Anime: Cutey Honey

aka: Re Cutey Honey

Kawaru wa yo! ("I'm going to change!")
Honey Kisaragi (quote from the end of the legendary OP song)

A popular superheroine from the bizarre mind of Go Nagai and animated by Toei Animation. Notable, among other things, for being one of the first female characters to star in a shounen series and through inspiration, the prototypical Magical Girl Warrior.

In the original series from the 70s, Honey Kisaragi was created as a Replacement Goldfish for a scientist's dead daughter, until the criminal organization (with ties to The Legions of Hell) "Panther Claw" kills the scientist while trying to steal his other Applied Phlebotinum. Honey soon acquires a secret identity as an Ordinary High-School Student while fighting Panther Claw's forces, including an especially freaky set of Monsters of the Week in the service of Big Bad Sister Jill and her Quirky Miniboss Squad.

Honey's main power is the Phlebotinum her father was killed for — her body contains the only prototype. Most modern adaptations explain it with Nanomachines, but it's capable of assembling virtually any object from thin air (and disassembling them, too). Honey uses this to become a Voluntary Shapeshifter, able to switch between several forms with matching abilities, costumes, and hair — especially her most powerful form, the sword-wielding Red-Headed Heroine Cutey Honey.

While later revivals and the various manga are usually full of playful Fanservice, the original television adaptation was just tame and pretty enough to attract an unexpected number of younger female fans. It was also later broadcast in France under the title "Cherry Miel" ("Cherry Honey") - albeit not until 1989. It still wasn't enough to stop the original series from getting cancelled over its then-racy content.

Ironically, Cutey Honey was usually described as a superhero and not a magical girl, but her spiritual descendants have essentially melded back into the genre to produce the Magical Girl Warrior. Most anime of that ilk owe a lot to Honey. Sailor Moon's very early broadcast incarnation, in particular, owes much to the visual tropes done in Cutey Honey, right down to her In the Name of the Moon speech and her ability to transform. (Go Nagai eventually did create a "traditional" Magical Girl, the more kid-friendly and less successful Majokko Tickle, in 1978.)

The anime has been revived several times over the years:

There have also been several different manga adaptations of the franchise.

Despite its status as a legendary and influential anime in Japan, Cutie Honey is almost entirely unknown in North America, with the original never being released in the US, though that's about to change with Discotek Media licensing the show for a DVD release. This series is not to be confused with another old-school anime, Honey Honey - although coincidentally both Honey Honey and the original Cutey Honey TV series had the same head writer (Masaki Tsuji) and some of the same animation/directorial staff.

Tropes found in multiple versions of this series:

