AKA: New Cutie Honey, Shin Cutey Honey, New Super Android Cutey Honey
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Magical Girl
Year Released: 1994-1995
Running Time: OVA, 8 episodes, 25 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 17+
Related Films/Series: Cutey Honey, Cutey Honey Flash, Cutey Honey (2004 live-action film), Re: Cutey Honey, Cutey Honey: The Live (live-action TV series), Cutey Honey: Tears (live-action film), Cutey Honey Universe
For Fans Of: Kill La Kill, Puni Puni Poemy, Grenadier, Burst Angel, Gurren Lagann, Giant Robo
-The Japanese language track was used for this review.
-The Essential Anime Collection DVD from ADV Films was used for this review. UPDATE: Discotek bought the rights to this OVA and re-released it.
-The main character’s name will be addressed as Cutey Honey to reflect the DVD.
-New Cutey Honey takes place an entire century after the original 70s TV series, but there’s no need to know everything about the original series to follow the story.
-New Cutey Honey is the first installment of its franchise to be released in America. The only other parts of the series to be licensed stateside are the Cutey Honey live-action film and the original TV series. The latter of which wouldn’t get North American distribution until 30 years after its original air date in Japan. EDIT: Cutey Honey Universe would be released stateside through Sentai Filmworks!
-Cutey Honey is considered to be one of the first magical girl superheroine characters despite being in a sci-fi environment. She predates Sailor Moon by 18 years.
-Creator Go Nagai personally handpicked Jessica Calvello to be Cutey Honey’s voice actress during the dubbing phase of this anime. She’s best known for being the first voice actress of Excel from Excel Saga, Eimi from Comic Party, and Zoe from Attack on Titan.
-Fandom bonus: Boy, was New Cutey Honey chock-full of Go Nagai references. Danbei is able to use techniques straight out of the Mazinger series like the rocket punch and the breast fire (he even has Mazinger Z’s chest design). Devilman is Honey’s guitarist when she’s disguised as a singer while Akira Fudo himself is an actual side character in episode 7. There are random photos of other characters from the Abishiri Clan, Kekko Kamen, and Oira Sukeban among many others.
-Hilarious in Hindsight: In episode 2, the villain Jewel Princess breaks into the house where Honey is staying. To give you all some context, the Jewel Princess is a depraved lesbian character who has the hots for the main heroine. Honey Kisaragi is surprised by this and declines her offer to live with the villain. She claims that if she leaves, there wouldn’t be anyone to make breakfast in the morning. What’s the Jewel Princess’s response? She claims to be able to make it “so you’ll [Honey] will never have to worry about eating again!”. WOW! If you reword that obvious sexually-charged double entendre, you would get a lyric from a certain villain song called “Be Prepared”. I guess those diamond smugglers from Kimba the White Lion weren’t the only villains to invoke that imagery with their unintentionally hilarious “be better prepared” line in that 60s anime (that’s saying nothing about the known controversy between those lion stories). Did I forget to mention that this episode was released a month before The Lion King debuted in theaters? You’re welcome!
There has to be a Go Nagai revival in anime fandom from what I’ve seen so far. There’s Devilman Crybaby which has become a hit on Netflix and the Mazinger Z: Infinity movie which actually got some theatrical distribution in America. Nagai is certainly well-known in anime and manga for decades now even though newer anime fans are just recently discovering his works. I don’t consider myself to be a Go Nagai fan which may disappoint some of you, but I’m certainly not denying his influence on anime and Western media. I mean, this guy inspired both Hideaki Anno when he made Neon Genesis Evangelion and Guillermo Del Toro when he made Pacific Rim. For this review, I’m going to be talking about his most famous heroine and not just because of that remake alongside Nagai’s other properties.
New Cutey Honey is a sequel/reboot of Go Nagai’s titular character. This iteration takes place in a dark future where crime runs rampant and people are feeling hopeless in this dystopian take on Cosplay City (Yes, anime fans. That’s what the city is called). Various gangs are running amok and the peace isn’t controlled. Dolmeck, the Lord of Darkness is causing havoc and no one is able to stop him or his forces. There’s the Hayami family such as the young boy Chokkei and his grandfather Danbei (a returning character from the original 1973 series) who’s now a one hundred and fifty-year-old cyborg loaded with weapons and devices who are trying their best to make the city better. Danbei longs for the famous Honey Kisaragi AKA Cutey Honey to come back and save the day. Cutey Honey is a gynoid who has the ability to shape-shift into different personalities, uses gadgets, and has immense strength. Those prayers become answered as she reveals herself to take up a new mission to fight evil wherever it may be.
