Cutie Honey Universe is the new anime to come out of the Nagai 50th anniversary, with Devil Man Crybaby being released earlier this year. I have review Re: Cutie Honey (and Shin Cutie Honey on MAL, just too lazy to copy and paste in here) and Devil Man Crybaby, so I guess is appropriate I review this.
Also warning: some spoilers since I just want to talk about the anime as a whole, which is difficult without some spoilers.
Since I went over Cutie Honey legacy briefly, I guess I will talk about it a bit more about the legacy. Cutie Honey was originally created in 1973 by Nagai. Being influential in the transforming magical girl genre like Sailor Moon. With the series having countless anime adaptations, as well as manga and some live action movies and of course Japanese porn. The latest anime adaptation before this was Re: Cutie Honey, while criticized for being a bit too different from the series, most people still love it including me. With the show influencing Kill la Kill, a beloved anime. Showing that even to this day the influence of the series is still strong, and lend itself to a different adaptation. This series is more reminiscent of Nagai work, unlike Re: Cutie Honey which feels more like a Gainax work. So expect to be depressed and for the anime to have lots of shocking things like Devil Man Crybaby, just less bloody, and not good. To be honest, seeing this anime made me appreciate Devil Man Crybaby a lot more. I am personally not the biggest fan of Cutie Honey, I only really like Re: Cutie Honey, and thought the other Honey anime was just okay, this was just not executed well. Huge fan of Cutie Honey might like it, but seeing the backlash against this anime, probably not. Let look at what went wrong with this new Cutie Honey series.
Cutie Honey Universe is about Honey Kisaragi, a high school girl, who is actually an android vowing revenge for her father death by Panther Claw. With her fighting for love and justice and trying to take down the organization, while Panther Claw is trying to steal her. Now she teams up with a mysterious female detective who is actually the mastermind of the evil organization, Sister Jill.
There are so many things that went wrong with the anime, and to put it bluntly, the first half was a boring monster of the week. With the second half being more similar to some of the stuff from Devil Man Crybaby, being depressing and shocking and actually being done well, but the last episode did not stick the landing of a bittersweet end, just feeling bitter and disappointing. First, let me focus on the first half before I talk about the second half, but before that, I need to talk about the worst aspect of this show which was………...
The “comedic relief” in this anime was a kid and an old short guy. I could look up their name, but I am just going to call them cancer. I am terrified every time they are on screen, and when they not on screen I hope to god they do not come back and are killed. Unfortunately, they do not die despite the countless death in this series. They could have easily been removed from the show, as their character did not add anything. They are perverted people who are always trying to see Honey naked and groping her, with a scene lasting more than 3 minutes of them groping and licking Honey all over while she was naked and painted in gold. What could have been a legit tense moment, was ruined with an awkward sexual assault of statue, that was actually Honey in disguise from a Panther Claw. I do not mind pervert in my anime, but when they become a borderline rapist, do not add anything to the story except being perverts, screw them. I guess this was seen as edgy and funny back in the day, but nowadays is call crappy writing, and in my reviews, I do not care wtf happen in the manga, especially when the anime made quite a few changes to it. Screw them, they are easily worsed then Jar Jar when it comes to unfunny comedic relief.
Okay, so the first half is just a monster of the week with Honey fighting new monsters, and getting to a new situation. Being meant to be the lighter side of the show before the show becomes dark and hit us at the heart. Too bad it fails miserably. I have often said that for a shocking moment to work, they have to have light moments to get us to care about the characters. Is something I complain about Devil Man Crybaby, but looking back, maybe I was a bit too hard as it did a good job with its side characters. Being a nice slice of life and showing what they are dealing with, and showing their good nature self which is meant to be a juxtaposition to the worst of humanity. Causing the second last episode of DevilMan Crybaby to hit us at the heart, even though most people probably became numb due to the amount of shock factor the show had, it was still effective. Here I feel like the only episode people need to see is the second episode which tells the backstory of Honey, and then just skip to episode 6. As the first half fails miserably in setting anything up. Imagine in Madoka Magica if episode 3 happen at episode 6, and all we got in the other episode was just Tomoe fighting a new monster and no new important information is revealed or building the bond between the characters. Most people would just drop the show before it got interesting. That what it felt like watching Cutie Honey Universe, just a stupid boring monster of the week. Instead of building the friendship of Honey and Natsuko, a relationship that becomes important in the series, later on, they barely spend any time together on screen. Sister Jill being undercover as a detective and befriending Honey could have been a great set up, with a big paid off, but instead, she gives Honey zero reason to trust her aside from episode one, keep acting suspicious, and then Honey gets shocked when she is revealed to be Sister Jill. Like wtf Nagia, what is it with you and stupid naive main character. There is a difference between kindhearted and a total idiot. Which is a shame because it could have gone in many directions, like the fact that Honey seems to have a crush on the detective, which I thought they might go somewhere with that. Like maybe have sister Jill steal her virginity, only for Honey to found out she the evil mastermind behind her father death or something. Instead is a useless side plot that did not add anything and could have been taken out of the series, and it still would have been more or less the same. Especially since Sister Jill as the detective is barely on screen in the first half. All we get is Honey fighting monsters in a cheap Halloween costume, with some fan service sometimes being ruin by cancer, killing any joy I had for a moment. But the end card is really sexy I will admit.
