Dir: Hideaki Anno
Eriko Sato started off her life as cute bikini model in Japan, but has now jumped to film by grabbing the lead role in “Cutie Honey,” a purple and pink psychedelic blast of live-action anime based on the ’70s manga by Go Nagai. As her theme tune tells us, she has “perfect boobs”, kitten-like lips, a fine behind, and generally just lives up to her name. She’s also perched somewhere between human and post-human, being as she is a recreation of her scientist father’s dead daughter, a reanimation. This also makes her a perfect heroine as well as sex object: innocent but sexual, loving but unobtainable. The film rightfully indulges in its star’s good looks and body, giving us more cheesecake than a California factory. Compare this to the huffing and puffin over nuthin’ that was “Catwoman”–Cutie Honey’s post-feminism is more honest than the bait and switch of American attempts.
Even after the CG explosion of “Kung Fu Hustle”, this film’s low-rent effects are still bracing and inventive, though after a head-spinning opening sequence, the film settles down for character building and humor before building up to a series of climactic battles between members of the Panther Claw gang and the asexual immortal called Sister Jill. The film is slow in places like many Takashi Miike films. However, we wouldn’t want to cut out such moments as a drunken karaoke evening between the three leads, including Jun Murakami as a be-capped journalist with groovy flared hair, and the button-down (but very very hot) police officer Aki (Mikako Ichikawa). Or a very silly moment when Black Claw sings a song all about himself, backed up by violin-playing henchmen.
This was the third film I’ve seen at the festival, and I was glad to see the crowd ate it up. The festival staffers all loved it as well, introducing the screening with a group call out of Cutie’s power-up magic words: “Honey! FLASH!”
Dir: Hideaki Anno