The calm before the storm… after the storm.
Oh. So it is Natsuko. Well, okay then. In retrospect, that shouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world. That Re: Cutie Honey OVA from a few years back made them a thing. Though it also did away with the whole school angle and made Natsuko a cop. So there’s that. I suppose the more interesting thing is the complete lack of a Shoujo Ai/Yuri tag on literally every info page. But I digress. These two episodes were actually pretty solid, despite being very low on the action. The was some in Episode 8, but it wasn’t especially flashy (ha) or thrilling. If anything, it existed to show Tarantula’s character development… kind of. We’ll come back to that.
I really liked how Episode 7 handled Honey’s situation. Obviously, the attack on the school has her shaken. It’s not that she’s unused to these sorts of things happening to her. But this was a large-scale attack on her and her friends, killing literally all but herself and Natsuko. It was dark. And the way these people were killed was absolutely horrifying. What’s more, Honey couldn’t do a thing to save them. It’s an extremely stressful situation and showing the effect it had on her was done extremely well. Her trying to keep up her smile and all is actually kind of heartbreaking to watch. And they don’t do what I was worried they would, falling on the side characters to make light of the situation. Quite the opposite. Even the two most annoying characters in the series show some tact.
The episode also has the effect of showing just how strong Natsuko actually is. She had her hero moment in the previous one. And despite living through that entire ordeal, she’s keeping herself together even better than Honey is. To an extent, this is understandable. Survivor’s Guilt is one thing. But Honey is literally the reason the attack happened in the first place. One can’t imagine how much more pain that must cause. Even so, Natsuko is really coming into her own as a character. If not for her, I’m not sure where Honey would be.
This was also the episode where Honey properly fills Natsuko in on her secret. Not that Natsuko’s an idiot (usually). She basically already figured it out during the attack. But even still, the way this moment was treated did a lot to really solidify their relationship. Natsuko is Honey’s best friend. Keeping such an enormous secret from her was eating away at her mind. And now she was involved anyway, so she might as well tell her the truth.
Then came episode 8, which I’ll just call the Tarantula episode. More than anything, what this episode existed to do was finally deliver on all of the angst Jill’s right-hand has been dealing with. The goal was always to make her more sympathetic. Which makes sense. You don’t get Rie Kugimiya to voice one-note characters. Yes, she’s often typecast as Type-A tsundere clones. But even that she brings a certain presence to, helping to really enhance the role on an emotional level. Tarantula isn’t a hugely complex character, as far as we can tell. But she’s, at the very least, much more emotional than the other Panthers. This comes through during her mission to kidnap Natsuko. Which she intentionally botches because she sympathizes with Natsuko’s love troubles. And also possibly to sabotage Sister Jill’s obsessive interest in Honey. Either way, I’m fairly certain she’s not long for this world. Knowing Sister Jill, she’s probably doomed.
On the subject of Natsuko again, I can’t really say anything about the relationship between her and Honey. That’s a thing they haven’t really bothered to show in a non-platonic context until Episode 7. And even then they were just visual hints. This episode just leans fully into it. I do like Natsuko’s taking Honey on a “date,” even if it was just to cheer her up. And I really liked her talk with Seiji, giving him something to do other than be a punchline and the Token Male. Her love troubles are interesting as well. She’s not questioning her feelings per se. She’s just unsure of what to think, now knowing that Honey is that Honey.
But I do have one glaring problem with Natsuko, here. For as likable as she is… she’s kind of an idiot in this episode. I can’t help but wonder what, exactly, her plan is. She suspects that Gennet is up to something. Potentially in league with the Panther Claw. And yet she insists on meeting Gennet to talk. With what I assume is no follow-up. When Gennet invites her out, she does pull the smart move of getting Danbei and Junpei to act as bodyguards. Why them I don’t know. But whatever. Yet the very next time she goes to meet Gennet, she goes completely alone. Why? What is your plan? If you happen to be right, and Gennet is actually the bad guy (which we all know she is), what do you expect to do about it? Talk her into submission? Seems poorly thought out.
Despite that, I’d say that Episode 7, despite its lack of action, is Super Effective. It does what I really hoped the show would do and delivered an episode with a solid emotional core to follow up on the heavy impact of the previous one. Episode 8 is closer to Junk Food. Not amazing or anything. But the action was fun. The character development for Tarantula was nice. And Natsuko’s relationship with Honey is cute, if a bit one-sided. For a show about a different kind of relationship, one between a Girl and her Dragon, check out Hisone to Masotan.
Cutie Honey Universe is currently streaming on HiDive. That’s all for me, here, folks. As always, thanks for reading. Keep up the awesome.