Part 3 of the 4-part watchalong of Michiko & Hatchin with Amelia, Vrai, and special guests Lizzie Visitante and Jacqueline-Elizabeth Cottrell! They discuss the series’ casting issues, Atsuko’s character arc, and what it means for the series to have a female director and a male head writer.
Content Warning: This series contains depictions of racism, colorism, domestic partner abuse, queerphobia, police brutality, gang violence, child abuse and implied sexual abuse of adults and children; the hosts will discuss these issues as they arise.
Date Recorded: Sunday 8th April 2018
Hosts: Amelia, Vrai
Guests: Lizzie Visitante, Jacqueline-Elizabeth Cottrell
0:01:38 Takashi Ujita
0:04:35 Nonconsensual kiss
0:09:46 Michiko’s paranoia
0:18:37 Atsuko again
0:30:49 The way men view women
0:41:21 Portrayals of men
0:48:10 Portrayals of Chinese characters
0:50:14 Casting and racial representation
0:57:46 Next 5 episodes
VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast. My name is Vrai Kaiser. I’m an editor and contributor for Anime Feminist. I do stuff all over the internet. You can throw my name into Google, or you can find me on Twitter @WriterVrai or on the other podcast I cohost @trashpod. And with me today are Amelia, Lizzie, and Jax. If you guys want to introduce yourselves…
AMELIA: Hi. I’m Amelia Cook. I’m the editor-in-chief of Anime Feminist, and you can find me on Twitter @ActuallyAmelia. And you can find all of Anime Feminist’s work @AnimeFeminist at AnimeFeminist.com.
JAX: My name is Jacqueline Cottrell. I’m better known as Jax. I am with Noir Caesar Entertainment. I am their spokesmodel and representative and PR. And I am all about making sure that Black women are heard in the world of anime, manga, video games, and just all people of diverse colors are heard in this world that we all love so much.
LIZZIE: My name is Lizzie. You know me on Twitter as ThatNerdyBoliviane, @LizzieVisitante. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram, but I don’t use Instagram that much. I used to write for Anime Complexium. It has since shut down. You can find some of my older work republished on ShojoPower.com and my newer stuff on Black Girl Nerds and Anime Feminist.
VRAI: So, I wanted to bring up for this one an interesting fact about Michiko & Hatchin. In addition to the fact that most of the major people on the production are people who don’t usually work in anime, this is the only one of Yamamoto’s three directed series that was directed by a man, Takashi Ujita. And he is normally a film screenwriter.
I haven’t seen any of his films, but I did a little bit of deep-dive googling. He gets a lot of talk around his films for writing movies about women’s sexuality, which on the one hand, [hums skeptically] okay… But I can also see why that caused his work to catch Yamamoto’s eye.
I will say that his most recent film screenplay in 2015 was for a film called My Man, which is about a young girl who was orphaned in the wake of an earthquake and then begins a sexual relationship with her adopted father.
VRAI: We’re acting like this is a very deep thing. Yeah.
JAX: Oh, my God! That sounds—
JAX: I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of the series Usagi Drop?
LIZZIE: [crosstalk] Oh, gosh, yes.
VRAI: [crosstalk] Yes.
JAX: I would have absolutely loved that series had it ended where it ended in the first season. And then I read the manga, and I was so disgusted.
LIZZIE: I was so mad. I was so mad. That whole second half just needs to burn.
JAX: Yeah, I know, it’s so bad.
VRAI: There is only the anime; it’s fine. So, yeah, I guess I just bring it up partially because I wanted to ask if it feels different to you than other Yamamoto stuff you’ve seen, because there is this very prominent male voice in a way that there’s not in her other work.
But as well, I have quite a complicated relationship with fanservice, with representations of sexuality. I appreciate when women’s representation of sexuality focuses on her agency and actually being sexual and not actually just her body. And I appreciate that there is a mingling of the two in a delicate balance, and a lot of the time I just don’t appreciate the body side of it and I more appreciate the actions side of it.
So, Michiko, for example, ending up with the married man and that interplay between them up to that point and the fact that she’s not objectified in that time, that felt really good. But then, in this last crop of episodes, for example, we had her going to the tomato plant. And I would love to know what you all thought of the fact that she ends up in a room with this woman who forces a kiss on her. That whole thing, I feel really uncomfortable expressing any opinions on, because it was just never gonna be for me.
And I wonder, am I looking at it and thinking “this was obviously a man’s fantasy” because that’s how I’ve been conditioned to think? But, for example, would a queer person look at that and say, “Oh, no, there’s something in there that resonates” or “That feels like an expression of sexuality that’s kind of provocative, but within boundaries that I would consider acceptable.” So, I’m really curious to know what you both think.
VRAI: Yeah. I find her a really interesting character. As far as the kiss goes, on the one hand it’s like, “All right, you should not kiss a person who’s not consenting. That’s not great.” But I also kind of enjoy the casualness of it and the fact that she’s not a moustache-twirling deviant.
LIZZIE: I like that analogy.
VRAI: The extremely casual bisexuality kind of delights me. And that feels like Yamamoto to me, having seen her other stuff.
LIZZIE: Yeah. I was sitting there trying to really figure that out. I like how very laid-back she was. I mean, the kiss, that was uncomfortable because, no matter what, it should be consensual. But I felt like she was… I mean, she didn’t have to help Michiko and Hatchin escape the tomato plant in the end, but she still did it anyway.
I felt like in a weird way this was her own… Because we get more flashbacks of Hiroshi. I just feel like maybe she was just trying to find her own way to get over him, and maybe by supporting Michiko, that’s her own journey to face.
But I don’t know. I wish it was more on her. I was paying more attention to Michiko at that time, because throughout all of it, I was just like, “Oh, my God, Michiko. Stop chasing after this asshole who’s not worth it!”
AMELIA: Yeah, it’s just one example, but it’s a moment where I’m like, “Oh, this just feels like some guy wants to see two hot women kiss.” And I know that my own lens is very blinkered here, because I’m not a queer person, so it’s instantly, I have this suspicion of “Wait, is this legitimately something I should be objecting to, or is this some time I should just keep quiet and listen to people who have a stake in this kind of story?”
LIZZIE: The kiss felt really random. I didn’t feel like it was necessary at all. I was like, “Okay…” And even the way some of the scenes were shot, like when she’s biting into the tomato and it’s dripping from her lip in a very sexual manner. I was just like—
JAX: [crosstalk] It’s so unnecessary!
LIZZIE: I was just like…
AMELIA: I was just like, “Ooh, gross!”
