—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 prototypicalMagical 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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. She never plays for the enemy's rules.
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.
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.
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 theMontage. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anti-Villain: Natsuko's former friends Gene, Pokey, and Jan stole a bomb with plans to hold it for ransom, and then use the money to start over somewhere else. The bomb heist was going to be their last heist, before Gene got Hijacked by Panther Zora and killed Pokey and Jan.
Dude Looks Like a Lady: An inversion. Gene looks more like a Go Nagai man - huge, muscular, masculine haircut.
Foe Yay:invoked Used as a diversion. Rocker Saline discovers Honey searching her dressing room, so to get out Honey pretends to be an enamored fan who loves Saline. A flustered and horrified Saline throws Honey out of her dressing room, screaming "I'm not into THAT!" (Honey, on the other hand, says "that was kind of fun!")
Immortality Begins at Twenty: Honey looks a few years older in New Cutey Honey, possibly due to having used her transformation abilities to age just out of puberty.
Lampshade Hanging: Quite a bit in Volume 2, though often it's straight fourth-wall breaking - like when Honey says she's contractually obligated to wear a bulletproof bra because the fans would be devastated if anything happened to her breasts.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Chokkei's parents Akakabu and Daiko rob banks for a living, but we only see this once during the intro, and they fail spectacularly as everyone in the bank lobby is armed and gunning for them as soon as they fire a warning shot.
Plot-Relevant Age-Up; The "Black Maiden" (a nude girl in a bottle on top of a suit of armor) turns out to really be Panther Zora's reincarnated form; when Dolmeck's armor is cracked open, evil power courses out and ages her back to her adult form.
Shout-Out: This version has numerous nods to Go Nagai's other works.
Spy Catsuit: Invoked — Chokkei and Grandpa Danbei wear these while on a spying mission with Honey, and Danbei persuades her that she really needs to change into one, too. Danbei is disappointed when his grandson keeps him from peeping on the Transformation Sequence.
Stone Wall: Akakabu's "fighting style" (if you can call it that) is simply to absorb more punishment than the opponent can dish out. Daiko fell in love with this determination (because she was unable to defeat him, no matter how many times he got the crap kicked out of him).
Adaptational Attractiveness: Miharu and Alphonne, though it varies on how much their experiences have changed. Miharu looks much less haggered and haggish than she did in the original, while Alphonne's design is a bit softer and she no longer has a mustache.
A-Team Firing: Natsuko is Genre Savvy enough to take advantage of this; she either doesn't move or walks into the barrage of enemy bullets, and simultaneously takes out the Mooks firing at her with just a few well-placed bullets of her own.
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.