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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B-
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 19.98
  • Running time: 240
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: New Cutey Honey Collection

New Cutey Honey (Essential Anime Edition)

By Derek Guder     August 10, 2004
Release Date: May 25, 2004


New Cutey Honey (Essential Anime Edition)
© ADV Films


What They Say
In a futuristic world where evil comes in all shapes and sizes, she is the ultimate weapon. She's Cutey Honey, a one woman S.W.A.T. team whose android chassis is capable of changing at will into a dazzling array of hard-hitting, curvaceous bodies each with its own set of special skills, weapons, and other impressive physical attributes.

Go Nagai's legendary android super-hero is back and hitting the bad guys where it hurts most in this new, all inclusive DVD collection dazzling, newly re-mastered audio. Honey's never been hotter or sounded better!

The Review!
This guilty-pleasure classic holds up surprising well, largely due to Honey's lovingly animated assets and the truly bizarre villains. Trust Go Nagai to spawn something so sexually charged and down-right weird.

Audio:

Part of the new packaging and release is a re-mastered 5.1 audio mix for the English track, which does give it much more vibrant and rich sound. Unfortunately it doesn't help most of the acting, so despite sounding better, I still prefer the original Japanese stereo track. Most of the English cast is fine, actually, but Chokkei's stilted, forced delivery ruins just about any scene that he's in.

For the most part, the audio was fine in both tracks. As I mentioned, the English 5.1 is much richer than the Japanese stereo, though neither really make too much use of directionality. The only problem with either track is during the first opening sequence on the second disc. In the English audio, the opening sounds distinctly tinny and has something of an echo or reverb. This doesn't happen in the Japanese stereo, nor does it happen on the later openings, but it does happen in the main menu as well. It's annoying, but at least the other versions of the opening sound fine.

And I will have to admit to the guilty pleasure of seeing one of my favorite comedy dub actors, Dough Smith, showing up in minor bit parts. I've had a soft spot for him ever since his over-the-top performance made GoldenBoy such a riot.

Video:

The video looks great. It's particularly recent show (the original episodes are about a decade old) but it stands up surprisingly well. It's obvious that the staff really cared for the production, as each breast-jiggle is lovingly animated. The transformation sequences on the second disc are particularly well done as well, and colors are clear throughout.

The transfer looks great and seems problem-free. I didn't notice and artifacting or blocking, despite the overall dark colors and backgrounds.

Packaging:

The packaging is pretty simple but strong, with Honey mid-transformation on the front cover and a few random images on the back. The cast is clear and the chapter listings are provided on the inside, accompanied by two shots of Honey in her battle outfit.

Instead of having a hinged flap that so many people hate, the case has a secure spot for each disc on the inside of both the front and back covers. It prevents the convenient inclusion of an insert, but keeps things from moving around.

On the whole, I like the design, both visually and physically. It's simple, straightforward and just a bit stylish.

Menu:

The menus are very straight-forward. Each disc has an image of Honey while the appropriate theme song plays. To the right are the episode titles to jump to them directly and then links to scene access, languages and extras.

Extras:

There are a lot of extras on these two discs, actually, and they should make anyone who enjoyed the show laugh out loud.

The first disc has a clean opening and closing, as well as a Japanese press conference about the announcement of the show. Most amusing, however, are the phone messages (audio bits from the different characters meant to be recorded onto voice message system) and the "costume play", which was an all too enjoyably cheesy and silly promotional performance put on the press conference. There's just something about seeing real people trying to pull of the Cutey Honey outfits and dance around what would otherwise have been a professional press conference is inherently hilarious.

The second disc has its own opening and closing sequences, as well as a collection of trailers and a video of a recording session for the opening. It also has an "interview" with three of the voice actresses where they are more silly and cute than informative, but the big attraction is again a Power Rangers-esque live-action performance. Titled "The Honeys Live", this is a full costume performance for a depressingly small crowd of bored adults and confused children. The actors dance around the stage (the transformation sequences are particularly amusing) and then hand out promotional materials to the small children. Beyond just the spectacle of their mere performance (it's like watching a perverted high-school play with better costumes), there's also the question of why they're handing out VHS tapes of a T&A show to 8-year old girls.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

All eight episodes are presented in the 2-disc set, conveniently divided between the first disc that has a strong, central plot between the episodes, and the second disc which is much more episodic in nature. On the whole, I found the first four episodes much more fun than the second batch, which weren't as focused or sharply executed.

