everything moves smoothly and is quick and easy to access but it’s not the most striking of menus to work with.
The extras for this release are a bit above and beyond the norm, which is certainly welcome. For the dub fans, we get a good pair of commentary tracks on the first episode that covers the first two episodes as the team behind it talks about the, show, characters and the quirks of those first couple of episodes. On the second disc, we get a lot more than just the usual with the clean opening and closing sequences. We get the anime promo for it which runs a couple of minutes and does a good job in selling the show. We also get a thirty second live action piece with a few smatterings of animation pieces that promotes the show, which is useful since some of the voice actors here are famous actresses and getting them across works well for fans. The press conference piece for the unveiling is pretty good in a similar way as it runs ten minutes and you get a different vibe from it sa you’re dealing with actresses that don’t exist just within anime but rather film stars who carry themselves very differently. The last piece is a fifteen minute piece that’s an original extra as it goes into the character of Michiko, who is played by Monica Rial here. The piece is fun as we get a good mix of clips from the show and Rial talking about Michiko and what she means and is like, which provides some nice commentary on just one character for a bit.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original work that aired in 2008 on Fuji TV, Michiko & Hatchin has some solid credentials behind that definitely makes it worth checking out as it steps away from some of the norms of series such as this. The series, animated by Manglobe, was directed by Sayo Yamamoto as her first work and was written by Takashi Ujita. Yamamoto went on to directly the Lupin series A Woman Named Fujiko Mine and you can see some of that style showing in here, though this one definitely feels far more like a Manglobe production than anything else. With a total of twenty-two episodes, this set gives us the first half as it sets up the foundations of things and moves us into the character growth and exploration phase as we get a woman and a young girl trying to survive and find something quite important.
It’s a little roundabout at first, but the two main characters get some solid establishing material on their own at first before they come together. And that’s definitely worthwhile since each has to stand on their own to some degree before they can stand together. As the adult of the pair, Michiko is in prison for a crime she committed, or at least took the rap for, and has been spending her days figuring out how to escape from an unescapable prison. She’s made numerous attempts as we learn but she’s the type that can find a way out of any situation given enough time. She has the basic reason for wanting to get out, but she gains a lot of added incentive when she catches a glimpse of a news report that indicates a man named Hiroshi Morenos was killed in a bus accident explosion. With a history with him, and a belief that he can’t really be dead, she makes good her escape and into the wilds of the countryside.
A the same time, we’re also introduced to Hana, a ten year old girl who has been placed in a foster home with a priest and his wife where they have a pair of other kids that are both older and younger than here. Hana is put upon by pretty much all of them, though the kids are crueler in their own way with her and she suffers through a very abusive relationship with all of them. To the adults there, she’s basically just a paycheck so they run her hard and let everyone else do to her what they can. The level of abuse definitely grows along the way and it doesn’t take long before Hana actually does fight back, but it just puts her into a more precarious position overall. What ends up saving her, naturally, is the arrival of Michiko as she’s come to find her, believing her to be Hiroshi’s child. Michiko’s arrival is certainly amusing as she rides her bike right through the window and lands on the dining room table in a way that should cause a lot of harm to everyone there. But hey, it looks cool.
With the two paired up, it shifts gears pretty easily into the road trip aspect of it as they’re on the run from the police and trying to find Hiroshi. For Michiko, it’s certainly got some difficulties as one of the officers that’s chasing her is her sister who has a longstanding grudge against her for how they acted when they were kids. She also has the trouble of trying to find the people that would know Hiroshi and where he was in the time before he supposedly died, and that means going back into a den of scum and criminality that has it out for her because of people she was involved in at the time. A lot of this eventually comes down to a man named Kiril, but there are others that knew Hiroshi that she has to contend with who only believe that Hiroshi is dead and aren’t exactly eager to help someone like her, even with the ties that they have.
For Hana, who Michiko nicknamed Hatchin as they embark on their new adventure, she’s not quite sure what to make of it all. Michiko promises to protect her and Hatchin is certainly looking for that after what happened to her, but trust is hard to come by. She’s not as wrapped up in Hiroshi as Michiko is, even after being basically told that he’s her father, but she’s glad to be out in the world and trying to adapt to it as best as she can. It’s a real struggle because of Michiko’s moodiness though, and the way she keeps putting her to the side in order to deal with the really troublesome matters that arise, but we see Hatchin truly developing a spine as it goes on here. She goes to try and find work on her own and she deals with a variety of people that come through the restaurant she spends some time in. That gets her quite the education but also some confidence, which she definitely needs considering what she has to deal with.
The show spends a good bit of time early on with some chase scenes and attempts to settle in at different places while Michiko attempts to find clues towards finding Hiroshi. The chase scenes are certainly exciting and it’s fun to watch the way Michiko works through it since it’s by the skin of her teeth. The further it goes on though, the more it loses its steam as we get Michiko dealing with the people from her past. It’s interesting as we learn more about Michiko and what she did and why she ended up in prison, but it feels more drawn out than it should be. What makes it more problematic is that as it gets closer to the end of this set, is that Michiko and Hatchin are separated and going through their own things. While Michiko tries to find Satoshi, a childhood friend of Hiroshi’s, Hatchin ends up in a carnival after making a friend near her age. A carnival where a madame that works out of it there acquires various kids and takes care of them before selling them. It does all draw back to everyone being together, but the momentum is lost for a lot of it.
The fun of the show is watching the two main characters together since they’re so different. Michiko has an attitude of just doing and finding what she needs as quickly as possible, regardless of consequences or difficulty. Hatchin has had a semblance of a normal life to some degree and is unsure how to live like this, though she has an affinity for Michiko that keeps her with her. What also draws you in is the locale and design of the series. With it taking place in a South American country that has a lot of Brazilian flair to it, it has a lot of appeal by not being the normal setting and being filled with lots of cultural aspects. The design of the show is very striking with the detail of it all, the rundown nature of so much of it, and the scraping by feeling you get from how so many people live. It’s a slower pace of life overall and it’s reflected in the visuals in a great way, which makes the high impact animation scenes all the more impressive.
Michiko & Hatchin is a really engaging series in various bursts with what it does. It has a good buddy film when you get down to it with two interesting women that have very different situations with familiar aspects to them. The two leads have some great scenes, particularly early on, where we see them go through their struggles. Hatchin with her foster family and the way they abuse her and Michiko with her real family relations that are spread throughout. It’s not the easiest of shows to really connect with as it progresses, but it’s the kind of show that does draw you in little by little since it presents a difficult world and some passage of time to see how they search for Hiroshi and cope with so many problems. While there’s a bit of a slowdown along the way, you definitely want to see how this journey unfolds and what both Michiko and Hatchin will find as they get closer to the truth of what Michiko believes.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Select Episode Commentaries, Michiko: The Woman Behind It All, Unveiling Press Conference, Live action Promo Video, Anime Promo Video, Textless Songs
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: September 17th, 2013
Running Time: 275 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.