Judge Sandra Dozier learned all she needed to know about the plot from the title—yes, it is about someone named Honey, and she's really very cute. If you guessed fan service galore, you win a prize!
The forces of evil were looking for trouble. They found CUTEY!
Cutey Honey is one of the most enduring creations of Go Nagai, recognized in the anime world as an influential artist and storyteller who is known for preferring extra helpings of nudity and violence in his work. This definitely comes through in New Cutey Honey, a 1994 original animation video (OAV) series based on his original work.
Facts of the Case
Cutey Honey is something of a legend in Cosplay City, where our story takes place. The city is overrun by crime, and it is said that a lovely warrior will rise up to defend the people when things get their worst. Although the city has an honest mayor who wants to make good, he is fighting a losing battle.
However, when it turns out that his mousy aide is actually Cutey Honey, the woman spoken of in the legend, and that she is actually an android who can change her looks and appearance at will, everyone has new hope—and new eye candy to enjoy. Honey fights a crime syndicate that distributes drugs that turn regular humans into super-powered killers. She discovers that her old nemesis, Panther Zora, is behind the drug ring, and she goes right to the source in order to bring it down.
Chokkei and his grandfather meet Honey when she first comes out of her apparently amnesia-induced trance and transforms into Cutey Honey for the first time. She comes to regard Chokkei as a younger brother, and she is fiercely protective of him (when she isn't confronting him with a disturbing unrequited love). His parents, a husband and wife crime duo, are selfish and self-absorbed; if they aren't competing for attention (his mother, especially, spends a lot of her time trying to outshine Honey), they're either planning a crime or getting caught committing one. It isn't exactly the best home life. Fortunately, his grandfather, who is also half cyborg, looks after Chokkei and Honey as best he can.
Cutey Honey stops short of showing full-on sex, but there is plenty of frontal nudity, sexual innuendo, and lesbian erotica to go around. Cutey makes two to three costume changes each episode, and her clothes are completely ripped from her body before she changes into a new outfit. As she fights, her clothing is often removed bit by bit. At one point, she even wears a breastplate to protect her most valuable assets. As she says, if they were to be destroyed, her fans would revolt!
I wasn't too impressed with Cutey Honey. I can see why it is popular—the glossy animation, the well-endowed chicks, the scant clothing. If that isn't your thing, however, there is very little to draw you to this series. Honey does have some appeal as a fighter and as someone who cares very much about the people who are important to her, but her android past and her family life aren't explored too deeply—mostly, she's too busy getting into compromising situations and fighting evil.
Fortunately, the creators are aware of the nature of Honey's appeal and have some fun with it—there is a lot of humor from both Honey and her extended family about her nudity and sex appeal. The fan service may be blatant and shameless, but at least it doesn't try to pass itself off as all part of the regular doings and completely essential to the plot.
I found it hard to get into the story, especially when I got to Disc Two, which seems to take place approximately ten years or so after the adventures in Disc One. Even on Disc One, I got the feeling that the story jumped around too much and that there were parts missing from the middle…almost as if these were only selected episodes from a much longer series, instead of the complete OAV story they are presented as. Disc Two doesn't fare much better; since this part of the story is set over ten years in the future, Chokkai is grown up, but we don't get any indication of what has happened in the time that passed between the two stories, and the plot that unfolds is even less focused than the crime-busting story from Disc One. Basically, it seems even more clear that the story will be secondary to the goal of getting Honey undressed as often as possible.
Video and sound transfer for Cutey Honey is excellent, with a clear, bright picture and great sound, including a kick-ass new theme song recording. The English voice dub is also right on, with the voice for Honey especially capturing the combination of innocence and bravado that is both so confusing and yet so appropriate.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Fans of the original Cutey Honey (1973) should love this volume of episodes; the English dub is in 5.1 surround, and there are plenty of live-action extras featuring "The Honeys"—a group of Japanese models who dressed up as the characters and made public appearances to promote the new series. In addition to this, there are some phone messages that can be recorded to personal answering machines or voice mail that encourage callers to leave a voice message, lest they suffer the wrath of Honey.
In one particularly chucklesome extra, The Honeys act out a scene in front of a live audience, but they act so hesitant and unimpressed that you wonder what the deal is. The "bad guys" are throwing themselves around with gusto, and the MC is excited enough for everyone, so maybe it's just that the costumes are uncomfortable.
For fans, this is definitely an essential collection that they will not want to miss. The appearance of the lustful Jewel Princess, who wants more than just Honey's company, the creepy half-human-half-animal transformations, and the faithful character design will provide hours of entertainment.
This set of Cutey Honey OAVs probably isn't as essential as the title suggests, unless you are a fan of the series. Honey doesn't do much with her android powers other than changing into new costumes and hairstyles and withstanding bullets, and the action is fair to middling.
Cutey Honey is warned by this court to set a budget—does she really need all those costume changes just to beat in the heads of a few bad guys?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Live Action CosPlay
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