Words cannot describe how atrocious this anime is. Not only does it fully ruin the good name of Cutie Honey, it provides us a disjointed, drawling story of an annoying girl who seems to do nothing but cry and act annoying throughout. Character development is nearly non existent, the animation is incredibly generic, and the voice acting is absolutely grating to hear. This anime, unlike most of the Cutie Honey series, is certainly a must skip, especially for the fans of Cutie Honey who don't want to see the show defaced as it was.
To celebrate Go Nagai's 50th Anniversary of being a mangaka, Devilman Crybaby was produced, and there has been quite a bit of focus on this, but... one of his other properties also received a new version too; Cutey Honey Universe.
Yeah, I know, it's actually Cutie Honey Universe, but when I was aware of Cutey Honey, the series that were around at that time were New Cutey Honey and Cutey Honey Flash, so for me, the series will always be spelt as Cutey Honey.
When I was reviewing this series, I hadn't seen all versions of Cutey Honey before Cutey Honey Universe; after this current version (v3.0), I still haven't, but I'm one still closer, just Cutey Honey Flash to go now.
As far as I am aware, in some ways, this series sees a return to its roots; Honey is back to being a school student, her best friend Natsuko is getting a raw deal, being abused by the teachers, an increase of yuri, and using the original seven-ish disguises only - that said, the abuse and yuri does tail off after the first couple of episodes.
In other ways, the series has departed from some of the things that have featured in previous Cutey Honey series: a remix of the iconic Cutey Honey music, which I will cover in the Sound section; Honey's usual reveal of "Sometimes I'm a ..., but in truth...", with it only featuring in four episodes, and the reveals in two episodes not even being by Honey.
Watching Re: Cutey Honey again, in between watching Cutey Honey Universe, and posting this review, I noticed that two of the additions I thought had been introduced first in this series, were actually introduced in Re: Cutey Honey; this made me wonder what of my other conclusions were wrong?
Still, in regards to new additions, I believe these are in fact new, but I could be wrong: battles now take place in Gravity Tunnels, minimising real world damage; Sister Jill is able to turn normal people into Panther Claw, which actually reminded me of Miraculous Ladybug and Cat Noir, or I guess Terragenesis from Marvel.
With episode six, the series takes a dark turn, continuing darker still as the series goes on, to the point where I thought that Honey, through the power of the Airbourne Element Fixing Device would bring about a miracle.
The Airbourne Element Fixing Device has also been known as I-System in other versions of Cutey Honey, which is a play on "Ai", meaning love in Japanese; for ease sake, I will be using this term going forward.
With this, I guess this series stays true to Go Nagai's vision, and the (possible) limitations of the I-System, as the series talks about the I-System being able to re-create things that presently exist, so a miracle might be outside the realms of possibilty.
The live action movie, Cutey Honey states that the I-System can revive life, but this may be the only instance where this is true, or that there's possibly limitations to even that.
There are a couple of loose ends, such as Genet's secret room, and if Honey was made by Professor Kisaragi due to the death of his original daughter, as with previous series, or if he never had a daughter previously, as he tells Honey that she is dearer to him than any daughter.
This line could indicate that Professor Kisaragi did not have a daughter previously in this series, but then, when Honey wakes up for the first time, Professor Kisaragi tells her that she was unwell, and that he had made her better.
This line could be taken as: (Android) Honey waking up with original Honey's memories, except for her death, believing that she is original Honey, so believing Professor Kisaragi when she's told she had simply been ill; just be a lie to Honey, for why she was coming online for the first time.
Finally, there is also an annoying point about the series, in that Honey continually trusts Genet until she has indisputeable truth laid out in front of her, despite being told not to trust Genet by various characters.
Score: 8/10 - whilst I would have preferred the series to end on a more perfect note, I have chosen to not have this as a negative, only choosing to factor in the loose ends as a negative, and Honey's mistaken infallible trust in Genet.
