Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt Review

This is review number three hundred and twenty one. This anime is part of the Fall 2010 Lineup. This anime is also part of my review poll. I’m keeping it open in case people want to vote their favorite shows to death. The anime is the highest voted one. It’s called Panty and Stockings with Garterbelt. It’s a thirteen episode anime about girls taking off their undergarments and shooting people with it. There are also a lot of stupid things here like sperm ghosts and other stuff like that. It’s a pretty unique anime though and the experience is one of a kind as well. Let’s read on. Story

This anime follows the adventures of two angels on Earth named Panty and Stocking. They have a mission of killing ghosts and collecting Heaven coins they drop. If they earn enough coins then they can enter heaven again. This is going to be tough for a bunch of lazy self-indulgent angels though. Daten City is rampant with ghosts though and only our angels can stop them from wreaking havoc.

Taking the Panties Off

This anime is pretty awesome. I don’t really have the right profound words to start this review. When I saw it skyrocket in the review polls, I just knew people really liked it. Upon learning that it’s heavily influenced by western pop culture though, I kinda got worried because anime that caters to a broader non-Japanese audience often just looks cool but isn’t really all that good. I learned my lesson with Space Dandy. It’s a decent show but a lot of people are somehow sold on its idiotic format. I kinda thought Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt would be the same. It’ll be an overhype anime that only looks cool because a lot of westerners liked it. There’s nothing wrong with that. Otome and light novels fans are more annoying but I often can’t stand an anime gaining notoriety simply because it catered to a different audience. When I saw the first episode of this anime, my initial reaction was that whoever created this anime definitely without a doubt founded Studio Trigger. His initial style is pretty evident. The staff of this anime clearly handled Kill la Kill as well so Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt felt like a precursor to that anime. Upon further viewing, my first impression also consisted of “man, someone really liked American television”. It’s like a huge Americanophile was given the task to create this anime since it’s loaded with a lot of western pop culture stuff. Of course, this show is easily compared to Powerpuff Girls as well. I think the entire approach was to capture the flash based animation appeal of PPG and then give it a Japanese spin. Unlike Space Dandy, I can already tell this anime is going to be amazing. It hits on a lot of bases and I guarantee that this show will get you reacting on a lot of its element. Whether the reaction is good or bad doesn’t matter. This show simply aims to engage with its audience as it merges western pop culture with some good ol’ Japanese cliché. The first episode alone pretty much gave us a wonderful tasting of what to expect with this anime. There are a lot of references, questionable humor and subtle jabs at a lot of sensitive topics. Our heroes also battled a giant poop monster so there’s that.

First of all though, this is not your typical anime. It doesn’t function like an anime. Most anime features a story or indulges on a theme like sports or romance. As the episode progresses, the theme/story are built up some more until it hits a climax and then a satisfying resolution at the end. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt does not follow this format. Instead, it follows your typical American type cartoon where an episode has two shorts in it that has their own unique story. Just like PowerPuff Girl or Adventure Time, an episode would consist of two fifteen minute stories involving our characters. This is pretty easy to pick up though because the show really wanted you to experience an American formatted anime with a title at the beginning of fifteen minute episode and then a bunch of credits as if you’re really watching something from Cartoon Network. The flow of the episodes isn’t like a Cartoon Network show though. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is apparently heavily inspired from shows like Drawn Together and Dick Figure. Basically, it look like a Cartoon Network seemingly kid friendly show but the content is more similar to crude Comedy Central shows that gets a reaction from the audience as it discusses a lot of controversial topics. One of the titular characters is also first seen in a bed with a naked guy so you just know this anime is going to be crazy. Do not expect this show to behave like an anime. Aside from being produced in Japan, nothing in this show resembles an anime. Instead, think of South Park or Family Guy or Drawn Together. It can get pretty offensive and the humor is presented in a crude and juvenile manner that is entertaining in a pretty sick way. If you have strong moral values then I think this show will just pick on you if you ever chose to watch it. I think that’s the beauty of this anime. Everything is just sh*t upon.