VRAI: It is, but at the same time I think I get what they are going for, because this is when Michiko is at the height of paranoia and seeing this woman as the ultimate temptress who stole her man away, and she’s still trying to convince herself of that narrative. So, through her lens, of course all these things would seem extremely sexual.
But I think the place where it falls down is that we’re not necessarily locked into Michiko’s perspective. We hop around and spend time with a bunch of different characters even when Michiko’s not there, so that makes it feel a little bit less tinted by Michiko’s perspective and more like “Okay, you’re just doing the thing.”
AMELIA: And I wonder, is that the influence of having such a prominent male staff member in the creative team or…? The question you’ve asked is a really interesting one, and I don’t feel even remotely equipped to answer it, having only seen two of her three shows.
VRAI: It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot, because with my conspiracy hat on, I’m like, “Well, she never worked with a man after this.”
JAX: Oh! Has she not?
VRAI: No, Mitsurō Kubo is the head writer for Yuri on Ice, and Mari Okada is the head writer for The Woman Called Fujiko Mine.
VRAI: I mean, there have been men on her staffs, but the writers of her other two shows are women. So, I have absolutely no proof that this was in any way less than a harmonious working relationship, but I’m like, “Hey. This is a pattern.” [chuckles]
AMELIA: I can’t believe you just made a conspiracy theory up on the Anime Feminist podcast, Vrai.
VRAI: That’s what I do: shit-stirrer and conspiracy theorist.
LIZZIE: I support that conspiracy theory.
AMELIA: Okay. Anime Feminist takes no stance on this conspiracy theory, which has come out of nowhere.
AMELIA: However, we do appreciate women creatives working with other women creatives. I don’t know how common that is in anime, but I would imagine the relative scarcity of talent at that level makes it quite unusual.
VRAI: And she seems to want to do Yuri on Ice for the foreseeable future, and also all of her individual shows are four years apart, so who knows when we will see a new joint project? I’m just spinning my wheels now.
LIZZIE: When you word it like that, I think back to the previous times Michiko has had these attacks of paranoia about Hiroshi cheating on her with someone else or even feeling guilt about the idea of moving on, and I feel like the way her paranoia was handled in earlier episodes was very different compared to what we saw now.
Maybe this is just the height of her paranoia, where now she’s kind of subconsciously realizing that Hiroshi’s not really this great guy that she is amping him up to be. I just feel like she can’t handle the reality that he is a piece of shit.
AMELIA: Yeah, I can understand her reactions being heightened, because at the beginning of the series, she’s fighting against the myth that’s been created that he’s been killed and she’s the only one shouting into the wind about it, so it’s really easy to have this idealized image. Whereas now she has a photo. She has new contacts. She’s really close, relatively speaking. I can completely understand being more frenzied at that point.
But, to be honest, the jealous woman thing made me a bit uncomfortable at times. It felt a little bit like watching Jerry Springer at moments, and I was like, “Urgh, Michiko, don’t do this!”
VRAI: It’s one of those things where I think the show is trying to say something about the shitty Women Be Competin’ trope, but at the same time it’s also playing a long game with it, because, also, a big focus of this episode is that Hiroshi is this completely colorless, characterless man. He’s this figure that these women are chasing when he does nothing for them and has basically no purpose, and this is all just a false ideal that they’re all conforming their lives toward, which I think makes Elis’s actions interesting.
The thing that I really love about this show and that I ended up writing about is that all of this is theoretically conforming to the fantasy of the woman who tries to get back her man and marinates about how men are the most important things in women’s lives and they need to compete over them. But the really important things in the episodes are women who help each other, and those are the things that actually make up the meat of these episodes.
That’s what the story spends time on, is these women and their conversations and how they help each other achieve their goals, and these conflicted but ultimately positive relationships. And I think that’s really interesting and really neat.
LIZZIE: Yeah, that’s why, in the end, even though we don’t get so much on Elis, I liked in the end that she helped Michiko and Hatchin escape from the tomato plant or whatever that was, to… Even though she doesn’t say it out loud, I feel like in a way it was her quietly supporting Michiko on her own journey to hopefully move on from Hiroshi whenever she decides that she’s ready for it.
AMELIA: [skeptically] Ah…
LIZZIE: I don’t know. That’s how I felt, especially when she was talking to—I mean, she had no issues letting Atsuko know where the hell she was going. But I don’t know. I just imagined that last scene we see of her, and she’s on top of the building, just staring into nothing, like, “It’s so great to move on.” I was like, “Yeah! Thank you. Finally, somebody moved on from Hiroshi.” God, I hate him.
VRAI: He’s the worst.
AMELIA: I feel like you’re all coming up with the most generous interpretations of the text, and I have not been anywhere near so kind in my view of it.
LIZZIE: I’m trying.
AMELIA: I thought that she was sending Michiko off as punishment to Hiroshi, because she’s like, “Oh, yeah. He ran as soon as he knew you were coming.” And he just says, “I’m going,” and leaves. And Michiko is clearly furious and totally capable. And I took it as her just being like, “Okay. You go deal with him. You deserve each other.” And then she’s like, “Ah, closure.” That was what I took from it.
LIZZIE: I like that better. I’m trying to find something to save in this, because I was just like, oh, I just hate Hiroshi. I just want all of these women to move on.
JAX: Yeah, really, because… I’m sorry, but I just hate that this series focuses so much on this poor girl’s obsession of him to the point where it’s just like, “How are you still obsessing over him? Because at this point, literally nobody likes this guy but you. For heaven’s sake, stop doing this to yourself.”
LIZZIE: Yeah, even Hatchin. She’s a little kid, but she’s actually listening to everyone about their interpretations of her dad, and even she doesn’t have any illusions about her dad at this point. She’s just going along for the ride. I don’t know. Yeah, he’s a piece of crap.
AMELIA: And I’m not sure I agree… Vrai, I’d love for you to break this down for me a little bit more, because you say these women have ultimately supportive relationships. But if I’m reading this as she’s sending Michiko off as punishment to Hiroshi. And, like, thinking back, for example, to the hairdresser—I can’t remember her name…
LIZZIE: Damn. Alexandria [unintelligible due to crosstalk].
JAX: [crosstalk] Oh, right!
LIZZIE: It began with an “A.” I remember that.
AMELIA: Okay, that does not narrow it down.
LIZZIE: [laughs] That’s not helpful.
AMELIA: It was a Russian name beginning with “A,” I think. Anyway, the hairdresser, I don’t think that they ended up in a particularly positive place. I don’t know. I don’t see these as particularly supportive relationships. I think Michiko and Hatchin is the most supportive it gets, and that is [inhales sharply] a mixed bag at best.
