Oh. Well. That’s not what I was expecting at all.
The Matriarch of Magical Girls has arrived. And yes. I know Cutie Honey wasn’t the first magical girl. But she was pretty much the one that set many of the trends for Magical Girls as we know them today. She introduced a lot of tropes of the genre that were used in later genre linchpins like Sailor Moon. She was also among the first to really be marketed towards boys, which became a core aspect of the Action Magical Girl sub-genre. Which, by the way, has produced one of my favorite animes, and I won’t name it because you already know what it is and probably want me to shut up about it.
That being said, how do the first two episodes of this return hold up? Well, they’re both rather straightforward. The first episode existed almost exclusively to set the tone and establish some plot points. Even then, however, we know very little of what’s going on. The series hits the ground running. Honey is working for the PCIS to bring down the evil Panther Claw organization. And for anyone unaware of what that is, it’s basically a group of women with superpowers, evidently all based on animals and other beasts.
The episode wastes little time showing off how depraved this group is as the main villainess opens the show by turning a girl into one of these beasts in some kind of body horror-lite transformation sequence. Later they lure Honey into a trap after murdering a few hostages. You know. Just for funsies. To show off how evil they are. Though as we’ve covered, all this does is make me want to see Honey kill them in positively grisly fashion. Unfortunately, ya won’t be getting that.
The executions are actually fairly comedic and generally just involve the beasts exploding into smoke once it’s over. Not quite the same as being made to sit there and watch one of them literally claw open a random woman’s body. So you know. That’s disappointing. If you’re gonna have the villains maim random civilians, you might as well have the hero dish out equally bloody consequences. But maybe that’s just me being emotional. Whatever.
I will, however, say that the action sequences are awesome. Mostly. Here’s the thing. Half of the action takes place in this weird tunnel thing with the characters just kinda floating around inside. And while it’s animated perfectly fine, it does leave me disappointed. Thankfully the final fight of the episode, which is visually awesome does take place in an actual setting. Specifically some kind of junkyard. So that was cool.
I feel like I should add a rather significant Ecchi warning. It’s not really that bad to me, but I also watch a lot of Harem anime. So I’m probably just desensitized to it. That said, there’s a ton of fanservice in the first episode. Looots of Honey (and her friend, earlier in the episode) getting her clothes basically obliterated, for example. Though you don’t really see anything as all the necessary clothing to stay “modest” is conveniently left intact. There are far more NSFW things out there (I’m sure I’ll get around to High School DxD eventually…), but just be warned that if you have a low tolerance for fanservice, you’ll want to avoid this as a whole.
As for the humor, episode 2 doesn’t do much in that regard. Episode 1, on the other hand, could be pretty funny at times. The way Honey’s able to get off campus, for example, got a chuckle out of me. That being said, both episodes more or less treated things rather seriously. Humor was pretty low on the list of priorities, at least this go around.
Episode two primarily focused on a retelling of Honey’s origin story to a character who, through dramatic irony, the audience knows is the “big bad,” but Honey doesn’t. Of course, it also works to the benefit of the audience, since it allows those of us not really familiar with the franchise to know what’s going on. But after that little recap, the Panther Claw goes after Honey’s PCIS partner. But she (and their boss) show up and put a stop to things.
I’m… more than a little confused about Sister Jill’s (the big bad’s) plan, here. She infiltrates the police force, uses her beasts to draw Honey out, then helps Honey kill them? In episode 1, it’s fairly clear she’s well beyond Honey’s abilities. So… why not just take what you want from her? The only thing I can come up with is that she has some sort of grander objective in mind. I dunno.
The action sequences of episode 2, particularly the first time Honey goes all “Super Android” in her flashback, are awesome. A lot of really fluid motion, slick choreography, and flashy effects work are on display, making it really satisfying to watch.
So yeah. Overall I really enjoyed myself, watching these. The humor wasn’t really out in full force, just yet. But I expect it’ll get funnier now that it’s gotten what I assume are all the “housecleaning” bits out of the way. The fanservice wasn’t really bad enough to be cringey, with the exception of one bit that I, unfortunately, have a feeling is going to be sort of a running gag. The action and animation, in general, was great and Honey is perfectly likable. Nothing more to really say other than Cutie Honey Universe is a delightfully sweet bit of Junk Food. I’m looking forward to more. In the meantime, though, why not check out a less… risque magical girl by reading up on our Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card coverage!
And if you want to check out Cutie Honey Universe for yourself, it’s currently streaming on HiDive!