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DVD Review

DVD cover

Cutie Honey


Starring: Eriko Sato, Mikako Ichikawa and Jun Murakami
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 11 May 2009

By day she is plain Honey Kisaragi, an office worker who hides a wondrous secret. With a touch of her choker she is able to transform into the super powered Cutie Honey. In this perfect pink form Cutie battles against evil, especially the evil Claw gang who were responsible for her father’s death. Though Cutie has formidable powers Claw has super powered operatives as well, including Gold, Black, Cobalt and Scarlet Claw, each with their own set of unique abilities. Cutie does not fight alone and quickly forms an alliance with both, serious minded police office Natsuko Aki and a rather mysterious reporter Seiji Hayami...

Cutie Honey (2004 - 1 hr, 29 min, 07 sec) is a live action feature based on the popular Cutie Honey manga and anime. The film was directed by Hideaki Anno and stared Eriko Sato who, at the time, was Japan's top swimsuit model and a competent actress.

The film is an odd mix of innocent eroticism, kitsch storyline and a retina burning bright presentation all wrapped up with a high octane portrayal by the leading actress. The story, such as it is, involves Honey’s attempt to rescue a kidnapped scientist Utsugo (Masaki Kyomoto) a friend of her late father who is continuing his research into nanotechnology, the same technology that turned Honey into Cutie Honey via her I-System, which she activates by pressing a button on her choker and shouting, apparently it has to be shouted, “Honeeeeeeeeey, FLASH!”. Cutie defeats all the super villains which are sent to challenge her, and this being a feel good movie she rescues the scientist and trounces the Claw Gang.

With the progression of technology it was never going to be long before it was possible to transform manga’s into live action films rather than the more traditional anime. Even though the transition from mange to live action is for the most part successful, not least due to the boundless enthusiasm of Eriko Saro, I don’t think that this move to a new medium is tolling the death knell of anime as an art form. Films of this type have two roads to follow, either the relatively cheap route that the makers of Cutie Honey have taken or, more problematically, to try and justify the exorbitant costs which has kept the live action version of Akira in development hell for so long.

For a small budget movie, the special effects are enough to carry the film and certainly add to the sense of hyper reality. It is stylistically similar to Ultraviolet (2006). Only the various members of Claw, which are sent against Honey, let the film down with their over the top costume designs owning more to The Power Rangers movie (1995). Honey goes through twenty costume changes from her iconic hero costume through a range of ordinary and mildly fetishist uniforms, all filled with the nubile form of Sato.

The tone of the film is bright and breezy with its positive message and sixties sounding music track. The film provides a sugary feast for the eyes and the ears, a combination that is reminiscent of Austin Powers (1997). This is a film that is likely to become a guilty pleasure for a whole slew of males. In tune with its sixties sensibility the only message which the film conveys is ‘all you need is love’.

The film is presented with either a 5.1 or stereo Japanese audio track, with optional English subtitles. For extras you get the ubiquitous ‘Making of’ (19 min, 33 sec), where everyone is so please to be part of the project that you can feel your teeth rotting. It’s the usual thing for a Japanese film, lots of enthusiasm from the cast and crew and a narrator who sounds like he’s taken too much amphetamine. Ultimately it shows you much and tells you little. Under the heading ‘Trailers’ you get a Teaser Trailer (1 min, 32 sec), the Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 07 sec) and a couple of TV Spots (2 min, 42 sec). Rounding of the disc is a stills gallery with thirty-three various images and a single trailer for Dororo (1 min, 28 sec) which looks silly but fun.

If you’re willing to suspend belief and disconnect your brain then Honey Cutie is a lot of fun.


Charles Packer

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