VRAI: Maybe I’m coming at it because, you know, I started with Yamamoto with The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, which is a very metatextual show, so I’m looking at it metatextually.
If we consider the starting place for this show, “The traditional narrative is a heterosexual love story between men and women. And where do relationships between women fit in?” the first thing you do is: “All right, what does this narrative structure look like if you keep everything the same and you take out the man?”
So, you end up with a focus on conversations between women, on relationships between women, some of which… Yeah, you’re right, negativity and competitiveness will be part of that, but without this theoretical great object there, it makes it seem very odd and warped and nonsensical in a way that I think it’s meant to. Like, why are you doing this? There’s no point to this. Isn’t this kind of stupid?
And then that’s paired with episodes about Hatchin and Rita’s friendship, which is shown to be enduring. I have my doubts about how well Rita’s going to do, but the text ends it on this note of “We’re going to meet again, and it’s going to be positive. This is going to be a lasting thing.” Whereas the “love story,” quote-unquote, in this patch of episodes is like, “This is a fleeting thing that isn’t going to last. Somebody met somebody else, and they had a connection, but it’s not going to be an enduring staple of who this person becomes.”
And Atsuko and Michiko really have this relationship that has shaped the course of their lives. And Michiko and Hatchin are clearly… Despite coming together over “We need to find this guy,” the growth and strength of their relationship together is part of what’s helping them grow as people. So, as much as the supertext is “Wow, there’s this guy, and women sure do care about men and relationships with men,” I feel like… And maybe it’s me watching this show for a second time and giving it that reading, but I can see a groundwork of: “Okay, but these are the important things. These are lasting things that we’re going to focus on.”
AMELIA: I feel like there’s a difference between the way that Hatchin’s relationships are handled and the way that Michiko’s relationships are handled, because Hatchin does get the supportive relationship. She does have this healthy relationship with Rita. She does have this healthy relationship with Lenine. And these are positive relationships in her life, and they have to end because she moves on.
But they end on positive notes, whereas all of Michiko’s relationships that she comes across, they end with people letting her out of trouble, I think, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call that actively supportive in the way that, for example, Rita was actively supportive to Hatchin and the way that Hatchin was actively supportive to Rita. The only person that, it seems, is actively supportive in Michiko’s life is probably Hatchin herself. But again, I’m coming at this with the least generous reading possible.
VRAI: [crosstalk] No, no, I think this is interesting.
AMELIA: But Michiko’s relationships seem very bleak to me. They don’t seem positive in any way. Atsuko is… We need to talk about Atsuko because we got a great Atsuko episode.
VRAI: She’s a mess and I love her!
LIZZIE: Finally. I have so much to say about Atsuko, now that we have more episodes of her, so I was like, “Oh, yes!”
AMELIA: I mean, Atsuko had her own odd relationship in her episode, too, that I didn’t really get, so I’m hoping that your discussion will help clarify that for me.
LIZZIE: I don’t know. I took Vanessa to be almost a mirror image of Michiko. So much of what Vanessa does frustrates Atsuko. I really resonated with Atsuko’s frustrations in this episode a lot, just because—Vrai mentioned this earlier—for the most part, a lot of the women in this show, their idealized happy fantasy world or their safe world is heterosexual relationships. And I feel like, for me, I’m so frustrated: “Why does the future for y’all have to look so heteronormative?”
JAX: Yeah. I saw that note, and I couldn’t wait to get to that note. That’s something that I always pay attention to when it comes to anime. Particularly during this show, it’s something I’m paying more and more and more and more attention to, just how we’re really starting to notice all of these disgusting things about Hiroshi and just how maybe having a male screenwriter for this project may have made it kind of… I don’t wanna say stereotypical, but that’s the only word that I can think of right now.
And so, whenever I look at anything that involves any kind of relationship, I look to see how queer relationships are viewed. And it does make it seem like any kind of heteronormative relationship is going to be happy, but at the same time then you’ve got all the screwed-up relationships.
So, it’s like, what message are you trying to send us here? Because it’s not a positive one about heteronormative relationships or queer relationships. So, pick a fight. We can’t quite understand what you’re trying to say, or at least I personally can’t understand what they’re trying to say.
LIZZIE: Yeah, because we only get a hint of Vanessa’s boyfriend, but like Michiko she goes off on a journey to try to find him. And then I’m just like, “[sighs] Another messy relationship that I’m glad I’m not going to be following.”
AMELIA: But Atsuko helps her, to the point of risking her own life, and I was just so lost. I don’t get her motivations. I think I haven’t connected with Atsuko at all. I enjoy her as a character, but I don’t get her.
VRAI: This is my favorite episode of the series, actually.
AMELIA: I can understand that.
VRAI: For me, I think Atsuko’s thing with Vanessa is partly, obviously, that she connects her with young Michiko, because we keep having those flashbacks; but I also think that Atsuko is really struggling during this episode. Her character struggle is: she’s been betrayed by the police; she let Michiko go; this whole thing with Satoshi is going to come around and bite her in the ass.
And they mention during this episode that: “Oh, you’re crooked, aren’t you? You play both sides. Why don’t you just embrace that part of yourself?” And I think Atsuko is struggling in that she wanted to make it legit or she told herself that she wanted to make it legit, but maybe part of her also resents that. She resents this system that sold her out as soon as it could, because it resents her very existence.
But she also doesn’t want to end up in this position that Michiko is in, so she doesn’t know how to find a place for herself. And that’s a lot of what she’s doing in this backwater town in the middle of nowhere.
So, when she looks at Vanessa, she’s like, “I see this kid who reminds me of Michiko, and maybe I can save this kid and save myself and figure out what the hell is going on with my life.” She’s trying to push her to go legit, and as the gayest human on Earth, she’s like, “Why are you going after this man?”
JAX: [laughing] “As the gayest human on Earth!”
AMELIA: No disagreements.
LIZZIE: Yes! Oh, my God, yes.
VRAI: And it ends up being this thing where Vanessa is resentful and totally a teenager about the whole thing, but ultimately, she has this positive role model. And I think maybe that’s how Atsuko makes peace for herself, is that the system is fucking her over and she hasn’t figured everything out, but she was able to be helpful to this one person. She was able to make a difference to this one person in the struggling place that she was at when she was younger.
It’s just a really great character episode for her, and it fills me with feelings, and she works so hard, and she’s such an emotional mess! Please get Atsuko a girlfriend.
VRAI: I love her so much!
LIZZIE: I really like Atsuko. There’s just so much vulnerability to her. And she has a really big heart. And she honestly doesn’t deserve any of the crap that is thrown at her. She’s trying to survive a system that’s not kind to her whatsoever.
