Hakumei to Mikochi – Episode 4

Since the last episode looked at what a typical work day looks like for Hakumei (ie something labor-related), this episode starts off with a look at what Mikochi’s work day is like.

We learn she makes food products and other everyday products and sells them wholesale to a market not far away. Today Mikochi is joined by Konju, who has shown up to give her and Hakumei a housewarming gift: some herb tea. However, once Mikochi reveals that she’s the person who makes some of Konju’s favourite treats from the Mujina Store, Konju insists on helping Mikochi in the kitchen.

The catch is that Konju is completely inept when it comes to cooking. She doesn’t understand terms like “low heat”, and her attempt at making some honey waffles turns into a lumpy mess that has to be thrown out.

Next Mikochi asks Konju if her wrapping skills are up to par, and they are. So now Konju is given the assignment of wrapping all of the goods Mikochi wants to take to the store, although this time Mikochi helps Konju a little since her to-wrap pile is very large.

Konju discovers a stack of “test soaps” that Mikochi had been experimenting with, and this is where Konju really shines. She asks Mikochi to gather some ingredients for her, then shows Mikochi how to combine them to make some handmade soaps with essential oils. Mikochi gets super excited and can’t get over how well the soap suds up, or how nice they smell.

At the end of the day, Konju and Mikochi part happily. Mikochi sees what a large mess Konju has left for her, and decides to deal with it the next day. That night when Mikochi and Hakumei take a bath together, Mikochi shows off a couple of the soaps Konju made. However when they find a silver key embedded in one of the soaps (the key Konju used to make a mark in each soap, almost like a watermark), they realize Konju forgot to take her key home with her. Oops! ^^;;

I think this was a neat segment because it taught both girls to see each other in a new light. For example Konju is a dunce in the kitchen, but she’s skilled with other domestic tasks like wrapping gifts or making handmade soaps. Mikochi on the other hand is usually a calm individual, even in the kitchen, but when she saw what Konju was able to do with her bland soaps, she became very animated and excited, which was a side of her Konju hadn’t seen before. I guess sometimes everyone learns something. ^_^b

The second short picks up the day after the first one left off. Mikochi and Hakumei have gone to gather some rosemary leaves, as Konju had said that rosemary oil would be a good addition to soap. A little aside shows that Konju spent the night with her neighbour Raika, who was not very impressed in the morning to see Konju sleeping naked in her bed. >>;

Hakumei suggests that the two of them should leave the area quickly because of rumors of an “oroshi” (great horned owl) living in the area. However it is too late – the owl has found them! Mikochi is so shocked that she lets go of her climbing rope and falls backwards off a ledge.

Hakumei rushes to her side, and Mikochi is ok aside from an injured leg. Hakumei ties her friend’s leg up in a split in preparation for moving her, then carries Mikochi on her back to a nearby cave, where the girls wait for the owl to leave. Hakumei quickly uses some flint to make a fire, then decides to leave Mikochi by the fire in order to go retrieve their baskets of supplies that they had to leave behind.

Hakumei manages to gather their materials together, but runs into the owl again. See, the scary part is that she doesn’t know whether the owl poses a true threat to her or not. Will it eat her, because she’s small like a mouse? Or is it merely just curious?

Hakumei tries to bargain with the owl for her safety, telling it to take her dried meat in exchange for letting her go. Of course this is a big freaking owl so really missy, if it wants your meat it’s going to take it whether you like it or not.

Hakumei rushes back to Mikochi in the cave, and after some reassurances from her friend Hakumei sets about making dinner. On the menu tonight is a bean soup, which Hakumei explains she learned the recipe for when she was homeless. Hakumei tells Mikochi the story of how a shady shopkeeper at a market robbed her of all her money, leaving her with nothing. Hakumei had been near death when she was found by a caravan of wolves. While she was with the wolves was when she learned how to make this bean soup.

Suddenly the girls hear the owl again, and this time it sounds quite close! The girls are scared but both are resolved to defend each other against the owl. But when they get outside the cave they’re in for a shock – the owl has merely brought them a bunch of goodies! Presumably as a thank you for the dried meat that it took from Hakumei earlier. With a happy look in its eyes, the owl takes off into the dark sky.

There’s no way the girls can carry this payload home in one go, especially with Mikochi injured, but in the meantime they can turn some of it into a late night snack.

I think what really endears this series to me is seeing how everyday items which appear so tiny and insignificant to us, are super important and meaningful to these tiny humans. A tiny blade the side of my pinky nail? Hakumei uses it for cooking. A single raspberry or huckleberry that a human can pop into their mouth and swallow it without barely feeling or tasting it? That’s part of a meal for Hakumei and Mikochi. I think it’s really interesting to see what new and innovative things the characters in Hakumei and Mikochi’s world come up with using everyday objects.

 

Nikolita

Just an animanga-loving social worker. I've been watching anime for almost 20 years - ask me about my favourites! I've been to Japan twice and would live there in a heartbeat if I could.

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