The Michiko of this anime, and one of the best characters of this anime too.
A little bit more than a month ago in the last post, the first Anime of the Year 2012 of this blog has finally been chosen if the form of Another. But when compared to its counterparts from the preceding years, that anime would be hard pressed to compete with the likes of One Outs (2008) and Zan Sayonata Zetsubou Sensei (2009). Talking about the former, today’s post is a review of an anime title that will futilely try to dethrone One Outs, titled Michiko to Hatchin. But even if this anime failed to outshine one of the best title I have ever reviewed in this blog, this anime is still a decent watching experience, especially if you stayed with it until the end.
The Hatchin of this anime, also one of the best characters in this anime.
Set up in a fictional Central American environment, the first main title female protagonist, Michiko, escaped from a maximum security prison where she is supposed to serve a number of years in. After committing a string of robberies after the escape, she then kidnapped her daughter, the second main title female protagonist, Hatchin, from her ‘happy and serene’ adopted household. Then, over the course of several months, the duo travels across the country to find Hatchin’s father while avoiding the police and also the drug dealers et al., Natural Born Killers style.
The anime starts very slowly, especially for the first half of the series. In that period, the anime eschew actions scenes, has a very thin plot and has hefty amounts of slice-of-life elements as the two characters aimlessly traveled around trying to find their man. The lack of meaningful plots problem is mitigated by the interactions between the two title protagonists though, whose relationship is filled with drama and comedy. Story-wise, this anime slowly improves once it enter the month of May, and the last third of this anime is so radically different (and better) if compared to the early parts of the series.
Still, I do have some complaint about the storyline of this anime. The first one definitely has to do with the fact that many of the sub-plots in this anime has ambiguous endings, especially the ones that happened in the first half of the series. Some examples includes the favelas arc and also the Venice-like watery town arc. This problem happens mostly on arc that happens on the first half of the anime though, and not the better final third of the storyline.
My second complaint about this anime is the poor characterization of the first main title protagonist, Michiko. That character has three mode: 1. The badass mode. 2. The stupor naïve mode and 3. The plain ‘I want to be stupid and do stupid things’ dumb-ass mode. In the first half of this anime, she defaulted into the latter two modes most of the time, which is so out of character for a escaped convicted murderer that she is. One of the very few great moments in the first half of the anime happens when she acts her proper murderous convict character and starts kicking ass, such as when she kidnaps the second main title protagonist and also in the early parts of the favela arc I mentioned above. In fact, I think the favela arc will turn out differently if she stays the course throughout the arc. And maybe the arc will have a much clearer conclusion than what the anime currently presents (what happened to that fat-ass brat anyway?).
When the trains derailed in this big-ass accident, so is the suspension of disbelief when I found out all of its human passengers survived. In the real-world, the reverse will surely happened.
The third complaint I have for this anime is some of the episodes in this anime are simply awful, for example, like episode 12. Again, this phenomenon happens only in the first half of the anime. In those crappy episodes, not even the camaraderie between the two main protagonists can save the given episode. Some action scenes in this anime can be mind-boggling too, it caused the destruction of suspension of disbelief, like what you can see in a certain scene in Gosick. Just see the image above for an example.
And my final nit-pick for this anime is the employment of parallel storytelling techniques in consecutive episodes, that destroy the flow of the storyline in the process. For example, in one episode, we can see Michiko in bad-ass mode dodging snipers in city trains as she searched around for Hatchin’s father, then right after that episode that ends in a cliffhanger, the next episode shows Hatchin monkeying around at a circus. Then only in the next episode, I’m able to see what happens to Michiko at the end of her action-packed adventure. I think it is better that both Michiko adventures and Hatchin’s misadventures being simultaneously told in the same episodes so that their progress can be watched at the same time.
This anime would've fared better story-wise if she has more airtime.
Meanwhile, character development is another of this anime’s strong points, with both of the main title protagonists being the most outstanding characters of this anime. Michiko do outshine Hatchin by a little bit though. Some of the side characters are also good, like the policewoman with that huge afro (this anime would do better if she has more airtime), Satoshi Batista and his subordinate named Shinsuke, amongst others.
The pacing in this anime is variable; it is slow in the first half of the anime when the plot doesn’t reveal itself openly yet but it speeds up as the anime enters the month of May (in every episode, the date and place where any given story arc started will be shown). Predictably, the flow of the story is much better in the second half of the anime than in the first one. More often than not, this anime also use ill-timed flashbacks too, which, to a certain extent, pose problems with an arc’s pacing and flow. The ending was spoiled somewhat in the first minute of the final episode, but all in all, the ending is very good (but surely not in the main protagonists’ point-of-view).
The statute-hugging man should've asked the question to himself.
Character designs in this anime is excellent in general, except for Hatchin, which is just about normal. Black hairs are quite common too in this anime that takes place somewhere in the Americas. Unfortunately, another serious drawback that I will explain further below marred this aspect that was supposed to be a positive for this title.
This anime also has done very well in this aspect in general, except for Hatchin, again. While Michiko and others like that policewoman and Satoshi Batista are outstanding (their voice actors are excellent), Hatchin’s voice actress delivers some wooden performances too many times, especially in the second half of this anime.
This anime doesn’t really use its OST very much, but at least it is still good. The out-of-place ending theme is excellent, although I personally think it was used in a wrong series. The ED theme would be at home in titles like Ouran Koukou High School for example. The 3 insert songs are not that bad either, and the only blemish in this aspect for this anime is the OP theme.
This anime's animation quality really regressed a lot as the series went on. I feel bad for Shinsuke for having his character very badly drawn in this scene. I don't think manglobe is even trying at this point anymore.
If this anime improves story-wise as the series goes on, the reverse is true for this anime’s animation quality. For starters, the animation quality is just average in the first place even at the start of this anime, but as I watched more episodes, the quality slowly become worse. This phenomenon applies mostly on character animations (frame rate problems just like Daily Lives of High School Boys), but what makes this problem even more pronounced is that character drawings also suffered very badly as times went on. An example can be seen in the screenshot above. This ruins the otherwise excellent character designs this anime has.
Choreography in action scenes is great, especially the ones that happens in the second half of this anime. Not only that, this anime really excels at using innovative camera angles, kind of like what you can see in action-based TV series from United States. I’ll say this anime exceeds Fractale in this aspect. The directing is mixed bag as you can expect, with problems seen in storytelling methods and characterization while excelling in the aforementioned camera works and choreography.
Quoted for Truth I.
6 out of 10. Nowhere near as good as One Outs is. Then again, One Outs is so stupendously good, I don’t think there are any 2008 titles out there that is a s good as it.
Quoted for Truth II.