Even these tapes cost something

  Honey Honey
1981 | MIC/Modern Programs International Inc.
Honey Honey vol 1 Sony Video

The intro theme promises us a "Beautiful young honey, on the run" so this should be fairly sexy stuff!

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Honey Honey is a young woman on the run across early 1900's Europe. She is pursued by rich men from all across the globe, an Austrian Princess and the internationally notorious and devilishly handsome master thief known as The Phoenix.

Life wasn't always an exciting adventure for Honey Honey. She was once an everyday waitress, an orphan brought up in a convent, with only a stray cat named Lily for a friend. On her 19th birthday Princess Flora was to choose her husband from an array of highly wealthy and reputable bachelors. The party was infiltrated by the devious Phoenix whose only interest was the priceless diamond ring worn by her Royal Highness, The Smile of the Amazon. While attempting to trick her, the valuable jewel ended up inside a cooked fish which, in turn, ended up inside Lily - eaten by the hungry cat.

The price of the Royal hand of marriage is now the safe return of the famous diamond and so Honey Honey and her cat find themselves in a wild chase through the romantic locales of Rome, Paris, London and even Tokyo and New York.

First airing on Fuji TV in October 1981, Honey Honey no Suteki na Bouken (Honey Honey's Wonderful Adventures) was a fairly belated animated TV edition of a manga series first printed in 1968, in Ribon a monthly manga for girls. Created by Hideko Mizuno.

The series, animated by Toei and produced by Kokusai Eiga, failed to capture much attention from the Japanese viewing public which lead to the story being cut short at only 29 episodes. The overall plot arch was complete but many subplots from the source material remained unanimated.

Honey Honey was broadcast on channels across Europe and Latin America and proved to be far more popular here than in it's home country.

Even though it is little remembered in the U.S. the series actually had it's TV debut in the west on the cable channel CBN in 1981. Redubbed by Sound International Corporation (aka Sonic) the show played without cuts for the full 29 episodes.

Later that same year Sony, under the subsidiary Video Software Operations, released a short collection of one episode video cassettes on all available formats; VHS, Betamax and even 8mm. The exact number of episodes released isn't currently known but thought to be less than ten, far short of the complete series. Unfortunately this remains the only English language home video release.

The character Honey Honey went through a number of names changes. Amongst the foreign territories she was known as; Silvia (Spain), Pollen (France) and Fiorellino (Italy). After the initial 1983 broadcast on Italia 1 the American dub version was shown on other channels reverting back to her original name.

The last country to broadcast Honey Honey's adventures was Brazil where kids had to wait until 1987 to enjoy the globe trotting chase.

Honey Honey Suteki na bouken Hoeny Honey Hashire Melos! Single Hashire Melos! 1992
Manga collection
Anime Comic Book
The Honey Honey manga - Very special thanks to Dave Merrill

#Once upon a time there lived a young girl as beautiful and bouncy as a sun,
Beautiful young Honey on the run#

So goes the oddly written opening theme. We are welcomed to the debut adventure by a slick, game show announcer:

"Well-come to the adventures of Honey Honey!! Today's episode: The Cat Ate the Ring".

With pure charisma he injects some intrigue into the last part; "The cat ate the ring!?!" It did? Why?

Keeping costs low for the first show (and no doubt narrated over in the Japanese original) the first X seconds are are made up of pans across the night skyline of Austria, while fireworks burst behind the buildings.

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The story begins outside the Royal Palace where Princess Flora emerges onto the balcony watched and cheered on by a joyful yet emotionally flat lined crowd of well wishers.

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"Princess Flora. Happy Birthday. Hurrah... hurrah."

These Europeans sure seem to be a buttoned down lot. Flora lifts one hand in a stiff wave and then leaves the townsfolk without a word, no doubt unimpressed by their unenthusiastic welcome. With her back turned she yawns and is scolded by her father for her overall lack of interest in the proceedings. Helpfully, for the audience, he reminds her that downstairs men from all over the world have gathered to seek her hand in marriage.

I'm assuming the last part since the King only mentions they've come for "her hand". I'm guessing they want the rest of her too, they're not gonna just guillotine it off and take it home. That would be weird.

As Flora descends the stairs the assembled guests gasp and wonder out loud, so taken as they are with the young woman's beauty. At least one female voice is transfixed in awe yet there are only men present, obviously, since they are only here for one reason and I don't think the laws in the early 1900's stretched to that sort of thing. It would certainly be unseemly for royalty at least. Elsewhere, one suitor describes her wondrous visage with the curious phrase "like a smiling rose".

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All the world's wealthiest bachelors/insensitive stereotypes are here; Prince Tonka from Hungary (heir to the robust toy fortune), Geronimo: Great American Indian Chief, Space Shuttle President of the International Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Algebra Academic Association (the dubbers had a lot of space to fill), Oil Dollar (Middle-Eastern Petroleum Magnate), and finally Herr Gustav a member of a famous German family. Presumably the Gustav family, but they're famous so you already know that.

