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Fun With Names: Michiko Malandro

Welcome to Fun With Names, where I will be picking apart interesting names in anime! Today's interesting anime name is Michiko Malandro, one of the titular characters of the awesome anime Michiko to Hatchin (Michiko e Hatchin)! Produced by the now-defunct Studio Manglobe (RIP), Michiko to Hatchin is a beautiful anime I'd recommend to everyone and their dog. Partly because I adore Manglobe, the studio that gave us Samurai Champloo and Ergo Proxy too, but more because the anime is, like, totally badass. Michiko to Hatchin shows us the journey of a mother/daughter pair travelling the crime-infested, heat-scorched land of Diamandra in search of someone from their past.


michiko e hatchin

A high-security prison in Diamandra has its hands full trying to contain Michiko Malandro, an inmate who has broken out successfully three times before. She escapes in search of a man from her past, while 10-year-old Hana Morenos lives with an abusive family, longing for someone to take her away from it all. Hana's saviour comes in the form of the escaped convict barging in, claiming to be her mother! Together the duo navigate the harsh landscape while avoiding the feds and the looming threat of gang warfare on the horizon.
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On to the name. Michiko to Hatchin is set in the fictional Diamandra, a South American country, which is why the title is also written in Spanish (Michiko e Hatchin!), as well as text in the actual series. The Japanese writing system is one comprised of three types of written characters, two which are exact mirrors of each other (Hiragana and Katakana) and one based on traditional Chinese characters (Kanji). " Michiko Malandro is written ミチコ マランドロ in Katakana, which is used often to write loan words, onomatopoeia and sometimes even names. While there are many exceptions, Michiko Malandro is written in Katakana, implying that it isn't a Japanese name.
marandoro

Why the obvious exposition? I'll explain later. Starting out with her surname, "Malandro", we come to understand the layered nature of the name and the link to Michiko's belligerent, confrontational personality. The word "malandro" is a Spanish word used to describe a young thug or criminal who is highly concerned with image and status, one who tries to seem cool or rebellious. In Portuguese, the word describes someone who gets through life taking advantage of other people instead of working for themselves. Parts of these definitions definitely match Michiko's character - she escaped a high-security prison FOUR times, went to Hana's foster home and __________________________ before she ________________! Long story short, "Malandro" is simply a nod to Michiko's past, as well as her current personality and occupation.

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Everything now considered, the name "Michiko Malandro" carries with it the connotation of youthful criminal behaviour but also a propensity to a nomadic mode of life. Michiko as a character definitely embodies the Spanish description of a malandro and given how much she travels in order to avoid the cops, "Michiko" as "child of the road" is appropriate. As "child of morals", it brings out the question of that being contrasting to her surname out of a sense of irony, or maybe a nod to something deeper? Perhaps. That depends on how you view the character.
What's in a name? Only everything.
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Op-ed anime fun with names michiko malandro

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