So it appears that—surprise, surprise—the latest series from Gainax is one of the more divisive additions to the fall anime season. That outcome was likely predicted by most the moment the first trailer aired for Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, a series as dependent on “wild and zany” anime antics as it is the American cartoon styling it liberally dumps into the mix.
As if to highlight this intentionally low-brow excursion right off the bat, the first half-episode’s plot deals with a horrendous plague we all fear on a daily basis: people getting sucked into their toilets. This messy fate is guaranteed from the outset to befall one of our two heroines at some point, whether it be the sexed-out Panty or the sweets-craving Stocking. Whatever or whoever’s behind it, the two will no doubt take them out extravagantly, with the help of fro’d-out bossman Garterbelt and the Jhonen Vasquez-yoinked Gir clone, Chuck.
Cue shameless barf, crap and sex gags, along infrequent bursts of over the top rubberband animation that fits the concept like a glove. What, did you expect any sense of shame from a show called Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt? If not, you’re in for a treat, because director Hiroyuki Imaishi (Dead Leaves, Gurren Lagann) pulls out a lot of his stylistic tricks here, mixing different animation techniques to create the kind of referential Gainax hodge-podge that’s worth watching just to see where they’ll take it next.
The first real taste of this multi-flavored concoction comes when Panty and Stocking go into their “transformation”—Panty’s undies become a gun, Stocking’s stocking lashes out in electric blue sword slashes—and our heroines jump into lovingly rendered and fetishistically drawn-out stripper pole gyrations out of nowhere. There are a few other switch-ups, both hilarious and head-scratching in turn, but it wouldn’t do to spoil them all here.
The first episode of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is anything but dull. As the look of the show would lead one to believe, it borrows aspects of American cartoons—especially those that have aired on Cartoon Network over the years—that extend well beyond the seemingly innocent snatching of one particular character design. The format of shows like Powerpuff Girls is utilized nicely, splitting the show in twain to facilitate two back-to-back bite-sized stories.
Fans of Gainax and, more specifically, Imaishi should definitely give the show a spin. It’s a little Dead Leaves, a little Invader Zim, and a little stupid in an entertaining way. I’d be a little concerned with how well the show would hold up over a full season, but 13 episodes sounds just about right for what this is.
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is available streaming via Crunchyroll.