The only character I got a good sense was Honey. She is a likable main character who is kindhearted, and fight for justice and is the most hurt when other people get hurt or killed. She is hunted by the organization for the device she has on her neck that allows her to transform and manifest thing from thin air. There are lots of themes that could have been explored in the first half, like her finding out she is an android, her relationship with her friends, how she fits into school etc. Instead, it felt like I was watching the second season of something, and that because it is taking place in the middle of a story of Honey fighting Black Panther with a shoe in flashback of what happened to her father in the second episode. Instead, it wanted to set up the detective thing which goes nowhere, and I felt like why not just start out with the dad being kill, and go from there. With so many themes that could have been explored and room for character development, the show chooses to do none of those in the first half, or even the second half for that matter. In Re: Cutie Honey, Honey went from fighting for revenge to making new friends to no longer fighting for revenge, but instead love and justice, to no longer hating Sister Jill and wanting to save her, and ends with her being with Nat-chan. Here Honey journey is basically, tragedy, tragedy, and more tragedy. With her at the end being happy and sad, but mostly looking sad. It just does not work because it wants to be corny and have its love trump evil, while also being depressing, and horrifying, but just it came across as depressing at the end, which I get to more later. But overall the only character I really like was Honey, and the spider tarantula who work for Sister Jill who did had a character arc to her. Unfortunately where they go with her character was just unnecessary salt to the wound.
The second half is where the show actually gets good. Granted by then many people probably drop the show, but it does get good. It gets dark real fast, with Honey having to face tragedy and coping with it as she tries to keep fighting. What made it great was not necessarily the fact that it was dark, but just the beautiful direction of the show. With a scene that manages to make flowers look menacing and traumatic. As it does a good job of breaking Honey character and her having to face tragedies and keep trying to fight despite her heart being broken into tsundere. As she reevaluates herself, and if she actually making the world better. With episode being less comedic and action heavy, and being more quiet, getting the audience to sit down and feel and understand the characters and what they going through. If only the first half could have done some of that and made me care more about the characters, and have actually built up somethings, the second half could have been a big pay off. Like I said Natusko becomes more important in the series, and her relationship with Honey was actually touching with both of them loving each other, and helping each other get over some of the tragedy. Yes, they are 100% gay for each other, and only if the show went further with that. As back in the day having the character be gay was shocking, but nowadays is everywhere. While there are lots of explicit gay characters, with the teachers having sex in the schoolyards, it would have been nice to have Honey and Natsuko go further to make some scene much more effective, and not have a shove in ring symbolism. But for the time they did develop their relationship in the second half, it was still effective but could have been stronger. Also, Natsuko and Tarantula relationship was also great, with them going through similar things which force Tarantula to revise her relationship with Sister Jill. She was a fun character, going through lots of things and having a good character arc to her. Which makes the ending all the more awful, especially the order that they did it. While there is still some cancer popping off, the second half, for the most part, was decent. Granted I much prefer watching Devilman Crybaby, the show was still good, and my heart was pounding as I did not know which direction the show could go and not just because they change something from the manga. Making me care about the characters and actually have my heart pounding and making the action scene have more weight as anything could happen. So the second half, for the most part, was great….but the ending fell flat.
