Cutie Honey 1973: kitsch overdose from a more innocent time



According to urban dictionary:

As an art movement, lifestyle, or literature and film genre, kitsch is pleasingly distasteful. It’s melodramatic, overdone, gaudy and tacky or sentimental and folksy. It’s so bad that it’s cool. Your cat might attack it, but it’s hot.

Have you ever watched “Urusei Yatsura” and thought, “This is a little bit kitschy, and silly, and sexist, but what if we turned the kitsch dial up to 11?”

It turns out that it was done in 1973. They hit levels of kitsch that should not have been possible.

It was like a visible, tangible form of autism made out of sheer kitsch.

You probably won’t be able to watch more than a few minutes of it without needing to hit the pause button and breathe into a paper bag to avoid hyperventilating.

According to urban dictionary, camp is:

1. something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylized, self-consciously artificial and extravagant, or teasingly ingenuous and sentimental.

2. a person who adopts a teasing, theatrical manner, esp. for the amusement of others.

3. An affectation or appreciation of manners and tastes commonly thought to be artificial, vulgar, or banal.
4. Banality, vulgarity, or artificiality when deliberately affected or when appreciated for its humor: “Camp is popularity plus vulgarity plus innocence”
adj. Having deliberately artificial, vulgar, banal, or affectedly humorous qualities or style: played up the silliness of their roles for camp effect.

So if I have got my definitions straight, Cutie Honey was not camp when it was made, just like Jerry Anderson’s UFO was not camp when it was made. It was only after the culture moved on from 1973 that the kitsch of 1973 could become entertaining to later people who look back on it; the act of looking back is an exercise in camp.

I am not sure how many convenient fantasy combat tropes Cutie Honey acquired from earlier TV shows. I imagine that wildly unrealistic live-action heroes must have contributed to the mindset of the writers. The famous live-action show Kamen Rider apparently debuted in 1971, so I suspect that it had an impact.

At every minute of this show, one must stop and gaze with awe at the tremendous camp. The writers were familiar with ideas like chivalry, but they are very much locked into the materialistic fashions of 1973.

So an inexplicably rich scientist builds a superpowered robot and raises her as his daughter – but doesn’t bother telling her that she has superpowers. This doesn’t seem to slow her down when she decides to use whatever superpowers seem convenient to the writers at any given point. (If you are a superhero theorist, you might speculate that Cutie Honey is roughly as powerful as the Green Lantern, because her powers are essentially limited by the writer’s imagination.)

If you like rigidly logical speculative fiction, this show is going to leave you with some questions.

Cutie Honey can transform into any sexy female form – sexy flight attendant, sexy girl reporter, sexy rock star, sexy fashion model, sexy motorcycle girl – in a fraction of a second. As with the Green Lantern, her superpowers are essentially wormholes into the Plot Convenience dimension. Thus she doesn’t have to undress from her motorcycle gear and laboriously put on her sexy journalist outfit – it just happens, in defiance of any laws of physics, in a split second, exactly when she wants it to happen.

But she calls herself a “warrior of love,” which doesn’t make much sense. If you are a warrior, you’re not loving. If you’re loving, you’re not functioning as a warrior. Even career soldiers put their families somewhere far from the battlefield when they fight.

The show’s sense of perspective seems to screw up a lot. A bladed glove that should have blades less than one meter long seems to have blades that are more than two meters long.

Enemies explode because the writers can’t be bothered to slow down the story and explain dead bodies.

And apparently the writers are going to make her go back to a Christian school, just to produce unrealistic character melodrama.