  • Action Girl: Every anime Action Girl is just following the example Honey established way back when. She's to anime what Samus Aran is to video games.
  • Alertness Blink
  • All Men Are Perverts: And also kind of useless.
  • Anime Theme Song: One of the most famous in anime history and covered for every subsequent production.
    • Also an Ear Worm of incredible proportions.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "You're under arrest on charges of robbery, destruction of property, running red lights, speeding, no helmet, and so on!" From New Cutey Honey.
  • Ass Kicks You
  • Badass Adorable: Honey certainly qualifies. She's a very sweet, loveable girl when not in full action mode.
  • Badass Grandpa: Danbei Hayami, a full-fledged NINJA (and a cyborg in New Cutey Honey).
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Even happens in the live action versions, although it's averted in New Cutie Honey (and not only with nipples).
    • Sometimes averted, with hair, scraps of still-transforming clothing, or camera angles keeping her out of NC-17 turf. Sometimes you get the Sailor Moon-esque situation of glowiness not letting you see anything (though really, it's just a little brighter over the areas you need to not display during primetime.)
  • Between My Legs: Commonly shows up in nearly every version of the show, usually as a Fanservice shot, not least of which is one of these shots with Honey's bare butt in the camera in Re: Cutey Honey.
  • Big Bad: Sister Jill
  • Big Eater: The live-action movie and Re: Cutey Honey versions were this because of their powers; if they were too hungry, they lost vital energy and couldn't transform, and if it got too bad, their clothes would start to dissolve.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Panther Claw is never completely defeated in any series.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: The theme song talks about how great Honey is, including her fashion sense and bouncy her boobs are. Also see Honey's spiritual descendant Majokko Megchan, whose Bragging Theme Tune was sung by the same vocalist as the original Cutie Honey theme.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A scene in the original TV series in which Honey is hanging on a cross (in an homage to Go Nagai's first popular manga series, Harenchi Gakuen) and one side of Honey's torn sleeveless unitard-dress is drooping down, exposing her breast, but stopping JUST short of exposing the nipple. One of her tormentors remarks, "That's as far as the broadcasters let us go."
    • A literal example is in the 2nd opening of Shin Cutey Honey.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: "Honey FLASH!"
    • Once per episode, almost without fail (At least in New Cutey Honey - in one episode the villain interrupted her by running away and she lampshaded how you don't interrupt the heroine's speech), Honey would recite the following to the villain: (Laughs) Sometimes I'm (the first shape she took in the episode), sometimes I'm (second form she took in the episode), and sometimes I'm (third form she took), but the truth is...HONEY FLASH! (Cue Transformation Sequence) Lovely Warrior...Cutey Honey-san!
  • Calling Your Attacks: In the original series and especially in Flash.
  • Camp: Played to the hilt. Both Re:Cutie Honey and the live-action movie could drown you in it.
  • Character Exaggeration: Mixed with Lost in Imitation. In the original manga Honey is a girl of average intelligence who just prefers all play instead of studying, she was also of normal maturity and was mischievous and sometimes even mean towards authority. In the first anime adaptation she is naiver to tone down the dirty jokes, so she went from exhibitionist to a quasi Innocent Fanservice Girl, then in Re: Cutie Honey, The Movie and the live action series she is a completely dumb girl who has the personality of a hyperactive preschooler in the body of a sexy young woman.
  • Cleavage Window: Note the page image.
  • Clothing Damage: Honey's clothes are shredded off during every transformation sequence, as with her the transformation's not just for audience benefit: the device within her that can rearrange matter is actually dismantling her clothes and reforming them, leaving her naked for real in real space, as opposed to the way transformations (including magical girl naked silhouette ones) are sometimes shown or implied to not look to the outside world the way the Transformation Sequence looks to the viewer. Re:Cutie Honey even had her clothes disintegrate whenever she got hungry. And there's plenty of combat-induced Clothing Damage, too.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Honey will use ANY and ALL dirty trick she can think of (including but not limited to: distract the enemy with a shower of diamonds and then drop a statue on them; transform her saliva into nitroglycerin and then spit on the poor shmuck who had managed to pin her to a tree; stripping naked by 'flashing' to blind a flamethrower-wielding and, while he was distracted, kicking him in a fire he had just set, blowing him up; and so on...). She never plays for the enemy's rules.
  • Cool Bike: "Hurricane Honey" seems able to either materialize or find one at will.
  • The Corruption: This is how quasi-innocents become Monsters of the Week in some continuities.
  • Defeat by Modesty... which is averted completely and utterly. Honey treats nudity more as a minor inconvenience at best.
  • Dirty Old Man: Grandpa Danbei from the manga and New Cutey Honey.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Honey Kisaragi used this as one of her WEAPONS. Although sometimes her transforming device worked wrong and she did it accidentally.
  • Distressed Dude: Every notable male character will always end up needing to be rescued by Honey.
  • Dumb Blonde: In the newer versions (specifically the movie, live-action show and RE), Honey Kisaragi in civilian mode.
  • Evil Laugh: Honey provides a rare heroic example at the start of her In the Name of the Moon speeches.
  • Fan Disservice: The original manga has a lot of nudity, and it's not all Honey. There's the bullies at Honey's school — fat, hairy, and always topless — a private detective who never wears pants and whose anus frequently spurts blood, and Danbei's penis.
  • Fanservice: So very yes.
    • Arguably, this show is the show that started Fanservice in anime.
  • Genius Ditz: In the RE reboot. In the original show, OVA, and Flash she was strictly a...
  • Guile Hero: To the point it can cause quite a whiplash for thsoe who only know Cutie Honey from the newer iterations of the character.
  • Gonk: A large number of characters, with one so ugly she fainted upon looking herself in a mirror.
  • The Heartless
  • Hot-Blooded: She's a Go Nagai character with sideburns, go figure.
  • Hotblooded Sideburns: See Hot-Blooded. Less applicable than on other Go Nagai characters, though, as the pic shows.
    • Even Seiji and Junpei have them.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Panther Claw Mooks tend to use the Luger P.08 (out of mass production from 1942 to 1991 but with a series of small production runs and using the most widely used handgun cartridge in the world) and the Nambu Type 14 (out of production since 1945 with most of the very few surviving exemplar in the hands of American World War II veterans, their families and collectors, and whose ammo is extremely difficult to find).
