Live Action: Cutie Honey Movie

November 8th, 2004

All hail Go Nagai!

Everything about the previews for the Cutie Honey movie, had me squirming with embarrassment. It looked like it was going to be a travesty of immense proportion, much along the lines of the Kekkou Kamen live action (if you can really call them that…) movies.

Instead, I was amazed at the translation of the cheesy, yet charming, anime into an equally cheesy and perhaps even more charming live action movie. Right off the bat, the bad guys rocked. Their costumes were amazing, they actually acted the parts like they cared, and the special effects were exactly the right level of screamingly bad/amusingly good.

Satou Eriko was stellar as Honey. She was cute, she was enthusiastic and genki…she was an irritating bubble-head, and you couldn’t help but smile at her antics. And while the opening scenes had a fair amount of Eriko in underwear fanservice, that was basically it for the movie. As the plot progessed the fanservice sort of tails off into dress-up scenes, and then completely disappears. Refreshing and a bit puzzling, since in the beginning there’s so much energy, and by the end of the movie everyone looks ready to call it a day and go home.

The opening sequence was a *perfect* reproduction of the Cutey Honey Flash anime, while the rest of the movie has more in common with the new Re Cutie Honey anime that I reviewed last week. (Although, quite inexplicably Sister Jill has been turned into an ugly guy. In fact, the portrayal of Jill was significant in the lack of energy in the ending. Sister Jill wasn’t just draining the people of Townsville’s energy – she was sucking mine away too. But I digress.) Unlike the anime, we got to enjoy the wacky capers of the Panther Claw hench-dudes, who are always, erm, yeah.

Aki Natsuko was played to a tee by Ichikawa Mikako (who looks alot more like Na-chan than any real human should…). There was a bit too much Seiji – played with vim, vigor and the appropriate arrogance by Murakami Jun – especially at the end, where his exceptional competence annoyed the hell out of me.

The movie comes in at a lower yuri score than the anime, but still, the vibe between Na-chan and Honey was still recognizably there. If Seiji backed off for a second, I think you’d see some sparks flying. And in the end it was Na-chan and Honey who cry in each other’s arms, while Seiji just sort of looks out of place. So there, Seiji – nyah. ^_^

A few other nice touches – Go Nagai has a cameo as the driver of a car upon which Honey falls, butt first. He looks extra happy to be looking up at the view. ^_^; And the remix of the Cutey Honey theme by Koda Kumi absolutely *rocks.* Her voice is a little deeper and breathier than the anime versions. The video for the theme is refreshingly awful and I highly recommend everyone watch it until, you, like me, sing the damn theme for weeks on end, non-stop. Can you say “sticky”? I knew you could.

The movie did have some weak areas, especially the lackluster ending. I don’t know why, but Japanese live-action movies really suck the life out of bad guys. The live action Hana no Asuka-gumi movie had the same problem – Hibari was turned into the same kind of non-presence as Sister Jill in this movie. When the bad guy is supposed to be the motivation for the heroine’s actions, you’d *think* they’d give us an energetic and charismatic baddie…but instead, we tend to get colorless non-entities who barely even move their mouths. Drives me crazy. Especially when Sister Jill was so great in the anime. Oh well.

In every other way, however, this movie is a must-see for fans of yuri, classic anime, inutterable cheesiness or all of the above. It looked like everyone on the set was having a really, really good time making this movie, something that they communicated through their acting. It left me with a really good feeling about the whole thing.

Ratings:
Story – 8
Character – 9
Cinematography – 8
Costumes – 9
Music – 9
Yuri – 5

Overall – A really strong 8.

This was one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen all year, bar none. I can’t recommend it enough. If I had seen this in the theater I would have been shouting and cheering through the entire first half like a lunatic. ^_^

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