Panty and Stocking with Gaterbelt stands out though because of its references. There are a lot of western references folded into the show that it’s often entertaining spotting them. The show manages to grab a lot of popular western concepts and give it a crazy spin of its own. It manages to rip off popular stuff like Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, transformers, and a lot of familiar stuff like that. The references doesn’t stop there though as certain characters also look like obvious rip off of familiar characters. This anime managed to get Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Cruise and even Ren and Stimpy into its whacky stories. They often act like the popular characters but they’re given a unique spin to fit the show’s insane format. It doesn’t end there though. Seemingly every corner of this show has a reference to it. The most obvious and stupidest of all would have to be the title cards for each episode. They’re a spoof of popular titles and they often come off as confusing because you expect the episode to have relation to High School Musical because the episode is titled “High School Nudical” but then it turns out it’s just a stupid play on words by the anime. The show is also heavily inspired by the Powerpuff Girls and every episode functions like the PPG show. We have powerful girls that save the city from monsters and stuff like that. Most episodes even open with a “the city of Townsville” like intro with the narrator going “Daten City…” and most of the references function like this as well. Some are super obvious like a plumbing company with a Mario spoof as its logo but others are smartly hidden often flying over your head. I think the wonderful thing about the heavy references is that this show feels very familiar and inviting. There’s no trace of any Japanese mannerism in this show. You won’t see rice balls or sliding doors and even temples. We have churches in this anime and that’s Gainax going the extra mile. It’s like how Avatar feels like an anime because it functions like an anime. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt functions more like an American TV show than an anime. It immerses you in something very familiar and non-alienating. I think Japanese audiences are more alienated in watching this anime than the rest of the world and that’s slightly reassuring knowing we got our own slice of anime we can really relate to.

The show might not have Japanese mannerisms like people eating chopsticks but that doesn’t mean this show is a 100% American. Oh no, I do believe the anime wants you to be lured in by that comforting fact. It convinces you that you are watching a Cartoon Network show but this show is actually a smart marriage between East and West. It loads itself with a lot of western references but then adds in a couple of Japanese things as well. Going back to shows like PPG, it often has a cliché where the characters learn a valuable lesson in the episode. It’d be saccharine things like friendship or trusting others. This cliché is not in this anime. Instead, it has that one Japanese cliché that makes Japanese media truly Japanese. I’m talking about sex. I’m talking about gawd damn sex. One major theme this anime has is sex. While the main characters battle monsters, their weapon is a gun transformed from their heavenly panties and a sword from their heavenly stockings. It’s the same panty and stockings their wearing, by the way. One of our main characters is also a sex crazed angel that would drool at the sight of hot men and she would often have sex with guys while they’re fighting monsters. The characters openly talk about sex and some of the jokes are mainly sex jokes like a dildo transforming into a robot. Oh, that zombie episode spoofing Romero’s Night of the Living Dead? The characters fight them off with “weapons” gathered from a sex shop. Yeah. There’ll be various scenes of characters having sex, people tied up in bondage, and a bunch of episodes revolving around sex themed stuff like a monster squirting milk from its tits.

That’s the main goal of this anime though. It wanted to make the audience feel uncomfortable yet still engaged. If you’re a fan of anime then sex isn’t anything new. That’s why this show still proudly pumps anime into its veins. The amount of perversion in this show is something you’ll only see in Japanese stuff. Most American shows use sex in a casual way that is meant to be funny. This anime doesn’t do that approach. No, the perversion is uniquely Japanese. That’s just my opinion though because the perversion in this show is also the same approach done to Kill la Kill. It’s in your face and a bit weird and overdone which actually makes it easier to watch. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt comes full circle though because of one final crucial element. It’s the element that is inspired from shows like Drawn Together and Dick Figure. It features a huge amount of gross toilet humor. It’s the low brow cheaply executed meant to be disgusting and not funny kind of toilet humor. The very first monster the characters fight is a giant poop monster that crawls out of the toilet. The stench made everyone in Daten City puke which the audience watches in awesome detail. Some of the monsters are truly disgusting and the episodes often revolve around a lot of gross things as well. Intolerably gross things like people picking their noses with the boogers resembling a nougat desert. Mix that with the theme of sex and you basically get something like this:

Some of them are brilliant though when mixed with the heavy reference of the show. I am hugely impressed when the girls fought sperm monsters and we get sperm soldiers reenacting D-Day:

Most of the time, it’s just really gross though. I think the whole point is to poke at the audience’s sensibilities. Where do you draw the line? Toilet humor? Sex themed jokes? How about religion? The show takes a stab at that as well in often the most uncomfortable way. Here’s one of the characters talking to gawd:

