“She giggles! She plays with her cat! She kicks ass!”
The picture on the right probably does a better job of explaining what Cutey Honey is about than I ever could; part-girl, part nano-technology, rebuilt post-car crash with superpowers and some interesting costumes, which require fuelling through junk food. After her uncle is kidnapped by the evil Sister Jill (Sakai) and his/her/its minions – Jill is part tree, and has also been kidnapping women en masse, in order to drain their lifeforce – only Cutie (Sato) can save the day, assisted by a no-nonsense policewoman (Ichikawa) and a journalist who, basically, acts as “Exposition-San” (Murakami).
Director Anno is best known for the (over-rated) anime series, Evangelion, so who better to convert a manga/anime heroine to the big screen? Certainly, the first ten minutes are utterly fabulous, capturing the comic-book essence perfectly, thanks in part to magnificent design work. The sets, costumes and even hair (particularly of the villains) are first-class, even in a movie that is clearly tongue-in-cheek; the clues include villains who break into song, and really big explosions which cause no damage at all.
While the film doesn’t quite live up to its opening and, frankly, occasionally drags in the middle, it’s largely entertaining, especially in the action sequences. Sato does a good job in both “uber-perky” and “intense” modes, while Ichikawa benefits from little touches like her glasses, which turn out to be total affectation. Much as in Evangelion, the end is some kind of deep, philosophical mess, rather than the knockdown battle we all want to see; however, it annoyed me much less here, arguably fitting the heroine’s sunny disposition. Hollywood, with a lot to learn about making comic to cinema adaptations, could do much worse than taking Cutie 1.0.1.
Dir: Hideaki Anno
Star: Eriko Sato, Mikako Ichikawa, Jun Murakami, Eisuke Sakai