The night Hatchin is kidnapped, Michiko arrives home to find an empty house with a note spray-painted on her wall to let her know that guests stopped by while she was out. Meanwhile, Hatchin wakes up in a dark hay-filled room after dreaming of her father, but she soon realizes she’s not alone.
The next day in a nearby office, a grouchy lady yells at Liliana regarding a small boy – the same boy who came to Liliana yesterday demanding to know where she sent his friend. Apparently he’s run away with some of the orphanage’s money, and now Liliana must track him down. She immediately heads straight to her favorite bar to search for the boy.
The matador show that’s happening in town this week is playing on the bar’s television, but before Liliana can get too wrapped up in watching, Michiko comes to pay her a visit. She’s incensed that Liliana refused to take Hatchin, and blames her for the kidnapping. Michiko reaches for Liliana’s bottle of alcohol to use as a weapon, but instead finds it lodged firmly into her own jaw. As Liliana effortlessly puts Michiko in her place, she’s distracted by the heroic matador on TV. When Michiko gets about halfway through a joke about Liliana’s interest in the bullfights, she earns herself a swift hard punch in the face, knocking off her sunglasses in the process.
Liliana asks Michiko why she dropped Hatchin off at her doorstep in the first place, and Michiko tells her it’s because of the conversation they had many years ago about trust. She eventually realized Liliana wasn’t lying, and that she really could believe in her, but now she wonders if she was fooled all along. If anything happens to Hatchin because of this, she’ll gladly send Liliana an invitation straight to hell.
Liliana looks a little shocked, and sits down, recalling a very young Michiko using her friend Atsuko as a stepladder to steal a lockbox from the top of a library shelf. Before she could escape, she found Liliana waiting for her at the entrance of the orphanage, casually smoking a cigarette. Michiko dropped the lock box in frustration and surrendered, but angrily asked where Liliana sent her friend ‘Yolanda.’ Liliana told her she went to a good place, but Michiko absolutely didn’t believe her, and told her to go to hell. (Some things never change.)
Back on the job, Liliana soon tracks down the tired young black boy who she was ordered to find that morning. He is so exhausted that it seems effortless to catch up, but even the surprisingly powerful Liliana looks a little out of breath, so she must have been chasing him all afternoon. Holding him down on the street, she takes the bag of money he stole, but laughs when she sees how little there is, and gives it back. He begins to cry, so she asks him if he doesn’t believe her, and he gave her the same answer as Michiko so many years ago.
Michiko drives back to her fro-fabulous friend’s restaurant, but isn’t greeted warmly this time. She tells him Phantasma stole Hatchin from her, and wants to know where their base is so she can save her. He says it’s impossible to go up against them, and pretends not to know anyway while endlessly cracking open peanuts at the bar. However, his memory might be improved if Michiko apologizes to him while smiling as sweetly as she can. He tells her that she might be able to find her at the big bullfight tomorrow since the Phantasma gang runs the show over there, and tells her about the blonde guy who is leading the group now. Even though she met him before, Michiko can’t be expected to remember every guy who breaks a chair over her back and helped send her to prison for years. Holding up her end of the promise, she doesn’t manage a smile, but does put her head on her friend’s shoulder in a rare apologetic moment. On TV, a flustered Liliana stands with her employers and wishes the bullfighters luck in tomorrow’s event, sending Michiko into a sudden fit of laughter.
Vasili (the formerly thin underling of Kiril) visits Michiko in the bullpen where he’s keeping her captive, and brings along a juicy steak dinner for himself and the bull. He’s clearly harboring a deep hatred for Michiko, and is certain she’ll come for Hatchin, so he plans on using her as bait. He gets a phone call that interrupts his meal, but before he can express his anger he realizes it’s none other than Satoshi, his boss. Fearfully apologizing, he seems almost out of breath as he tells Satoshi about his plan to capture Michiko tomorrow.
At the arena the next day, Vasili and his men are on a constant watch for Michiko to show up. Michiko’s friend and his partner have their van stopped and searched in the middle of a large food delivery to the show, but the armed men leave empty-handed. Shortly afterwards, Michiko’s head pops out of one of his giant stock pots during perfectly coincidental timing with Hatchin’s head popping out of the potato sack she’s being carried around in. Before she can scream for help though, Hatchin is shoved into the trunk of a car. Accidentally carting the wrong stock pot into the arena, Michiko’s friend talks to himself for several minutes while Michiko is left to be discovered by one of the men searching for her. Before he realizes he’s found the jackpot, he receives a painful kick to the face, and she manages a dangerous escape.
Running down the arena’s private hallway, Michiko flies past her friend, dodging bullets and spraying flour everywhere. She escapes into the matador’s dressing room and comes up with a plan. As the bullfight show begins, a masked matador waves to the crowd. None other than Michiko, she’s able to scan the crowd and look for Vasili, but now she’s left with the problem of facing the giant bull heading her way. Skillfully dodging the first few attacks, she plays dirty in an attempt to stab him, but soon finds her own cape and mask ripped off. Revealing her identity to the entire crowd, she waves again to the sound of many cheers and applause.