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl
  • In the Name of the Moon: The originator of this trope, to the point of being occasionally quoted by the Trope Namer.
  • Leotard of Power: In at least one adaptation. However, in the original TV series and New Cutey Honey, it's actually more like a Unitard Of Power.
  • Lighter and Softer: Arguably every incarnation other than the original manga, even the darker toned Shin Cutey Honey doesn't scape from this. While most subsequent adaptations focus on Fanservice and violence, the original manga is full of Black Comedy that borderlines proto-Dead Baby Comedy, many characters died and it was played for laughs, many gonky girls tried to rape Honey's friend Natsuko and even the dirty jokes are far more kinky and hardcore, for example, towards the end of the manga Junpei, a 10 years old boy licks Honeys crotch while she is naked and only covered in gold paint, and also everyone dies but Honey, the Hajami family and Panther Zora . Taken a step further with the 90's version, Cutey Honey flash, in this version is a magical girl series in the same line of Sailor Moon.
  • The Load: Almost in every adaptation the majority of the male characters have at best been helpful mowing down a couple of mooks (who are also men. Notice the pattern?), but will ultimately always become the Distressed Dude, leaving Cutie Honey to save the day.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: Helped define the trope.
  • Master of Disguise: Honey.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens
  • Monogender Monsters: All of the monsters are female, without exception.
    • New Cutey Honey was the only one to buck this trend, if only slightly. The majority of the monsters were female, but occasionally there were male goons and Monsters of the Montage. Also the Decoy Leader before Panther Zora reappeared, Lord Dolmeck, was pretty manly.
  • Mood Whiplash: It's hilarious and fanservicey.. and horrible things sometimes happen to characters you like.
  • Mooks: The mooks are all male, though.
  • More Than Mind Control: Panther Zora recruits several Monsters of the Week this way. In the latter half of New Cutey Honey we see this in action; a huge, muscular woman (part of a quartet of thieves) slowly becomes more psychotic as she succumbs to her rage and Zora's Mind Rape, and eventually she turns into an acid-spewing monster fully under Panther Zora's control and willing to kill (or try to kill) her former True Companions without a thought simply For the Evulz.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Honey herself. Thankfully, she balances this out by being an ABSOLUTE BADASS.
  • Multiform Balance: The Cutie Honey swordswoman form is usually the most powerful, but each of her transformations tends to have its advantages.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Some incarnations of Honey act ditzier than she really is. In the older versions, she was mischievous rather than dumb.
  • One-Winged Angel
  • Police Are Useless: Most often. Exaggerated to a ridiculous degree in the original manga and Re: Cutie Honey: all generic cops are rendered as cheering children, completely useless when Sister Jill walks in to steal something they were supposed to protect.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: The "Honey Boomerang".
  • Psycho Lesbian: Several.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad
  • Refuge in Audacity: New Cutey Honey and Re: Cutey Honey don't even try to be subtle in their blatant fanservice.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Honey herself, created as the "replacement" for Dr. Kisaragi's dead daughter (though before dying, Daddy told her she should become her own person). In New Cutey Honey, she shows signs of this towards that version of Natsuko after the original's Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Averted somewhat in Re: Cutie Honey, where Honey is the original daughter's mind resurrected in an android body.
    • A darker version is shown in The Live. Proffy Kisaragi mortally wounded Miki and killed her family, made her into android with his daughter's memory, and then threw her away when he realized she was flawed. Miki came back to kill him later, though. He'd also done it to Yuki, and her memories of her life are all fake; he at least gave her what she thought was a good life after she proved flawed, though. The reason this Honey is The Ditz and not an Obfuscating Stupidity version is because he needed to make a replacement someone capable of loving anyone - even the monster he even saw himself as by this point.
  • Revival: Several times — New Cutey Honey, Cutey Honey F, The Movie, Re: Cutie Honey, and Cutie Honey: The Live.
    • A weird case of a revival revival: New Cutey Honey had a definite air of finality in its fourth episode, but production got renewed for four more OVAs, so Panther Zora started injecting her will into certain violent individuals to turn them into monsters.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Alphonne and Miharu are killed off in the original manga during the attack on Honey's school and this is Played for Laughs. They get to live in the anime, where they made more appearances and such unceremonious deaths would have felt inappropriate.
    • Also spared in the anime: all of the students at Honey's school except Natsuko.
    • The original Cutey Honey was kicked off by the death of Dr. Kisaragi, Honey's father. In Cutey Honey Flash, he is merely kidnapped.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The series title has been both "Cutey" and "Cutie" over the years. The most recent releases use "Cutie", such as 'Re:Cutie Honey", but the older series definitely spell it "Cutey".
  • Stalker with a Crush
  • Stuff Blowing Up
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Every episode, before one of her Transformation Sequences, Honey will recap the forms she's taken that episode before transforming into her Red Haired Warrior form.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Idol Honey sings the anime theme song while on stage. Chokkei's father sings it to himself while peeping on Honey.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Post-Flash, Kisaragi Honey took one in each new adaptation, to the point by the time Cutie Honey The Live rolled around, outside the name she had very little to do with the original personality-wise
  • Transformation Sequence: Which is either more or less fanservicey depending on which incarnation you're watching.
  • Transformation Trinket: Honey's choker.
  • Transformation Name Announcement
  • Trickster Archetype: Honey herself.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Honey's transformations tend to work this way, although there are exceptions.
  • Younger Than They Look: Honey passes for a 16-year old human when she's not transformed to look older or younger, but was built more recently than that.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Natsuko in the original manga and TV series. Prof. Kisaragi and Seira in Cutey Honey Flash.

