Ahhhh, Cutey Honey… she and I go way back. I fondly remember purchasing the VHS of New Cutey Honey Volume 1 back in 1994, while I was in College. At the time, I had been a huge fan of Japanese Animated shows like Robotech (I know, it's made from 3 different series and edited/dubbed together), Project A-Ko and Vampire Hunter D. New Cutey Honey just seemed like a natural, and all my friends really seemed to like it, too. For the record, New Cutey Honey is NOT Hentai. This was 1994, years before we even knew what that was, instead it was more like an Animated Girls Gone Wild, which was also unknown back in 1994. I often hear the term "Fan Service" when people discuss this and a handful of other shows and I can't disagree with that description.
New Cutey Honey has a long history behind her, including a manga and TV show in the 70s, followed by a new manga in the 90's called, what else, Cutey Honey 90. Then came New Cutey Honey and most recently a new TV series called Cutey Honey F. The New Cutey Honey series loosely follows the original TV series by renowned manga and anime artist Go Nagai. Cutey Honey is an android that was the result of a scientist's attempt to create the perfect human. She has the ability to transform herself to meet any challenge. It just so happens that during the transformation process, she loses all of her clothing and is completely nude before assuming her next form. What can I say, I guess Go Nagai really loved to draw women?
When we are first introduced to the World of New Cutey Honey, it is the future and things look pretty dark. Legend tells of how the warrior Cutey Honey disappeared during the final battle with her nemesis, Panther Zora. In the ensuing years, a majority of Cosplay City has turned to crime, even if they're not very good at it. Mayor Light tries to assure people that justice will prevail just as a mutant biker gang comes to town. Hayami Chokkei and his grandfather Danbei, try to help the Mayor and fend off the monstrous bikers. Danbei recognizes Miss Honey, the Mayor's assistant, as really being Cutey Honey when he sneaks a peek at her panties. Her memory is restored when she battles, and defeats, the gang's leader. Honey, Chokkei and his parents all move in with Grandpa Danbei in the end.
The episodes included on this two disc set are:
Episode 101: "An Angel Descends": This episode introduces us to Cosplay City and the main characters; Honey, Chokkei, Grandpa Danbei, as well as, Dolmeck, a powerful villain who will be a behind-the-scenes force that challenges Honey.
Episode 102: "The Sweet Trap of the Jewel Princess": The villain known as the Jewel Princess attempts to kidnap Honey from Danbei's house. Honey transforms and the Jewel Princess injects herself with a red serum before being defeated.
Episode 103: "A Singing Voice is the Devil's Temptation": Cutey Honey fights a rock star named Saline. During the fight, a special light shines on Honey, revealing her to be an android. After defeating Saline, a Demon-spider abducts Chokkei.
Episode 104: "The Death of Honey? Battle for the Sacred Skyship!": Honey and Grandpa Danbei race to rescue Chokkei. Honey fights Dolmeck and his lieutenant, Dark Maiden. After defeating Dolmeck, Dark Maiden reveals herself to be Panther Zora.
Episode 201: "Challenge! The Fangs of the Evil Sky Monster": Chokkei, now older, reminisces about the past. With Dolmeck dead, Cosplay City even appears to have changed for the better. However, Panther Zora has returned and only Honey can stop her.
Episode 202: "The Evil of Revenge": Everyone is trapped in an amusement park by Panther Zora. She controls an army of robots who man the park. When Honey confronts her, she turns into a Huge Snake-woman.
Episode 203: "Prison is the Nest of Evil": Chokei's Mother, Daiko, is kidnapped by Ms. Scorpion. Honey has everyone disguise themselves in order to reach Con Island and rescue her from inside the prison. Honey then battles Ms. Scorpion.
Episode 204: "Temptation Shines Like Gold": The villain Gold Digger uses a scientist's teleporter to steal gold. Honey tricks Gold Digger by moving all the gold in Cosplay City to the Central Bank, with herself disguised as a Golden Buddha.
The show does get repetitious after awhile. The saving grace is in the characters personalities and their interactions with one another. Chokkei has a genuine love for Honey while Grandpa Danbei, lusts for her in typical dirty-old-man fashion. Chokkei's parents also present an amusing couple, with his mother even getting naked at one point to try and compete with Honey. Chokkei, Grandpa, and Chokkei's father spend quite a bit of time trying to see Honey naked, which is actually MOST of the time. It's all in good fun, although the later shows are a bit darker than the first Disc. New Cutey Honey is a great find for those looking for some quality fan service with more intelligence and style than a lot of other series.
Picture: New Cutey Honey is presented in Full Screen (1.33:1). This transfer looks flawless, considering its age. Colors are very crisp and bright.
Audio: This DVD set features an English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, which both sound pretty good. I must admit that I prefer to watch my anime in Japanese with English Subs when available, so I kind of passed on the English Dub, although what I heard sounded fine. Dialogue is very clear with no noticeable distortion. The music, with the opening and closing songs by Les 5-4-3-2-1, sounds great and did not cover up any dialogue.
Extras: Between both discs, New Cutey Honey has some great extras, most of which ironically were included on the VHS releases years ago. There are four extras listed on the back cover, but it's really just three. The press conference and costume play are the both the same event, but they are split up here. The Cosplay happens first, with three women portraying Cutey Honey characters acting out a fight scene from the show. This is happening while the vocalist of Les 5-4-3-2-1 sings the opening theme song, after which the actresses give away some Cutey Honey to children in the audience.
Then there is the press conference, with the director, original creator Go Nagai, and the voice actresses for Honey and Chokkei. There is a "Recording Session" which shows the opening song, as well as, some scenes from the first episode being recorded in the studio.
There is the Production Portfolio, which is a slideshow of various design sketches. There are a total of four trailers for New Cutey Honey. Finally, there's a weird but fun extra, that I guess could only come from Japan, phone messages from the various characters. Honey, Chokkei, and even Chokkei's Mom each do two phone messages. So pick your favorite and put it on your answering machine.
Conclusion: While I personally enjoyed New Cutey Honey for the nostalgia factor, it really is just another outlet for anime Fan Service. This isn't a bad thing as Fan Service is the equivalent of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or Baywatch. In the end, New Cutey Honey is entertaining and features some nice animation. So whether you end up renting or buying this two-DVD collection, you'll certainly enjoy watching it alone, but you won't be ashamed to watch it with your friends either.