Reading Between the Lines

Hakumei and Mikochi: Normal life, but make it tiny

by Shuyler Clark

Sometimes day-to-day life is a little too dull. Reimagining it with hypothetical situations can make for entertaining stories. For instance, what would life be like if humans were smaller than insects and used them as pack animals, or if humans lived under threat of birds of prey? Takuto Kashiki takes these ideas and makes a whimsical ongoing manga series of tiny civilizations navigating forest life.

The series follows Hakumei and Mikochi, two girls who live together in their forest home. Their personalities complement each other well, with Hakumei being the eccentric carpenter and Mikochi the more subdued crafter. This makes their interactions charming and wholesome, which works well for the series since the plot is mostly character-driven and episodic in nature. Instead of an overarching plot that progresses from chapter to chapter, each installment has its own mini-plot that furthers character development. However, there are some overarching plot points, such as Hakumei’s history with homelessness and how it shaped her as a person. 

Many chapters introduce side characters with their own subplots. While they often fall into well-used tropes, the chemistry between characters often makes up for their personal shortcomings. Non-human characters take the stage as well. Their presence makes sense given the setting, and they blend in well despite their more photorealistic designs compared to the humans’ chibi art style. Iwashi, a talking, smoking weasel and Hakumei’s business partner, is especially lovable for his gruff yet warm personality. These side characters do return throughout the series for more subplots, further developing themselves and the main cast.

In addition to the animal characters, other aspects of the setting tie in well with the manga’s concept. The characters interact naturally with the environment and the animals, such as the aforementioned use of insects for hauling cargo and a house made from an eggshell. Overall, the series explores the various everyday activities that come from being smaller than a beetle, many of which are enjoyable despite their mundanity.

For readers who prefer slower, wholesome content, or who would like a change of pace from action-oriented works, Hakumei & Mikochi is a cute choice and easily approachable for non-manga readers. A twelve-episode anime series adapting the manga also aired in 2018.

Shuyler Clark is a graduate of Stockbridge High School and Lansing Community College. When she is not reading or writing, she can be found snuggling with her birds.

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