#82 : Cutie Honey

CH_1What we need is a hero… right here and right NOW! Not just any hero, but a warrior of love. Ai no Senshi! And we need a lady to do this job, because guys I am sorry, you and I have had enough of being the champion. It is time for the ladies to shine, transform and kick butt. And, NO!… Sailor Moon you need to sit down my dear because you have to meet your awesome auntie who did it all first. Sometimes she is a news reporter, sometimes a fashion model, or sometimes a motorcycle racer, but to me, she is just awesome. She is after all, the one, the only… Cutie Honey. Or perhaps it’s Honey Kisaragi? Cue that famous tagline… Honey Flash!

CH_2Now I will be the first to admit that I love 60s camp. Even though Cutie Honey was a product of 1973, it retains all the over the top theatrics of say Barbarella, Modesty Blaise and maybe I am stretching it Valley of the Dolls (Neely O’ Hara!… OK, I am stretching a little). But the bright colors, the over the top acting, the parody (either intended or not) and all that big hair and fashion is simply fun. Now add all that into a magical girl show, but instead of an ordinary human lady, let’s make our pretty girl an android. And this story also needs a shonen fighter sensibility as well just because. That should be all the ingredients we need, now lets make this show rock!

Go Nagai, you sir have a twisted mind, and yet brilliant as well. From the guy who sprang forth titles ranging from Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Devilman and even the lewd Violence Jack would come Cutie Honey. And it shows, in particular with the bad ladies of the criminal organization Honey fights each episode, the nefarious Panther Claw. These villainesses of the week come in all shapes, sizes and with the wildest choices of costuming to boot. I have never seen the female form look as beautiful and/or grotesque at the same time. And then you have the leaders of Panther Claw, Panther Zora and Sister Jill. Sister Jill, with her dominatrix costume and well endowed figure, I am sure made many young boys lust over the bad girl instead of our heroic Honey. But then again, Honey has a fan club a mile long…

CH_3Such as those Hayami boys. Honey’s boyfriend Seiji, his father Danbei and his younger brother Junpei all show their devotion and attraction to ‘Miss It Girl’ Honey usually by comedic means. More than just comic relief, when Honey is in a jam, or needs a second hand, she can rely on the skills of the Hayami clan. And then there is Miss Alphonse… could be a lesbian, could just be enamored by Honey’s beauty, or could it just be that mustache? Honey has yet another reason to skip class besides being a little rebellious. Oh how it is to be so popular. Of course her looks are not what makes her attractive to Panther Claw. That necklace she wears around her neck is their prey. With it she can transform to all her alter egos, besides that it is one hell of a McGuffin device.

CH_4And now for something completely different… let’s talk music. In particular the themes, both the opener and the closer. These are perfect gems that have been resurrected in every reincarnation of our hero Honey. But the original versions… timeless. The opening is funky, funny and catchy beyond belief with the punchy bass, fuzzy guitar and string and horn sections scream the pop music of the day. I say, it’s time to dance and shake it. Now the closer on the other hand is a soft ballad that could have been a product of say Burt Bacharach production and arrangement. It still stands for me as one of the best songs I have ever heard in anime. It’s kind of romantic, like a great dance song.

A staple of 1970s Japanese animation, a classic soundtrack and an iconic hero. A triple powerhouse combination on why Cutie Honey lives on in it’s original and more current adaptations (including an awesomely bad live action version). When evil calls we will always have Honey Kisaragi to save the day. “I’m changing now”… wink!

Author: Josh

I love anime, particularly the the titles of the 1980s. I grew up with a small handful of these titles, but I have always wanted to know more of what was available. I currently live in the Midwest of the U.S. and also have passions for astrology, music and being outside… often barefoot!

6 thoughts on “#82 : Cutie Honey”

  1. I love Cutie Honey! But let’s get one thing straight. There’s nothing magical about her in the literal sense. In the metaphorical sense, I get that she’s “magical” in terms of her effect on an audience of adolescent boys (and the former adolescent boy still living in the hearts of older men). If she’s magical, it’s only in the Arthur C. Clarke way of not understanding the advanced nanotechnology of the Atmospheric Element Solidifier that breaks down the molecules of her clothes and accessories and reassembles them into different forms using atoms in the air. When Takeshi Hongo shouts “Henshin!” and transforms into Kamen Rider, nobody calls him a “magical boy”. Nobody called Jiro Kuwata’s 8Man “magical” either, just because he could change his external appearance to that of any image in his computer memory. In terms of being a pioneer of her gender, Cutie Honey is Japan’s “Wonder Woman”, the spiritual matriarch of all henshin heroines that followed in her wake, but she’s not Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

    The real magical thing about Cutie Honey is that she’s able to navigate a razor’s edge line dividing an exploitative sex symbol that’s the male fantasy idol/ideal from an empowering action heroine icon for girls.


    1. Toei does consider ’70s Cutie Honey part of its classic, heritage “majokko” (witch girl) anime series which began with Sally the Witch in 1966 and ended in 1981 with the last episode of Mahou Shoujo Lalabel. In the ’90s, ’70s Honey appeared in a PlayStation game alongside more “traditional” Toei majokko including Sally, Akko-chan, Chappy, Meg-chan, Lunlun, and Lalabel. And not all of the classic majokko heroines used magic per se – Ecchan (1971) didn’t, and Limit-chan (1973-74) didn’t have magical powers per se but “miracle powers” like the ability to run super-fast and such. Yet they are all still considered magical girls. And Cutie Honey’s influence on the genre cannot be underestimated. She was the first magical girl warrior, and that made Sailor Moon possible decades later. And if you watch the follow-up series, Majokko Meg-chan, it plays like a “traditional” magical-girl show a la Sally, Akko etc. but with a dash of Honey’s ecchi humor.

      Incidentally, from what I’ve read, Cutie Honey ’73 was planned originally to be a more shoujo series, but ultimately they gave the “majokko” time slot on NET (today’s TV Asahi) to Limit-chan (also made by Toei) instead, and gave Honey a shounen makeover. Limit-chan was an android like Honey and featured many of the same staff (Masaki Tsuji was the head writer on both shows), but is virtually forgotten today.


  2. I’ve actually seen a bit of the original, but I’ve also seen Re: Cutie Honey and New Cutie Honey which I reviewed a while ago. While I’m not the biggest fan of Go Nagai, I do have to give him credit for kickstarting the concept of transforming anime superheroines. Calling Honey Sailor Moon’s aunt did make me laugh. Haha!

    Liked by 1 person

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