Anime / Animation, Films, Japan, Reviews

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

They were kicked out of Heaven. Heaven had very good reasons. This series is not for little kids!…

The two Anarchy sisters are very different from each other: Panty is blond, svelte, fashionable, and seems to think only of sex; Stocking is dark-haired, curvier, goth, and seems to think only of sweets. But when they can be bothered to listen to afro priest Garterbelt, they remember that they’re angels, and that their duty is to rid Daten City of the malevolent ghosts that plague it.

Hm. OK, not quite. The two sisters know perfectly well that they’re angels, and that their only hope to get back to Heaven is to collect enough coins to pay for the trip; and the only way to get coins is to destroy ghosts. Saving the city is a bonus, a nice side-effect, but it’s not exactly foremost in their minds. Men, food, fame, fun, this they work for. All the while being rude, potty-mouthed, self-centred, and mostly “unfit for society”. “Duty” is an alien concept, and they only tolerate getting bossed around by Garterbelt because he can provide them with shelter (in the church) and money.

This series is as straightforward as can be: there is no sexual innuendo, because everything is explicitly expressed. The stylised drawings allow the animators to set up scenes that would need serious censoring otherwise. We’re not talking only about simple nudity or sex: yes, Panty removes her knickers every episode (they transform into a ghost-killing gun) and Stocking removes her leggings (to make swords), but that’s the least of it. Garterbelt is heavily into masochism, scat makes frequent appearances, Panty can rarely be satisfied by a single man at a time, and men’s base instincts are the main plot motor. Frankly, the whole thing would make many people queasy if it were not all played for laughs; as it stands, you will laugh, both with the characters and at them.

I loved this series, but I also loved FLCL and Puni Puni Poemi, and I like most of Excel Saga. Fast-paced animation, silly stories, slapstick, comedy effects overpowering the plot to the point that you start wondering if there is, in fact, any plot. It’s not for everybody, but I think everybody should at least try it :) The director, IMAISHI Hiroyuki (今石 洋之), is an old hand at Gainax: he’s worked on FLCL, Abenobashi, Re: Cutie Honey, and Gurren Lagann. This particular frantic style appears to be his signature. For an even more extreme example, look for Dead Leaves (Production I.G.).

The English edition is pretty well made, with good voice acting (and I normally hate dubs!), although the English dialogues are quite different than the Japanese originals, just turn the subtitles on to notice (the subtitles are a rather close translation of the Japanese dialogues).

Finally, I have to warn you of a defect in my review discs, that may also appear on the retail copies: one and a half minutes appear to be missing from the end of the last episode. After the ending song, we see the gang getting back home, and at that point playback abruptly stops and we go back to the disc menu. Well, there should be about 90 more seconds, with the set-up for the second season. I’m going to investigate a bit to check if it’s just a problem with by copy.

UPDATE: This seems to have been a wider problem. Manga Entertainment is recalling the discs to reissue the disc set on 10 September, with an opportunity to replace those that have already been bought. If you have bought one of the affected discs head to Manga Entertainment’s website for details of a refund or replacement.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is released on DVD today courtesy of Manga Entertainment. And you can also enter our competition to win a copy!

Home media details

Distributor: Manga Entertainment (UK)

Edition: 3-disc DVD (2012)

On disc 1: collection of the various explosions of ghosts; a set of shorts called "Sanitary Box" (English-dub only, there is no original audio).

On disc 2: various Japanese promos for the series; credit-less opening / ending; English dub outtakes; an episode of the Japanese live talkshow "Loft plus One" about the series.

About the author

Brought up on Japanese animation in Italy in the 80s, now an anime and manga enthusiast who prefers good stories and characters to "endless battles and characters that just grow ever more powerful!" dakkar works as a software developer in London... More » Creative Commons License
This review by Gianni Ceccarelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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