Spotlight on Brown Characters in Anime – Michiko to Hatchin

by K. Hopson


I don’t know how I forgot about this anime, but it’s loaded with brown characters. More than just two shades of brown character! Interesting, well-drawn brown characters, even! I think the whole reason I even liked it to begin with was because I appreciated the whole multicultural element. But then I wasn’t entirely surprised when I found out that a couple of key figures from hip-hop themed Samurai Champloo had a hand in this show.

Michiko to Hatchin is set in…some Latin American country and follows the lives of young orphan Hatchin and the somewhat stereotypical, sexy fugitive Michiko after she escapes from prison and abducts the girl, hoping to use her to find Hatchin’s father, who is her former lover. It’s episodic and full of crime organizations, money, and brutal murders. The conflict between Michiko and Hatchin’s personalities adds comedy to an otherwise dark story because Hatchin is eerily pragmatic for such a young person, and Michiko is hilariously impractical. Although in anime, being really impractical for the sake of love/friendship/some other type emotional bond is interpreted as being “pure of heart.” Or whatever.

I’m a big fan of Atsuko, one of the antagonists, and her giant, naturally-blonde Afro. She’s just one of many gorgeous characters to cosplay from this series.


So, about Michiko being stereotypical. Even though I really enjoyed her character, I have to admit that she is borderline offensive with her over-the-top sexiness, attitude, and anger issues, every bit the “Spicy Latina”. She creates trouble for her own self by getting into fights with almost everyone they meet along the way. And even though she’s on the lam, she still wears these flashy boob-hoisting tube tops and ultra-mini skirts. Apparently being a fugitive is not enough of an emergency to lay low. Or maybe it’s because it’s super-hot wherever this series is set? (Side note: Brazen choices didn’t stop her outfits from being cute as hell. I spent a portion of my real-life trying to duplicate some of Michiko’s more modest outfits.)

There are also a few instances of black characters being drawn with that blackface-type profile. (i.e. bright pink lips in a dark face) This is mostly the background characters. I find that a lot of anime has people of color drawn this way, so I’m not sure if it’s just that they don’t really have a lot of experience drawing characters with more melanin, or they just got lazy since they weren’t main characters. Either way, it doesn’t take away from the series. Or maybe I’m just biased.

Comments (2)

I haven’t seen this anime yet, so I might be horribly wrong here. I don’t think the general Japanese audience know enough about Latin America to have any preconceptions about feisty Latinas. The creators might just have taken the “bad girl” archetype from Japanese pop culture.

Both “bright pink lips in a dark face” and “over-the-top sexiness, attitude, and anger issues” looks like a perfect description of the Kogyaru/Gyaru/Ganguro/Yamanba subculture. Which in itself is supposedly based on what Japanese girls thought Valley girls looked like (but then rapidly evolved into a look that is quite unique).

All these styles are – to varying degrees – the opposite of the female ideal in Japan; pale, polite and passive. I’ve gotten the impression that a Japanese parent would rather have their daughter become a pierced and mohawked punk than a Ganguro. Tanned skin means working class, which means lack of refinement and possible delinquency. Voluntarily tanning is basically an act of sedition.

Atsuko looks absolutely awesome, does she trill her R’s? That’s another signifier of badassery and blue collar criminality.

No, you’re right, actually. I thought about adding in this perspective, but I really really didn’t feel like getting into all of it. lol I still thought it would be worth mentioning the stereotypes anyway, since it can be interpreted that way as well.

Unfortunately, Atsuko is a somewhat timid character compared to Michiko. She does cool stuff, but she is cowed by her. Michiko trills all day though! She also has this BAMF scene where she prevents a guy from falling over the side of her building by pulling his weight with just her teeth. Please watch it!

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