In a windstorm far away, a lady prays underneath a statue of Mary built high upon a plateau that seems to be crying tears of blood.

Hatchin arrives in Perna, miles away from Michiko and Shinsuke, and she overhears a man selling maps to see the crying statue of Mary. She tries to return hers for a refund since she’s desperate for money, gets refused. The next day a beautiful young girl wakes her up abruptly from the park bench where she was sleeping. She seems to be having some relationship trouble with the young boy named Masa that was following her, so she boldly claims Hatchin is her boyfriend and runs away with her. After they lose sight of the boy, Hatchin stops her from a near kiss with embarrassed proof that she’s actually a girl.

Even though she’s not at all impressed with Hatchin’s boyish appearance for a girl the same age as herself, she takes her to a café and chats with a man at the bar while Hatchin eats. On TV, Hatchin sees a news report about Michiko and the unfortunate Davi. Her immediate reaction causes her to stand up out of concern but she sits back down quickly, thinking quietly. Afterwards Hatchin finds out to her pleasure that the bill was properly paid. While they’re walking, the girl complains a little about feeling a ‘string,’ and introduces herself as Rita. She spots a lift taking tourists to the top of a tall plateau, so they catch a ride and look down over the entire city and lake.

While Rita looks through a telescope around the city, she tells Hatchin that she thinks the rumors about the statue of Mary crying tears are nonsense. She thinks there’s no way praying in front of it could make your dreams come true. After all, she’s not a kid. During the conversation, she spots a man and a woman walking in the streets together who seem to be happily dating, but the pre-paid telescope time cuts her off shortly afterward.

Back at the park bench, the two girls share a soda. Rita says she works at the circus, and invites her to come any time. Hatchin allows herself to smile for the first time in awhile. As Rita says goodbye, Hatchin gets angry at herself for worrying about Michiko, and throws the letter Michiko left her to the ground. That night, the man Rita saw earlier through the telescope reads a magazine in a private room at the circus. A man in a clown outfit comes in to yell at him, but Rita interrupts them and he leaves without saying another word. Brimming with anger at Gino because of what she saw earlier, she walks out and immediately walks back in and starts yelling at him, too.

As the circus sounds begin that night, Rita wakes Hatchin up from the park bench again. She sits next to her and confesses her broken heart. She’s been with Gino since she was born, and has always loved him, but he never looks at her the same way she looks at him. She wanted Gino to come after her when she left, but he didn’t. Leaning on Hatchin’s shoulder, she says her heart aches.

The next morning when Hatchin wakes up from the park bench, she’s greeted by Rita screaming good morning to her from across the lake, waving her arms as big as she can. Hatchin stands up and waves back, shouting good morning back to her friend with a huge smile on her face, clearly very pleased. While she brushes her teeth, the boy Rita dumped comes back to threaten her, not realizing she’s a girl. At first Masa is a bit nonplussed by the revelation, and checks that no one else heard their conversation before leaving quickly by bike. A few seconds later, he comes back and tells Hatchin to get on, and takes her to a restaurant in town.

Hiding halfway behind a menu, he tells Hatchin about the beautiful waitress called Natalia. She’s the woman Gino is dating, and Masa spills the secret that she’s pregnant with Gino’s child. Hatchin finds herself staring at Natalia’s thin and sexy waist, despite what the boy just told her. He promises to buy Hatchin anything she wants off the menu if she tells Rita about this for him. Overly pleased with his act of generosity, it comes as a big surprise to him when Hatchin stands up angrily to walk out, slaps him, and runs away.

At rehearsal for her circus act, Rita practices her rope swing routine with Gino. Missing the rope during a jump, she falls straight down only to land in Gino’s arms. He pats her on the head to comfort her after the scare, but she screams at him not to touch her, pushes him back, and runs away. In the staff area, Rita interrupts Hatchin being roughed around by the mean clown from earlier, and takes her safely to her private room. A little hesitantly, Hatchin tells Rita that she thinks Gino has a person he likes. Thinking Hatchin is urging her to give up, Rita smashes a coke bottle across the room in anger, and tells her friend to get out. When Hatchin doesn’t move, she leaves instead.