Tropes found in The Original Series:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The Panther Claw actually tracks Honey back to her school and destroys it.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Seiji, in one episode.
  • Collapsing Lair: Any base belonging to a Panther Claw member will self-destruct upon its owner's death, including Sister Jill's chateau in the last episode.
  • Cutlass Between the Teeth: Honey often carries her sword this way when she needs her hands free, including the time she used a pirate disguise.
  • Death by Materialism: Panther Claw's main goal in obtaining Honey's elemental manipulation device is to create unlimited numbers of diamonds, rubies, and other shiny things. In the last episode, Honey pours out gemstones to distract Sister Jill long enough to bring a statue down on her head.
  • Glamour Failure: In Episode 3, Honey and Seiji wonder why the owner of a new jewelry store refuses to let reporters take photos of her. Turns out she's a Panther Claw minion in disguise, and the camera shows her true form.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Natsuko's final scene.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: The baddies try this a lot, usually using Seiji, Junpei, and/or Danbei as the hostage.
  • Hot for Student: Alphonne-sensei has a crush on Honey.
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Natsuko.
  • Sword Beam: One of Honey's less frequently used powers.
  • Theme Naming: Panther Claw's minions all have either "panther" or "claw" in their names.
  • Theres No Kill Like Overkill: When Sister Jill discovers she's been photographed by a reporter, Jill is so outraged she goes from ordering the film destroyed to hunting down the reporter, destroying the film, killing the reporter, and then burning down the newspaper's building and kill everyone inside.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Honey has great aim with that sword.
  • Two-Teacher School: Alphonne and Miharu/"Histler".
  • Wham Episode: Episode 14, where Natsuko dies and the school blows up. Then the Hayami house burns down in the next episode along with Seiji's workplace.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Dr. Kisaragi brings this up in the first episode with his "What is a human? What is a robot?" speech, the gist of which is that even though Honey is an android, he still loves her like a daughter.

