CUTIE HONEY (2004-JAPAN)
review by Seraph


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DAMN GOOD FUN!
Go Nagai's anime series 'Cutie Honey' gets a live action make-over from his
fellow anime master Hideaki Anno. Being the director of what is arguably the
greatest anime series ever created (Neon Genesis Evangelion) it's hard to see
where this could go wrong. Indeed aside from a few mis-steps Cutie Honey hits
the mark by actually preserving the vision of the original series. Being
visually creative and above all, being damn fun.

Old fashioned animation techniques and brand new computer technology collide in
Cutie Honey. The plot, what there is of it, is very thin. Basically coming down
to a quartet of very weird characters Gold Claw, Cobalt Claw, Scarlet Claw and
Black Claw chasing Cutie around and attempting to steal her "LOVE SYSTEM", an
invention created by her father which gave her new life as well as super-human
powers. These strange and slightly campy bad guys are led by the unemotional
Sister Jill.

Confused yet? Well if a description of the goings on in this movie confuse you,
then you'll likely want to give this a miss. The execution of said lack of plot
is absolutely bizarre, crazy and incredibly creative. Some, like me, will lap
this lack of regard for any sense right up, but others will likely be bleeding
from the nose by reel two. Take this action sequence for example. Gold claw
unleashes an immense amount of missiles (which are rendered in CGI) upon our
poor Cutie Honey. She leaps and twirls in the air - except she does not actually
move at all. What we see are a series of still photographs of her as they
flicker by on screen creating some kind of illusion that she is moving. It is
this level of creativity that will amaze and impress some, but likely confuse
and annoy others. Anno switches between brand new computer generated effects,
classic animation, still photos and so much more. All creating a completely
original feel, yet one that is not too unlike the original anime series.

The performances by the lead actors of Cutie Honey rarely step outside of camp
over-acting but also rarely drop below the level of being immense fun. The
beautiful Eriko Sato leads the group as Cutie Honey and being that she's a
swimsuit model/pin up it's hardly surprising she's no great actress. That does
not matter when you attack every scene with the energy she shows here. Over the
top doesn't seem to do it justice. The movie gives Cutie (just like the original
anime did) every opportunity to lose her clothes. Expect to see her running down
the street in nothing but underwear at least twice or, like in the opening of
the movie, naked in bath with only some very well placed bubbles hiding what
many of the guys out there are dying to see. Yes, this movie is a very big
tease.

It's this sense of fun that permeates the movie. Many people will be
disappointed that Anno's trademark creation of depth of character is firmly on
the sidelines. In place is a big daft story about the importance of love. Cutie
Honey's speeches on such topics manage to endear rather than annoy on more
occasions than one and that is down to Eriko Sato's big hearted - if little
talented performance.

Anno's film is one that dares to be different in every respect but where some
people will see a wonderful heart-felt ode to the original anime, and indeed
anime in general. Others will see a campy over the top mix of CGI action and
"How love can make the world a better place" naivety. I fall into the former
category. I loved every second of the film. From Eriko Sato's dizzy but warm
performance to director Anno's incredible creative range in both the medium of
film and animation. Turn off your brain on the way in. Try to remember this is
NO Infernal Affairs and maybe, just maybe you'll have as good a time as I did.

Along with Kazuaki Kirya's 'Casshern', Cutie Honey leads the way in today
Anime-Live Action conversions.

I rate it 8/10

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Director: Hideaki Anno
Cast: Eriko Sato, Jun Maurakami, Hairi Katagiri
Running time: 90 mins
Year: 2004
Reviewed by Paul (Seraph), February 2005