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Manga / Hakumei & Mikochi

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3.5 inches tall? No problem!

Hakumei & Mikochi: Tiny Little Life in the Woods (JP: ハクメイとミコチ)note , is a manga series by Kashiki Takuto. It began serialization in 2012 in the magazine Fellows!, which was renamed Harta in 2013.

At heart, it's an Iyashikei work, focusing on the two namesake lilliputian girls' daily lives and adventures. Whether it's the daily chaos that follows the energetic, gluttonous Hakumei, or the good eats produced by the masterful hands of Mikochi, the readers are drawn into their tiny, colorful world (by our scale) and welcomed to stay.

In August 2017, an anime adaptation was announced, to be produced by Lerche Studios. It began airing January 12, 2018. An OVA was released in June 2018. The manga has been licensed in English by Yen Press, and the anime has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks and can be currently legally viewed on Hidive.

Hakumei & Mikochi provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Mikochi when it comes to cooking. While the story is full of perfectly capable cooks and scarcely a Lethal Chef in sight, Mikochi is renowned throughout Makinata and Arabi for her cooking and ability to reverse-engineer and adjust recipes after merely tasting them.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Generally averted - virtually everyone in this series drinks, even to the point of inebriation, but it rarely results in characters acting like fools. However, during one fateful visit to Kobone, Hakumei ends up drunkenly telling stories and even singing in front of all the patrons. Mikochi, similarly soused, ends up carrying on a surreal discussion regarding food sales with some merchants. Even so, the duo ends up Suddenly Sober and enjoying coffee at the end of the evening, while all the usual patrons are passed out drunk.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • Age-inverted in regards to Mikochi and her older sister Ayune. The latter loves to mess with her little sister and is a Lethal Chef and careless, unabashed slob, leaving Mikochi to constantly have to clean up after her and nag her when they were living together; Mikochi attributes her domestic skills to having had to deal with Ayune’s complete lack thereof for so many years. She also tends to deliberately leave out some rather important details about the things she talks about like revealing to Mikochi that she’s engaged to a member of her theatre troupe, but not who it is or when they’re getting married, as Hakumei points out when she’s about to leave. But she’s also an absolutely brilliant playwright; She manages to overcome her Writer's Block and write the script for an entire play on the spot simply from hearing about the reveal of who the Crimson Hawk was. This, naturally, only serves to annoy Mikochi even more since she doesn’t want to give her sister the satisfaction of being complimented on something.
    • Also age-inverted with Shizumi (Miss Badger) and her younger brother Keito. The combination of Shizumi constantly gushing over Keito’s pastries, which embarrassed him when they were children (Since he doesn’t want to be in the spotlight), and her rather forceful, assertive personality causes him to find her thoughtless and bossy, which means that he’s not very keen on the thought of working with her despite otherwise being a Sweet Baker. Though Shizumi does manage to convince him to sell his canelé in her store instead of having Mikochi bake them, as he originally suggested, from sheer presence alone (She didn’t even have to say anything about it- He chickened out on telling her when she gave him a certain look); Hakumei and Mikochi acknowledge that, in the long run, he doesn’t stand a chance against her.
  • Art Evolution: You can really see how the author has progressed from the beginning of volume 1 onwards, both in coloring technique and design.
    • While Mikochi's character design hasn't changed much from early chapters, adjustments to the way her eyes are drawn make her look much more bright-eyed and engaged, where she at times looked very tired or bored in early chapters.
    • Iwashi's look has likewise changed subtly yet considerably — he looked mean in his first appearance, but style tweaks (including larger eyes) have given him a softer, friendlier countenance.
  • Author Avatar: Kashiki does short autobiographical comics for the volumes where he portrays himself as an anthropomorphic rabbit with glasses and his friends and associates as anthropomorphic animals, all Beast Man-style (aside from his big brother, who appears to be an anthropomorphic plant).
  • Bamboo Technology: Averted. The mini-people's technology is mostly equivalent to what Middle Ages Earth's would be, with some 19th-century equivalent tech as well, such as cameras and steam trains, and there's no magic involved except the Applied Phlebotinum glass lamps resident Necromancer Sen uses to revive and control animal skeletons.
