Normally I don’t preface a new set of recaps with a lengthy explanation of why I’m doing them, but in this case I felt it was appropriate and necessary to provide a little back story and history. This clearly isn’t going to be something that will be to everyone’s liking considering what’s in the show itself and the franchise that it’s a part of, and I can totally understand where that is coming from. I’m a huge fan of this series in particular and am starting to experience the franchise as a whole which has maintained a surprising level of quality over its forty year life span. That said, it’s also been consistently problematic over that time and after taking a brief look at every televised and film adaptation of this series, it’s pretty depressing to think how it’s actually somewhat regressed in certain iterations. On the one hand, having such a clear interpretation of the character and the world is probably one of the reasons that it actually manages to be good every time someone dusts off the series (it’s maintained a single theme song since the anime debuted in 1973) but it’s also no doubt led to the creators of each version having a convenient excuse to continue some of the things that weren’t so great about previous interpretations. Before I go any deeper, let’s first discuss what the hell it is I’m going to recap.
Cutie Honey (it can also be spelled Cutey Honey) is a series about Honey Kisaragi, an android built by professor Kisaragi who he raised as his own daughter. At some point in Honey’s life (usually in her late teens) the professor dies at the hands of Panther Claw and Honey finds out her true identity. She has the ability to transform from regular everyday Honey Kisaragi to the crime fighting super hero known as Cutie Honey. Not only that, but her powers allow her to transform into almost anything she wants so she can disguise herself from Panther Claw, or get costume specific powers in a pinch. Cutie Honey the Live is the latest iteration of the long running franchise in the form of a live action television show that aired in Japan from 2007 to 2008 for a total of 25 episodes. It’s the first exposure I had to this character and I fell in love with it almost immediately. We’ll get into more detail why once I start recapping it, but needless to say that this series is going to be a BLAST to review and has lots of stand-out moments that will blow your mind! However, there’s a lot in this series (which doesn’t deviate too far from the source material) that plenty of people will find objectionable and frankly I find objectionable as well in parts. The main thing for me though is that it does so much right that I can overlook those flaws, but I feel that these are big enough that they need to be addressed up front.
Honey Kisaragi and the Fighting Fuck Toy trope
The quick version? Watch this video. You should watch the WHOLE thing, but the most relevant part starts around the seven minute mark. The long version? Honey kisaragi has the ability to transform like most protagonists of shows in the Magical Girl genre, only Cutie Honey has absolutely zero pretenses about its intent. This is a show about fan service with Honey being the object of everyone’s desire. She’s constantly being pursued by her friends and enemies as well as being placed front and center for the audience to gawk at as she gets naked on a regular basis. Even though some versions try to minimize the sleaze (I haven’t seen a lot of Cutie Honey Flash, but it seems the most chaste), it’s still one of the defining characteristics of every interpretation and can definitely turn people away from it. The reason I’m not turned away though is because the show works so well without that aspect that I don’t mind it indulging in some base eye candy. No version of this franchise (with the exception of RE Cutie Honey, but let’s try to forget about that one) NEEDS the fan service to make it something special. Almost every show in this franchise is a fantastic super heroine story in its own right which makes it never feel like it’s belittling its audience like a lot of fan service heavy shows do. They know they got you to watch it because it has boobs in it, so why even try? Cutie Honey ALWAYS tries and it usually ends up working fantastically which is more than you can say for OTHER cheese cake centered shows (like the abhorrent Freezing). There’s always a sense of fun behind the shows and the character of Honey (when done right) is an extremely powerful presence on the screen who takes charge when need be and isn’t afraid to do what’s right. Now that can describe a lot of characters who fit the Fighting Fuck Toy trope, but there’s a sense of earnestness and sincerity that gives this franchise the edge it needs to be unique. In fact, the reason RE Cutie Honey stumbles so hard is because it’s trying to be too cool and self-deprecating. That and it feels the need to SERIOUSLY over indulge on the fan service to sometimes staggeringly poor effect.
When it comes to enjoying something like Cutie Honey, Bayonetta, or the myriad of other jiggle heavy badass females, my view is that each needs to be judged on their own and can contain objectionable content while still being enjoyable. The problem comes in when this is ALL we get. You shouldn’t feel bad that you like Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball. You should just be aware of how other people feel about it, respect those opinions, and try to make sure you aren’t JUST consuming media with this sort of unrealistic view of women. I don’t get how so many people find it hard to understand that not everyone is going to be into that kind of thing and feel the need to lash out at anyone who points out problematic aspects of it. We’re all affected by our media like any other external stimuli. Like our eating habits, we should strive to maintain a healthy balance of what media we consume and not be scared to indulge every once in a while. If that’s ALL your consuming, then it becomes a problem, but we all have plenty of stuff we love that not everyone is going to appreciate. Cutie Honey is one of those things for me, and I understand why it’s not for everyone. If it IS something for you though, then I hope you stick around as I start recapping every episode of the 2007 live action series! HONEY FLASH!!!!
It may be the weakest series, but DAMN that’s a great opening!
(The opening for Cutie Honey the Live isn’t on YouTube, but you can find it here on Dailymotion)