Cutie Honey Review

Kisarugi Honey (Eriko Sato) is a cheery office worker who has a healthy appetite for Onigiri (rice balls) and happens to carry a special secret. When her Uncle Utsugi is kidnapped by a member of the Panther Claw gang, she's quickly called into action as she activates her AI system, turning her into a sassy, pink-clad warrior named Cutie Honey: Warrior of Love. Quickly doing away with the baddie all attention is soon turned toward her, and Squad Chief of the Public Safety Division Det. Aki Natsuko (Mikako Ichikawa) takes it upon herself to find out just who this stranger is. Meanwhile a newspaper reporter by the name of Seiji Hayami (Jun Murakami) believes that he has found out Cutie Honey's true identity. He tracks down Kisarugi Honey and offers his services. Eventually Natsuko also learns of Honey’s secret and soon the trio join forces in a bid to stop the evil Panther Claw gang, led by Sister Jill (Eisuke Sakai), whose ultimate goal is to harness the power of the AI system for herself.

Cutie Honey: The Movie is an amalgamation of sorts from various Cutie Honey series; it loosely connects to previous storylines and makes some minor compromises to fit within a short run time. The general feeling here is that the film can be enjoyed by fans who already know the ins and outs of the character and storylines, while newcomers can settle in quite nicely. The film kicks off in grand fashion; I mean opening scenes don’t get much better than Eriko Sato taking a foamy bath before running down a street half naked to the local 7/11, from where she then transforms into Cutie Honey in order to fight her golden foe. Respecting the source material, Hideaki Anno opens with a nice credit sequence featuring pleasantly animated sequences accompanied by the classic signature theme - as performed by pop princess Koda Kumi. It sets the tone perfectly for this unabashed production that’s visually comparable to Toei’s “Super Sentai” series and a fair few Godzilla flicks. Dubbed as “Digital Comic Cinema” Cutie Honey does indeed feel like an anime brought to life, right down to the deliberately stylised fight sequences and visual humour. Anno uses minimal frames as Honey jumps from point A to B in order to create the feeling that these characters have literally leapt off the page and onto our screens. The film is home to typical Japanese production values as done on a low budget: exploding toy cars, non-too-convincing, though effective CG and cheap corner cutting. But its strength lies in its sheer voraciousness. It just keeps going and going, becoming madder and madder until it has very little left to offer: there are even a few bizarre song routines which are belted out by one or two bad guys.

But that doesn’t stop Cutie Honey: The Movie from meandering a little. While never boring it continues to spend much of the middle act dancing around the trio of Honey, Natsuko and Seiji. In establishing their relationships, but never truly digging deep, save for some brief flash-backs, it paves the way for a series of situational light-hearted gags, which at least are charming enough. It’s toward the end that the movie, however, that the director gets to channel his own personal sensibilities - a need to inject some moral sentiment by getting to the core of these characters as he speaks of love and its importance in the world. And he does manage to craft some beautiful moments by doing so; his prevalent themes do border on the syrupy at times, but the director does well to balance such copious amounts of comedy, action and poignancy.

The Disc: As best as I can tell MVM present Cutie Honey progressively at an anamorphic ratio of 1.78:1; rather than any ghosting for instance (and neither is there any interlacing) there is notable blurring which ties in with the fast, cartoon-ish pace. The image is a tad soft and colours appear to be a little too warm, compared to the R4 release I covered previously, but it’s certainly better in that it presents fewer compression artefacts and next to no edge enahancement. The Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 tracks are both excellent, featuring crisp dialogue and benefiting from strong bass support, with pleasant ambient surrounds. Extras are few, with the main draw being a 22-minute Making Of, which is your typical behind-the-scenes gander at production; a Stills Gallery and Original Trailers.

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