I mean, you have even… That asshole Ricardo comes out of nowhere. He’s an asshole, but he acknowledges that she knows what she’s doing, and he knows if he’s going to get a promotion, he needs her labor in order for him to get a promotion. I’m like, “You’re a piece of shit. You’re taking advantage of her labor and capturing Michiko for your own gain.”
AMELIA: Was that how that went? I remembered it as him saying, “If we want to find Michiko, she’s going to come to you eventually.” Have I misremembered that?
LIZZIE: No, he implies that because all of this—Vrai mentioned it—everything is going to shoot Atsuko in the foot eventually, so he might as well be around for it.
VRAI: There also seems to be the implication that Atsuko’s not supposed to go after Michiko again. She’s supposed to stay in this new post.
LIZZIE: Yeah. But she doesn’t. She goes to find Michiko, and she has that evidence of good old Hiroshi holding a tomato in the newspaper.
AMELIA: But this is more of “I don’t get Atsuko.” The last time she faced down Michiko, she could not do anything. She could not stop her, because just psychologically, she couldn’t do it. So, what is the value for her? What is she trying to prove here? I don’t understand at all why she would put her professional reputation, which has tanked, at further risk to chase her friend, who she knows that she can’t physically provoke?
JAX: I would say it’s because of their history together, especially as children. At first, I was honestly wondering, “What is this weird power dynamic between these two?” Because no matter how you look at it, Michiko has always had this thing to one-up her, and Atsuko’s always just taken it.
Now, Atsuko, being in a position of power is a way of her… I don’t want to say “getting revenge,” but trying to level the playing field, and that obviously didn’t go well. So, I feel like for Atsuko, it’s just: “I wanna protect this girl, but screw her, as well, because she’s making me really mad. This is what she’s done to me. She’s done this; she’s done that. But at the same time, we did grow up together. Maybe I can understand her circumstances.”
I can’t remember what episode it was, but there was one incident with Michiko where all I could think is, “I bet Atsuko went home and drank herself silly after this,” because it just made no sense. All I could do was just picture her sitting there just drinking, mad at herself, and I could not stop giggling about it. Oh, my God, I wish I could remember what episode it was.
But honestly, for as dysfunctional as it is, their relationship is the whole basis for why I’m sticking with this show, because it’s just so much fun to watch, while at the same time being perfectly frustrating, because I don’t think I’ve seen a relationship dynamic like it. I’ve seen variations of it. But with these two specifically, it’s all of the tropes of the anime woman that you would ever think of with these two.
It’s like, “Let’s give them every stereotype, every trope. We don’t care what genre it’s from; let’s just throw it in there and see what comes up,” and this is literally it. You could honestly see the exact same relationship in so many cisheteronormative anime that are geared towards men where you have that kind of bro-bro relationship, that love-hate thing. And to see this with Michiko and Atsuko, particularly because I’m such a fan of Atsuko because she’s such a mess… She really is.
VRAI: [crosstalk] She’s so great!
JAX: She’s great! You wanna sympathize with her.
LIZZIE: It’s wonderful, because the thing is, when you think about it, Michiko and Atsuko don’t really have a lot of scenes together.
LIZZIE: Right? But when they are together, a lot is said without them having to say anything. And I think that dynamic and what’s unsaid is what keeps me invested in the relationship between the two of them. And I just want Atsuko to be happy. She deserves it. Like, God!
VRAI: Like, please! I also think maybe her working things out and trying so hard with Vanessa is her trying to rehearse how she’d like to fix her relationship with Michiko, which makes me really sad.
VRAI: Oh! And I meant to bring this up when I was talking about the other thing. At the end, Vanessa is going after her boyfriend. The text of the episode we have is “An adult woman provides herself as a role model to a younger woman, and that’s what’s going to be really helpful to her life. Even after this obviously shitty romantic relationship crashes and burns, her life will have been changed by this interaction with another woman.”
LIZZIE: I hope so because Vanessa acknowledges—
VRAI: [whispering] Me too!
LIZZIE: Vanessa acknowledges so easily that she knows her boyfriend’s probably gonna end up being a loser of a musician.
LIZZIE: [laughs] I’m like, “Then why are you chasing him?”
JAX: You know it’s hopeless! Why?
LIZZIE: [laughing] He’s gonna be a failure, so—
AMELIA: Oh, no! Oh, no! No, as someone who’s dated a musician, I feel a bit bad about that.
JAX: [aghast] Oh, no!
AMELIA: I mean, I think there’s something to be said for wanting to be with somebody who follows their dreams and supports them. [sighs] I am secretly a bit of a romantic, but—
AMELIA: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with supporting a partner who’s creative and not necessarily conventionally financially successful.
LIZZIE: I know, but she’s not even being that supportive about him. She’s just like, “Yeah, he’s not gonna end up as a famous musician, but I’m still gonna follow him anyway.”
VRAI: Also, he straight left her and never sent word or anything. Fuck this guy!
LIZZIE: I’m just like, “Bye!”
JAX: That’s exactly how I’m looking at it because I am, too—I’m a romantic, as well, and I will always be down to support my partner. But at the same time, if he had not left her, I would probably be thinking, “That’s so sweet and that’s so pure!” but it’s just literally like, “No, screw this guy.”
AMELIA: I mean, I’m a lot less of a romantic since dating a musician, but apart from that…
LIZZIE: Oh, you can speak from experience?
JAX: The bottom is, all the men in this show are terrible. That’s it. [laughs]
LIZZIE: Yeah. Yes!
VRAI: Yes! That does bring me to—
LIZZIE: Even the little kid. What’s his name? Leni—
LIZZIE: Lenine. Oh, my God. I mean—
AMELIA: Yeah, can we talk about that? Because that was not super fun.
VRAI: That was definitely a thing I wanted to talk about, is this crop of episodes has a lot about various toxic ways that men view women, which is something Yamamoto comes back to in The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, and I think that’s interesting, and I would like to talk about that. So, yes, do the thing.
AMELIA: I did not enjoy that episode as much as I think I was expecting to. Him pursuing Hana so strongly, and she’s really young, and she’s on her own, and she’s physically running away from him, and he’s running after her… And it was not comfortable.
It just felt like, again, they’re setting the script that people follow because they think it’s romantic. And we’ve seen this in previous episodes, so this isn’t out of nowhere and it wasn’t jarring per se, but it was just another “Oh, yeah. We’re really socialized into these things from a very young age.”
LIZZIE: Yeah. I think what threw me off is, wow, this kid has so much internalized toxic masculinity, but he comes off as charismatic and smooth. But he does not listen to Hatchin when she’s constantly saying, “No, don’t touch me. Get away from me.”