This show is about a couple of angles sent to Earth after they lost their right to be in Heaven. They now have to gain it back by collecting money and basically buy their privilege back. In the meantime, they must live in a church ran by a black priest that indulges in a lot of Earthly things. Well, to put it bluntly, he masterbates, he is into young male kids and openly violates them in the show. To top it off, he is also into bondage. It’s basically a big pile of “how can we offend you today” where the entire existence of this anime is to get people to react in its questionable content. With the western audience drawn in by the inviting references, it then dishes out crude jokes that will scare them away. It’s pretty gawd damn brilliant. Some poor bastard just watched this show recommended by a friend because it’s not an alienating anime. This show does have a specific target audience though. Basically, they’re the kind of people that brushes off crude humor like this and seemingly has a twisted enough sense of humor to find gross stuff funny. Or people like me that have enough tolerance to handle shows like this. I do think being offended or feeling uncomfortable watching this anime is part of the experience. It’s nothing Family Guy or South Park hasn’t tried before. It really has a western mindset where it even touches offensive topics in a brash western way. Besides, it’s not all gross toilet humor with uncomfortable topics. The animation is also a big part of what makes the anime cool. I’ll explain that later on.

For now, let’s talk about the characters. They aren’t developed as you’d expect from an anime divided into fifteen minute shorts. They basically have their own permanent personality that the show just constantly use to make the stories that much more fun to watch. Panty and Stocking are sister angels though and they are on Earth collecting heavenly coins by defeating ghosts. Unlike most heroines that urgently try to save the day, the two are lazy and lackadaisical type where they really don’t give a flying f*ck what happens to anyone. They often just act when they are personally attacked by the ghost or when someone pisses them off. I do think Panty and Stocking is also nice way the show merged East and West. Panty acts like your typical westerner that thinks sex is just a casual thing you do. It’s more of a fun past time for her than anything else. Some people might find that description a bit insulting but the show is often basing her entire personality around it. So um…westerners are sex crazed blondes? Panty is also a lot more carefree and lazy than her sister. She gets easily distracted by sex related stuff and her preferred weapon is a gun. She’s one big ball of stereotype that actually makes the episodes interesting because her idiotic lifestyle often causes problem for the pair. Her sister is someone into emo fashion with black hair and she is also obsessed with sweet things. She represents a subtle Eastern idealism that thinks of nothing but cute and sweet stuff. She also talks in a cute manner completely different from Panty. She’s into bondage and tentacle stuff as well. She is also into some weird sh*t that the show often incorporates into the story. Unlike Panty though, she is more diligent and often carries out the mission more than her sister. She still gets sidetracked and acts lazy but she does have a sense of urgency and control you won’t find in Panty. Her preferred weapon is also a sword so I really love how these two sisters kinda feels like the anime itself. East and West meeting and being linked to each other.

Other characters include Garterbelt, the black priest that represents a lot of f*cked up things about a lot of f*cked up things. He’s cool though. He’s a priest that drools at the sight of young boys in briefs and has a corrupt personality to him. He still has the stand offish aura of a holy authority though but also the personality of someone in da hood. I’ll end it there. Then there’s Chuck, the indestructible dog that hangs out with the characters. I’m not really sure if he’s a pet because the characters mostly just physically abuse him. He also looks like Invader Zim’s dog which I think is actually a big shout out to the show. He acts like Zim’s dog. He’s dumb yet adorable and is often at the end of every violent attack in the anime. Lastly, there’s Brief. He’s a supporting character sporting a Ghostbusters inspired jumpsuit that has a big boner for Panty. He mostly just follows the girls around and acts as the level headed character the audience can relate to. He’s also your clichéd geek character that is often mocked for being a virgin.

Towards the second half of the anime, a pair of demon sisters also appears to become the main rivals of the characters. They mostly just do something dastardly that involves making ghosts and the angel sisters stop them from completing their plans. Some of the plans are foiled by accident though when the main characters just happen to stumble upon the demon sister’s plan. They have a pretty fun rivalry with the main characters because they exchange some barbed words at each other and they are arrogant enough to get under the angels’ skins. It’s funny how the demons value rules though while the angels are lazy self-indulgent creatures in this anime. If the demon sisters’ aren’t all red then I might’ve been cheering for them as well. I’m not a fan of the skin color. It basically branded them as antagonists but they are antagonists so it makes sense.