It can be quirky, but I feel it's not too quirky, so it works; Re: Cutey Honey, I felt could be a bit too quirky in places, which you could say "that's Gainax for you", that said... the "too quirky" was really only a factor in the first episode, as things calmed down in the second and third episodes, which could be because each episode had its own director, as well as Hideaki Anno.
There are some occasions were the animation quality slips, but not often, and the series introduce some quirky alterations to Honey's original attacks, but also to transformations; not just regarding Honey herself, but her equipment.
The way Honey's hair is animated during some of the transformation sequences is pretty cool, it "snaps" from long blonde hair to a short red bob; the fact her bike wheels can be split to prevent the bike from spinning out of control is also pretty cool.
The animation style of this series, I feel is more in line with the original manga, but also slightly altered, perhaps so that it would not appear dated; this is also the first series where Natsuko actually looks the same as the manga, although Cutey Honey Flash was closer than others up to this point.
Score: 9/10 - the occasional blip in animation quality, but other than that, I felt the animation was solid, there were some interesting concepts (Honey's hair and bike), and the character designs were better matching than previous.
As mentioned earlier, in a departure from previous series, the iconic Cutey Honey music that has featured in most Cutey Honey properties since its first apperance does not receive a remix in this series.
It's hard to think of a Cutey Honey series without the iconic opening, however once you push past this, the opening for this series, "Ai ga Nakaucha Tatakaenai" isn't that bad, nor is the ending, "Sisters", or the background music.
Possibly to placate the many people caught up on the fact this series does not remix the iconic Cutey Honey opening, an updated remix of the iconic Cutey Honey opening can be found courtesy of Luz, as a Track 2 on the Sisters single.
Still, if you think about it, the opening music will have been a machination of the original series, and just carried over to most Cutey Honey iterations, after all... there wouldn't be any music in the manga.
That said, last time I read Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE, it was like the manga had music, as I could hear Yuki Kajiura's soundtrack playing in my head in the corresponding scenes; I guess it helps when the anime is somewhat faitful to the manga.
I don't believe any of the iterations of Cutey Honey have been too faithful to the original manga for this crossing of anime music to manga to occur.
Regarding another aspect of sound, seiyuu, this series has made some interesting choices; it features different seiyuu for each disguise, and also a seiyuu that has featured in a different iteration of Cutey Honey, as a different character.
Whilst it is interesting to have different disguises voiced by different seiyuu, I feel it was underused, as some disguises aren't on screen too often, or long enough.
Had the credits not listed Yukari Tamura, I would not have known she was te seiyuu for Misty Honey; I actually thought I heard Yukari Tamurai singing in the opening, but I don't believe she is part of AoP.
Given that Misty Honey sings in one of the episodes, which is not surprising, as she's a singer, she has ended up with a character album; Over heat, Over heart.
She actually sings a remix of the Cutey Honey Universe opening in the episode, but the title song of the character album features in a later episode, along with the remix of the opening.
As it is referred to as a character album, I expected there to be character albums for the other disguises, but it appears there isn't; I guess it makes sense, as the other disguises aren't singers, regardless to if the seiyuu can sing or not - still who knows, maybe other character albums will come out of the woodwork too later.
I would like to hear Misty Honey's version of the opening in full, along with "Over heat, Over heart", but it seems that unfortunately, at the moment, there is no way to get hold of the full character album, except as an import; a legal digital album I found was even only half complete.
Whilst I've not watched all of Cutey Honey Flash, I am so used to the names in that series for the disguises, such as Scoop Honey for Flash Honey, Escort Honey for Idol Honey, and Stage Honey for Misty Honey.
Horie Yui in this series is the seiyuu for Natsuko, whilst in Re: Cutey Honey, she was the seiyuu for Honey herself; it will be interesting if there's a crossover between Re: and this series, and if there would be any reference to this.
In Story, I mentioned re-watching Re: Cutey Honey, but this was not the only Cutey Honey iteration I re-watched between watching this series, and posting this review, I also re-watched Cutey Honey (2004); I was reminded that a link between Maaya Sakamoto and that movie.
