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The Flash and the Furious

Cutie Honey Universe

Cutie Honey Universe is by far the most colorful and “out there” take on Go Nagai’s classic anime character.

The works of legendary manga artist Go Nagai have seen a resurgence in recent years with the release of Devilman Crybaby on Netflix, a brand new Mazinger Z movie, and a rereleases of his classic manga series in hardcover form. There was also the debut of Cutie Honey Universe, the fifth animated project in the long-running franchise, meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nagai’s career in manga.

It’s a sprightly, effervescent take on the Cutie Honey franchise with plenty of fan service for the faithful Cutie Honey followers who have been around since the beginning and new quirks to attract a fresh audience as well. Chock full of zany villains, eye-catching transformations, and that good old Honey attitude, it’s one revival you won’t want to miss, especially if you’re a fan of Nagai’s previous work. In the Cutie Honey Universe, this series is a star shining brightly on its own.

Cutie Honey Universe

Honey Flash!

Cutie Honey is actually an android with a much more “normal” name: Honey Kisaragi. Born from her scientist father’s incredible ability to create life from robotics, she has the power to save the world from the evil gang of criminals, Panther Claw. Fitted with the Airborne Element Fixing Device, which allows her to transform into the warrior of love Cutie Honey, she begins working alongside the PCIS (Panther Claw Criminal Investigative Services) to take down the evil Panther Claw.

The villainous organization wants nothing more than to harness Honey’s power for themselves, even if it means taking away every- thing Honey holds dear. With a shout of “Honey Flash!” Honey transforms and basically saves the day, after plenty of teasing her opponents and making sure they know who’s really in charge.

Cutie Honey Universe

There’s just one important part that Honey herself hasn’t figured out yet: the dark secret that PCIS’s lead investigator Inspector Genet holds: she’s actually a lot closer to Panther Claw than Honey could ever know. With all this wackiness going on, it’s easy to see why this iteration of Honey, though only spanning 12 episodes, is such an exciting and hilarious thrill ride.

As previously stated, this iteration of Cutie Honey is a bit different from her previous appearances throughout anime and manga, and there- fore includes several different alter egos she can transform into at will. There’s the tomboyish photographer Flash Honey, musically inclined Misty Honey, flashy Idol Honey, fashionista Fancy Honey, and motorsports-inclined Hurricane Honey.

Each of her alter egos has their own unique personality and looks, making it difficult to see the true Honey within them. These new designs make Cutie Honey Universe feel more like a full-fledged magical girl series than the classic shonen action show, especially since Honey has so many “forms” to turn into for different situations.

Cutie Honey Universe

For Love and Justice

Make no mistake—even though Cutie Honey Universe is technically a shonen series, it’s got all your favorite magical girl series elements that make it so much fun to watch, and then some. Some of the most interesting parts of the show are Sister Jill and Panther Claw themselves. Sister Jill is your typical stead- fast villain who just wants to get a piece of Honey’s Fixing Device so that she can use it. She’s also intrigued by Honey’s innocent soul and wants to try and destroy it so that Honey will come around to being evil.

Jill ends up recruiting young women who find themselves charmed by her and turns them into her willing servants by use of a white rose. The rose is used to inject her followers with a nano virus that turns them into veritable super sol- diers that will obey her every whim—even though they really aren’t that bright to begin with.

Cutie Honey Universe

Luckily, Honey has a great support network by her side, like Natsuko Aki, her best friend. Natsuko knows that Honey works with the PCIS to investigate Panther Claw and bring them down eventually, but she always had some sort of inclination about Honey being abnormal—guessing that something could potentially be off about her. Honey eventually does share the truth with her about her amazing abilities, but Natsuko never judges her and loves her for who she is.

In addition to Sister Jill and Natsuko, there’s a colorful cast of characters to keep an eye out for, like Sister Jill’s aide Tarantula Panther, who has a variety of strange spider-like skills. There’s also Dragon Panther, who can turn her legs and lower body into a dragon. Yes, you read that correctly. There’s also Seiji Hayami, an old friend of Honey’s father who asks him to aid her when it comes to the more difficult battles.

Cutie Honey Universe

You Can’t Fight Without Love

Cutie Honey has always been kind to its glamorous heroine as she’s taken many forms over the years, but Cutie Honey Universe is by far the most colorful and “out there” take on the character just yet. With a creative and striking anima- tion style, it deftly weaves together elements from classic Go Nagai designs and modern drawings for a unique art style that’s both evocative and memorable. Some of the girls at Honey’s school come in wildly different body types, which lends a positive message, and even though Honey is absolutely gorgeous herself, she’s nice to everyone she meets.

There’s also a fantastic amount of fan service that the series was essentially built upon, and it comes with the territory. It’s so over the top and silly that it’s hard to take seriously, however, and given that many of the female characters in the show are actually into women, it becomes a bit sexier when you think about it. Cutie Honey has never been a show to shy away from this type of content, so it’s great that this particular project didn’t make an attempt to do so, either.

Cutie Honey Universe

Looking for your next magical girl addiction? Cutie Honey Universe is a wild ride from start to finish, taking on a venerable character like Honey and plunking her into an exciting thrill ride that ranges from funny to touching to action-packed in the blink of an eye. Even if you missed out on the other shows or manga series as a whole, you owe it to yourself to get on board with this entry—and fast!

Cutie Honey Universe is available from Sentai Filmworks.

This story appears in the October 2019 issue of Otaku USA Magazine. Click here to get a print copy.

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