Going back to Space Dandy, the one thing I don’t like about that anime is that it lacked direction. It just featured standalone episodes that felt like heavy acid trips and most of them have no cohesion whatsoever. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is basically Space Dandy as well. It tried to appeal to a western audience and its format is very much American. Some of the episodes also feel a bit experimental and surreal. Really, the only thing making Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt different is that it has a structure and a main concept to follow. It features two girls fighting ghosts to gain heavenly money and then a church gong sounds off when they defeat it. The monsters also explode like a cool Sentai monster when defeated. Its structure like this that makes this show a lot more enjoyable than Space Dandy. It has the freedom to play around the animation while also going ape sh*t but it’s easy to follow because it has a frame for each episode the audience can focus on as well. It has the same mindset as FLCL where the episodes can go so far out there but still held down by a simple concept of a teenager experiencing puberty. It’s such a small thing but it ultimately makes the biggest difference in enjoying these shows. Basically, I really don’t like Space Dandy.

This anime isn’t perfect though. While it managed to blend two concepts together, it did have a noticeable flaw. The show lives and dies by its references. Like any show heavy on parodies, if it doesn’t connect with the audience then they basically just see a random show about gross stuff. The references are obvious though but they get bit obscure form time to time and you can also guarantee that not everyone can understand it. This is a big minus for the show because without the smart reference, the gross humor is more dominant and it will eventually turn people off. It has some pockets of funny moments but a lot of them are heavily referenced as well so you really have to be immersed in pop culture to really appreciate the episodes. Some of them flew over my head as well. There is one episode where the show parodied MTV and a lot of popular albums. Being a non-music fan though, some of the funny images felt hollow to me because it lacked context for me. I only got the Beatles one but everything else flew over my head. Some of the references can be a bit broad as well that I’m not exactly sure what it references. I do know it references something but I don’t exactly know what. An example would be when Chuck fought the other dog. Is it supposed to be a Tom and Jerry riff? I’m not really sure since the episode wasn’t direct about it. Most episodes have clear direct reference despite being folded into the story but then others are subtle. I guess it’s a good thing the show is flexible but it often makes me overthink. Then again, this could be intentional as well.

This anime is a really cool one though. It captured the insanity of FLCL but also started the concept that basically transformed into Kill la Kill. I think Gainax took a huge loss when Hiroyuki Imaishi and other staff members went on to create Studio Trigger. I think they just didn’t really care for Hiroyuki’s contributions and that’s a shame. When I think of Gainax, I mostly think of Evangelion and TTGL. Right now, Gainax is milking Evangelion for all it’s worth but I do hope they realized Hiroyuki could’ve given them a lot of awesome shows like how Akiyuki Shinbo is defining Shaft right now (a bit too much, imo). His unique style of fast paced storytelling with an over the top narrative is something a lot of people really enjoy. This anime is actually really fun to watch because you can feel his distinct style play a part in what makes the show awesome. He didn’t solely direct the show though. I think a lot of people directed various fifteen minute stories but I can tell you the ones he directed stood out the most. I’m not sure if they really planned a second season or they were just doing a rip on cliffhangers but I was a bit disappointed when I realized this anime doesn’t have another season. I think it’s really cool enough to have one. Being able to merge western style cartoons, with its proud vulgar content, with a pervy Japanese mindset is something that doesn’t happen a lot so I do wish they milk this series and give us more seasons.