Maaya Sakamoto is the seiyuu of Mari in Evangelion 2.22, and she sings "The 356-Step March" by Kiyoko Suizenji, which is also sung by Eriko Sato as Honey in Cutey Honey (2004); both movies were directed by Hideaki Anno.
I can't quite decide whether I feel that Maaya Sakamoto as Honey reminds me of another Honey seiyuu (or actress), or if I'm just reminded of another of her roles as a seiyuu.
Score: 9/10 - whilst the music was good, and the choice of seiyu was interesting, the different seiyu for the different disguises was underused; similar to the score for Story, I am not including whether I would prefer the series to use a remix to the iconic opening or not; I was initially "outraged", but I was brought round, so kudos for going against the grain.
So, whilst most of the characters are the same, there are some additions to the cast, and alterations to the original characters:
Score: 9/10 - the development of Tarantula Panther and Dragon Panther was interesting, and actually makes me want a never to be slice-of-life series featuring the two, possibly with Honey and Natsuko, living out peaceful days, in the Hayami residence... well, if it's at the Hayami residence, mostly peaceful, I guess.
When I originally wrote this review, I came to the conclusion that any review I did would be somewhat lacking, as whilst I had watched various versions of Cutey Honey, I had not watched the main one, the first one, which I'd say is key, given this series is a reboot, or maybe even remake.
With any remake or reboot, then there's always the question of, "was it needed?"; usually the answer is "no", as basically the remake/reboot was done as a money grab, but there are some times when a remake/reboot is needed.
Times when a remake/reboot is needed are when the original version did not do the original material justice, such as when it did not follow the original material, however some times this can be because the original material has been exhausted, which is the breeding ground for filler.
Cutey Honey (1973) - looking back, did the original series do the manga justice?
Certain elements from the manga, such as yuri were apparently reduced or removed in the original series, so these have been restored with a remake/reboot.
The original series and the manga actually ran simultaneously, which did mean whilst the series did follow the manga, it did get to a point where it had to develop its own stories too.
The first part of the series appeared to have a format: Honey finds a way to ditch school; Honey learns of the latest scheme of Panther Claw; Honey defeats this week's Panther Claw by Silver Flouret to the heart.
Initially I considered the appearances of the various Panther Claw in Universe as a bit monster of the week, but I have re-evaluated this opinion after watching the original series; in the original series there are only two instances where it is less monster of the week than normal.
Rather than only one Panther Claw featuring at a time, as with the original series, Universe usually features a Panther Claw group in each episode; some/most of the group survives, living to fight in (at least) another episode.
Given the number of Panther Claw that feature in the original series, I do have to wonder why Universe did not feature some of those, rather than just palette swap other Panther Claw later on; perhaps they wanted to keep Universe pure from filler.
The episodes in the subsequent parts of the original series also have a similar format, but the last four episodes do look to break the format, when Honey enrolls into Paradise Academy; at this stage, the series even breaks the fourth wall mentioning "broadcasters" and "writers".
Surprisingly, the original series does reach a conclusion; Cutey Honey defeats Sister Jill, however this only leads onto a second act, where Honey is to do battle against Panther Zora, although this does not happen, as there is no second series of the original anime.
It wasn't until watching the original series, that I noticed there are occasions where Honey's skirt is just that bit too short in Universe, simply because in the original series, it's always that bit too short; I guessing in Universe it's a nod to the original series.
Whilst there is quite a bit that could be improved on in the original series, at the same time, its "faults" actually can be quite endearing; the limitations of 70s animation, and music.
Obviously, its faults will not appeal to everyone, which is another reason why remakes/reboots are "needed", as whilst it can still be considered a money grab; the original series might not appeal to the current audience, possibly due to "faults" or story.
New Cutey Honey - where it all began for me
It is actually a spirit sequel to the original series, set 150 years after the original series; Honey is currently working as secretary to the mayor of Cosplay City, however it seems that she has actually forgotten that she is the warrior of love, Cutey Honey, until a life and death situation allows her to remember.
