Panty&Stocking with Garterbelt
Daten City is a city overrun by ghosts, and only two fallen angel sisters - Panty and Stocking - can stop them. Kicked out of Heaven for their ways, they must defeat the ghosts and collect a certain of Heaven Coins to gain re-admittance. Living with a priest named Garterbelt, along with the dog-like Chuck, Panty and Stocking (eventually) stop the ghosts terrorizing the town.
Words fail me in describing Panty&Stocking with Garterbelt. I know in some of my past reviews I've casually mentioned having a hard time putting my thoughts into words, but this time I mean it. I could put in 40 screenshots of the weirdest moments in the series and still not have enough to say on just how bizarre, crazy, disgusting, and hilarious all at once this series is. (Not like I could post the more extreme moments on our teen-friendly site.)
One reason for my dearth of words to describe Panty&Stocking with Garterbelt is because the series is a lot of things. In thirteen episodes it juggles genres including monster-of-the-day fighting, horror, sex comedy, science-fiction, and even satire of the Japanese work industry. No two standalone episodes have the same structure or set-up, and many of the episodes are written and story-boarded by an assorted cast of Gainax staff members. If nothing else, Panty&Stocking with Garterbelt is certainly not boring.
Unfortunately, some early viewers of the series abandoned it, thinking that the series was nothing more than poop jokes and weird, angular art. It's their loss, because the show just gets weirder, funnier, and even more surreal after the primary episode. It's definitely not high comedy by any means, but it's a lot of fun, which is a lot more than I can say for the bulk of cartoons these days (American, Japanese, or otherwise).
Part of this lies in thanks to our unconventional leads, the angel sisters Panty and Stocking. Despite having very simple personalities - Panty loves having sex and cutting loose, while the more blunt, sarcastic Stocking likes sweets moreso than guys - the series does show them occasionally breaking through their stereotypical behavior and even showcase some surprisingly touching moments. The two also work wonderfully off of each other - sometimes they're at each other's throats, sometimes they're on the same wavelength about the situations around them. They act like, well, siblings. Panty and Stocking occasionally show remorse for one another and others, as the second halves of episodes 5 and 9 showcase. (The latter especially particularly bittersweet.) Episodes like those make good arguments that that the series is comprised of nothing but poop and sex jokes.
Panty and Stocking's boss, the afro-toting black priest Garterbelt, seems at first like the straight-man of the series, but further episodes prove this wrong. He also has a very odd past revealed near the end of the series.Chuck is the mascot/punching bag of the series, looking an awful lot like a certain Invader Zim character to the point that even Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez commented on it.
Brief is a teenage boy aware of the paranormal introduced early on in the series, usually holding a backpack on his back and looking a little bit like a Ghostbusters cosplayer. "Affectionately" referred to as Geek Boy by Panty and Stocking, he loves them (mainly the former) despite the hardships he goes through, rarely rewarded for his efforts. He is definitely the most sympathetic character in the series, though he has his moments of creepy moments as well. I give the series credit for actually having him man up later on, though. If only certain recent anime pansies could learn from his example.
Our last set of major characters are Scanty and Kneesocks, sisterly villains introduced halfway through the series. Ironically, despite being demons, they are calmer, smarter, and better kept than our sex/sweet-craved "heroines". Needless to say, there's quite a bit of friction between the quartet whenever they meet.
By keeping its main cast relatively small, Panty&Stocking with Garberbelt gives the series plenty of time in just 13 episodes to explore the characters' lives/pasts/desires. We find out why Garterbelt is stuck with his job, why Scanty and Kneesocks are around - even the typically disposable Chuck gets his own series of mini-episodes. Still, I do have a complaint about the series - too much Panty. To say she dominated near two-thirds of the series would not be an exaggeration. Stocking only has a few episodes dedicated to her, Brief has one or two, Garterbelt mainly has one, and Panty gets near exclusively the rest. Even the finale is almost entirely focused on her. As I significantly prefer Stocking over her sex-crazed sister (a joke that gets old rather quickly), this irked me quite a bit.
On a brighter note, Panty&Stocking with Garterbelt is quite a glossy show. The art style is a mishmash of anime meets Craig McCracken meets Jhonen Vasquez, and it works wonderfully. The color scheme is loud and vibrant, and the character designs distinctive and cute in a chunky sort of way. The animation isn't always smooth, but it never looks cheap - when action scenes begin, there's actual animation. And don't forget Panty and Stocking's infamous weapon transformations, where they suddenly look more like typical anime girls, which soon became a big hit on Japanese image boards. The music, performed by famous m-flo composer Taku Takahashi, consists of fantastic, incredibly catchy electronica.
Overall I was quite surprised by Panty&Stocking with Garterbelt. Despite earlier feelings of worry, I found out that beyond the controversial nature of the series, is a series that's bursting with life and fun. The recent anime industry really needs more lively shows like this.
Gross, strange, creepy, but fun just the same. Subtract a star or two if you can't stomach toilet humor. — Tim Jones
Recommended Audience: NOT FOR KIDS! Panty's penchant for sex, as well as in-numerous instances of spouting the most foul words in the English language IN English, make this show unsuitable for kids and young teenagers. Parents, do not be fooled by the art style!
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Panty&Stocking with Garterbelt © 2010 GAINAX/GEEKS
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