[Review] Hakumei and Mikochi – Episode 1

What it’s about? Hakumei and Mikochi are two little girls—at 3.5 inches tall, very little. They live a peaceful life in harmony among other little people and the creatures of the forest.

A long-shot as if the camera is hovering over an open body of water and looking across at a harbor and bustling town. The buildings are softly colored and stacked atop each other; there are a few small boats in the harbor; and on the boardwalk you can see both little people as well as animals standing about as if chatting, walking, or conducting business.

The keyword for this season is “cute”—with Sanrio Boys, Mitsuboshi Colors, School Babysitters, How to keep a mummy, and so on, most of the watchable shows fall under that descriptor. If you’re in the market for something adorable and relaxing but none of those shows quite hit the spot, perhaps the pastoral Hakumei and Mikochi will entice you.

Hakumei and Mikochi, with its watercolor-inspired art, intelligent but not anthropomorphized animals, and chill forest vibe, reminds me of nothing so much as a children’s book. Specifically, the English children’s books my grandmother had from her own childhood in the countryside outside London. I cut my teeth on the books of Beatrix Potter and The Borrowers series, and this lovely little premiere does a remarkable job of capturing the feel of them.

The background is sepia-toned with abstract designs of grass stalks across it in a pattern. Atop this is a panel filling about half the screen on the right side. This panel features two tiny girls in colorful hats and coats standing amongst stalks of grass and clovers that are taller than they are. A girl with frizzy hair is sitting atop a ridge, facing the camera and offering her hands to a girl at the bottom of the short ridge, who is facing away from the camera.

As I’ve observed in the past, iyashikei (healing/soothing) anime have recently seemed to be replacing database-driven moe archetypes with something more authentic. Hakumei and Mikochi is another example of the trend, which makes me quite pleased. Hakumei and Mikochi have a sweet friendship, and their conversations have a nice mix of chit-chatting and gentle ribbing as they go on low-key adventures, such as tracking a rare bird that has been sighted nearby or going into town.

Our two protagonists, the other little people, and the animals around them live a simple, peaceful existence. They have no need for modern amenities and their rustic lifestyles offer everything they really need. They have lots of friends, both human and animals, but rely on each other above all else. They have adventures, but there’s never any real threat or tension. It’s all very relaxing and adorable, like a scaled-down forest version of the pastoral art movement of years past. If that’s what you like, then Hakumei and Mikochi will undoubtedly scratch that itch.

A round-faced girl with frizzy hair under a round, colorful cap holds up a piece of cloth in both hands and looks to the side at a hedgehog wearing a kerchief and spectacles who is standing behind a desk marked "Cashier." Subtitles: "Ma'am, is this Hiromuta? And do you have a red one?"

Well, that’s not really what I’m into. I like even my cute, relaxing shows to have some bite to them—I’m much more about School Babysitters or last season’s Girls’ Last Tour. The blobby character designs and two best friends dynamic at the show’s center actually reminds a bit of the latter show, but the aching melancholy has been replaced with cheerful contentment.

With its children’s book aesthetics and atmosphere, Hakumei and Mikochi could be a great way to unwind for people who enjoy that. Don’t get me wrong: I love good children’s books, but I also spend a significant portion of each day reading to children. I’d rather do something different when I get home at the end of the day. Unless they make a Pete the Cat anime. I’d watch that cool cat any time, any day.

 

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  • Roman Komarov

    Be the depicted relationship a friendship — or a partnership — I liked how they depict the support they show to each other and how they interact overall. It is a nice and healthy relationship.

    And what I’d like to add/correct: in my opinion they are not “girls”. They look just like everyone in the city, they can drink alcohol, they’re independent.

  • AntonyShepherd

    I do like a good ‘chill-out’ anime and this looks right up my street, which is good because what I’d seen of artwork I’d feared it might be a little twee, but the character balance just worked really well.
    I also liked the city part as it showed that Mikochi seems well known and respected in the city (given the number of people asking her for advice) and the characters are grown-ups who go to pubs and lead their own lives.