Outside in front, Hatchin asks Gino if Rita came out this way, but apparently she didn’t. Hatchin starts to leave, but then confronts Gino about Rita’s feelings for him. While Rita listens secretly from behind the curtain, Hatchin asks him to at least look properly at her and give Rita a chance. He says it’s impossible because he’s about to become a father. On top of that, it should be obvious that he can’t be with Rita. She’s so young. She still has years and years to date many guys, find herself in the process, and become a good woman. Afterwards, Rita walks through the city again, looking up at the lift to the plateau as it rises above the world, lost in her thoughts.

That night on the park bench, Hatchin takes out the map to see the crying Mary again. She stands up to leave and sees Rita waiting for her behind a tree. Rita apologizes, and sadly tells her she has nowhere to go now. Since they’re both lost, she asks if she can go with Hatchin to see the statue of Mary. A little later, Rita comes back with Masa’s bike. Losing in a game of janken, she tells Hatchin to get on the back, and pedals her way out of the city.

After a long journey and a lot of walking, they finally arrive at the statue together. A large crane seems to be loading the old statue onto a truck, and a construction worker tells Rita that because of the problems they’ve had with this one, they’ve been ordered to replace the statue with a new one. Upset by the news, Rita begins protesting, hitting the man in the statue’s defense. He pushes her down easily and they drive away with the old statue in tow. Rita chases them as far down the road as her legs can carry her, and screams as the truck disappears beyond the corner.

The two girls take an empty bus home together that evening. Hatchin looks at her friend sadly, and places her hand on Rita’s to comfort her. Rita puts her other hand on top of Hatchin’s and says thank you, but never stops looking out the window. She wishes out loud that she could hurry up and become an adult.

That night at the circus amidst the busy preparations, Rita and Gino share a long moment of silence before the show begins. Hana watches from the audience as Gino rides out on a bike with Rita on his shoulders. She grabs a rope while he holds the other end, and they perform a perfect act together, bowing and smiling happily together at the end.

Afterwards, Hatchin sees Natalia congratulate Gino on a job well done while Rita watches from behind, seemingly unfazed. She smiles at Hatchin and tells her she’s fine now. Hatchin says she looked cool tonight, and Rita hugs her for a final goodbye. Hatchin walks along the edge of the lake alone, preparing to leave the city, but suddenly stops. While Rita continues cleaning up the circus tent after the performance, Hatchin surprises her by appearing at the entrance one more time. She asks Rita if it’d be alright if she comes along with her, and Rita smiles happily.


First Thoughts

Episode 8 treated us mostly to Michiko’s adventure with Shinsuke and the fake Satoshi, so this week focused entirely on Hatchin in Perna. We got occasional glimpses of what was going on in Michiko’s world, along with some bad news about Davi’s fate. That was pretty expected, though. Hatchin meets a new friend this week (Rita), who despite being the same age seems at first glance to be much more mature than our heroine. She dresses stylishly, seems to have relationship problems, and on top of that, it looks like she’s in the middle of her period, as well. It wouldn’t surprise me if at least a small amount of style from a positive influence rubs off on Hatchin. Did you notice how quickly she began to trust Rita after she made sure her lunch was properly paid for?

But despite seeming fairly mature at first, you quickly realize Rita is only mature for a 10 year old. Upset because of her failure to catch Gino’s attention, eventually it’s clear that Rita was only interested in Hatchin at first because she thought she was a boy. Sounds like she was running from one boyfriend to another to deal with the pain like a typical teenager might. It should be noted that Hatchin introduced herself to Rita by the name of Hana. This isn’t because she’s cut herself off completely from Michiko, but rather just that she wants to. There were several moments in the episode where she forgot to stop caring, and her concern for Michiko seeped through before her anger could stop it.

Despite wanting to break ties with Michiko, I don’t think she will, and I think this episode slowly pushes Hatchin in the right direction towards forgiving her, or at least reconciling some of her own feelings. First of all, it’s obvious they’ll get back together because they are the title characters. But thankfully, this show’s writers are above making obvious calls like that, and they gave us some decent plot to push the story that way, too. For example, when Rita was crying on Hatchin’s shoulder after being rejected because Gino didn’t chase after her when she ran away, Hatchin didn’t say anything but just looked down deep in thought. It’s quite possible they were offering Rita’s situation as a contrast to the ending of episode 7 when Hatchin ran away. Unlike Gino, Michiko did come to rescue Hatchin, proving her bond and the strength of her feelings, as it were. I think Hatchin realized this, and even though she ran away again at the end of episode 8, it’s impossible for Michiko to come rescue her right now, so she had quite a lot to reflect on at that moment. It’s no surprise she couldn’t say anything to cheer her friend up. But the silent support seemed to do just fine.

