What They Say
Who is this mysterious buxom beauty? She’s an office worker, a motorcycle racer, a street musician, a police officer, and most of all, a warrior of love. Fitted with her father’s invention, the I-System, she can transform herself into anyone she wants to be. The nefarious organization called Panther Claw is kidnapping girls across Japan and stealing all of the gold and the police are powerless to stop them.
Now, their leader, Sister Jill, wants Honey’s I-System neckband to revive her beauty and gain immortality. With the help of her friends, Natsuko, a hard-headed police officer, and Seiji, an easy-going reporter, Honey will prove that there’s no greater power than love.
Bandai Entertainment hit all the right notes with this release by providing no less than four language tracks for this film. Done in both English and Japanese, there are 5.1 and 2.0 mixes for each of them. Each one has its own merits depending on the setup you’re using. We listened to this on our 5.1 setup primarily and it’s a very active and well-done mix that really works the music and sound effects up nicely. There are moments of vocal directionality to the rears but it’s very minimal in comparison to the sound effects. The big action sequences use a lot of bass as well which gave our subwoofer another solid workout. We listened to the English mix in stereo form while writing the review and that mix definitely sounds weaker than the 5.1 mix but it works well on that setup. We didn’t have any dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the tracks we listened to in full.
Originally in theaters in 2004, the transfer for this film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The film has a healthy mix of different styles to it by mixing in animation, CG and plenty of old camera tricks. The resultant look is a mixed one though quite vibrant. It looks to be free of noticeable edge enhancement while the animation scenes are very clean looking and solid. There isn’t a real dimensional look to the scenes that bring in various effects, such as the opening when there are so many explosions, but it all seems to fit in with the style that’s being used for the film.
Regular Edition Packaging:
The cover design is simple but almost has a Bond-feel to it as it has Honey in the middle in her full dress mode while a heart is behind her that’s got swooshes looping around. It’s similar to the barrel of the gun look from the Bond film openings. The cover looks good with the logo and overall design and Eriko Sato really manages to sell it quite well. The back cover continues my disappointment in Bandai’s packaging as of late though. A few shots from the show are lined up along the side inside of hearts while a summary is along the top. The discs features and extras are in the middle while the bottom rounds it out with production and technical information. So much of the cover is wrong though and missing information that it’d be easy to see some people walking away from this release. The disc lists only English as the languages (when it’s bilingual and subtitled) and no mention is made of the aspect ratio of the film or that it’s anamorphic. These are still selling points to many people, particularly those who even know who Cutey Honey is, and having some of these most basic listings either wrong or not there is part of a continuing trend. No insert or booklet is included with this release.
Limited Edition Packaging:
The limited edition release of this is done in a really cute manner for collectors. The overall box is a lunch box which on one side has a close-up shot of Honey holding her sword close to her face while the logo is off to the side. Amusingly, not only is the logo raised on this but so is her chest. The two spines and the other main panel have the logo on them while the main panel is raised. The bottom of the box lists the basic technical information and unlike the keepcases actually lists it as a bilingual release. The keepcase uses the same shot as the lunchbox but doesn’t feel quite so compressed. The back cover uses a similar design as the regular keepcase by having a few shots from the show in hearts but also has another pose of Honey. The technical information and missing elements we commented on in the regular edition packaging are here as well, unfortunately. The lunchbox also contains a nice keychain with the Cutey Honey logo as the dangle.
The menu for this release is cute and fun while sounding great on our system. With a couple of off-white swooshes along one side, the center portion of the menu has clips from the show and various backgrounds coming together to provide something with a bit of flair and a nice tie-in to the instrumental music. It’s not flashy but it fits the feel of the movie and gets you in the right frame of mind for it. A navigation strip along the bottom allows for easy access to everything with quick menu load times and little in the way of transitional animations. The disc correctly read our players’ language presets of Japanese language and English subtitles.
The extras are decent for this release and pretty fun to watch. The small extras include a teaser trailer for the film and the full-length trailer. The big extra is a making-of segment that runs about twenty-two minutes. It shows a number of behind the scenes moments and some fun campy moments between the actors.
