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  Cutie Honey Womandroid
Year: 2004
Director: Hideaki Anno
Stars: Eriko Satô, Mikako Ichikawa, Jun Murakami, Mitsuhiro Oikawa, Hairi Katagiri, Sie Kohinata, Mayumi Shintani, Ryô Kase, Ryô Iwamatsu, Suzuki Matsuo, Kyûsaku Shimada, Ryûhei Matsuda, Masaki Kyômoto, Hideko Yoshida, Toru Tezuka, Eisuke Sakai, Kumi Koda
Genre: Comedy, Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Honey Kisaragi (Eriko Satô) is thoroughly enjoying taking a bath when her phone rings and when she answers it her Uncle Utsugi (Masaki Kyômoto) has something important to tell her - then is prevented by some kind of commotion Honey can hear. He is a scientist whose talents are much sought after, but could someone be kidnapping him? There's only one thing to do, leap out of the bath, grab the nearest thing to wear (which are her bra, pants and a binbag) and press the button on her choker which will transform her into the heroine Cutie Honey! Oh, you'll have to wait a minute, her energy levels are low - where can she get a bunch of rice cakes to remedy that?

As you can gather from that opening five minutes, this was far from being a sensible movie, and was in fact one of those live action versions of manga and anime material from Japan which for some reason it became fashionable to create around the turn of the millennium and onwards, not always with the greatest reception from the diehard fans. In this case, anime director Hideaki Anno, best known for his Evangelion series, was drafted in to conjure up something of the spirit of the work of the legendary Go Nagai (who has a cameo here as Honey actually points him out to the audience when she lands on his car), for this was one of his many creations. With two such respected talents combining after a fashion, how could this miss?

Actually, what helped this immeasurably was the casting of Eriko Satô as the titular heroine, an actress who fulfilled the physical requirements of the look of the character, and was able to bring across the "Cutie" aspect with good humour and charm. It won her much appreciation both at home and abroad, so much so that she is still associated in many people's minds for this and not much else, that in spite of the former model continuing with a healthy career afterwards. Honey may be ditsy, but she has a heart of gold which gives her the upper hand - actually, she has a heart of circuitry since we are informed in almost throwaway backstory exposition that she is really an android who was rebuilt after her original self was seriously injured in a car crash.

Which means Honey will endure forever (supposedly), an important plot point for later on, inasmuch as any of these plot points were important as for much of the time the movie looked like an excuse for cheesy CGI effects, skimpy costumes for Eriko to sport, and goofy comedy as our robot girl is pitted against a syndicate known as Iron Claw who consist of five weirdoes with incredible powers, led by a tree-man known as Sister Jill (Eisuke Sakai). They all covet Honey's own superpowers, and soon with their army of masked soldiers they are working towards taking over the world or something, you know, the usual, but what's most important is claiming Honey for their own. After she rescues her uncle, she thinks she can go back to her desk job, but Sister Jill has other ideas.

As does investigating officer Chief Natsuko Aki (Mikako Ichikawa), a nippy sweetie who wants to arrest Honey, but finds the suspect wishing to become her best friend instead in an example of the tone of amiability pervading the story. Then there's the mystery man Seiji Hayami (Jun Murakami) who may be a journalist, but then again may be something else judging by the manner he shows up at the right time - in any other movie he'd be the love interest, but here he's a mere sidekick to the high-kicking, pink-spandex clad heroine. After over an hour of cheery silliness, bright colours and extreme camp, for the finale Anno chose to get cosmic as Honey confronts Sister Jill and his/her/its underlings, though not before that most abused item of architecture, the Tokyo Tower, is yet again nearly destroyed, this time by an enormous drill. If that ending would appear to be making a move to tug on the heartstrings, what has gone before is so absurd that such a crunching gear change would be lucky to succeed, and so it is, but Cutie Honey was more fun than it should have been on the whole. Music by Kumi Koda.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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