In the parking lot, Hatchin escapes from the trunk and simultaneously knocks out the one man left to guard her while everyone else went after Michiko. She runs into the arena to look for Michiko only to be completely surprised to find that she’s currently fighting the bull, and simultaneously dodging bullets from Vasili’s men in the crowd. Michiko spots Vasili and performs flying acrobats off the bull’s forehead, landing in the audience and climbing the wall in order to take him down.
As she swordfights Vasili in his private booth, Hatchin enters the arena ready to defend herself from the angry bull with a single giant soup spoon. From up above, Michiko soon overpowers Vasili, kicks him down into the arena, and finally spots Hatchin running from danger below. Untying a giant decorative curtain hanging from the middle of the room, she swings down valiantly to rescue Hatchin from the bull, but misses on the first try. Coming back for one more attempt, she successfully saves her not one moment too soon, and the crowd goes wild. Hatchin tearfully hugs Michiko in a happy reunion, all previous anger completely forgotten.
In the bar, Liliana celebrates the happy ending with a drink, and smiles while thinking that her trip to hell will be slightly delayed. The next day, Michiko takes Hatchin on her bike and says goodbye to her friend, who leaves her with some helpful advice about where to find Satoshi. As they speed down the streets of Vermelha, they pass Liliana walking along the sidewalk, and continue in their search for Hiroshi together.
The last episode leading up to this was so dark and foreboding that some of the lighthearted antics really surprised me. But I really warmed up to the characters – Especially the relationship between Liliana and Michiko. We got to see chibi Michiko and Atsuko (the white fro police lady) in a great flashback, which proves they were childhood friends, and ultimately that there may be hope for them yet… even though it looks like Michiko was abusing her back then, too. This series really likes to focus on relationships and politics between characters, but I’ve noticed they particularly enjoy comparisons. The little boy who stole a small amount of money reminded Liliana of Michiko when she was a kid, and they even had virtually the same conversation about trust.
The bullfighting in the arena was a little outrageous. What are the chances that something like that would actually happen? At least, that’s what I was thinking the first time I watched this episode last week. On a second viewing (and not back to back with last week’s episode), I was able to click on my suspension of disbelief setting and really enjoy this episode for what it’s worth, which is quite a lot.
The most heartwarming moment is hard to choose, but my favorites are 1) Michiko and Hatchin’s reunion at the end of the episode (If there was any doubt before, their true feelings towards each other are easy to see now), and 2) The mutual laughing at each other during Michiko and Liliana’s separate TV appearances. I like Liliana’s character a lot, so I’m glad they were able to develop her so well in such a short time.
This was the end of a 2-part arc, so next week there will be something new, but surely another strong step forward. We were only allowed glimpses of Satoshi, and a hazy dream of Hiroshi before Hatchin’s rude awakening. The fat blonde guy (formerly quite thin) has a particularly shallow and despicable personality, so I can’t wait til he gets what’s coming to him. Looking forward to next week as usual.
Ongoing Thoughts/Repsonse to Comments:
Thanks for your comments, as always! I was going to respond in the comments section, but my reply became far too long, so here are some of my thoughts on MichiHatchi, from a macro perspective:
It’s true that this show gets way less attention that it deserves, and a lot of it does have to do with the animation style and setting turning off potential viewers. Many anime programs do have their specifically targeted audiences, and I think it’s relatively normal for people to disregard what they think they won’t enjoy at first glance without trying it out. (i.e. “If it’s not mecha, why bother?” kind of attitudes.)
The target audience for this show is NOT people who are obsessed with Latin culture (or, apparently Spanish, based on this week’s cultural switches), but it’s actually targeting people who are interested in intensely well developed characters and relationships on a searching-type journey with a refreshingly unpredictable ending so far (as opposed to some genres that are ultra-predictable, like unresolved love-triangles, harems, and other staples). In other words, just a great story with great characters, in anime format.
The simple fact that it’s not based on Japanese culture, or even in a Japanese setting, WILL turn off some non-Japanese anime viewers who are not interested in anime for any other reason than their Japanese culture obsession. (Not intended as an insult, that’s just the way it is – no problem with that, so long as you are honest with yourself about the reasons you watch anime.)
As for myself, I confess that in the beginning my interest in anime stemmed mostly from a combination of language obsession combined with a desire to learn more about the culture that is inseparable from the language it stands behind. I’m not a big fan of dubbing because it takes away the language/cultural aspect that I originally watched anime for, anyway. That being said, years later I am no longer willing to watch low quality (in my opinion) anime ONLY for the sake of cultural experience. I want a high quality, well produced piece of “art” that touches the audience’s heart in one way or another, and not some pandering piece of crap(*) designed to sell key-chains, pillow covers, and DVDs. As far as I’m concerned, Michiko to Hatchin fits in the former, much better category.
(*)Pieces of crap are not incapable of being enjoyed, if you go into it with the right attitude. Everyone needs a little crap anime in their diet. I’m just clarifying the two types of series, at least from my point of view. All anime must be able to make money or else they wouldn’t be created, but some studios make money a priority over quality work. An easy enough mistake to make in any industry. Quality doesn’t always equal money in the CEO’s eyes. That’s life.