This Cutey Honey film garnered a lot of attention when it entered production for a couple of reasons. One was that the concept is still pretty popular in Japan and the other is that it’s directed by Hideaki Anno. The result is that while it’s not exactly what the anime versions that I’ve seen were like it’s managed to provide a fascinating and enjoyable adaptation of the concept.
The film centers on Honey Kisaragi, a young woman who seems to be quite well off by the residence that we see her in at first. Her life is an odd one as she’s only a year old by her reckoning. She’d died in a car accident only to be resurrected by her father through nanotechnology. That ended up being the death of him by a group called Panther Claw, a group that has no kidnapped her uncle, Professor Uzuki. This incident has set her off to rescue him which means a quick encounter with Gold Claw, one of the Four Gods that serves Sister Jill.
Panther Claw is an amusing criminal group that’s been up to little good in recent weeks as numerous kidnappings have occurred with the professor being the latest. Their goal has been to serve Sister Jill, some sort of immortal woman who has taken on a vegetative state where she wakes once in a great while. When she does awaken, she’s ravenous but bored as there is nothing to excite her. All of that changes though when Cutey Honey enters the picture by defeating Gold Claw and working her way through the other Four Gods.
Honey is no normal woman though as the nanotechnology has given her the ability to change her appearance pretty easily. Varying between her office lady life, taking on the guise of a musician, a police officer and more she’s able to move between situations easily. The nanotech has also given her some other superhuman powers in that she’s pretty strong, fast and has a special sword that she’s able to use. The best though is that she has a great costume to wear in this form that’s mostly skintight with just a bit of armor and decorated with hearts. Honey is an innocent in a lot of ways and that shines through in how she approaches the fights she gets into and the way she handles her costumes.
Supporting Honey through this are a couple of amusing characters that help to build up the overall simple plot. The first is Seiji, a reporter who is actually a lot more as he knows all about Honey and her powers. He’s a bit of a manipulator throughout this who always seems to show up at the right time. His best scenes come in his hotel room with the leading ladies though. The other character that’s important throughout this is Natsuko, an up and coming police officer who finds her life thrown for a loop when Gold Claw makes a mess of her arrests. She’s discredited because of what she reports and ends up drawn into Honey’s problems even more. She’s the opposite of Honey in some ways but mostly in that she’s not terribly friendly and dresses very cold and masculine.
Cutey Honey’s greatest strength in the film is also its weakest. It’s a very campy and vibrant piece that has a lot of life to it which means it’s a lot of silly fun. But that particular kind of silly fun is something that doesn’t translate well in some ways. These kinds of films are things that I enjoy but if I see more than one a month I want to claw my eyes out. The mixture of different styles works pretty well for the most part such as the animation for the opening and part of the origin story. The area that doesn’t work too well is when they manipulate Honey into some action scenes with animation behind her. The blending that they use does achieve a certain style but it feels too stilted.
Anime dubs aren’t something that bothers me and I hear a lot of them and like a good deal of them but I simply abhor dubs of live action material. Cutey Honey’s English adaptation is done by NYAV with some voice actors that seemingly don’t have a lot of current credits to their name or are mostly in the Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh realm. The dub fits plenty of the stereotypes of a bad live action dub though they do get a bit better as it progresses. If the first couple of minutes don’t scare you off you’ll likely enjoy it but I feel that like most live action dubs it loses a huge chunk of what makes it work.
Cutey Honey gave me exactly the kind of campy silliness I expected it would. It’s a movie that fits perfectly into the “shut off your brain and enjoy” category. A lot of what makes the movie work comes in Eriko Sato, the actress for Honey. She brings a lot of great innocence and emotion to the role of someone who has only been alive for a year but goes through a lot of varying situations. She’s even able to pull off a sequence where she has to run down the street in nothing but a garbage bag. The character of Honey Kisaragi has always been largely about sex appeal and Sato brings that in spades. The Cutey Honey movie achieves exactly what it looks like it set out to do and delivers with a great presentation. It’s definitely worth checking out just to see how it was adapted and to watch Sato bounce around the screen.
Japanese 5.1 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Making of Cutie Honey, Theatrical Trailers, Promo Video, LE: Lunchbox packaging with a keychain (5000 units total)
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: C/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Release Date: April 17th, 2007
MSRP: $29.98 / $49.98
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.