  • Batman Gambit: Near the end of ”A Very Long Day”, Tsumujimaru reveals that part of the reason he rallied the old-timers in the Honey Home to ”go to war” with the newcomers and kidnap Conju (Aside from them doing it for entertainment) was that he realized that Hakumei and Mikochi’s presence meant that they, or Hakumei in particular, would cause a ruckus and make things interesting… Which would mean that Higaki, the Honey Home’s peacekeeper and co-founder, would be forced to finally come out of hiding and actively get involved.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies:
    • Most bugs depicted within the story qualify, given the girls' point of view. Special mention goes to the Goliath beetle that's strong enough to pull a whole tangerine, plus some.
    • Averted by Koharu, a beetle who lives in a room above the main duo's house. She's only about the size of a large dog to the Lilliputian characters. She's also implied to be fairly young and naive.
  • Big Fancy House: The girls' tree-root home after Sen's renovation. It now has a greenhouse, underground space and, to quote the creator, a lavish entrance. Heck, she turned it into an apartment complex! Without consulting them.
  • Call-Back: In the chapter ”Koshian And Birds”, Hakumei and Mikochi win a lottery where they get the opportunity to send a letter to somebody via falcon mail delivery. This is brought up again in ”The Story About The Past” where it’s revealed that Hakumei’s letter was addressed to her father, who told her to write to him once she felt that she’d found her home, at which point he and his companion would resume their travels in order to visit her.
  • Call to Adventure: According to Hakumei’s flashback in ”The Story About The Past”, her father Loka had told her that she’d know for sure that it was time to set out on her own once she could ”hear the mountains call out to [her]”… And sure enough, that’s precisely what happens to Hakumei after some false starts.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Every character that appears, whether named or not, has a unique and distinct character design. Even the incidental characters in the background have quite detailed clothing to boot. Yes, EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Chapter 21 for Iwashi and Jada. After Jada's home is knocked over by wind, Iwashi rescues her and makes a deck to stabilize her house. In return, she gives him a large bolt from an ancient bridge...and a mohawk, of course.
    • Chapter 34 focuses on Narai and the Union workers, as they try to figure out a way to apologize to Hakuyo for ruining one of her hand towels.
    • Chapter 41 sees Conju and Sen spending a night at the bar together, courtesy of Sen getting lost while shopping.
    • Chapter 55 features Sen helping a lost boy find his way home.
    • Chapter 57 has Iwashi visit a fashion trade show while trying to help his friend Asato give himself a new look.
    • Chapter 64 sees Jada getting stuck in a taxi with her particularly intense acquaintance Carnelian.
    • Chapter 70 is about Iwashi spending a day off at home.
    • Chapter 78 features Jada's first visit to Arabi.
    • Chapter 87 sees Asato venting about Iwashi to Hakumei.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Chapter 51 sees Hakumei setting out to find a place where she can mourn an old acquaintance by drinking the sake he gave her.
    • Chapter 66 has the residents of Honey Manor holding their thirteenth annual memorial service for Ukai, the manor's first master.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The matter of keeping birds and bugs as "pets" appears in the first chapter and nowhere else. Normally this isn't such a big deal, but as later chapters show that birds and bugs are both sapient, the concept of thinking of them as "pets" is a bit weird. This matter is never addressed, but merely forgotten.
  • Edible Ammunition: Mushrooms, berries and acorns are used like this in the Honey Home war. In addition to simply being edible, the ammunition is actually eaten during the celebration at the end of the day.
  • Familial Chiding:
    • In one segment, Hakumei and Mikochi, who are cohabiting, are having fish for dinner, and Hakumei says she bit into something "weird". Mikochi, the more sensible of the two, chides her, "Spit it out, please." only for Hakumei to cheerfully reply, "I swallowed it." This would come back to bite her later, literally, as the item she swallowed was one of Sen's bone transceivers, and it causes an animated fish skeleton to leap out of the water and try and eat her.
    • When Mikochi's older sister Ayune drops by for an uninvited visit and practically invites herself to dinner, her flaky, teasing personality, complete lack of care and skill in the kitchen and refusal to disclose why she's there in the first place drives Mikochi up the wall. She reaches her boiling point once it's time to eat dinner, which leads to the sisters starting to bicker with each other... That is, until Hakumei gets fed up with it and gently but very firmly tells the sisters that it's rude to the food to let it grow cold in favor of having a petty argument. This is enough for the pair to stop, and Ayune even lampshades that Hakumei sounded just like their Dad.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook:
    • Played straight by multiple characters, with Mikochi being the standout example. She's the more feminine of the titular duo, and she's a cook of some renown who makes a living producing and selling foods at market.