AMELIA: “Take your gift back.” Yeah.
LIZZIE: Yeah. He’s still being a persistent little shit. And then, that goes back to his amnesia, and it turns out he likes somebody else, and Hatchin was like the replacement of that girl who died. I’m like, “What?” [chuckles]
VRAI: I kind of love that, is the thing.
AMELIA: Of course you do. That is very on-brand.
VRAI: I love this idea that this kid has so much internalized toxic masculinity that he’s going through all of the motions that… The only thing he gets right is the book, and everything else is just these generic gestures that Hana repeatedly says she’s not into, she doesn’t want. She runs away from him.
He doesn’t alter his behavior at all; he just carries on along this thing. And then it turns out she wasn’t even the girl. It doesn’t matter. It’s a girl. Her personhood matters not at all to this.
VRAI: And then he fucking dies, and it’s great!
LIZZIE: [chuckles] Wait, he died off-screen? I did not see that.
AMELIA: He died?
VRAI: Because he vanishes at the end, so I was under the impression that he died in the explosion.
AMELIA: I did not get that from that scene!
LIZZIE: I just thought he walked away, and it was supposed to be dramatic.
AMELIA: Oh, wow.
JAX: Oh, I’m sorry. I feel like a terrible person for laughing now, but just the enthusiasm behind that…
VRAI: No, it’s amazing! It’s interesting because the lighting is so very ethereal and heavenly, and there’s a lot about paper books and he turns into a picture book because he is also not real and his vision of this girl is not real. But also, as this image of “This is how a boy treats a girl when he’s not actually looking at her,” I think it’s a really smart script.
LIZZIE: Yeah. Throughout the whole episode, it’s a dreamlike state. He looks at Hatchin in that way; he thinks about the theme of the book in that way. Oh, my God, I even wrote down the summary of what the hell that book was about.
VRAI: He talks about her in the same breath as the parrot—the pet! As a pet!
LIZZIE: Yeah, the story here… It’s about a little bird, the bird of a little kid that travels to a destination in the world they desired. I’m like, “Okay?” I don’t know. That whole description of that story sounds uncomfortable to me, but okay. Oh, gosh. And I don’t know how I feel about that ending. Hatchin feels hurt by the end of it. I’m like, “Well, if this was your first love, this is a shitty influence to start.”
JAX: [crosstalk] Yes!
AMELIA: Whoa, whoa! Would we say first love? Would we say that?
LIZZIE: I don’t know. First crush. Whatever. But it ended up with her—
AMELIA: It’s not even a crush! Again, I’m taking the least generous interpretation. I took it as he stirred up complicated feelings in her because she’s not used to attention.
LIZZIE: Yeah. I don’t know. By the end of it, I put that as a question mark, like “First love?” I don’t know. First love? I’m looking at my notes. It’s a question mark in the end.
AMELIA: No, I am super-critical of the use of the word “love,” and it does get thrown around a lot more in Japanese than it does in English, so it’s probably a fair assessment.
LIZZIE: In the end, she ends up crying. And the only thing I got out of this episode is I liked the tender moment between her and Michiko when—
LIZZIE: Yes. Aw, they hug each other. I was like, “Yes, more of this, please. No more hitting.”
AMELIA: But of course they’re going to bond over a guy not being there when they want him to be. Of course that’s going to be the point of connection between them.
JAX: That’s so sad!
LIZZIE: That is so— Why does everything have to be about men, especially shitty men?
AMELIA: But that’s the first time we see Michiko really relate to Hatchin—where she guesses what’s wrong with Hatchin—where it’s usually Hatchin’s just angry and Michiko’s just like, “What’s wrong with you? I have no clue. Get out of my way.”
Whereas this time, she actually gets it, and she’s like, “Is it a boy?” And then she’s sympathetic, and she’s actually big-sisterly or motherly or whatever role she’s supposed to be filling in that moment, because she can connect to Hatchin’s issues, and her issues are all to do with this absent guy.
So, yeah, it was an uncomfortable watch. I think it was completely appropriate, and I think it fits in really well, and it’s very interesting, but I did not enjoy watching it.
VRAI: Totally fair.
LIZZIE: No, it was uncomfortable.
JAX: [crosstalk] It really was, and honestly… Just as of yesterday, I was living with my sister and my younger nephew. And especially now having a younger nephew, especially in a family full of women—and he’s three now—I always pay attention to how younger boys tend to act and how we okay and excuse certain things.
Case in point, the big thing that really triggered me… The summary of their relationship, Michiko and this fool’s—excuse me—Hatchin and this boy’s relationship… Excuse me! So many complicated relationships, I can’t keep ‘em straight!
JAX: It’s pretty much the whole “Oh, well, if he hits you with a soccer ball at recess in the face, he totally likes you.” Like, no! Why? Their whole relationship is everything that we’re teaching young girls that it’s okay to expect from men! No, this is not okay!
So, I feel like part of me wants to check my younger nephew now, where it’s just like, “Where do I begin?” because I see things that are just not okay, and I’m like, “Should I begin here or should I leave this to his mom, because I’m starting to see it?”
But especially seeing that, it was just so perfect that I would see this episode while I was still living with them, because I’m just like, “Oh, God, this just makes me so much more uncomfortable,” because I was picturing my nephew the entire time. I had a face to put to this little jackass.
So, it was like, “Don’t do that! Don’t become that!” I was looking at him like, “God, no, please. Give me wisdom. What can I do to help make this kid not be like these men in this series?”
LIZZIE: It’s honestly hard. I’m a tía. I have two baby nephews.
AMELIA: Yeah, me too.
LIZZIE: And I look at them and I get really nervous, because there is a lot of machismo in the community, and I worry that they will internalize a lot of that behavior. I sat down with my nephew the other day. I was just like, “I don’t want you to be that kind of kid who can’t cry. I want you to actually be expressive,” because I’m seeing it a lot in my baby nephews, and it’s really disturbing.
As an aunt, what can I say to his mom? Finding that fine line of what can you critique and not critique… I mean, I do sit him down and talk about toxic masculinity. He looks really confused.
LIZZIE: But I’m like, “Listen, I don’t like hearing about your behavior, and we’re gonna talk about it.” He’s like, “Oh, no, tía!” Like, “Yes, we’re gonna talk about it.”
VRAI: [whispers] Cute!
JAX: Isn’t it?
VRAI: Cute and good.
AMELIA: Yeah. My baby nephews are two little white boys. [chuckles] Because I’m mixed race and my sister’s kids, they picked up the white genes bad, so they are extremely white young children; extremely white young boys. And so, that is absolutely on [my] mind.
