Thursday 30 December 2010

Anime REVIEW: Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

When the team behind Gurren Lagann first announced that this would be the name of their next project, along with this trailer, I'd be lying if I didn't wonder what the hell they were thinking. Gainax have always been known for taking things to the extreme, but this looked like it was that little bit too far. Nevertheless, because of the quality of Gurren Lagann and other Gainax works I planned to give this a go.

And I am so glad I did.

The plot is simple. It revolves around two angels by the names of Panty and Stocking, who were kicked out of heaven due to their behaviour and have been assigned with ridding Daten City of demonic creatures known as ghosts. They are guided by black-afro priest Garterbelt and aided by their pet/chewtoy Chuck (who is a homage to the disguised Gir from Invader Zim) and ghost hunter/geek boy Brief. Panty and Stocking's powers are as their name suggests - Panty has the ability to turn underwear into pistols (and various other weapons) while Stocking's stockings can be transformed into a pair of swords. While early episodes are mostly one-off shorts, recurring rivals soon appear in the form of demon girls Scanty and Kneesocks, and their master - the bondage loving Corset, and the bare bones of a story are revealed.

Its colourful, it's crude and it's genius. Panty & Stocking blends the art style of western cartoons such as Dexter's Lab and The Powerpuff Girls with crude humour and over the top action sequences. Ghosts range from excrement monsters to sperm monsters and the girls power up via a (tradionally styled anime) pole dancing sequence. Ghost deaths are provided by the detonation of papier mache and Gainax take a pop at Catholic priests in ways that have to be seen to believed. A kid's show this ain't.

Every episode title is a direct reference to something else - Excretion without Honour or Humanity (Battle without Honour or Humanity), Bitch Girls I & II (Bad Boys 1 & 2) but one episode takes it a lot further than that. Episode 7 part 1, entitled Transho'mers, is a fully fledged Transformers parody - completely with G1 inspired designs for the two lead characters, a whole heap of blink-or-you'll-miss-it references and a few pop shots at the live action movies. It's this kind of attention to detail that makes you wonder what a Transformers series would be like in Gainax's more than capable hands.

With a great cast of characters, fantastic (adult humour), a killer soundtrack and a cliffhanger ending that will leave you laughing, confused and eager for more , Panty & Stocking is everything you'd want from a comedy anime that differs from that norm. Gainax, you've done it again.

Anime of 2010? I'd like to think so.


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