I liked when Hatchin slapped the crap out of Masa for insulting Rita so much by his selfless act of generosity. He’s possibly more immature than Rita was at the beginning of the episode, but that’s perfectly acceptable since they’re all just kids anyway. Not only that, but they’re growing emotionally as well. I was really impressed with Gino’s speech to Hatchin outside the tent when Rita was listening. He’s always seen her from the viewpoint of a father, looking out for her future in a non-pervy way, so it was satisfying to see an adult act like an adult should. Michiko can tend to be a bit more volatile, so this is possibly the most mature character we’ve been offered in awhile. I was suspicious at first that he may have been Hiroshi in disguise, but the suspicion didn’t last very long. With his huge glasses on, it was hard to tell, and in the photo of him and Rita it looked like he may have had the semblance of a tattoo sticking out of his (way too) low cut jeans. But it was just a tease, as usual. No signs of Hiroshi yet – Only in Hatchin’s dreams. I think those images will fit into the end of the story somehow, but thankfully it’s too difficult to predict at the moment.

The scene at the replacement of the statue of Mary was touching. First of all, it’s sorta sweet that Hatchin bought the map in the first place with the intent on praying and having her wish come true. By the time she actually left with Rita to see the statue, I couldn’t decide what her wish would be. The obvious answer is to find her father, but she has many other worries on her mind, including Michiko and the fate of her new friend Rita, too. At the statue, Rita’s anger was not that they were taking away the opportunity to have your wish come true – She’s not a kid and doesn’t believe in that stuff, right? ha. No, she was upset because of the correlation to her own situation with Gino. She felt pity for the crying statue of Mary being thrown away, just like her own broken heart.

The ending this week was yet again different, and I think it ended on a very positive note. The two girls plan to travel a bit together, and while that seems loads safer than Michiko’s current situation, I won’t jump to any conclusions. Episode 10 is out, so a second helping of Michiko and Hatchin will be coming up soon. Enjoy!


  1. hmmm before this conversation gets sidetracked into the oblivion, let me point out that only one black character in this episode had big lips, and not stereotypically so. Certainly no watermelon, slave references, or liquor either… (Ok, maybe the clown guy was a bit silly.) Unless they did it for every black character it’s difficult to say the show itself is racist.

    You’re of course free to feel offense anytime you like, but I seriously doubt the studio had any racist intentions. Sometimes pointing out cultural differences (whether verbal or through art) shouldn’t necessarily be interpreted as racist. If anything, Michi/Hatchi has been spreading cultural awareness by animating people of so many different ethnic backgrounds.

    (I will only grant you that some Japanese are xenophobic, for various reasons, but that’s a far cry from racist in this situation, and I don’t think that’s what you were going for anyway.)

  2. Actually I think Michiko to Hatchin is pretty refreshing when it comes to NOT being racist towards blacks compared to most anime:
    –For instance, blacks actually have a ROLE in the series. This is a vast departure from most anime, where even 1000 years in the future, when all nations have merged into one, for some reason no blacks are around.
    –MiToHa is very consciously trying to be multi-cultural and reflect South/Latin America accurately. This is a *huge* step for Japanese anime, which is typically almost stupidly insular.
    –Another point is that the black characters in the series are varied, interesting, and well-characterized, and not simply glossed-over third-string characters. Rita, Atsuko, and Satoshi are all big parts of this plot.
    –Also, let’s talk about lips- I think this series only occasionally goes to the point of giving black people huge lips, and it’s done rarely enough that I can think of it as an attempt to render the diverse population of this imaginary Latin country fairly.
    –The drawing style may also affect one’s belief this show is racist. In anime, it’s pretty common to actually color the lips of people with dark skin, but to mostly only use line and shadow for whites to suggest lips, as people with dark skin have more contrast between skin and lips. This does make their lips more visible in the anime.
    –And, it’s kinda funny to notice how Shinichiro Watanabe has come a long, long way with regards to racism. Just try comparing MiToHa to Bebop. I mean, do you remember Cowboy Bebop’s mushroom episode?