They’re a bit too young at the moment—they’re three and under—but as they get older, I’m definitely concerned that I’ll notice things that my sister, who… She kinda shares my broad politics, but she probably doesn’t share as many of them as I would like.
If I spot something that I think is a problem, how do you express that? How do you communicate that? But it’s so important, because it really doesn’t take long before the things that children have internalized start becoming more external and start becoming part of their everyday personalities and mannerisms, and it’s terrifying how young it can show, for sure.
LIZZIE: Yeah, and it’s always jarring for me, how this whole mentality is like— I listen to the way my mom talks about my baby nephews, like “Boys are stupid. They have to be looked after because they can’t take care of themselves.”
JAX: [inhales and exhales sharply]
AMELIA: [groaning] Ooh.
LIZZIE: My little niece, who’s like three years old, she finds herself looking after her older brother.
[Commiserating hums and groans]
LIZZIE: And my mom made an observation the other day, saying, “It’s because she’s a girl. She has to mature faster than him.”
JAX: What? No!
LIZZIE: I was like, “What? Why?” I’m like, “Why? Why can’t she have chocolate?”
JAX: Nn-nn. No! Because for some reason, just hearing that makes me think, “Okay, well, when she gets older, what are the chances that she’s going to get with some emotionally stunted man or partner in general who [she’s] going to need to raise, and it’s gonna be like, ‘No!’” I see too much of that. I see so much of that.
LIZZIE: I know too many emotionally stunted men in my life, in terms of family, and I’m just like, “Ugh, I don’t want the little ones to absorb any of that,” but I’m just like, “Ay! Oh, my God.”
JAX: [laughs sorrowfully]
AMELIA: Have there been any good men in Michiko & Hatchin so far?
VRAI: Not really. The Lenine is definitely matched up by… Jim, I think his name is, the sword-thrower guy, who also… we never see his partner. She is an unattainable object who he thinks he knows what she wants, though. He’s definitely gonna kill this woman, and that will make her love him, for sure.
LIZZIE: Are we—
AMELIA: Backpedal. What are you talking about?
LIZZIE: Are we talking about Jair, the assassin?
VRAI: No. Well, there’s Jair, the assassin who is the older guy, right?
AMELIA: [crosstalk] I wouldn’t call him a good man. I mean, it’s right there in his job title.
LIZZIE: No, no. Wait, who are we talking about?
AMELIA: Who are we talking about? [laughs]
LIZZIE: But there’s one legitimately good guy. He’s a dan performer who shows up later, called Nei Feng-Yi?
AMELIA: Yep. In episode 17. But who are you talking about, Vrai?
LIZZIE: Yeah, who are you talking about?
VRAI: The guy whose wife left him, and so they contract to try to kill Michiko.
AMELIA: [ironic] Sounds like a great guy. [laughs]
VRAI: How do you not remember this? There was a whole highway chase. That episode is fucking great!
LIZZIE: Oh, that guy! That other assassin that Satoshi sent to kill Michiko.
AMELIA: Vrai, he’s an assassin.
LIZZIE: Oh, I wrote down his name because he was so pathetic.
AMELIA: I asked for good men, and you came up with a murderer?
VRAI: No. No. I— [laughs]
AMELIA: Do not go to Vrai to be matchmade with, people. Vrai is not the one to ask.
LIZZIE: Wait, Vrai. His name is Murano, the samurai. He’s that pathetic guy whose wife left him, who was crying under—
VRAI: Yes. No, he’s not good! I just think it’s interesting to pair that episode with the Hana one because of cross-generational shit.
AMELIA: Okay, so—
LIZZIE: That guy’s ending was awful. Let’s not even go to him. [laughs]
AMELIA: So, have there been any good men in Michiko & Hatchin so far?
LIZZIE: Yes, yes.
VRAI: Nei Feng-Yi is good.
LIZZIE: He’s good. He’s wonderful.
VRAI: He seems like a help.
AMELIA: He is the good man, I’m guessing. [laughs]
AMELIA: Okay, episode 17. Yes! Score! Box ticked. [laughs]
LIZZIE: I actually want to talk about Nei Feng-Yi and his son, Bebel. I’m like, “Finally! Someone who’s positive.” [laughs] My standards are so low.
JAX: Okay, I definitely want to get on these two because for me it was so enriching to see—and I’ll use a general term—a person of color so openly accepting of their child being this way, because in the black community you don’t get a lot of that. You really don’t. Something such as homosexuality or anything that is anything related to queerness in general or might be affiliated with queerness or femininity when it comes to men is so looked down upon in this.
And so, it was refreshing to see these two and their relationship and this little boy. He is being who he wants to be, and he’s being allowed—not even being allowed, but he’s being accepted, as his father. He’s not being allowed to exist; he’s just generally existing, and his father’s just like, “Cool. Awesome. You know what? I’m into that, too. No problem. No big deal. Let’s do this together. Let’s support each other. We may not get along from time to time, but you know what? Here.”
I loved their relationship. I really did. That was the aspect of their relationship I really, really did like.
AMELIA: I mean, it felt to me like this was quite culturally specific, though, because—
VRAI: Yeah, I was under the impression that this was a Chinese community.
JAX: [crosstalk] Oh!
LIZZIE: Yes, it is.
JAX: I missed that. Okay.
LIZZIE: Nei Feng-Yi is a dan performer. It’s a form of Chinese soap opera, and a lot of the femme roles in the stories in the opera are played by men.
JAX: Oh, I missed that one completely. I am so sorry.
LIZZIE: But still, I do agree with Jacqueline. I really loved that his father— The kid’s name is Bebel. Bebel’s goal is to be a great dan performer like his dad, but it still doesn’t take away, for me, how much I enjoyed seeing Bebel being in a home environment where he’s loved and accepted in terms of his gender presentation. And it’s so refreshing to see that in this show, especially since we’ve had really shitty representation of men in this show.
AMELIA: [laughs] Yes.
LIZZIE: But it’s not that he’s not messy either, because Bebel tells Hatchin that his dad used to be an alcoholic. His dad was a mess, prior. I’m not sure if the mother left because of that. I’m not sure if she died, but still his father cleaned himself up from all the stuff he was going through to be a better father for his kid; to be a better dan performer.
He even goes out of his way to help Hatchin, who he sees is like a stranger to the neighborhood that he’s living in. So, it was just wonderful to see him just be him. He didn’t have to help Hatchin get out of that crap about the passports, but he did, because he loved the picture that Michiko and Hatchin took together being silly and that just reminded him about his own family and his relationship with his child. I loved so much of that, and I was like, “Thank you! Thank you!”
