Review: PANTY & STOCKING WITH GARTERBELT
Author: Elliot Gay
Official Site: crunchyroll.com/panty-and-stocking-with-garterbelt (US), gainax.co (Japan), newtype.kadocomic (Japan)
Special Thanks to Chase Wang
Gainax, known for anime hits such as GUNBUSTER, DIEBUSTER, NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, TENGEN TOPPA GURREN LAGANN, FLCL and others has taken a huge creative chance with its latest television show, PANTY AND STOCKING WITH GARTERBELT. Featuring such Gainax talent as Hiroyuki Imaishi (DEAD LEAVES) and Hiroaki Tomita (GURREN LAGANN), the series seems bound for success regardless of the concept. Yet the end result as of episode 6 is that of a show that blends the humor and cartoon style of western adult animation, with the lightning quick and sometimes crazy animation of a Gainax production. Having debuted in America via Crunchyroll, the show has been hit with split opinions across the board. People generally seem to either love it or hate it. I happen to fall into the former category, constantly looking forward to the next streaming episode.
Each thirty minute episode is split into two smaller episodes (reflective of its western cartoon inspirations) which rarely share any continuity between them. PANTY AND STOCKING follows the tale of two angel sisters, lustful Panty and her extremely gluttonous sister Stocking. These two loud angels work under a priest named Garterbelt, who sends them on missions to defeat evil ghosts in a metropolis called Daten City. The series rarely adheres strictly to this formula however, often changing things up and telling a story about the two sisters becoming movie stars or telling the tale of a salary-man trying to get an autograph. Undoubtedly no two episodes are the same, adding to its appeal.
A strong focus of PANTY AND STOCKING is its extremely energetic animation style. Character designs remind one of any number of Cartoon Network animated television shows, while its frenetically drawn action sequences bring up memories of GURREN LAGANN and FLCL. The show also presents its creators with a chance to experiment without having to worry about consistency issues. The first example of this comes in Episode 1 when the sisters transform into their angel clothes for the first time via an extremely suggestive and well animated stripper sequence that briefly changes style into one more reflective of its anime background. There are more examples of this sort of style shifting as well. Every time a ghost is destroyed by the sisters the show cuts to a real model of the creature placed on a set and then promptly blown to pieces by a small explosion. The show then proceeds to cut back to animation. Episode 5 had another interesting style shift in the second half, telling a story seemingly uncharacteristic of the show, in a dark and drab animation style.
A major point of debate seems to be the show’s humor. This is an important point to talk about in that 70% of the show depends on the jokes and whether you can laugh at them or not. The show has a dirty mouth. I don’t just mean that in the way they speak Japanese (though that’s also relatively dirty); the English that’s used on occasion is almost exclusively the F-bomb and various other curse words. Jokes about sex, potty humor and other jokes equally as unfriendly to children rule the day here. What really struck me about this however is the dichotomy between a style that seems at first glance suited for a children’s show versus the actual subject matter that is frequently dark, dirty, depraved and yet somehow relatable in some strange way. Even if you don’t appreciate a majority of the humor however, the plus is that because each 30 minute chunk has two episodes, there’s a good chance you’ll like one even if you don’t like both.
Something that bears mentioning is how incredibly good the music is. A heavy mix of electronic and trance-like music dominated the soundtrack, and the show is all the better for it. DJ Taku Takahashi of rap group M-Flo pulls out all the stops here with a variety that makes me eagerly anticipate any upcoming soundtrack releases. Voice acting is spectacular across the board, and you can tell that everyone is having a great time playing characters that break the standard anime tropes.
In all honesty, I have a hard time personally finding anything wrong about the show. It’s one of the freshest experiences I’ve had with anime in a long time. The only complaint that I can really understand is that the humor is something you either like or don’t like. I happen to enjoy it in this context and believe that it adds more charm on top of what was already there. A killer concept, fantastic characters, kinetic and impressive animation and excellent music; if PANTY AND STOCKING can keep this up for the remainder of its air time, it’ll no doubt become a cult classic down the road.
PANTY AND STOCKING WITH GARTERBELT is available for free streaming on Crunchyroll.