The first episode introduces us to Cosplay City, a sprawling metropolis where almost everyone has turned to crime to survive. Mayor Light, however, has pledged to change that, to clean up the streets even if it costs him his very life. Having said that, of course, a bunch of criminal thugs appear to take him up on the offer. Only the sudden appearance of Danbei, the cybernetic grandpa to our young male lead, Chokkei, seems at first to save them, but the thugs rise again. It's the presence of Dolmeck, the city's master crime lord (who's name strikes fear into even the hearts of criminals), saves the day. He offers Mayor Light the chance to join him, and help him rule the city in name and deed, but the heroic mayor refuses. Having issued his challenge, Dolmeck leaves and takes the thugs with him ? he doesn't tolerate unnecessary bloodshed after all.

Actually, it seems that Dolmeck has some other plan in mind, and his plans push our heroes to the edge, forcing Cutey Honey to re-appear to fight the forces of evil. With a flash of her breasts and a flurry of one-liners, Honey manages to defeat Dolmeck's forces, and the city gains an angelic protector to fight against the demonic forces of darkness ? which is precisely what those forces of evil seem to want, actually. This is also the first time we see the use of some evil drug that, when stabbed into a villain's large bust, transforms them into some bizarre monster.

The second episode seems to take turn down a side-plot at first, as Honey is targeted by a crazed collector of beauty. The Jewel Princess runs a jewelry shop, but her real passion is in kidnapping beautiful girls and preserving them forever by encasing them in a special plastic coating. Her first attempt to capture Honey fails, but then Dolmeck's agents show up offering aid, and connecting the episode to the larger storyline. Honey manages to track her down, but when the Jewel Princess and her new allies capture Chokkei and Danbei, honey is forced to submit to being encased herself. Villains being what they are, however, once Honey appears to be defeated, the Jewel Princess plans to kill the two hostages ? and Honey bursts from the statue made of her to save the day.

In the next episode, Honey has tracked the drugs that each of the villains she had fought previously used, and the trail leads to Saline, a popular rock star. After a few bungled attempts at infiltration (and a half-faked lesbian come-on), Honey is able to witness Dolmeck supplying the singer with drug capsules. Her own cover blown, Honey attacks and defeats the singer, but then Dolmeck's minion the Peeping Spider reveals that Honey is an android ? not a human girl at all. He then kidnaps Chokkei and retreats to Dolmeck's skyship.

In the final episode on the first disc, Honey and Chokkei's whole family assault the skyship to rescue him. It's pretty much non-stop fighting and transforming and explosions. We also finally get to see some action from my favorite villain, Black Maiden. She's a young girl who, from the waist up, forms the head of a much larger robotic body. Honey ultimately defeats her, of course, but she does so by getting naked, so I didn't really mind.

During the final showdown, Dolmeck reveals his ultimate plan: by pushing Honey to greater and greater acts of heroism, he also strengthens the darkness (the brighter the light, the deeper the darkness and all that). Plus, he's been harvesting the evil energies of all the people using those transformation drugs. It's all to bring about the resurrection of Panther Zora, the mother of darkness and evil. Dolmeck spends some time taunting Honey that humans are inherently evil and that as an android, she can never understand what it feels like to have a real heart and emotions, but Chokkei's unwavering faith in her and his insistence that she has the heart and soul of a human, if not the body, gives her the strength to seal Dolmeck and Panther Zora away once again. With his last words, he promises to return again and again to torment humanity. Honey pledges to destroy him again and again to protect the ones she loves.

And that resolves the first batch of episodes. Dolmeck and Panther Zora are apparently destroyed and peace can finally come to Cosplay City ? or maybe not, as the second four episodes show.