Oh my god the ending. First of all, disappointing Sister Jill reveal is disappointing because of crappy setup. Also, I guess I should talk more about Sister Jill. Sister Jill was a character who loves torturing Honey and wanted to see her break. While she does want the device from her, what she really wants is Honey. So basically she just a sadistic monster who has a crush on Honey. I never question how she became this powerful or why she wants the device if she already powerful, I just accepted it since it was just a stupid monster of the week show. The last episode just gave a quick confusing new plot thread that was never talked about in the series. Is almost the equivalent of Kaguya reveal in Naruto, except way worst and more confusing. As apparently there was more to the story and why Sister Jill was doing all these horrible things. With lots of things happening that is not explained, because screw logic, the power of love beats everything because friendship is magic. Then a character dies after this heroic victory, but it still supposed to be a triumphant victory. Then a bittersweet victory poses from Honey that forgot to have the sweet part. Is the equivalent of finding out your dog die, but you also getting a new dog, and a new Xbox, but then finding out your favorite aunt that bakes you thing dies. The point is the ending suck in so many levels, and of course, cancer was there also ruining my mood and killing my investment in what was happening. The cancer was god awful, and the ending was just bad.
Now that I finish talking about the story, how was the animation, surely that was good right? Eh, I have seen lots of complain for the animation, but I thought it was okay. The action sequence is mostly done in a blue background call “ gravity something-something the show did not explain so I was confused in the first episode”. Some call this lazy, as it is a way to make the fight scene cheaper, but I did not mind it aside from the fact it came out of nowhere in the first episode with me being lost on what was happening. Lots of Cutie Honey iconic weapon were utilized well and creatively and thought it was fun to watch. Her design was also sexy and colorful along with all her other transformation. Granted the character does feel more stretchy and have pointy chins, which might have to do with them not modernizing the design and instead took the look from the classic show and manga. While it can be a bit off-putting, there is a certain charm to it in my opinion. That being said yes the monster designs are stupid looking and look like a cheap Halloween costume. The only monster designs I like was Dragon and Tarantula, with the rest of the design being hurt by them not modernizing the designs. Granted I guess their funny looking design is to catch us off guard when the show does go dark, but they still had some vicious moment in the first half that did make me suspicious that it could go a dark route. I think the biggest complaint I saw for the show, has to do with the opening. The opening did not use the classic Cutie Honey theme song. While I do love the Cutie Honey theme Song, with Re: Cutie Honey OP being one of my favorite openings, I do like the new Cutie Honey opening. With the opening of having some nice visual, catchy energetic song, and does feel reminiscent of the show. That being said it is odd that it does take a lot from the original source material, and feels more aim at fans (or just fail to make it more accessible to newcomers) and yet did not use the original op. While I was disappointed when I found out they did not use the original op, honestly the new op is fine, but I can see why people are mad about it, but that is the least of the show problem. I said probably the best moment of animation is not the action or even fanservice (which are not half bad), but the depressing moment. As I said what they do with the flowers are hauntingly beautiful. With them knowing how to effectively direct a heart-shattering scene. They know how to show the character going through tragedy just by showing, not telling. With heartbreaking faces of people trying their best, PTSD of tragedies and the pacing and animation for it is just top notch. Honestly, it is a shame that the plot overall is terrible because the team behind the animation definitely knew how to direct dramatic and depressing scenes.
Cutie Honey Universe was overall disappointing. The first half was just a boring monster of the week, and while the second half got better, the ending just felt underwhelming. The animation was competent enough, even with some odd choices. Honestly, I think most people are better off just rewatching DevilMan Crybaby or other adaptation of Cutie Honey. Unless you are a big fan of Cutie Honey I cannot recommend this. I give this a D+
Old Man Dream: ...later titles in the Macross franchise can finally come stateside with all involved parties finally coming to a truce over how to handle things with the Macross trademark and all later anime in the franchise associated with it.
Apr 9, 2021 10:26:05 GMT
Taka: I see. A global release will benefit it. Gundam did pretty good. The only few franchises that are only popular in Japan but not popular in the west - Yokai Watch comes to mind.
Apr 10, 2021 1:55:16 GMT
Master Menos: F for Respects. DMX did all his work while suffering from a drug addiction, and I almost never knew until a point. I hope his next life treats him far better.
Apr 10, 2021 15:30:45 GMT
HungryWorld: Sorry for taking so long for the things i have to do, have been suffering from some health issues (including mental health deterioration). Anyways hope i can be a bit more active here soon enough once i am properly patched up again.
Apr 27, 2021 17:45:38 GMT
Taka: No worries, health, family, school, and work take priorities first.
Apr 28, 2021 7:41:52 GMT