Not All Angels Are Holy: “Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt”

Copyright © 2010 by Gainax.

Animation opens up a lot of possibilities for action, adventure, and comedy, considering how extreme or exaggerated things can get when you stop caring about how “realistic” things have to look.

And then there’s being deranged.  Anime has plenty of that, but then there’s this special little Gainax series called Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.  And let me tell you… it’s weird.

The Story: Collect Coins, Save The World… Have Sex, Eat Sugar…

Panty and Stocking Anarchy are two angels who were forced out of Heaven to fight Ghosts from Hell and collect Heaven Coins that will let them go back.  However, they’re less concerned about doing their duty and more about having a good time in their own ways.  In Panty’s case, it’s having sex with every male in sight, and with Stocking, it’s devouring every sugary confection and tasty snack she can find.  Yet their priestly supervisor Garterbelt has to keep them in line and focused on every episode’s plot, which usually involves finding a malicious Ghost, killing it with underwear that transforms a mystical gun and sword, and then blowing it up in a sudden live-action scene.

I’m not kidding.  This is how every episode ends.

The Cast: Not All Angels Are Holy

Panty is a blonde bombshell whose need for sex and fame is insatiable and whose panties can turn into a gun that kills Ghosts.  Her sister Stocking is a goth girl who needs a constant supply of sugar and has a pair of stockings that turn into a pair of katanas.  They tend to fight with each other almost as often as they fight Ghosts, requiring the intervention and discipline of Garterbelt, an African-American priest whose default expression is pissed off.

Besides their green comic relief dog Chuck (who’s supposed to be an homage to GIR from Invader Zim), there’s also Brief, a social misfit high school student who’s obsessed with ghost hunting and Panty’s beauty.  He usually ends up on the receiving end of a lot of pranks and collateral damage in their fights, yet doggedly remains friends with the sisters.

The ghosts themselves are often based around a motif specific to each episode… like sperm, nose-picking, Little Red Riding Hood, or bees.  It’s bizarre and more often than not an excuse to have a series of crude jokes.  The most frequent recurring villains are a pair of demon sisters named Scanty and Kneesocks, who are an obvious foil for the Anarchy sisters.  They tend to be smarter and more seductive, although their plans suffer because they’re not foolproof (and the angelic sisters can be surprisingly determined fools).

The Style: Anarchy In Animation

This show? Obsessed with bathrooms. Seriously. Copyright © 2010 by Gainax.

The show is essentially Powerpuff Girls by way of South Park (and in one episode, the characters even get drawn in a South Park style).  It’s crude, it’s loud, it’s fast, and it’s larger-than-life.  To say anything more would be pointless.  You’d have to watch it to fully get it.

Final Verdict: A Crazy, Cool Cartoon, But Not My Favorite

The show is pretty entertaining, but it’s not something I would watch more than once.  I had some trouble just getting through the thirteen-episode series. The jokes and fights can get a little repetitive and I’m just not that invested into the characters themselves.  They’re good caricatures, but caricatures nonetheless.  I’m not saying people shouldn’t watch it or like it, but that I’m not as much a fan of it as I am of other shows like FLCL and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which are some great animated comedies.

Bibliography: Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt.  Directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi.  Based on the manga written by Tagro.  Gainax (studio).  Funimation Entertainment.  October 1, 2010 –December 25, 2010.

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