Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt – First Impressions

This series wasn’t on my initial Fall 2010 watchlist because it looked/sounded dumb; I didn’t like the way the promotional material looked. But I couldn’t resist cracking open the first series of the season, and it was a GAINAX production after all, even on a bad day their shit ain’t bad. But holy crap, I was not prepared for Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. One series into the season, I’ve learned to not judge a book by its cover.

In classic GAINAX fashion, this series is an A.D.D. sufferer’s wet dream – or nightmare: brimming with manic energy, color, and movement. A single half-hour episode is actually split into two distinct stories. It also employs a great number of different animation styles ~ usually sticking to a highly abstract style with almost Chuck Jones-like settings. The dialogue contains coarse language; every curse in the book is thrown around with abandon, both in Japanese and English, just for the hell of it.

It’s also full of sexual content; Panty is a promiscuous blonde who’s always jumping out of bed with some random dude, while Stocking is a goth obsessed with sweets. ‘Panty’ and ‘Stocking’ are the two heroines’ names, but also those of their weapons: Panty’s panties turn into a Desert Eagle while Stocking’s stocking transforms into a katana. Their appearance also transforms into a more realistic anime style when in full ass-kicking mode, with character designs that wouldn’t be out of place in FLCL or Gurren Lagann. That I did not expect.

The spectral foes they fight are no less novel: Part I features an evil mammoth shit spirit; Part II deals with a demon that possesses a sports car, then a semi, then a train. In both parts, Panty and Stocking  are backed up by literally thousands of cop cars with trigger-happy, stereotypical American cops. When a foe is defeated, their demise is depicted with a live-action explosion of a physical model. Very odd, but it works.

Other than the fact Panty & Stocking are actually angels and live on Earth (in a church with Garterbelt, a reverend), we don’t know much about the characters, but I’m sure future episodes will fill in the blanks. The entire sex, gun, and profanity-laced episode, with the exception of a couple brief moments of rest, is almost bursting out of the TV screen. The amount of detail and the speed with which frames flip by warrants multiple viewings. If every episode is like this, I can say confidently that GAINAX has something good here. Totally bonkers, but good. Rating: 4

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