    • Subverted by Hakumei, who is much more tomboyish yet still perfectly capable at preparing simple yet tasty food in less-than-ideal situations.
    • Inverted by Keito, who is male but makes some of the best caneles — a type of cake — in the land.
  • Food End: The "Long Day" arc, which chronicles the "Battle" of Honey Manor, ends with all involved enjoying a feast and a concert.
  • Foreign Queasine: While visiting the port town of Arabi, our heroines sample a local delicacy of bony fish stewed in cayenne pepper and vinegar. While not treated as exceptionally weird or outright disgusting, it's clearly far too spicy and sour for the duo's tastes.
  • Fossil Revival: Sen's a researcher who animates skeletons as part of her studies of life, though she does it through sound resonance rather than magic. While there are obvious parallels to Dr. Frankenstein, Sen takes her research very seriously and is concerned about the welfare of her skeletal charges.
  • Funny Animal: The mammals and insects in the cast fall somewhere between Funny Animal and Civilized Animal — they can speak and behave mostly like people, but asides from the mammals essentially having opposable thumbs, they're not physically anthropomorphized much at all. Birds, however, are another story — while they are sapient, they cannot speak or communicate directly with the insects or mammals without extensive training and exposure. And fish, of course, are little more than food.
  • Gentle Giant: Almost all of the story's larger animals fall under this trope to some extent. Some notable examples include Katen, a mild-mannered civet who dwarfs every other worker in the Rockpiercer's Union, and Old Greentail, a wolf who leads the caravan that rescued Hakumei prior to the events of the story.
  • Haunted Fetter: In chapter 88, Mikochi buys a cup haunted by a bird who hasn't realized she's possessing a cup now. Hakumei does not have a good time with it.
  • Hot Springs Episode: Chapter 76 features Hakumei, Mikochi, Conju, Koharu, Jada and Sen visiting a hot springs inn, with the Dondoya sisters joining them for the party afterwards in chapter 77.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: For Conju and Laika: the manga's translators use "Conju" and "Laika", while the anime uses "Konju" and "Raika".
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Conju and Sen. Conju dresses in traditionally feminine red, pink, and white, and is a very outgoing, social lady. Sen, by contrast, dresses in dark and muted colors, is quiet and mysterious, and is a quasi-motherly figure to the skeletons she reanimates and studies. While their personalities do contrast to the point of actually clashing, they eventually gain a healthy respect for each other.
  • Lilliputians: Both of the heroines (and many of the other characters) are humanlike creatures who only stand about 3.5 inches tall. They aren't strictly miniature humans — they have pointed ears and a few have vaguely animalistic features — but whatever they're calling themselves In-Universe has yet to be addressed.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: While most chapters follow the adventures of the two heroines, quite a few chapters focus on other characters, with the leads appearing only briefly or, occasionally, not at all.
    • Chapter 28 is about Conju's neighbor Raika, who's a big fan of hers, wanting to catch some time with her.
    • Chapter 65 is about two railway workers on a day off.
    • Chapter 89 follows a day in the life of secondhand clothes shop owner Trumo.
    • Multiple chapters focus on the local librarian and how he navigates dealing with the regular cast (as well as some minor recurring characters) while he works.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Played With; Narai thought Mikochi was Hakumei's wife, but only because he thought Hakumei was a boy.
  • No Antagonist: Hakumei & Mikochi does not feature a central villain or even a recurrent antagonist, and the only characters one might consider "bad" or "evil" are only mentioned and never shown. When conflict does occur, it tends to take the form of personality conflicts, pranks gone too far, or half-hearted attempts to be deceptive.
  • No Cartoon Fish: In a series where all other animals are anthropomorphized to varying degrees, fish are the only animals that have never been shown to have any degree of sapience thus far. They're also the only animals that other characters have been shown killing, cooking, or eating.
  • Non-Humans Lack Attributes: The lilliputian characters are not drawn with visible nipples or genitalia...or breasts, for that matter. Both males and females have essentially the same physique as a chubby infant (or a Moomin) and don't have much in the way of humanoid primary sexual characteristics.
  • Obake: The second chapter tells us about a festival held to respect the Tsukumogami, spirits born of well-used household appliances. What they forgot to tell the singers was that those tsukumogami are real and they like to dance.