VRAI: They’re really sweet. There is that interesting tension where Bebel’s like, “My dad’s not gay or anything,” which, A, I don’t think is necessarily true, but it’s also interesting to see that even this femme-presenting kid who’s training for this role, who probably has a queer dad, is still dealing with these toxic masculinity and heteronormative issues. It’s still a really soft, gentle, positive environment, but it’s an interesting tension.
LIZZIE: Yeah, he’s really defensive about his dad. There was that one scene when he starts crying and then there was this weird binary gender reversal between him and Hatchin, where Hatchin was taking on the masc role or whatever. I don’t know. I found that to be interesting. But yeah, there’s still a lot of internalized issues I think the kid’s going through, but at least I hope his dad will be there to answer any questions or thoughts he’ll have in the future.
VRAI: I also feel like we should maybe mention, at least briefly—not my lane or anything—but this is the second time that Michiko & Hatchin has had Chinese characters show up who have really broken speech patterns and it only seems to be Chinese characters, and I die a little.
JAX: [crosstalk] Oh, I didn’t catch that.
VRAI: Because there’s the restaurant owner in the third episode and then the mob boss here.
JAX: [crosstalk] Oh, no. I guess that says a lot, because I really didn’t catch that. No, let’s talk about the fact that I didn’t catch that and didn’t see why that might be problematic. So, it’s really only been Chinese characters?
VRAI: At least as far as I’ve noticed in the subtitles anyway.
LIZZIE: Yeah, that’s definitely an issue. I can’t speak for it too much, but there is a lot of anti-Asian sentiment in the Latine communities in general. When I see all that, it just reminds me of all the shitty things I’ve seen in my life about it. There’s a derogatory term, chinito. If you have smaller eyes, oftentimes your elders make comments, “Qué chinito es el bebé.”
JAX: [crosstalk] Oh, my gosh.
LIZZIE: “Oh, the baby’s so Asian-looking.” And they do the squint-eye things. So, that whole narrative just reminded me of that.
AMELIA: I mean, from my perspective, the big problem that we face as English-speaking viewers… I mean, I’ve only got access to the dub. I’m willing to bet that the person voicing those lines is not an Asian-American. I’m pretty willing to bet that that’s not the case. I haven’t looked at credits, but just a guess. Just a guess. And that is a problem.
VRAI: Now, granted, I know that you can’t always tell somebody’s heritage from looking at them, but the actor who voiced at least the restaurant owner early on was a blue-eyed redhead. So, like… [hums skeptically]
AMELIA: I feel much more comfortable listening to people mimic accents from within their family, I think, as a general rule, and mine that for comedy based on personal experience than “This is me doing a Chinese accent even though I’m not related to anyone Chinese. I haven’t grown up with the accent around me. I’m just doing a stereotype of a stereotype.” And that feels a bit uncomfortable.
And we talked about this a little bit in terms of the rest of the cast, actually, and I think, Lizzie, you were talking about how well they’ve represented voices and accents that you’ve heard in your community. And I feel like we want to make sure we extend that to all of the cast, and I’m not sure that they did extend that consideration when they were casting.
LIZZIE: Yeah. I can’t speak on the dub, because I think we’ve talked about that a little bit in the beginning about how—except Satoshi’s voice actor, I forget his name—for the most part everyone was white or [unintelligible due to crosstalk]—
JAX: [crosstalk] That surprised me. When I found that out, that really surprised me, but it made me so happy.
VRAI: They also cast a Black woman to play Atsuko, as well.
LIZZIE: That was wonderful.
JAX: [crosstalk] They did. I don’t know enough Black women and femmes in voice acting, as far as anime, manga, and in general, so to find that out is just more reason I love Atsuko, so I was excited. It was interesting to see that.
But when you’re talking about the anti-Blackness that comes across in a lot of anime when it comes to dub versions portraying anime, it’s… I don’t want to say “ironic,” but it just seems like a sick joke that this huge, enormous part of Asian culture that has affected us so much is given the most subpar voices when it comes to something like that.
I’m losing my train of thought, but essentially I just think it is really shitty that the same courtesy was not extended to the English dub voice actors, which makes me wonder how many Asian characters are actually portrayed by Asian voice actors and why we don’t have more of that as a thing. You’d think that’d be a given, but it’s not.
AMELIA: Yeah. And when you only make sure that your casting is consistent for the leads, it does feel a bit like tickboxing, I think. And I think we can safely say that this is the case in Japan, too. There’s a huge Japanese-Brazilian population in Brazil. I’m just guessing. Again, I’m just speculating, but I’m gonna go ahead and guess and speculate that not one of them was cast as a voice actor for Michiko & Hatchin.
LIZZIE: You are right on that, though: there is a huge Japanese-Brazilian population in Brazil. I think there’s even a movie about it. Oh, I forgot the name of it, but I heard it was really good. People often forget that Latin America and the Caribbean have huge ties to East Asia.
There is a huge Japanese population in Peru, as well. Chinese folks are there, too, representing, Korean folks. That’s also narratives [that] are not often heard about or talked about. I’ve seen some shorts are starting to come out here and there, but it’s happening gradually. Those voices are making their own narratives to make sure that they’re heard.
AMELIA: It’s a level of sensitivity towards cultural concerns that I think hasn’t quite hit anime casting in general, I would say. I think that’s probably as true over here—I say “here,” sitting in England—I think that’s probably as true of the English-speaking anime industry as it is of the Japanese anime industry. I don’t think we’re doing any better.
Like, okay, great, we’ve tickboxed our lead characters and made sure that they are ethnically connected, I guess, which is better than nothing. But it does feel like tickboxing when two episodes later you have a Chinese chef played by a blue-eyed redhead who presumably—and I do apologize if this is not the case—but presumably does not have family ties to China.
So, we could be doing better. I think there’s more work that could be done there to make it more authentic, and hopefully we’ll see that work.
LIZZIE: I notice in the Japanese, too, the characters speak in broken Japanese, especially with the first Chinese character that we see in the show.
AMELIA: Yeah, I doubt they will have introduced an English broken Chinese accent if it wasn’t there in the Japanese. But Japan’s kinda racist, too, so…
LIZZIE: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna bring up, because I do know that there is this tension with other East Asian countries, especially China and Korea, but I can’t speak on that, as someone who is from those communities can speak on that way better than myself.
AMELIA: I mean, you have white people who go to Japan and talk about “Racist Japan! They stare at me everywhere I go!” And it’s like, okay, no, actually look at the people of Asian origin who live in Japan and see what they experience. Black people in Japan, see what they experience. It is much more difficult.
