Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Hakumei and Mikochi

Original Run: January 12, 2018 - March 30, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Fantasy, Slice of Life
Based on the Series Created By: Takuto Kashiki

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Hakumei and Mikochi. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Nestled quietly in a vast forest is the town of Makinata. A peaceful place, Makinata is home to many creatures of all shapes and sizes.

Living in a small tree house on the outskirts of the city are two of Makinata’s most well-known residents, roommates Hakumei and Mikochi (voiced by Risae Matsuda and Shino Shimoji).

Fate brought these two together not that long ago, but they quickly became the best of friends. For the people of Makinata, it is rare not to see these women together.

From merely living their day-to-day lives, Hakumei and Mikochi have managed to befriend many of the people who call this city home. And these two show no signs of slowing down in that regard.

If given enough time, it’s not hard to imagine everyone in Makinata will come to know their names.

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Series Positives

Hakumei and Mikochi was wonderful.

Despite this being a fantasy series, there was nothing about this show which felt overtly fantastical.

Hakumei and Mikochi didn’t have a complicated setup. There was no long-winded exposition to explain how a society comprised of so many different beings operated. There was never a forced-in desire to make things bigger than what they had to be.

The thing that drove this show forward was the daily lives of its main characters — Hakumei and Mikochi. This series was the essence of what makes a quality slice-of-life anime.

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If you go into this show expecting grand, epic adventures, you will be sorely disappointed. Hakumei and Mikochi had none of that. But that is the precise reason why I found this series to be so refreshing.

To pull from something I said in my Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san review, Hakumei and Mikochi is a perfect show to watch one episode at a time. Unlike Takagi-san, though, there was a lot more variety to Hakumei and Mikochi, and thus, marathoning this show is not only doable, it’s enjoyable.

Part of this enjoyment came from the animation. Visually, this series was beautiful. Hakumei and Mikochi was brilliant with one of the fantasy genre’s most enduring features – the use of wonder. In this series, you had sunsets, star-scapes, underwater scenes, and so much more.

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Also, Hakumei and Mikochi had the torturous habit of making every single piece of food look like the most delicious thing to ever exist. I don’t recommend watching this show on an empty stomach.

And if you have read, seen, or heard of any fairy tale story, then the world of Hakumei and Mikochi will feel familiar. This is especially true for, follow me on this, Western audiences. I can’t imagine most of you reading this review expected me to say something like that.

Ranging from the forest, the animals, to even the architecture of the buildings, this series came off as being very European. Typical Japanese countryside locations, such as shrines, temples, and the like, were few and far between.

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But this was only on the surface. The substance that was Hakumei and Mikochi was unquestionably from Japan. There was no real difference between the town of Makinata and any modern Japanese city. This included the way people talked, the way they did business, and even the alcohol they drank.

This mix of Western and Eastern fantasy elements was a great take on the slice-of-life formula.

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To be blunt for a moment, the lives of Hakumei and Mikochi were quite mundane. Granted there were times when these two took part in some extraordinary circumstances. For the most part, though, if you were to place this story into any of the hundreds of other slice-of-life anime set in present-day Tokyo, I don’t think Hakumei and Mikochi would be boring, but it certainly wouldn’t be memorable.

There was something else that impressed me about this show. Hakumei and Mikochi was a slice-of-life series that focused on adults going about their day-to-day lives. But this was by no means an adult-oriented story. There was no fanservice, no violence. There was nothing here that should cause parents to worry.

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Nevertheless, I wouldn’t suggest preschoolers watch this show either. No, this is a series for kids who are ready to try something a little more mature.

Hakumei and Mikochi was cute and lighthearted. However, I don’t consider it a comedy. There were some moments in this series that got a bit intense. There were a few examples of disturbing imagery. This show’s brand of frightening might not get much of a reaction out of an older viewer, but to a younger viewer, I can see how certain scenes would be quite scary.

I’m saying that’s a good thing.

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This series never did any hand-holding. Then again, this show was never going to have a drastic turn in complete darkness. But when this story needed to get a little serious, Hakumei and Mikochi had enough respect to not treat its audience like children. For an actual child, this story offers up the right kind of challenge.

Hakumei and Mikochi was a pleasant surprise I’m happy I watched. And if I had to pick my favorite aspect of this series, that’s easy.

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Hakumei and Mikochi

Before I say anything about this show’s two main protagonists, Hakumei and Mikochi did a fantastic job of using its secondary characters. Everyone who got a proper introduction felt essential to this story. There weren’t many characters who came off as one-time-only. Most of the people we met were reoccurring.

Whenever a particular side character was part of a segment, they were a part of that segment. These characters contributed. They helped push things forward. They were never dead weight or a burden.

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Having such a rich character pool allowed Hakumei and Mikochi to grow and feel alive. Nowhere was this more the case than with Hakumei and Mikochi themselves.

To those who consider themselves familiar with the slice-of-life genre, I want you to imagine something. I’m going to use one word to describe Hakumei and another to describe Mikochi. For the former – energetic. For the latter – diligent. With those two words alone, can you get an idea of who our main characters were?