    Anyway (whew!), this is another quality episode in one of the best anime series every made. I never thought I could be so interested in the plight of a 10-year old circus girl who lives in some latin country. But this episode did it, and I was actually really happy to see Rita and Hatchin travel away together.
    And damn! The writing in the show actually uses LITERARY DEVICES, like (quite pervasively) symbols/comparisons/foils. I mean, how often does anime do that? And it even has subtext, unlike most anime where every plot point is SPELLED OUT for the reader (or very poorly explained). For instance, if this were bleach, at some point Atsuko would have yelled out “Michiko! I resent you for treating me so badly when we were kids! Bankai!” or some shit, instead of the show offering occasional hints.
    And it’s just so unique! It’s a madcap collection of genres, and unlike Bebop and Champloo it’s not so self-conscious about its influences. I’ll save my final word for episode 22, but for now the series looks like a rare work of genius.

    Damn I write way too fucking much.

  3. marktheknife: The disease is spreading! But you have some great points. I especially sympathize with not wanting all my anime spelled out for me. The Bleach impersonation is dead on : )

    To a very limited extent, I think this might reflect on the source of the source material, as it were. Manga is *plentiful* … and by no means do I want to imply that it’s easy work, but I get the feeling if you’re talented enough, anyone can, and has made a manga in this country. The authors are also often better at drawing than writing, or at least that’s the feeling I get. That’s why some people team up. However, not even this can save a manga from having a weak plot every time, just like not every novel is made of pure win.

    Against the odds, occasionally something like this series comes around and stuns everyone. I think it proves that there’s a great staff behind the show, and Watanabe’s involvement is no lucky coincidence. It probably helps that it’s not based on manga, unlike such a large percent of series.

    Ahh quality. This show makes blogging exciting for me, so I’m sorry if I put anyone to sleep.

  4. This has been an amazing show in so many aspects, storytelling, characters, music, and plot. I hope that Michiko and Hatchin aren’t seperated for too long as I would like to find the mother and Hiroshi, and also they make a great duo.

  5. Splash: no, they are NOT mother and daughter, biologically speaking.
    That was evident since episode 2. Hatchin was 9 years old, Hiroshi supposedly died 11 years ago and Michiko has been in prison for 12 years (and she clearly never met Hiroshi in jail). There is no way they could be mother and daughter.

    Son Gohan
  6. Trillian I really appreciate how much care you are giving this show, because it deserves every bit of it. It is by far the show this season that offers the most in character development and general thought. There is a lot that this show has to offer and you are doing a great job of giving it the attention that it deserves. Hopefully people will begin to get into it more, because it is the best thing on right now.

  7. This was a very good episode, character development wise. It’s about time Hatchin/Hana made a friend close to her age instead of constantly picking fights with every other kid she’s met so far (or rather, they picking on her). Rita is a bit older, I think, by at least 2-3 years old (the thing about the tampon string would imply her hitting puberty earlier than Hana), and I thought it was cute that she thought Hana was a boy and tried to kiss her to make the other kid jealous, haha. All other points concerning their relationship and the emotional rollercoaster so far have already been pointed out, so I won’t repeat that. All I can say is that Rita and Hana being friends is a good thing and a refreshing change of pace for the show.

    As far as race goes, this show definitely is not one dimensional when it comes to people of color. Sure you have one dimensional slapstick criminals like Davi and his crew, but complicated characters like Satoshi (the real one), Atsuko, and Rita make up for it. Cowboy Bebop did this too (the Mushroom Samba ep aside, but I think the whole point of that ep was to satirize the whole blaxploitation genre in the first place, plus it was really funny!), with transgendered/gay characters like Gren from Jupiter Jazz. He could have been a one-note parody but instead was a pretty complicated character too.

    And I credit Cowboy Bebop to be among the first anime shows that present people of color as interesting too. Punch, for example, may have been a joke on his bounter hunter show but off screen after the show was canceled, he seemed like a normal, caring son (with his mom at the airport – the creators didn’t have to show this but they did). Hakim from episode two (he could keep up with Spike’s martial arts) and the black assassin character who was Jet’s nemesis that one ep were pretty bad ass too. And they showed black cops often as well (though the police in Cowboy Bebop are largely painted as being incompetent, but that’s where cowboys come in anyway).

    As to why some people with afros have colored hair, well, there is such a thing as hair dye, or people being mixed race. Or it could be a homage to the whole sub-culture of Japanese youth darkening their skin and lightening their hair that seems to be popular over there.

    Anyway, M&H rocks!


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