Sight and Sound

Character design is heavily inspired by the flash based design you’ll see from the Powerpuff Girls. We have simple characters created from basic shapes given a slight amount of detail to make them look human and then you’ll see bold lines to emphasis the character some more. A lot of the characters are heavily inspired from American shows so the design isn’t really anything original. The characters often don’t have joints to simulate the flash movements of the shows their paying homage to. The designs often have sharp edges with the bold lines to, again, capture the appeal of the American TV shows it’s trying to emulate. The presentation looks sloppy but it’s really part of the charm the show is trying to achieve. Gainax made sure the crappy design is a big reference though because it gave us a fully anime style design of Panty and Stocking that I will fully GIF after I finish this review. I would just like to say that the anime design is absolutely stunning. The faces look very angelic and the body built is so wonderfully detailed that it often bothers me these two are so open about sex and stuff like that. It’s part of the mindf*ck the show love to dish out. The anime design is also very Gainax, by the way, since it feels a bit reminiscence of TTGL in some weird way. I also love the way the demons are designed. The red skin is a bit jarring but they were given the same amount of attention design wise. I particularly love how the sex appeal is intact during certain scenes but it also combines with the cuteness of the actual design. It’s pretty incredible. The design on the male characters is pretty great as well. Garterbelt is pretty freaking awesome with his cool afro. While the design might be simple shapes, the amount of details make it complex. It’s especially awesome when he takes off his robe and you see the sharp edges defining his body. The male characters are very much American in its design. There’s not a hint of any Asian features on them and this adds to the non-alienating aspect that makes the show fun to watch. It’d have a blonde milkman and a redheaded geek that still follow the basic shape concept but also looks predominantly western.

pantyst55

The animation is beyond outstanding. Hiroyuki loves to use zooms and pans in his shows. In the opening minutes of the show, the camera pans over the city passing trees and buildings and even scaling a tall building as it zooms into the church where the characters live. It’s amazingly complex and stunningly beautiful. The girls fight a lot of monsters and the choreography of these sequences are pretty great. It has a high frame rate and it’s paced pretty decently. The show isn’t focused on the fight scenes though. A lot of them ends fast with the ghosts just getting a hole put through them. I do love the Sentai approach of having a live action explosion of our monsters. It’s made of paper mache and stuffed with fireworks. It’s cool because it’s so out of place. The animation shines through a lot of the normal scenes. From the dog getting beaten up to a bunch of random chase scenes to the two sisters arguing, the animation is overly complex. I’ll mention Kill la Kill once again because both shows behave the same. It has a fast pace and an over the top approach to how the narrative progress. I particularly love how some of the movements are intentionally made to behave like flash animation. It has a side to side movement limited to flash and it’s funny how to show went the extra mile to really make a legit western type show. The fight scenes are incredible but I think the animation on the transformation scenes really made me drop my jaw. It’s so awesome that it puts any other kind of magical transformation to shame. The amount of detail is incredible as even the tiniest of mannerisms is captured on some highly complex moves like taking off the panties or slipping off of your stockings. I will seriously GIF that sequence. The animation is a very big plus in enjoying this show. I think the gross humor and uncomfortable topics are balanced out by the complex and flashy animation.

The anime’s OP song is “Theme for Panty & Stocking” by Hoshina Anniversary. It’s basically a pretty straight forward theme song for the anime. It’s a wonderfully stylized song with some English lyrics. I love the instrumentals and the flashy way the song is sung. I suck at identifying genres and I also can’t hear the lyrics well, which is intentional though. It does give the show a bright and upbeat mood to open it. It is also sickeningly catchy. I had LSS after listening it a bunch of time when watching the show. The anime’s ED song is “Fallen Angel” by Mitsunori Ikeda ft. Aimee B. This is also sung in English and it’s pretty awesome. The instrumentals are incredible and Mitsunori’s voice is pretty awesome. It’s apparently written by LiSA as well so that’s pretty great. The lyrics aren’t all that special since it’s about someone longing for someone else but it’s the way Mitsunori sings it that really makes it special. The way it goes together with the instrumentals makes this a really awesome song.

Overall Score

8/10 “This is a rare treat of experiencing a heavily westerned themed anime with all the weird fixings that makes anime so much fun to watch.”

This show is not for everyone but I think the novelty of seeing an anime be inspired by western pop culture is something you’d have to admire. The gross humor and the vulgar language might seem a bit rough but the show really wants to get its viewers’ engaged. I love the amount of effort put into something that the general audience would just say no to. With the complex animation and the heavy referenced episodes, this show is truly a one of a kind experience I urge everyone to try. If you love Kill la Kill then you’ll love the similarities between the shows. If you love sex themed shows with low brow humor then you’ll enjoy this show as well. Basically, this is a perved up version of the Powerpuff Girls so if you’re curious how dirty it can be then you should definitely try this out. If you enjoy spotting references and easter eggs in your shows then this anime will keep you busy. It’s truly a rare and special anime that just fun to watch. I highly recommend it.

Thoughts~

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