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Not far away, in the quaint Austrian cobbled streets a young girl reads a Japanese warning poster. Fortunately for the Audience she reads it out load and, even luckier, this Austrian girl can read Japanese characters and speak English. It's not clear why there is a Japanese language advertisement on the Bavarian streets. She must be working in turn-of-the-century-Austria's Little Tokyo district.

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The one-sheet warns of the famous gentleman thief The Phoenix's desire for the gem known as The Star of the Amazon - the ring worn by Princess Flora. Don't put this information up in Japanese in a back alley walked by commoners, simply tell it to the Princess. After all, she is the only person this warning will be useful to. Let's hope that she is already aware and on her guard.

The young girl's employer comes outside to find her talking to Lily, a stray cat, and becomes instantly insane with rage... with the cat. The unstable man, who threatens not to continue hiring the girl if she continues to fraternize with a stray cat, chases the homeless animal through the alleys, intent on "fixing" it. In all his disproportionate anti-feline anger, he ends up tricked by the moggy's chums and dumped in the river.

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Back at the Palace all the one up manship amongst the competing suitors breaks out into a wild, dust-ball brawl. In a misguided attempt to break up the fight, and curry favor, Herr Gustav orders his army to launch an in door cannon barrage. While all this mayhem is raging a charming, if distinctly dated, young man enters the scene.

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He approaches the Princess and quickly shocks her with his sly uncertainty over her famous beauty. His claims that it could all be down to her close proximity to the Star of the Amazon has Flora take the only appropriate action: take the ring off, put it into a cooked whole fish and throw the fish out of the window. In a situation like this, it seems like the only sane thing to do.

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While her back is turned, the mysterious stranger makes a leap for the chandelier. By the time the guests realise their belongings are missing it is too late. In in sort of reverse Superman situation (where he puts on his face mask to disclose his true identity) the stranger reveals himself to be The Phoenix! Leaving out the window to retrieve his true target, the discarded jewel, The Phoenix and all the assembled guests watch in horror at the priceless gem's fate. Lily the cat eats the fish! "The Cat Ate the Ring!!" The announcer was right!!! The prophecy is fulfilled!!!!

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"Oh, how frustrating! I want that ring. But how will I get it now?" fusses the villain.

The Princess declares that the man who returns her ring will become her groom. The wacky guests jump at this rare opportunity and race after the gem laden cat. It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

Gustav and his men search for the valuable stray armed with a sniffer dog and (presumably) a six pack of prune juice, and a pair of disposable gloves. The dog, clearly voiced by a man, locates the cat quickly and the two square off in a war of imitation animal sounds. A combination of cat intervention and Phoenix's smelly sack enable Lily to escape.

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Chased by the crazy posse, Lily makes straight for Honey Honey, leading the pursing maniacs straight through the restaurant where Honey waits tables. The pair are rescued by the masked Phoenix who makes Honey Honey a deal she can't refuse - one million dollars for her pet. She drives the price up to one hundred million before backing out and continuing to run. Why? Well, it would be an even shorter series if she hadn't.

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Coming under heavy cannon fire, Honey Honey, Lily and her previously unintroduced feline boyfriend hide out in a hot air balloon basket which mysteriously takes off. The Phoenix and the angry suitors spot her making an escape and follow. The cast drift off into the night sky and the episode ends with a mostly text-free credit sequence.

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Intro and Outro
Not the greatest production values and the words are a bit weird...

Grrr! Meow? Grrr!! Meow?!
A man posing as a dog confronts a woman pretending to be a cat.

Good animation
  Doesn't take itself too seriously
  Funky themes
  Good fun
The dub is a bit ropy
  C'mon! One episode per tape? Seriously?
  Not even a preview of the next one? Jeez, Sony...

First - what's up with the name change? From Honey Honey's Wonderful Adventures to The Adventures of Honey Honey to, just simply, Honey Honey. Did something happen on the way to the U.S. that made Honey Honey's adventures less wonderful? Do they rate adventures by a different scale in Japan to America. Was the original reading taken on an incompatible Metric Scale of wonderment so by standards in the States it was no longer legal to keep the complete title since it had slipped to "reasonable"?

Or perhaps the title was deemed too long.

This tape can't have been cheap back in 1981. Released at the dawn of home video with only a single 23 minute episode on cassette, it's no wonder the video series didn't take off. It is a shame too since, from only the opening episode, Honey Honey seems like a highly enjoyable show, and the praise I've read while researching it confirms this.

To be honest I wasn't expecting to enjoy this at all. From the front cover it looked like a possible Charlotte Holmes type of show. A weak, wish fulfillment exercise aimed at young girls, but I couldn't have been more wrong. (Well I guess I could - Urotsukidoji on Ice would have been far wrong-er),

So I would highly recommend anyone seek out this series, just don't pay Amazon Marketplace prices for it. Also, if you have any other episodes of Honey Honey, please send them in and I'll feature those too. Fingers crossed for a subtitled DVD release.