“Cutie Honey” – Chris Luedtke

A large part of Cutie Honey is about tolerance. Yes, tolerance for the absurd. If there’s one thing the live-action Japanese superheroine will bash you with, it’s some of the most strange characters to ever grace the great big, bright screen. Honor, redemption, the meaning of friendship, bitchiness, and rice cakes are about to become your friends for the next 94 minutes of your life. So sit back and let go of reality, because reality sucks anyway; scantily-clad Japanese girls are way better.

Honey Kisaragi (Eriko Sato) is a temp working a regular nine-to-five job at some bland company. But when Honey isn’t doing that, she’s either stuffing her face with rice cakes, taking a bath, playing with her cat…or saving Japan from the clutches of evil under the alternate persona Cutie Honey. When a terrorist group known as the Panthers show up and grab her only remaining relative, Honey has no choice but to rescue him. But she’s not the only one hot the Panthers’ trail. Police officer Natsuko Aki (Mikako Ichikawa) and Japanese-American journalist Seiji Hayami (Jun Murakami) are right on the same path. Honey needs to keep a straight face and not let anyone know that she’s Japan’s crime-fighting savior…but how long can she save face?

On paper, the numbers look doubtful. Cutie Honey is something I expected to fail miserably, as do most anime that are made into live-action flicks. However, Cutie Honey knows the shallow water it treads and goes out of its way to be as ridiculous as possible. Fight sequences are dizzying, but a part of that is just us laughing at how insanely horrible it looks. If you’re gut doesn’t burst during the first fight with Gold Claw (Hairi Katagiri), consider turning this off immediately and head to your local video store to find something that will kill your sense of humor a little more quickly (see: Ingmar Bergman). If you’ve seen the anime version, Cutey Honey (note the slightly different spelling), then you’ll either be disappointed or relived to learn that nudity factor of the original series has been reduced to absolute zero. The violence is also lesser, and Honey doesn’t transform into as many things as she does in the series. Given that this is a mere hour and a half, what it does for costumes it does fine without going overboard on the wardrobe.

The one thing that needs to be removed from here is the drama. I couldn’t stand that the dramatic parts of the film felt like the longest. I love dramas, but kill the bullshit in films like this. I had no empathy for Honey in the “I’m so alone” sequence. With all the idiotic things she does in here, it’s amazing that she can comprehend what pain is. Seriously, Honey is made out to be one of the most airheaded characters in recent memory. Of course, there are also times where the stupidity also becomes irritating. Being a regular anime watcher, I know that the “stupid” character is a very popular part of many series, but Honey manages to take the cake on so many levels. Sometimes, we just can’t win.

Despite all of this, Cutie Honey is still very watchable. The plot is lame, and “honor thy father” becomes the main driving force. Still, this is suppressed enough that it doesn’t become annoying. There are some parts that will have you guessing who’s playing for whose side, but there’s no real twist. One guess is all it takes, and your guess is bound to be right. The final drawback is the Four Claws. Gold Claw appears right in the beginning and sets things off with a bang, but after that, action takes a back seat to character development. Even the sudden appearance of Cobalt Claw (Sie Kohinata) ends on a such a note that we just forget the battle ever happened.

If hilarious, ridiculous action is what you’re looking for, with buxom Japanese girls thrown in for good measure, then step right up and give this one a go. It’s worth a view. Check it if you’ve seen the anime, and see if you can pick out its creator in his cameo.

Rating: ★★★☆

-Chris Luedtke

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