Tropes found in the original manga:

  • Heroic Sacrifice: During the manga version of the attack on Honey's school, Honey creates a fake rock shell around Natsuko to help her hide from the Panther Claw minions hunting down survivors. But since Honey wasn't in top condition herself, Natsuko breaks out from the shell when a group of Quirky Minibosses nears them, loudly pretending to be Honey, and tries to lure them away from the real Honey. She doesn't make it far before she's burned to death.
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: Later in the manga, Honey's powers became more and more unreliable.
  • Schoolgirl Lesbians: Parodied - Honey's secret identity goes to a girls' boarding school, and, well, things happen.
  • The Starscream: When Sister Jill chastised Dragon Panther, her subordinate openly rebelled, declaring Jill was too weak to order her around, and she would kill her and fill her position. It did not work how she expected it to.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Being a Hot-Blooded Action Girl, Honey is bound to utter the sentence several times. One example happened shortly after one of Panther Claw minions charred her best friend to ashes:
    Honey: "Not only They did kill my papa... And blow up my school and kill my friends... My best friend.. They killed Natsu-chan too! I won't forgive you, Panther Claw! No matter what happens to my body, I will kill each and every member of Panther Claw!"
  • This Page Will Self-Destruct: Dr. Kisaragi's robot recording and house do this after delivering his posthumous exposition. Honey is about this close to leaving Seiji to die so he can't tell anyone.
  • The Unfought: Panther Zora in the original manga.
    • From Nobody to Nightmare: Sister Jill, though she wasn't exactly non-threatening since she's an actual panther turned into human.

Tropes found in New Cutey Honey:

Tropes found in Cutey Honey Flash:

Tropes found in Re: Cutey Honey:

Tropes found in the Live Action Adaptations:

  • Animated Credits Opening: The live-action movie.
  • In the 2004 live action film adaptation, the heroine's main outfit looks more like an armor than the skin tight unitard of power that she wears in the original manga, and the few portions of visible skin are covered with a flesh colored undershirt. It makes no sense considering that the original suit wasn't that revealing (Only her shoulders and cleavage are exposed) and the actress playing her, Eriko Sato is a swimsuit model and even appears in some parts of the film wearing only underwear. This looks more blatant when compared to the animated opening a la Re: Cutie Honey, where drawn Honey wears a suit that barely covered her.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Sister Yuki in The Live.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Two, in fact: The Movie and Cutie Honey: The Live.
  • Phlebotinum Breakdown: Taken to an extreme with Sister Miki and Sister Yuki in "The Live".
  • Replicant Snatching: Cobalt Claw does this to the Alpha Bitch in The Movie.
  • They Fight Crime: Honey, Miki and Yuki had a brief gig as a team of three in The Live. Miki and Yuki's system flaws, coupled with Yuki being manipulative, made sure that this partnership didn't last long.

Alternative Title(s):

Re Cutey Honey, Cutie Honey, Re Cutie Honey