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Low-Budget "New Cutey Honey" is Low-Brow Fun

In Cosplay City, monsters are running amuck. Can the power of the beautiful Cutey Honey defend the city, or will her constant outfit changes prove futile? ADV revives its New Cutey Honey release as part of the Essential Anime Collection with this two-disc set. Does Honey retain her youthful fun, or is the decade-old heroine showing some gray hairs?

I’m a sucker for bargains. I kept on seeing the two previous releases of New Cutey Honey in stores, but the prices were outrageous. But patience—or is it skinflintery?—has been rewarded, with ADV combining the two discs into an “Essential Anime Collection” and sending them out with a $13 price tag. I’m an open fan of Sailor Moon and sentai, so show me a series about a girl who constantly transforms while fighting monsters-of-the-week, and my only question is, Where do I sign up?

Ah, okay. Here. And here, and here… and on the third page, at the X… I can just initial…

The plot, on the surface, is rather simple. Cosplay City is a punnily-titled city in the future (though, it looks more like a hybrid of medieval, future, and post-apocalyptic sci-fi). Various monsters with various gimmicks attack the city and the police are helpless. (Okay, has there ever been an effective police force in the history of animé (ignore Patlabor, they had giant robots).) Enter Honey. With an ability to change outfits (and thus, abilities) at the call of “Honey Flash!” she’s the first line of defense. The main man of the series is Captain N (The Game Master) stylistic-rip off Chokkei. There’s nothing truly special about him, unless falling in love with Honey counts as a superpower, which it doesn’t, because it’s pretty dang easy to do. Cybernetic grandpa Danbei provides much of the comic relief, being an old pervert with missile-launching capabilities. [Please don’t tell me he’s in the habit of launching them prematurely.-ed.] Chokkei’s mother, a former street hoodlum, and his “I was surprised that he was his father and not older brother” father, also add some fun, especially when they ignore the passion of the fight and get in the passion of marriage. Together, Chokkei and family back up Honey on her wardrobe-changing missions against evil.

I’m sure there’s more to it, but, really, I’m not sure what. I’m guessing I’d have to have seen the original series to get what’s with the fishbowl robot girl, or Cutey Honey’s origins, or-

Well, don’t want to spoil anything, now do I?

Like I said, the plot on the surface is simple. Good versus evil, and good’s got a closet of outfits to rival Barbie’s. I have a feeling there’s more, but if there is, it completely flew past me. Also, while some stuff just seems to fly out of my reach, other notes seems left unresolved. An important plot point about Honey is brought up but never referenced again. We keep on catching glimpses of a character that was defeated, but are given no explanation or resolution. It seems as if the writers just kind of forgot where they were going, then realized they had an eight-episode limit too late.

Here’s the catch, though: even though I didn’t get all that was going on, the show is entertaining enough as is. The humor is decidedly corny (when Honey changes, becoming nude for a minute, she yells “Honey Flash!”) and low-brow (what would a gold-themed monster call a spray of bullets? A Golden Shower, of course). Honey’s always being chased after by Danbei, the lecherous old robo-man, which always lead to fanservice. The fights are frenetic and fun, but not anything extraordinary. I told you I was a fan of Sailor Moon and was looking forward to a Love Hina collection, right? The show definitely revels in its cheese and fanservice, but it’s all good. It doesn’t go overboard with raunchiness (unlike Goldenboy, nobody hugs a toilet Honey used) or gratuitous (the most detail you get is the chest). With its 17+ rating, they get away with some language (some f-bombs are dropped). But, we’ve all seen worse on South Park.

New Cutey Honey can best be described as a B-movie. If you like movies that aren’t that good, but still make you chuckle, you’ll enjoy it. I have Super Mario Bros: The Movie on DVD, if that means anything about my taste. Some stuff flew over my head, but viewers of the original series may get more. Don’t expect it all to make sense, or to be a legend of animé, but for the money these eight episodes are good time wasters.

For the two disc set, they managed to get a good amount of extras to spread over the package. All subbed: you get the original press conference announcing the series, a live-action play done at the conference, phone messages (while it would be fun to have Cutey Honey answer your phone; the sheer fact they’re only available in Japanese negates the possibility of actually using them.), a production portfolio (sketches and in-progress cels during production), clean openings and closing (two pairs), an interview with the Japanese actresses, another live-action play (this time as a separate event), the recording session/music video of the Japanese-language singer singing the theme, and the original Japanese trailers for the release (these are standard ADV trailers, but oddly enough, no English trailers for New Cutey Honey).

Final verdict? Grab it. It’s a bargain for a batch of episodes, the extras aren’t hurting, and it’s certainly fun. Not the epitome of eastern animation, but do you always want steak? No, a Big Mac every now and then is good too (don’t get me started on the Angus Diet). New Cutey Honey isn’t an essential part of any animé collection, but it sure is a fun one.

Episodes included in New Cutey Honey Collection One & Two “Essential Anime Collection” Set
: Disc One :
Episode 1 “An Angel Descends”
Episode 2 “The Sweet Trap of the Jewel Princess”
Episode 3 “A Singing Voice is the Devil’s Temptation”
Episode 4 “The Death of Honey? Battle for the Scared Skyship!”
: Disc Two :
Episode 5 “Challenge! The Fangs of the Evil Sky Monster”
Episode 6 “The Evil of Revenge”
Episode 7 “Prison is the Nest of Evil”
Episode 8 “Temptation Shines Like Gold”

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