Cutie Honey: The Movie
Japanese Television DVD Review
Future comic fans will look back at the live-action superhero movies of the early 21st century. They will no doubt recall with fondness Batman Begins, Superman Returns, and at least two of the three Spider-Man movies. Others will speak with surprise about the quality and success of the Transformers movie. Here's hoping somebody will pipe up among the din and make sure Cutie Honey receives the honorable mention it richly deserves.
Cutie Honey is a crime-fighting, quick-changing android girl whose been wowing Japan since 1973. She began life like many a superhero has: in a comic book. A manga written by the creator of Devil Man himself, the famous Go Nagai, Honey went on to star in several anime productions over the last few decades.
Now she comes to the silver screen in the flesh to celebrate her thirtieth anniversary. This is all courtesy of the good people at Gainax. While director Hideaki Anno updates the original story, he doesn't change Cutie Honey's sixties-style wardrobe. (Nobody wants to confiscate those short-shorts and kinky boots.)
While the movie starts with the nubile Honey Kisaragi (played by the bubbly Eriko Sato), the real main character is the stolid detective Aki Natsuko (Mikako Ichikawa), a young woman who is trying to be taken seriously in the male-dominant Tokyo Police Force. She's tough as nails, and she has to be. Aki needs to prove that she's a good cop each and every chance she gets. She's hell bent on getting the job done all by herself just so they know that she can. Will Japan stop with the male chauvinist attitude all ready? (Pretty deep stuff for a superhero movie, huh? Watch out! This film is full of surprises.)
So you can appreciate the problem she has when the evil organization Panther Claw comes butting in. Its leader, Sister Jill, is a bio-engineered plant creature working to attain immortality. Her minions are gaudily costumed super-beings with extraordinary powers. There's no way Nat-Chan here can deal with super-villains like these as they kidnap the noted Professor Utsugi.
Whether she likes it or not, she's going to need a superhero on her side. Whether she likes it or not, she gets one.
Enter Cutie Honey! A perky little droid with the power to transform in a flash into any kind of disguise or battle armor she can dream up. She is a self-described soldier of love who kicks butt while looking cute.
You can imagine how the prim Det. Natsuko is reacting to all this. No wonder she winds up getting drunk, and singing karaoke.
Cutie Honey isn't having a good time of it either. That professor that Panther Claw kidnapped? He's her uncle. He's one of the people responsible for making her the super-powered cyborg she is today. Her father was the prime mover in the project. He was killed by Panther Claw. This sort of thing could easily make Honey forget about the love she's fighting for and start burning things to death with her bare hands.
And who is that reporter that keeps showing up to give her advice?
In the end, it is police woman Aki who must make the final decision that saves the day. Cutie Honey might slug it out in one spectacular battle after another. (A wonderful combination of state-of-the-art CGI and good, old-fashioned movie making, by the way.) But only Aki can fire the decisive bullet that will allow the formative powers of love to vanquish the evil that threatens to engulf Tokyo.
With this movie, Cutie Honey takes her place with the superhero movies of the 21st century. "Honey...FLASH!!!"