With the stabilizing force of Dolmeck taken out of the picture, every criminal in the city is now gunning for the top spot. In the first episode, Honey tries to track down and destroy a time-bomb stolen by a rag-tag group of female criminals before it destroys the entire city. Things get even more complicated, however, when the leader of the gang transforms into a monster without the use of the drug ? apparently Panther Zora is directly influencing people now, granting them evil power directly. Honey manages to save the day, of course, but not before the monster kills all of her comrades, excluding one survivor who pretty much joins our cast as another girl for Chokkei to get embarrassed by looking at.

It's during just such a scene in the beginning of the second episode that our cast of characters is sucked into some kind of alternate universe controlled by a mad women living in a samurai-era theme park. Spear-wielding geisha, beautiful female ninjas and horny samurai assault Honey and her friends, who were separated into three different groups. Eventually, Honey is able to find the ruler of the realm, who had been granted power by Panther Zora, and defeats her, but only with the help and support of everyone else, as they cry out their love for her. The villain gets her chance to rail against heroism and bitterly pine that once the danger is passed, people will just toss her aside ? apparently like how the theme park fell into disrepair once its popularity faded.

The third episode almost becomes a fighting anime, and has the guest appearance of Akira, aka DevilMan (they don't say it outright, but he shares the name and has superhuman strength, so we'll just smile and nod). Scorpion, a ruthless Nazi-style villainess, forms a secret police group to round up ruffians, thugs and delinquents, and then deposit them on an isolated prison island to fight for her pleasure. When Chokkei's mom is captured (triggering some rather amusing exposition on his parents' pasts, as well as leading to some awesome outfits for Honey and crew to dress up in), everyone has to rush to the island to rescue her. Intentionally getting themselves captured and shipped out, they have to survive the fighting tournament long enough for Honey, with the help of Akira, to release everyone and defeat Scorpion.

The final episode gets another guest appearance by the stereotypical perverted mad scientist (he looks very familiar, but I can't quite place him, so I'm chalking it up to the common Go Nagai designs) who has invented a teleportation gun. It's promptly stolen by the beautiful and gold-grazed villainess, Gold Digger. Using this miracle machine, she's able to steal as much gold as she wants ? and she wants it all. It's up to Cutey Honey to stop her, and she'll need Peeping Spider's help to do it (since he's the only one with the advanced optical sensors that can detect the influence of the machine). Seeing as how he was an evil villain in the original 4 episodes, we are treated to a few scenes where Honey's unquestioningly caring and optimistic heart begins to turn him away from the path of evil (but not before she has to make an extended stripping act to lure him close enough to be captured). Using Gold Digger's greed against her, Honey lures her into a trap, but Panther Zora's influence appears again and transforms her into another monster. Honey is able to destroy the space-warping machine in the end, however, and Gold Digger's body disintegrates under the effects of the very weapon she'd used to such evil ends. Ah, poetic justice.

In Summary:

I'd remembered watching the original four episodes quite a while back, when I was first getting into anime in my local club, but I didn't remember much beyond the jiggling jubblies. Turns out there isn't much more to it than that, but it's still damn fun. It's no deep-thinker or stunning production, but it's a very fun cheesy superhero story built on a solid foundation of fanservice. By not taking itself too seriously but still being handled professionally, Cutey Honey manages to a good balance between fanservice and something else to string it all together. It even gives us heart-warming morals at the end of each episode.

If you're looking for light action with a lot of Talent and Ability, you should definitely check this out. Definitely deserving of it's classic status (and perhaps even the Essential Anime label it's re-released under), it's also a good introduction of Go Nagai's work from a more light-hearted and humorous side.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Japanese Press Conference,Phone Messages,Costume Play,ADR Session,The Honeys Live

Review Equipment
Panasonic CT27SX12AF 27" flat-screen TV; Koss KD365 DVD player; Onkyo TX-SR501 receiver; RCA 6-piece home theater speaker package; Component video and optical audio connections

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