This was my third time seeing anything Cutey Honey-related since I’ve seen a few of the 70s episodes and I’ve seen Re: Cutey Honey which is Gainax’s remake of that series, but I was certainly reminded of what the series is about while watching this 90s OVA. It was certainly action-packed and there was rarely a dull moment. Much like Nagai’s other works, this is very over-the-top and it forces you to pay attention to all the crazy stuff going on. There are several fight scenes, comedy, and some legit dramatic moments without any of them feeling out of place. The fight scenes are pretty intense even if it uses some 90s anime effects like speed lines or repeated still shots for impacting moves. While the comedy does resort to fanservice a lot, there were some moments that I actually got a good laugh at it. One scene involved Honey accidentally being in a questionable position with someone else after they fell through a wall. She tells the Hayamis that “If you’d have been there three cuts later, this would’ve been an adult movie.” Even though it was risque, I do admit that it was funny. Some of her funniest disguises involved episode 7. Honey disguises as Saki Asamiya from Sukeban Deka which I thought was way too appropriate given the plot of that episode and I had to have been one of the few Americans to have gotten that joke since I saw the anime adaptation during my high school years. She also transforms into Jushin Thunder Liger which should be familiar to those that know a thing or two about Japanese pro wrestling. I certainly wasn’t bored while watching this crazy anime.
While New Cutey Honey has a lot of things to grab people’s attention, I do feel that it’s more for Go Nagai fans or ecchi fans than for someone like me. The fanservice and nudity can be overkill even for Nagai standards. The plotting is basic like an R-rated Power Rangers arc including some cheesy good vs. evil messages and other corny dialogue thrown in. The animation is one of Toei’s better works in the 90s from a visual standpoint, but parts of it are dated and the last episode has a very noticeable drop in animation quality. Besides all the violence and sexual references going on, there are some unfortunate implications with certain villains. The big ones would be Jewel Princess, Gold Digger, and Virtual Hacker. Jewel Princess has a girl crush on Honey that’s the size of Japan itself and she has some disturbing ways to add women to her collection assuming she doesn’t want to get laid by them first. Part of this also goes for the gold thief Gold Digger (insert Kanye West or Gina Diggers reference here) who is way too obsessed with gold to a sexual level to the point where when Honey disguises herself as a golden female Buddha statue as bait to help the cops arrest her, she straight up gropes and molests the heroine which was just too disturbing. Then there’s Virtual Hacker who is Jewel Princess’s partner-in-crime. Much like how she’s a depraved lesbian, he’s a depraved gay robot who fawns over Dolmeck, but he even has an interest in Chokkei which is so disgusting in the implications that he’d make Kaa from The Jungle Book (the original Disney version, not the version played by Scarlet Johansson) look dignified. I could see people in the LGBT community getting offended by the portrayals of those villains and this is coming from a straight man. The OVA is totally unfinished with no major resolutions after the final episode. New Cutey Honey was supposed to be twelve episodes instead of eight and it really shows with there being no ending. I would’ve given this a higher score if they did an arc based on a returning villain from the original series (spoilers avoided) since she plays an underlying role for a good portion of the OVA.
New Cutey Honey would certainly be a romp for those into anime for older audiences, but it misses some marks for me. The animation is good in a nostalgic way with the effort being used in the fights. The dystopian backdrop does surprisingly work despite some of the comedic and fanservice elements. The cover of the original theme song isn’t all bad and I also enjoyed the 3rd ending theme that was used in the latter half of the series. With that being said, I thought the fanservice got way out of hand, the plot just stops after episode 8 despite the obvious potential for more storytelling, and some villainous LGBT implications with some of the villains being offensively outdated. New Cutey Honey is good for some brainless entertainment, but even Go Nagai has made things with more depth.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1-3 points if you’re a Go Nagai fan.
Subtract 2-3 points if you can’t stand rampant nudity, fanservice, or sexism.
-Good opening theme and final ending theme
-Some funny jokes with the cosplaying thrown in
-Intense action scenes
-Repetitive moments especially with the monster transformations and Cutey’s “Some days I’m…” speech
-Sexist and homophobic elements
-No resolution to the story as a whole
Final Score: 4/10 points
Content Warning: This anime is NOT FOR KIDS! New Cutey Honey has some bloody violence and strong language, but that’s the least of anyone’s worries. There is nudity in every episode of the series and the fanservice is off the charts. There are sexual moments like some of the dialogue, groping, pinching, and Honey gets molested by both men and women in certain episodes (thankfully, she beats up the characters who do so, but it’s still uncomfortable). Jewel Princess and Virtual Hacker are overt in their sexuality which is quite disturbing in how it’s portrayed. One fact that made Honey harsher in hindsight was that she falls in love with Chokkei despite being over a century-old robot and he’s a teenage boy. Just think about the implications of that potential shipping.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. New Cutey Honey is property of Go Nagai and Discotek. The Blu-Ray Cover is from Amazon and is property of Discotek.