OP: 「愛がなくちゃ戦えない」 (Ai ga Nakucha Tatakaenai) by AOP
「あなたは全てが完璧」 (Anata wa Subete ga Kanpeki)
“Everything About You Is Perfect”
Barring the horrific removal of the classic Cutie Honey theme song, this revamp of Cutie Honey relies on only basic knowledge of the universe in order to understand. From there, it’s quite quite easy to get what’s going on. One of this year’s Nagai Go adaptations to share the spotlight with DEVILMAN crybaby, Cutie Honey Universe is centered around Honey Kisaragi (Sakamato Maaya), an android magical girl who fights against the Panther Claw crime syndicate to avenge her late father. This time around, she has multiple forms to aid her in different ways as she takes on the group, utilizing everything from the standard Cutie Honey attire to a black-haired motorcycle expert. Along the way, she gets help from Detective Hayami Seiji (Asanuma Shintaro) and his partners, and her best friend Aki Natsuko (Horie Yui), and some mysterious company who infiltrates her network to work with and sabotage her efforts.
There is no pretense of subtlety with Cutie Honey Universe. Right from the get-go, we are introduced to antagonist Sister Jill (Tanaka Atsuko) in her lair of women who adore her and make out with one another. The first authority figures we see at Honey’s academy are two eldery women having sex in the bushes, a disciplinary teacher who loves whipping the clothes off of girls as her punishment of choice, and an all-girls gang leader whose musclebound physique is balanced with the flustered feelings she holds for Honey. Honey and Natsuko’s relationship is affectionate to the point of Honey getting into a tickle fight with Natsuko as she’s bound in the disciplinary teacher’s rope bondage. Most, if not all, fights in Cutie Honey Universe involve clothes coming off and glamour-shots of the characters’ assets, and Seiji has a difficult time keeping himself composed when viewing Honey in an erotic light. This show hits viewers like a truck with the level of bombast and eccentricity that it offers, but it’s all par of the course for a Nagai Go series. It can be hit-or-miss depending on your tolerance or enjoyment of this level of tongue-in-cheek eroticism, especially since the goofy artwork and smutty, pulpy nature of Nagai’s manga are a very required taste. Knowing this much, I couldn’t help but get a kick out of how crazy and suggestive the series got, but I can get why some people would be thrown off.
What made the first episode amusing was the absurdity of it all that plays off much like Saturday morning cartoon, but with the level of explicit content that would never make it past late night programming. There’s magical girls, evil crime syndicates, and baddies of the week to defeat, but there’s also sex, fanservice, and enough violence to make it feel like a parody of more family-friendly fare. There are some hiccups like how awful the cars look, or how ridiculous it is that Sister Jill is able to go from her Inspector Genet disguise to her demonic evil form without anyone noticing, even within the same scene without anywhere to hide. The latter can be chalked up to how easily fooled that the leads in younger-skewing anime tend to be, but it does operate off of the same mentality that taking it seriously was the furthest from this show’s intentions.
Cutie Honey Universe is an anime that you will either love or loathe for the exact same reasons. It’s a fun and trashy show that isn’t ashamed of itself, and that level of tenacity is what gives Nagai Go’s works some charm to them, where the debauchery teeters between fanservice and art, comedy and titillation with little distinction between the two. It’s definitely not as artful or violent as crybaby, but it’s a decent gateway into what you can expect from his body of work. Whether that’s your cup of tea or not will determine if that’s a good thing or not. For those who are on-board with everything Cutie Honey Universe throws at us, it’s shaping up to be a scandalous, bawdy, and entertaining trip.
ED: 「Sister」 by Luz