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Cutie Honey: The Best Japanese Superhero You’ve Never Heard Of

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Cutie Honey’s evil sister Jill has used her goon squad, Panther Claw, to kidnap Cutie Honey’s uncle, a renowned scientist — and Cutie Honey’s got to save him! With her heart-shaped armor, Honey Flash choker and stunning blade, she takes down armies of goons and bad guys and, presto, changes her costume for the next adventure.

Say “Hajimemashite” to your new favorite Japanese superhero — Cutie Honey.

Cutie Honey has perhaps the greatest opening scene in history. The first thing you see is a kitty. The second thing is a beautiful girl in a bubble bath. The next thing you know, she’s running down a busy street in a makeshift dress composed entirely of torn plastic bags while downing rice cakes and tea. Luckily, the rest of the movie holds up to those high standards.

Hideaki Anno directed the live-action film adaptation of the old Cutie Honey anime series, but he’s best known for his animation for GAINAX, including Neon Genesis Evangelion and Kare Kano/His & Her Circumstances.

cutie honey, live action, hideaki anno, neon genesis evangelion

The Japanese poster for Cutie Honey

Above all, Cutie Honey is an exercise on how to make a “live-action cartoon” film that isn’t terrible. Usually, you hear that phrase and know to run away screaming (the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and the 2000 movie The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle both come to mind). But Cutie Honey works — it’s goofy, fun, and follows its own cartoon logic. The film could have been animated, but in a weird way, it works better not animated. It heightens the goofiness a bit more seeing real people act out various anime cliches and quirks — whether it’s insulting a pompous supervillian or gaping wide at another character’s certain doom, the real-life histrionics become all the more fun.This isn’t Anno’s first live-action film though; it’s his third, after the beautiful Love & Pop and the not-released-in-the-US-yet Ritual, And though it’s a bit of a departure from those two “serious” films, Cutie Honey still fits right in with Anno’s style. Lots of his signature shots as well as his trademark style of exploring character emotions remain — although admittedly not in quite their usual depth this time.

The plot, however plays second to the film’s well-crafted feel and mood. Anno’s background as an animation director shows as he has a great eye for composition and layout. The beauty of the film alone keeps you interested. It’s purely entertaining fodder that it does that job well, with enough action to keep things moving along at a good pace, and lots of humor.

Plus, film itself just oozes good-natured-ness, which I’m a complete sucker for. The bad guys come off more goofy than scary, and the whole thing wraps up with a sequence on the Power Of Love (not the song). In the end, everyone’s friends and one of the bad guys busts out a staff with a microphone, singing while four anonymous henchmen play violins as back up.

Honestly, I’ve never seen the original Cutie Honey — I came to this as an Anno fan — but you don’t need any familiarity with the original. The film tells you basically all you need to know, and knowing its anime origins will prepare you for the cartooniness the follows.

I’ve heard from fans of the original anime that this film is equally enjoyable and fun, so if you’re a big fan of Cutie Honey, don’t fear a Michael Bay-esque ruination of one of your favorite cartoons. Just keep avoiding Bay’s films and check out this Anno one instead.

A new live action Cutie Honey film is slated for this year — Hideaki Anno isn’t involved (he’s too busy making the new Godzilla film) — but will it be as good as the 2004 film? We’ll have to wait to find out.

Previously published February 15, 2015. 

  • Neither do I

  • This kind of slightly maybe completely and totally disgusts me.

  • Ashley Valencia

    Starting to wonder if I ever had faith in humanity. I don’t even remember what that feels like.

  • Nathan Clymer

    It would have to have been an employee of the park that did that because no one is allowed to purchase a pic from the roller coaster except their own. If it was another patron of the park, then the couple could sue the park for selling a picture of them to someone else. Either way, the park is getting sued… I am usually against suing. I think that we do too much of it, but in this case, I seriously think the boys have a strong case and deserve to! Go, Mr. Person and Yang! I’m totally rooting for you guys!

  • Grow up United States. In Quebec we have the gay village where there is a lot of gay couple all holding hand. And not a single heterosexual call us fag. Not a freaking single because we have open mind and we are not infected with bigotry.

  • Jessica Rose

    what ever happened to good old professionalism?

  • ShowMeGuy

    Anyone can buy those on-ride photos…….even a person NOT in the photo.  Any customer could have purchased, added the snarky comment, and then posted the pic anywhere in the park…….or internet if they wished.

  • Ernest Lopez

    Some people are so full of hate! Why dont they just kill themselves or get over it.Love comes in all forms.

  • shauntwaz

    What makes me mad is that this is the amusement park I went to as a kid. and it’s in the San Francisco Bay Area.
    RUDE.
    This makes me angry.

  • idrewacat

    I must be missing the point but I’d get a kick out of that. Like, it’d be my holiday card for the year. Like, I’d put it up at my cubicle.

  • Jacob Equal Citizen Leatherber

    In this I disagree, I’ve been to Montreal, and while I was there a few years ago for GALA, there was gay bashing happening, IN THE GAY VILLAGE. LGBT discrimination and bigotry happens everywhere in the world. This is an unfortunate episode, and I hope this couple sues this park for everything it’s worth, and then I hope they close it

  • It must be wonderful to have such a rosy view of ALL of Canada based on your experience living in the microcosm of the gay village.  I can guarantee you there are areas of Canada, and even Quebec, where there are less enlightened people who are willing to call people “fags”.  No country, no matter how liberal they seem, is devoid of prejudice and spite unfortunately.

  • This is totally a test comment!

  • And a test reply?????

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