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Since I’m not going to try to speak for you, these are the types of slice-of-life characters I think of when I hear the two words I used.

For energetic, I can add impulsive, shortsighted, and lazy when in the face of work. Moreover, these characters aren’t always the sharpest tools in the shed.

With diligent, I think of serious, stuffy, and organized; with that last one sometimes reaching compulsive levels.

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The point I’m making is, after years of watching a ton of slice-of-life anime, I have built expectations regarding specific characteristics. Hakumei and Mikochi did the amazing thing of reminding me that things can be different.

Yes, Hakumei was energetic. But she was not any of the other things I listed. Hakumei was a hard worker. Not only did she have a job, but she also loved doing that job. Hakumei being a carpenter made all the sense in the world since she enjoyed tinkering with things. Whenever a project came along that interested her, she saw it through to the end.

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In addition to that, Hakumei could come up with plans, and be the inspiration. She could get the ball rolling when others were on the verge of giving up.

To top it off, Hakumei was not an idiot. She was well-traveled and knew how to survive out in the wilderness. She never went in over her head and was always there to lend a helping hand to her best friend, Mikochi.

Speaking of Mikochi, again, while diligent, she was none of those other traits I mentioned.

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When she came across something she liked, whether it be cooking or fabrics, Mikochi would become a giddy little kid. Her kindness and domestic skills made her famous in the town. Wherever she went, people went out of their way to make sure she got the best products.

Although she preferred the comforts of city life, Mikochi was never against trying new things. She didn’t mind going out into the woods and getting her hands dirty. This was especially true whenever Hakumei was with her.

While these two women were great by themselves, the title of this show is Hakumei AND Mikochi. This was their story, and when these two were together, that was when this series was at its best. And these two were usually together.

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I honestly can’t pick what my favorite moment of this show was. Therefore, I want to talk about the storyline I was surprised, as well as happy Hakumei and Mikochi didn’t tell us.

This series never discussed how Hakumei and Mikochi met.

Through their daily lives, you can piece together the general picture of Hakumei and Mikochi’s pasts. It was also apparent they were close, and it seemed as if they had been together for some time. So then, what was it that made them friends?

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For this show, this was not an important story. There was never a need to know this information outside of just wanting to know. Therefore, Hakumei and Mikochi was never trying to set itself up for a second season; thus avoiding one of my biggest pet peeves. But this series did leave open the possibility for a second season. And I am hoping we get it.

In my head, as I’m writing this section, I’m thinking of a few shows that made the bold action of adding a “To Be Continued” stinger to the end of their run. If some of the series I’m thinking of do get a second installment, and Hakumei and Mikochi doesn’t, I can’t promise I will be able to go into those reviews with the cheeriest of mindsets. I’m looking directly at you Children of the Whales and Ousama Game.

Here’s to the right series continuing. Here’s to a second season of Hakumei and Mikochi.

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Series Negatives

Yeah, this section isn’t going to be long.

There is something I want to discuss here, but it has nothing to do with an overarching flaw with this show.

When I look at some of the other series I have reviewed thus far from 2018, there is a handful I enjoyed more than I did Hakumei and Mikochi. I am mentioning this because if you were to look at those reviews, The Ancient Magus’ BrideViolet Evergarden, etc., I was a lot more nitpicky in them then I am about to be in this one.

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This is the proof, if only to me, that demonstrates how hard it is to equate a show’s engagement factor. I was plenty engaged with Hakumei and Mikochi, don’t get me wrong, but I know for a fact I wasn’t nearly as glued to the screen as I was with some other shows that have already aired this year.

With that out of the way, I want to talk about my least favorite episode of Hakumei and Mikochi. This was episode eight, A Long Day, and it was my least favorite because:

One, something had to be.

Two, while this episode was not bad, it was unusual.

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Episode eight was a lot more action-oriented than anything else in this series. Hakumei and Mikochi didn’t become an action show, but two of this segment’s more significant elements included a territory dispute and a kidnapping.

What made episode eight all the more awkward was how the segment right before it was about Hakumei and Mikochi meeting a traveling photographer, and the one following it had the two protagonists traveling on the maiden voyage of a submarine. Sandwiched between what this series had been doing was a spike in severity. And again, “severity” is a decidedly harsher word to describe what actually happened.

So there you have it. Episode eight was the extent of the things wrong with Hakumei and Mikochi. If only they were all this easy.

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Final Thoughts

This show was great.

The side characters were a lot of fun. The world this story set itself in was down to earth, but it still didn’t skimp on the fantasy elements. This series found a fantastic balance of being light-hearted as well as grown up. And of course, you had two outstanding leads in the form of Hakumei and Mikochi.

I will be holding onto that “See You Again” stinger with my fingers crossed. Should that day never come, it will be unfortunate, but at least we will have what we have.

Hakumei and Mikochi is a series I can easily recommend to anybody.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Hakumei and Mikochi? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Editor: Onions

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