  • Officially Shortened Title: HakuMiko.
  • Platonic Life-Partners:
    • Hakumei and Mikochi are practically inseparable — they're mistaken for being married on at least one occasion (and in all fairness, they do act like a married couple much of the time), and other characters have wondered about the nature of their relationship. However, topics like romance or physical attraction have never been addressed in the story, and the two leads aren't particularly touchy-feely with each other, so the case isn't really clear-cut either way.
    • It seems to run in the family, as Hakumei's father Loka and his traveling companion Ulaga have been together for years, even before they first found Hakumei.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Sen and Conju are a textbook example: Sen is introverted, disciplined, and sees music as a means to an end while Conju is extroverted, spontaneous, and loves performing for its own sake. While they rarely see eye to eye, working together does give both of them an appreciation for each other's methods.
    • To a lesser extent, Hakumei and Mikochi. Hakumei is the adventurous, outgoing free spirit, whereas Mikochi is the more quiet, business-minded homebody. However, their different natures tend to complement rather than clash with each other.
  • Running Gag: A recurring gag is that, apparently, nobody in the series can throw (or aim!) worth a damn. If an object is thrown or launched, it will almost invariably go nowhere or hit anything except its intended target.
  • Scenery Porn: The manga's backgrounds are just breathtaking, given they're only rendered in black and white. It looks just like what you'll see from macro photos. The anime follows suit, which resulted in Kusanagi, the show's background art subcontractor, being given equal billing with Lerche.
  • Serendipitous Survival: Hakumei and Mikochi almost die twice in chapter four/episode three. The first time happens when, as they are heading home, their house explodes due to Hakumei not properly storing her gunpowder. The second time happens when, as the two are camping, Hakumei decides to show Mikochi the stars; it's a good thing she did because not even a minute later a giant fruit lands on their tent, destroying it.
  • Shown Their Work: The mini-people's chubby design and lack of what should be soles and toes on their feet actually makes sense given their size.
    • You can only shrink a cell to a certain point before it loses the ability to perform its function, and similarly you need a set amount of cells to create a specific organ, hence the chubby-ish looks.
    • In bipedal creatures the need of soles and toes was important to help distribute the weight while walking, but in smaller creatures the heel was enough to perform the same job.
  • Sick Episode: Mikochi looks after a sick Hakumei in Chapter 67.
  • Signature Headgear: The "seed cap" — a sort of brimless cap with streamers or ribbons hanging from it — is the mark of a traveler: they're a coming-of-age gift given to those leaving on their first journey, and their design symbolizes the wearer's area of origin. The amount of use they get varies: Hakumei, Mikochi, Conju, and Sen are rarely seen without theirs, and Jada rarely wears hers though she's confirmed to have one.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: This is the culmination of the hunt for Ukai’s mint julep recipe in ”A Very Long Day”; While it was described as a ”magical cocktail” that could make any fight between the Honey Home residents stop in an instant, it turns out that it was actually a pretty awful drink as it was too boozy, had too much mint and used a bad honey liquor as the base rather than actual honey.
  • Technicolor Eyes: The cast covers almost the entire spectrum of eye colors: Hakumei's are light brown to yellow, Mikochi's are black, Conju's are light red, Sen's are purple, Jada's are pink, and the Kobone Master has no irises at all.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Hakumei and Mikochi, respectively. Hakumei is a lively Outdoorsy Gal who makes a living as a handyman/construction worker, while Mikochi is comparatively shy and demure and works as a cook and occasional tailor.
  • Vague Age: The characters' ages are never directly mentioned within the work itself, and the character designs don't always give huge clues as to how old they are. Even so, it's fairly clear that almost all of the recurring characters are functionally adults — at least old enough to have careers, own homes, and drink alcohol without their ages being commented on — which is somewhat of a rarity for this genre of manga.
  • Whole Episode Flashback:
    • In chapter 68, Mikochi tells Koharu the story of how she and Hakumei met.
    • In chapter 80, Hakumei recounts the story of how she left home to see the world.
  • Working Through the Cold: In one chapter, Mikochi ends up having to work as a cook and a general assistant for a local hospital despite being a patient herself — for food poisoning, no less. The only time she gets any rest at all is when she checks herself out and goes home!

Alternative Title(s): Hakumeito Mikochi, Hakumei And Mikochi