Honey Honey, or Honey Honey no Suteki na Bouken (lit. "Honey Honey's Wonderful Adventures"), first a 1966 manga series by Hideko Mizuno, Osamu Tezuka's assistant and one of the first successful female mangaka. Later it was made into a 29-episode anime series by Toei Animation for the Kokusai Eiga (Movie International) company in 1981 and telecast on Fuji Television from October 1981 to May 1982.note The manga also got a re-release in 1981 to coincide with the premiere of the anime.
It has been distributed as: Honey e il gatto birbone (Italian); Honey Honey (Portuguese, Latin-American Spanish and English); Favo de Mel (Brazilian Portuguese); I fantastici viaggi di Fiorellino (Italian); Las Aventuras de Silvia (Spanish); Les Aventures de Pollen (French); Miodulinka (Polish); Pollen (French); and هني هني (Arabic). Unfortunately the story was cut short because of how poor the ratings were back in Japan, but most of the manga's plot had been adapted, besides a few better subplots. And the series did become rather popular in Europe - two different dubs exist in Italy - and in Latin America, particularly Brazil. An English dub produced by a company called Modern Programs International was shown in the United States on CBN cable and a handful of episodes were also released on VHS, making it one of the earliest shojo anime series to reach the States. Even more remarkably, unlike other anime brought to the U.S. in that time period (and the decades since), the American broadcast was uncut and kept the original music and SFX.
The story begins in Vienna, 1907 (sort of) with vain Princess Flora's (actually Florel'') nineteenth birthday celebration, where suitors from all over the world are gathered to try to get their hands on her vast fortune and her hand in marriage. The classy masked bandit named Phoenix crashes the party and declares brashly that Flora wouldn't be nearly as beautiful as she is without her ring. Shocked at Phoenix's brashness and fed up with her suitors' motivations, in a fit of rage, she tucks her priceless diamond ring, the "Smile/Star of the Amazonnote ", into a cooked fish and chucks it out the window. A little white cat named Lilly eats the fish whole, swallowing the ring along with it. Flora then declares that she will marry whomever can retrieve the Smile of the Amazon and return it to her.
Lilly belongs to Honey, a young orphaned waitress. Phoenix catches up to her and asks her for her cat, her closest companion, and Honey demands 100 million for her while running off in a hot air balloon along with Lilly. From then on, it's all about the wacky chase over all of Europe (and beyond), in a race to retrieve a missing ring, with even more surprises in store for the princess, suitors and Honey & company. These surprises range from encounters with more racial stereotypes, King Kong, the evil Slag, Vikings, and more...
Note that unlike most early shojo series, Honey Honey refuses to take itself seriously (except once or twice, towards the end, and that doesn't stick too much).
The rights to the series are currently held by Enoki Films USA, although the series has had no American re-release since Sony released some episodes on VHS in the mid-'80s.
Tropes related to the series:
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Early promotional artwork for the anime depicts Honey as a brunette (and Phoenix as blond). She remained a brunette even in some merchandise released when the show was already on the air. In the finished product, she became a blonde. Also, Lily has white fur in the anime, but is colored pinkish-purple on the covers of manga re-releases that utilize the anime character designs.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: In almost every dub, except the Portuguese dub aired in Brazil, which used the Japanese closing theme for both the opening and closing.
- Arab Oil Sheikh: One of Flora's many suitors, all of them encompassing one offensive racial stereotype and playing it for laughs.
- Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening animation, along with the accompanying theme song (at least in Japanese, English, and Italian), suggests the viewer is in for a straightforward shoujo adventure. At least until Honey crashes into a banquet table while dancing...
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Honey and Phoenix. Princess Flora secretly likes Phoenix too, but reacts like a spoiled child whenever he teases her; Honey's more apt to react with a little teasing and/or sarcasm of her own.
- Berserk Button: Never call Princess Flora spoiled or ugly.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In virtually every episode.
- Crazy Cat Lady: Hamelin in episode six is a Crazy Cat Town, with the townspeople, having had their children lured away by the famous Pied Piper, substituting cats for children. Phoenix plays Pied Piper to get rid of the cats.
- Domino Mask: Phoenix wears an uncharacteristically frilly red one.
- Doorstop Baby: Honey was raised by nuns after being left abandoned in a basket in a meadow. Lily was abandoned as well, which explains the close bond she has with Honey.
- "Double, Double" Title: This series is released in some countries as simply Honey Honey.
- Dub Name Change: Honey's name is almost always changed, but most of the rest of the other characters' remain unchanged. This was inverted in the Mexican Spanish dub instead.
- Engagement Challenge: As per usual with the trope, sets off the plot entirely.
- Fallen Princess: What Honey turns out to be.
- Fiery Redhead: Princess Flora.
- Gag Dub: Particularly the Portuguese dub, but the original Japanese is equally silly.
- Gag Series
- Gentleman Thief: Phoenix
- Hidden Purpose Test: The Vikings capture Honey and force her to walk on red-hot coals. She thinks it's just to torture her. Actually, she has to remove her shoes because they are looking for a rose-shaped birthmark that represents royalty on a young girl's foot. Guess what, she has it!
- Historical Fiction: Played for Laughs.
- Horny Vikings: Kidnapped by Vikings. Yes. They turn out to be former retainers of Honey's parents (hence why they knew about the rose-shaped mark), and their leader Erik is also Phoenix's father.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Phoenix, perfectly complimenting Honey's tsundere.
- Meal Ticket: Princess Flora, and she disapproves.
- Medium Awareness: Depending on the dub, but most characters make references to the writers or the commercial break.Gustav: Here's a surprise, Phoenix! My new laser ray!
Princess Flora: I didn't know lasers had been invented already!
Gustav: They haven't, but in cartoons, anything is possible.
- Mood Whiplash: The death of Phoenix's father/Honey's protector Erik is one of the few dark spots in an otherwise very light and fun series.
- Mugged for Disguise: At one point, Phoenix poses as Princess Flora after stealing her gown, leaving the real Flora Bound and Gagged in a closet.
- Mysterious Protector: Phoenix seems to serve as this, being the well-dressed fellow with an eyemask far before Tuxedo Mask, although his role is taken far less seriously than in BSSM.
- Names to Know in Anime: Most notably head writer Masaki Tsuji.
- Nasal Trauma: Princess Flora falls victim to this in episode 6, after she bangs her nose when her carriage makes a sudden stop. Her nose swells to about ten times its normal size.
- Only in It for the Money: Repeatedly claimed by Phoenix, but as the series continues, it becomes clear that he doesn't mean it.
- Purely Aesthetic Era: The Anachronism Stew is Played for Laughs. It starts in episode one, including Japanese text on a street sign in Vienna.
- Flora is kidnapped by a giant ape and carried to the top of 70's skyscrapers in a King Kong (1933) reference, and the show makes no apologies for that.
- Spot the reference when she goes to Hollywood◊.
- One episode is an entire reference to I Dream of Jeannie.
- Another episode references the tale of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, with Phoenix playing Pied Piper to rid the city of its feline infestation (and hopefully attract Lily so he can grab her).
- Talking in Your Sleep: Much to Honey's embarrassment, a boy who rescues her while she is unconscious in episode 6 tells her she was talking in her sleep, mentioning she kept saying the name "Phoenix" over and over and even tried to kiss him. Cue gleeful snickers from the two cats.
- Tsundere: Combined with Plucky Girl in Honey. She may be an orphan, but she's not particularly the heartwarming/helpless type, and she does what she can to keep Lilly safe and doesn't hesitate to tell Phoenix off.