Honey Kisaragi is a normal catholic schoolgirl. That is, until her father was murdered by the Panther Claws who were seeking the Airbourne Elemental Fixation Device. She then finds out that she is actually an android created by him with the Airbourne Elemental Fixation Device within her. She is now trying to live a life as a normal schoolgirl and seeking revenge against Panther Claw.
I'm a fan of Go Nagai but this is one manga that every fan MUST AVOID. The anime is where the good stuff's at.
As much as I like Honey as a character, this is a surprisingly bad debut for the series. Essentially, Honey is an android created to defeat the Panther Claw organization & most of the series plays in a monster of the week formula, however this is sex exploitation at it's worst.
This manga is best summed up as a bad porno as it features an all girls campus where teachers whip their students & occasionally violate them for no purpose whatsoever. A lot
of the story is surrounded by lesbian conduct in a very unrealistic matter, especially when most of the girls at the campus look more like hairy men with breasts. What I'm trying to express is that there is no sense of story or even some sort of sexual arousal (if that's what you're looking for) as it comes off more disturbing than sexy.
There's multiple scenes that serve no purpose filled with fetish moments as this will come off as a guilty pleasure at the slightest. It's not worth reading as this is definitely Go Nagai at his worst. While it does contain the same violent & dark storytelling Nagai is known for, the writing is more focused on sexual activity in a very uncomfortable way as the visuals aren't pleasing to anyone regardless of sexual preference.
Cutie Honey's debut is a snuff manga while its not as grotesque as more infamous titles such as Hell Season, this is still pretty bad. It's very surprising that the anime series is what popularized the character & is a much better start to the magical girl genre. Watch the 1973 anime & its other anime series. While fan service & ecchi is expected in a Cutie Honey series; all of the animes are better than this awful book.
If there's one thing a manga should not feel like, it is a chore. And, unfortunately, this is one of those pieces that will, something you're drawn in by solely by the cover art, and live to regret. According to Wikipedia, this is one of the very first Magical Girls manga. And let's just say there's a reason we talk about Sailor Moon, not Cutey Honey.
So, onwards with the review.
Story - 3
We're introduced to our main character, Honey, in the wake of her creation by her "papa", a scientist whose dreams have, apparently, "come true!". It's also the moment where you, as the reader,
begin to regret opening this seemingly charming book: the art looks like it belongs in a Japanese grade school's hallways. I'll get more to to that in the art section. The storyline then revolves around Honey, who fights against criminals. Each "twist" of the plot gets progressively worse and worse, supplied with the worst gore I've had the "luck" to set my eyes upon. Again, art section. There seems to be some effort to make it work on the writer's part, but in the end, it just falls flat.
Art - 3
It's not just the fact that it was written 1970s that makes the manga so bad, because you can't even get a charge of nostalgia from it. It's the fact that the artist can't draw the same eye twice, the ridiculous anatomy, paired with the unbelievable characters, that makes this eyesore tick. And if you're only there for the occasional ecchi, the art manages to screw that up as well, making the characters look stiff and unreal.
Characters - 2
It seems kinder to give the characters a two instead of a flat out one, even though some would argue that's the score they deserve. I honestly can't tell what's worse: the character's one dimensionality, or the fact that everybody and their father (literally) wants a piece of Honey's body. When I say there's no characterization, I mean that there is no characterization to be spoken of. There's just Honey, the teachers who would risk jail for a night with Honey, the S and M rapist teacher who gets a kick out of kicking little girls, and villains who wear paws on their head.
Enjoyment - 2
Like I said previously, it feels like a chore just to read the first chapter of this thing. If I can't even get into your porn, then forget about it. It isn't even one of those mangas that's so bad, it's good: it's just flat out bad.
Overall - 3
I feel like this score is too kind. The plot sucks, the dialogue is grating, the art is horrible, and there is literally no reread value. And the fact that the first chapter/volume (not sure which) is 216 pages long? It's 216 pages too long for your time.
Go Nagai's 1973 shonen battle manga "Cutie Honey" is something of an odd relic. It comes from a time when the ecchi sub-genre was in its infancy, and mangaka were coming up with weird and bizarre spins on the "let's find a way to incorporate full-frontal nudity in our stories" approach. Enter Cutie Honey, a story about an android girl who attends an all-girls catholic school (full of very open-lesbians), while battling the evil forces of Panther Zora (the head of an evil organization hell-bent on world domination) with her ability to change into a wide variety of skill-based costumes.
weird premise like that, you'd expect Nagai to go off-the-rails in his execution of the concept. He most certainly does, but he somehow found a way to make the reading experience as tonally uneven, badly paced, and as pointless as possible.
The story is cliche and what you would expect from a battle manga, but considering this was one of the first of its kind I can give it a pass. However, what's inexcusable is the constant introduction of new abilities Honey can utilize, which kills most of the tension during the fight scenes when you realize she can pull another power out of nowhere and completely turn the battle in her favor. Another aspect the story fails in is its inconsistent tone, which shifts between dark and comical with the same level of grace as a busted-up car trying to start up again. Not to spoil anything, but the shift in tone between the two final chapters was so bad that I physically cringed, and the finale was so anticlimactic that I seriously wondered if there were several plot-crucial pages that were missing.
It's what you'd expect in an ecchi manga. Even if you're not into the full-frontal nudity, the art style has a cuteness to it that can only really come from Go Nagai, with his simplistic and appealing character designs. The manga is decently drawn for the most part, but sometimes the anatomy is horribly off, with faces and body not being drawn consistently (and not in a good way). Overall, the art is fine, but not really remarkable.
You don't really go into an ecchi manga expecting complex characterization or development, but I wasn't expecting the characters to be THIS one-note. The titular Cutie Honey is driven by the typical "I want to avenge my dad" character archetype, which ends up making her about as interesting as a plank of wood with two balloons attached to the front of it. The side characters aren't much better, especially in the case of her best friend (whom we see her spending very little time with), who simply exists to serve as a damsel in distress or a motivation device, with very little characterization outside of those two purposes. The only positive I can find is that I might've gotten a light chuckle out of some of the side characters and their interactions with Honey, but I say light chuckle with at least ten invisible air quotes.
This is a manga aimed at horny twelve-year-olds and it doesn't pretend to be anything else. Cutie Honey is peppered with """attempts""" at comedy and scenes meant to trigger some kind of sexual response, most of which I found to be mildly amusing at best and unbearably tedious at worst. I did find myself enjoying the numerous battle scenes, even when considering the lack of tension in them, and the various outfits Honey wears are visually interesting and add some variety to the setpieces. But still, there's no denying that balance of enjoyment weighs in favor of "bad".
I didn't have a lot of expectations going in to Cutie Honey, but I wasn't expecting it to be this lackluster. From the wildly inconsistent shift between comedy and drama to the crude sex appeal, the manga was quite the chore to get through. There's fun to be had, sure, with the cute art-style and amusing fight scenes, but these two strengths aren't strong enough for me to whole-heartedly recommend the entire package. Go Nagai had a fun idea that could've been executed in a fun way, but he fumbled and ended up creating something uneven and irritating. Not an awful read, but not something I'd ever go back to or recommend to anyone.
That said, there are a couple good things to come out of this property. The 90's OVA series "Shin Cutie Honey" is a really enjoyable watch, and from what I've heard the 2000's OVA is even better. If you're going to experience Cutie Honey, those two shows are probably your safest bet.