Cutie Honey The Live

Title:Cutie Honey The Live
Keywords: , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Original Concept - NAGAI Go
Three murderers have escaped simultaneously from three different prisons, using strange weapons that were somehow smuggled to them. Private detective Hayami Seiji is hired by the sister of one of the escapees to search for him. But he finds himself in over his head when he discovers that the escapes were part of a bizarre "game". Therefore, Hayami summons a friend of his--Cutie Honey!

Live-action TV series, 26 episodes. Premiered on TV Tokyo on October 2, 2007.
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I wouldn't dare to describe this as a first-rate live action TV series, but I don't think it was ever meant to be. That is, Cutie Honey The Live hams it up in the manner that fans of this genre have come to expect (Honey taking a part-time job in a maid cafe, for example). This series doesn't start from scratch, i.e, doesn't retell the story of how Honey was created, at least not in this opening episode. You are expected to already be familiar with those details, as practically everyone in Japan must be. There is an ongoing plot, instead of the usual largely episodic structure of the various CH series. The plot involves a series of bizarre, sadistic experiments, like the game in which escaped convicts are hunted down by expert assasins while secret "players" place bets as to which contestant will last the longest. I was surprised how violent it got at times; not traumatizingly violent, certainly, but more violent than I'm used to the various incarnations of Cutie/Cutey Honey being. I was also slightly surprised to see that Honey's main opponent seems to be a handsome man instead of the usual freakish, mutated woman. I began to wonder if Honey was ever going to show up at all, but near the end she finally did, and I was LOLing as she transformed and took on her opponents in a hand-to-hand fight. I wonder if these are the same principal actors as appeared in the live-action movie. You'd probably have to be a fan of the Cutie Honey genre to really enjoy this show, but if you're not familiar try it, maybe you'll like it.

Three episodes into the series I find myself pleased with the fun I'm experiencing. There's a nice mix of humor and an interesting plot developing. Yes, the "Panther Claw" organization is involved, but what exactly it's up to is still a mystery. The guy who talks (and swears) in a mix of Japanese and fluent English was neat. As a result, sometimes japanese subtitles appear--that doesn't happen often! Also curious was the episode six fansub which left the Japanese ads intact (makeup, video games, and a visual novel). Early on I was afraid this show might not turn out so well, but so far, so good. Apparently a special firm was hired to provide stuntmen/women; most of the stunts can't measure up to what's possible with animation, but a few are remarkable and left me wondering how it was possible to perform them. The acting is sometimes painfully bad; perhaps a show of this quality is what you get when the same financial resources as are generally used to produce late night anime series catering to otaku are instead used to produce a live-action show (the show has a 1AM run time). Still, an interesting long term plot seems to be coming together, and if your expectations aren't too high, you might just like this.

Episode nine was especially good, being a comical tale involving an obviously incompetent kidnapper, a bored girl who is delighted to be kidnapped, and... it just gets stranger from there on. The way the characters behave might be described as dumb and dumber. I was laugh-out-louding repeatedly; if only they had spiffed up the acting and the climax had been as good as the rest of the episode.

One thing that kind of annoys me is that Honey is rather ditzy in this version, rather than the sarcastic, sharp-witted girl she used to be. Since she has several fellow artificial girls in this show (!?), responsibility for intelligence has been passed to someone else. I can't help thinking that actresses were chosen more because they looked good than because they had notable talent in acting--especially the extras, whose performances are sometimes appallingly bad. As the story nears it's end things get pretty freaky, as the viewer needs to keep track of who's got the three Elemental Manipulation Devices which are being passed around like a game of musical chairs.

I read that this series was produced as a tribute to Go Nagai's being in the manga business for no less than forty years. There is a special episode, which isn't really necessary to understand the plot but sums up the relationship between Honey, Miki and Yuki in case it wasn't clear. The most notable thing about this special is that Go Nagai himself plays the part of Dr. Kisaragi (though a VA reads his lines).

In all honesty, you'd probably have to be a longtime fan of Cutie Honey to enjoy this series. The quality is frequently poor, but it does offer a different take on the classic Cutie Honey story.

Last updated Monday, December 22 2008. Created Monday, October 15 2007.

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