Whilst I said that the original series set up a second series that never happened, you could think of New Cutey Honey as being the third series; it's just a shame it never went past eight episodes... it never reached a conclusion, as it was cancelled due to censorship costs.
The series does actually receive some continuations, in the form of audio dramas: episode nine, which is a Christmas episode; on some of the "New Super Android Cutey Honey" CDs; Re: Cutey Honey, which features all the other Cutey Honeys (at that point).
Even though it's 150 years on, members of the Hayami bloodline still form part of Honey's supporting cast; it's not explained which of Danbei's sons Chokkei and his father, Akakabu decend from, but given Akakabu's pervertedness, Junpei would be a strong possibility.
Another instance of familiarity is that in the second part of the series, a character by the name of Natsuko is introduced, sharing the same forename as Natsuko from the previous series, it sets up an interesting dynamic for her, Honey and Chokkei, which may have possibly been explored further, if the series hadn't been cancelled.
Whilst it could not be explored further in the series, the Natsuko-Chokkei-Honey dynamic is touched upon in New Super Android Cutey Honey CD3, but there is still no actual conclusion; no definitive answer, Honey or Natsuko?
Still, if there was, it would mean someone would lose out, and I don't know who I'd root for: Honey only really started to have (possibly) romantic feelings for Chokkei later on; Natsuko would tease Chokkei, whilst Chokkei appearred to have a protection complex for Natsuko, but that could just be more his wish to protect everyone, including Honey.
In a couple episodes of New Cutey Honey we got to see a somewhat de-armoured Honey; her armoured disguise in this series when it was in complete full swing was pretty concealing, not giving you much chance to see what look Honey was sporting behind the helmet.
The instances where she was (somewhat) de-armoured gave you an insight into what was otherwise a hidden world; Honey was given a unique look, which I thought was surprising, but then she was de-armoured a couple of times to be honest.
While there was only one version of Honey's armoured disguise in New Cutey Honey, there were around nine different versions in Re: Cutey Honey; eight of them feature briefly in the first episode, ranging in design, whilst the ninth one features in the second episode, and is somewhat skimpy.
Staying on the subject of Honey's armoured disguise, I would have quite liked to see more of the version in Universe, as it looked to be quite an interesting design; very different from the versions in other iterations, but I can't help but think it looks familiar, but I can't think where from.
Everything about New Cutey Honey was great: the character and disguise designs; the music; the animation, even if it dipped in the final episode, due to costs; the character development of Honey, and her haughty laugh before her reveals courtesy of Michiko Neya; the potential love triangle between Honey, Chokkei and Natsuko.
Re: Cutey Honey - things I mistakenly thought Universe had introduced
As referred to earlier, rewatching Re: Cutey Honey allowed me to identify that some things that I thought were new to the series through Cutey Honey Universe, were not new at all, having been introduced by Re; Cutey Honey instead; limits to Honey's power, which include disolving clothes and reverting hair.
Before actually re-watching Re: Cutey Honey, the disolving clothes actually reminded me of series like, Ultimate Girls, however in that series, the disolving clothes is a time limit issue, not an energy issue; you could say that both issues are one in the same.
The energy issue was technically introduced in the live action movie, Cutey Honey, however it does not result in disolving clothes, only that she's unable to transform; whether this was due to censorship or animation limitations, or possibly an afterthought with Re: Cutey Honey, I don't know.
Images come from my photobucket and cubeupload accounts; photobucket keep adding restrictions on free accounts (now you can't even host on there), so you'll start to see more of the images uploaded through my cubeupload, rather than photobucket.
However uploading aside, the images originally came from the following websites; Fandom wikia, randomc (always a good blog for anime series reviews), gifmagazine, minitokyo, Go Nagai wikia, exit tunes and anime-fanservice.org!
Latest version: V3.0 - Watched Cutey Honey (1973); V2.0 - Re-watched Re: Cutey Honey and Cutey Honey (2004); V1.5 - Amended Story and Overall scores, as changed stance on decimal points; V1.0 - Initial version posted.