Strangely enough, this series has a long history with a sequel, remade movie in 2010, and a spinoff. The studio that made this was Tatsunoko Production, a long standing studio that is still in the industry today. Ippei Kuri, the man whom co-founded the studio, was the lead episode director and series production director worked along with another now-veteran anime industry man by the name of Yoshiuki Tomino or better known as the man behind all things Gundam. Unfortunately, at the time of this review only four known episodes of the show were able to be found. However, they really show off why the show
was quite good for 1970.
For a show aimed at young children, this anime is actually quite violent, depressing, and has many sad undertones. Honeybee Hutch starts out with a scene depicting the entire bee hive being attacked by a swarm of swaps that proceed to murder everyone, stand over the corpses, and drink their honey. The bee queen somehow escapes leaving the bodies of her children behind. A sole female worker bee from another hive (whom also escaped a genocide of her own) happens upon a single egg left and raises this bee as her own among her 9 other children. However, Hutch is different because he is not part of the hive. The other kids bully him and isolate him constantly. Hutch inevitably is told by his pseudo-mother he is actually an orphan, so an upset Hutch sets out on an adventure to find his real bee mother.
Each of the other episodes follows a formula in which Hutch will befriend another insect such as a child grasshopper and by the end of the episode another insect or creature higher of the food chain will murder/eat said insect Hutch has befriended. For example, the child grasshopper’s parents are eaten by a lizard in front of Hutch and the child with half the corpses hanging out of the lizard’s mouth. Despite the constant death and destruction surrounding Hutch, he remains a hopeful optimistic idiot which the viewer can’t help but feel for.
Character art is quite reminiscent of a cross between an old Disney and warner bros cartoon, and yet Hutch’s face and expressions usually makes him seem “special” most of the time. Music plays a huge role in the show. It always matches the mood of the scene ever changing and adapting including most insects knowing how to play an instrument leading to episodes focused around that character. Watching the 2010 remake movie is evidence of these things.
Much of the show can be compared to the movie “A Bug’s Life” how the insects interact with each other and world such as children insects using a shape of a leaf as a slide. No doubt that movie took a lot from this show.
Overall, based on what was seen and little understood language wise, events and character expressions show the viewer more than enough to understand what is happening. That says a lot to the caliber of Honeybee Hutch. It is a real shame more episodes could not be found because it was actually pretty good despite coming out in 1970.