So far the editing style of Cutey Honey Universe doesn’t suggest obvious upcoming blu-ray changes, which isn’t great. However, there was an interesting surprise after the credits had rolled.
In a way, you might say there are two different Cutie Honey’s: the violent and perverted vision held by Go Nagai, and the merchandising vehicle envisioned by Toei. The compromise was that the anime would be toned down for kids so that the brand could sell toys, but Go Nagai would have more creative freedom in how he did the manga. Perhaps feeling repressed by how the anime turned out, the manga ended up with a ridiculous amount of violence and nudity, particularly for a series that was initially planned for young female audiences. In just the first two manga volumes alone, there were roughly 100 nipple sightings, or roughly one every three pages. Which is an absolute ton, even by today’s standards.
Cutie Honey has been an icon for decades, both because of the bland TV show and the unhinged manga counterpart. The previous TV reboot in the 90’s chose to embrace the bland marketable approach. The OVAs in the 90’s and 00’s embraced Go Nagai’s vision.
Which of those ideals would the 2018 series strive for? Let’s find out.
Almost right off the bat, we get a makeout scene between two scantily clad chicks, one of many love-making scenes in this episode. Which is interesting, because this is not a trait that was in the original at all to the best of my knowledge.
The Cutie Honey manga was no stranger to booty shots, and there’s plenty in this episode as well.
Here we have the first transformation scene. Notable is the lack of steam, bright light, or foreground object censorship that would hint at promising blu-ray changes. There are some instances where you might still have nipples added on blu-ray despite the lack of the tell tale signs, such as the recent Berserk TV anime, but generally this is not a great sign.
Lots of angled cleavage shots such as this one. The lighting and art quality is pretty good.
Magically destructive clothing, always nice to see.
And here’s our first Honey Flash. As you can see, not a ton of potential here, except for a brief frame where a bare breast is just off camera.
I initially wasn’t going to include this scene, as it is violent and gross, but then I remember that this scene accounted for multiple pages of nipple sightings in the original manga. Obviously, none here, and not drawn in a way that suggests changes are coming. Which I’m fine with in this specific instance, yet the watering down of these scenes is still concerning.
Okay. So now we have the first major Honey Flash transformation. There’s a well animated close-up on her chest that lasts for half a second, and they could certainly add nipples here on blu-ray if they want to.
The black silhouette is weird, as if she turns into a charred mannequin halfway through. It appears to be CG. I guess we’ll see what happens on BD, but it feels like they are intentionally dodging nudity with that method.
Again, really wanted to compliment the lighting and art quality with some of these shots.
More destructible clothing.
I can’t say I am super encouraged by how little bits of clothing magically stick to certain areas all throughout this scene.
And here we have the last shot of service from the episode, which is both the most impressive (the art looks great) and the most disappointing. Not many ecchi scenes from this episode were taken directly from the manga, but this one was. And in the manga, there’s no pesky bra.
I suppose they could redraw it on BD if they wanted, but redraws are pretty rare these days, and I think the intent is becoming pretty clear. Cutie Honey Universe wants to have it both ways. They want to appeal to the 70’s cartoon clean image nostalgia, but they also want to at least acknowledge Go Nagai’s R-rated manga companion, just without the R-rated parts.
Or at least, that’s what I thought until I saw the curveball they threw after the credits.
After the credits roll there is an end card illustration of Honey Kisaragi, and despite being fairly well drawn and sexy there’s nothing too peculiar about it. The only oddity is that one of the pink stars is in the foreground over her crotch. This image is shown for about 10 seconds as music plays. And then something unexpected happens:
An explosion of concentric hearts billows out from the center of the screen, and when they run their course the image below is what appears on the other side:
Okay, seriously now. What the fuck?
This episode went out of its way to whiff on chance after chance after chance for nipple sightings, yet it shows them in the end card? Granted, nudity on end cards isn’t totally unheard of, shows like FREEZING did it. But I can’t remember ever before seeing nudity on an end card for a non-nude TV series. And this nudity can’t pretend to be artistic or non-sexual either, as the before and after method essentially acts as a striptease.
So, with an obvious willingness to show nipples, it challenges my previous assumptions about this show. I guess there is a optimistic and pessimistic view of what this means:
By showing that the series isn’t afraid of showing nipples on the end card, this serves as a dog whistling for viewers to let them know that the true intentions of Go Nagai have not been forgotten, and that they shouldn’t give up hope for good things to happen on BD.
Realizing they have already sold out to the mainstream friendly version of the original TV show at the expense of Go Nagai’s vision, despite openly declaring this series as a tribute to Go Nagai’s 50th anniversary, they felt they had to do SOMETHING to appease the fanboys. Or even more cynically, it may be a ploy to create false hopes just to keep them watching for a few more episodes.
I honestly have no idea which view will prove correct, though I currently lean more towards the pessimistic side at the moment. Hopefully that instinct is proven wrong.
At the very least, we’ll get to look forward to some fun end cards each week.