There’s actually… A while back—and when I say “a while,” I mean like 20 years or something—I think the Japanese government tried to bring Japanese-Brazilians back to Japan because they have a huge problem with the labor force, the population disparity that they’re facing where they have an increasingly aging population and not enough young people being born to replace them. It’s causing problems in their workforce, and they’re still trying to limit immigration because—let’s be honest—kinda racism.
So, the fact is that they’re really struggling. They’re not engaging women in the workforce. They’re not engaging immigrants in the workforce. And for a while, they tried this compromise where they brought over Japanese-Brazilians because they thought, “Well, if they’ve got Japanese blood, then presumably they’ll find it easier to fit in.” And it didn’t work.
Race in Japan is a fascinating topic, and this would be a really interesting perspective to take, and I would love to hear what Brazilians think of Michiko & Hatchin. I’d love to hear what Japanese-Brazilians think of Michiko & Hatchin. And it feels like we don’t really have access to those voices at the moment, whereas if they’d cast them or they’d included people on the creative side who do have that background, we would hear more of it.
And I say upfront, I don’t know if that’s the case and I haven’t looked into the production history at all, so if I’m wrong and there are actually people who’ve spoken about this, who have that background, I would love for people to link me to that. I really wanna know.
LIZZIE: Yeah, I’d like to hear all those voices, and I hope we’re able to get access to that. And I think that’s a conversation you mentioned, Amelia, that could be had in the future about Japan’s relationship with other East Asian countries and how that looks, because folks from those communities can speak on that better.
VRAI: Please pitch to us at AniFem.
VRAI: We have a submission form.
AMELIA: Please. We would love that.
VRAI: We’re a little over an hour, not to cut this amazing conversation short. I’m sorry. But to bring it back around, next time we’ll be heading into the finale of this series, so how are you guys feeling and what are you hoping for in the wrap-up?
JAX: I want closure for Michiko. I want closure. If anything, I want closure, and I am hoping that I get it. I just want closure. I just want Michiko to walk away. I want Michiko to walk towards Atsuko and realize, “Okay, you know what? Maybe even if we don’t resolve things between us, I still can respect a lot of the stuff that you’ve done.”
But of course, that’s like herding cats. That’s an impossible thing that I am asking for here. So, I would just like as much closure from this series as possible. I’d like to see Hana’s happiness, and if I could go through the rest of this series without seeing Hiroshi again, I’d be content. But I just want happiness for Hana and I want closure for Michiko and, of course, Atsuko.
LIZZIE: Okay, as for me, it’s been fun pretending I haven’t seen the series.
LIZZIE: But what I really hope is… Because this show is so brutal in terms of its world and reality, I’d like to see a bittersweet ending. The show’s called Michiko & Hatchin, so I want an ending where it’s just the two of them—ideally Atsuko, too, but I don’t know how that…
So, yeah, I’d like for that to be the ending, especially for Michiko to realize that in the end of the day, you’re forming relationships with other folks who are way more valuable and way more important than what you had with Hiroshi. And I want her to genuinely move on, because so far, this pedestal that she has him on is just not healthy for her, and it’s frustrating to watch.
AMELIA: I think that the longer we watch, the more it feels like Michiko is something that Hatchin could become if she goes down the wrong path, if that makes sense. And it feels like they’re drawing parallels between them a little bit.
So, with Lenine, her story there, that’s her first time dealing with this bitterness towards a guy, because she doesn’t seem to have the same bitterness towards Hiroshi that Michiko does. Michiko doesn’t really have bitterness towards him exactly, but I’m sure she does, and I’m sure we’ll see that in the next five episodes.
But it feels like Hana is being put in this position where she does face these trials and tribulations, and if she lets it get the better of her, she will end up being as… How to describe Michiko… She’ll end up being all the hard edges and darkness of Michiko, and I don’t want that for her.
I want her to be able to have a different future where she is more independent—where she is independent in a way that is suitable for her age and level of development, because she’s been independent and she’s been exploited and she’s been manipulated and that kind of thing and she’s been attacked.
And it would be nice if she ends up in a situation where she’s able to be independently learning, independently developing herself, that kind of thing. And we don’t really see that with Michiko, and so I’m hoping that maybe even their paths diverge, but Hana is headed somewhere better and Michiko is headed somewhere better, and I don’t think their betters coincide.
I think this might be the story of two people who are together for a period of time, and then at the end their paths diverge, and they’re better for knowing each other, and they’ve moved on in their respective stories, but it makes sense for them to part. So, I think it is gonna be bittersweet, regardless. But I’m looking forward to it. I really enjoyed these episodes. I think there were a few in particular that I really liked. Yeah, it’s good. It’s good.
VRAI: Mm-hm. I think the half of the show is good and strong and well-written, but these are the episodes that I think of when I think of the show and why I love the show.
AMELIA: Yeah, I can understand that. But I do hope that we get some proper closure. And the whole series has felt really Cowboy Bebop to me. And you can say many things about Cowboy Bebop, but it does have that finality to its ending. And I’m hoping that we get that, though possibly in a different way, but I’m hoping that we get that sense of “Yes, this story is complete. This chapter is done. People are moving on.”
Whereas Cowboy Bebop itself, the series to me feels like people are in limbo and they’re stagnant, and in a way Michiko & Hatchin feels like that, too. They’re not really moving on. Once you elevate Hatchin out of her child abuse situation, she’s just getting more and more frustrated, and she’s not really given a chance to develop.
So, yeah, I would like to see them both break out of that and actually feel that they’ve moved on. So, in agreement with Jax, basically.
LIZZIE: It’s only been three months in the story’s timeline. The show started in March, and then we’re somewhere in May right now.
AMELIA: Oh, gosh.
LIZZIE: A lot has happened in these three months, though.
AMELIA: [laughs] Quite a lot.
VRAI: Everything happens so much. Ah, I’m really looking forward to discussing the last set of episodes and the series as a whole with you guys. I’m so glad that this podcast am happen. It’s good.
VRAI: You’re all very good.
LIZZIE: You’re very good, too.
VRAI: Aw. Next time, if you’re watching along with us, that’ll be episodes 18 through 22, so just watch the rest of the series. Until then, if you liked this episode, you can find more podcast content on our Soundcloud, soundcloud.com/animefeminist, I think it is, or just search “Anime Feminist.”
If you would like more of our written content, including articles by Lizzie and Jacqueline, you can find us at animefeminist.com. Our Patreon, which helps pay the bills… We’re trying to pay our editors and break even. Every little dollar helps so that we can start thinking about bulking up our content, paying our contributors more, which we’ve always wanted to do, et cetera and so forth. You can find us there at patreon.com/animefeminist.
Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you, Amelia and Lizzie and Jacqueline. Thanks again so much, and we’ll see you all next time.