Capsule Review & Commentary: Hakumei and Mikochi

Director: Masaomi Ando

Animation Production: Lerche

Music: Evan Call

Genres: Slice of Life

Season: Winter 2018

Episodes: 13 (Series + OVA)

Final say: WALLET-WORTHY

Hakumei and Mikochi’s episodes are book-ended by fables, historical accounts and passing dialogues that innocuously faded into the ending sequence. Sometimes they would recount the context of the story we just witnessed, other times, we are immersed further into this tiny world by snippets of stories about what the other characters were doing while we were following the titular characters. Bluntly put, they are adorable, hilarious and profound, and does a lot of the heavy lifting in achieving what many shows under the slice of life banner aims for: engaging the audience to experience the world at the show’s own pace. And Hakumei and Mikochi is more understated, quiet and humble than most.

Considering that the characters spend much of their time in the boonies (i.e. a hollowed-out tree with enough room for multiple living rooms, guest spaces and bedrooms…luxury without the posh pretentiousness, you may say), the show’s pacing is married to the whims of the titular characters and how with each scenery change, the interactive synergy oscillates. And the show couldn’t have gotten better main characters for this experience than Hakumei and Mikochi. Their relationship is perfectly concocted without being drama-free. Their love and devotion to each other is made all the more sweet by the relative lack of subtext: we are led to believe Hakumei just…literally wondered into Mikochi’s neighbourhood, and after a few shared drinks here and a few favours done there…they just started living together. Their kinship has no subtext of contractual obligation. And yet, this pair leads us into adventures that are so absurdly mundane…it just works.

It certainly helps that the world is full of friendly and colourful characters, from a self-absorbed, fashionable but kind-hearted bard to a drunkard aunt who runs a portable hair salon (and has a particular fetish for Mohawks).

Also worth mentioning is the series’ composer, Evan Call, who also tackled the Winter season’s flagship Violet Evergarden. In contrast to the latter’s grand palettes of orchestral elegance and choral excess, Call opted for a more intimate musical ensemble with Hakumei and Mikochi, highlighting a multitude of solo woodwind and percussive textures for a more folksy listening experience. But in no way was this a liability: Call’s talents in melody and harmony allows him to muster attractive themes and understated but well-sculpted cues that melted seamlessly with the visual elements.

Hakumei and Mikochi is a genre entry in top form. A near-flawless experience of nostalgic fantasy and rural spatial interactivity, with a shrunk-down twist.

Recommendations: Alternate Titles

Flying Witch

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Another genre advocate; a whimsical marriage of mundane magic and the extraordinarily mundane.

Non Non Biyori

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Countryside antics, no more, no less.

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