So this is what Gainax did with all that Rebuild royalty cash. Money well spent if I may add. The folks at Gainax, the animation studio behind Panty and Stocking, consist of a bunch of self proclaimed geeks. These people do what they like, how they like it; capable of building or breaking the foundations of contemporary animation, within a moment’s notice. Panty and Stocking is what happens when the animation director for FLCL, storyboard director for Evangelion, and character designer for Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann are all shoved into a room and given the key to Anno’s secret pot stash.
The story follows the eponymous “anarchy sisters” Panty and Stocking, who both seek the path back to heaven. Supposedly kicked out due to bad behavior, the two angels spend their days in Daten City, a place located on the edge of heaven and hell. There, they are tasked with putting the souls of “ghosts” to rest so they can one day regain their place in heaven. The premise is very reminiscent of Dead Leaves. The pacing is fast when it needs to be, and slow when the situation calls for it. Gainax is not afraid to experiment with its characters and settings. Crazy off-the-wall nonstop action coupled with toilet humor, sexual innuendos, and some of the foulest language since Detroit Metal City makes Panty and Stocking one of the must-see shows of Fall 2010 season.
From the moment the two protagonists stepped foot on screen, they instantly became enshrined as two of the strongest and distinctive female duos in anime history comparable to Dirty Pair and Noir. Panty and Stocking themselves are, with varying degrees of subtlety, fundamental subversions of the contemporary anime females. Most noticeably the oft-loathed and distasteful panty shot trope is inversely played as Panty literally transforms her panties into weapons for combat.
Daten City is an immersive and beautifully exposed setting for which the story takes place. One of the subtle nuances of the show is the portrayal of ordinary citizens living in a city, ignorant of the fact that they are being besieged by ghosts. The trope is played straight when the contrast between Little Tokyo and Daten City is made clear. It furnishes the sense that ordinary life in Daten City truly is ordinary.
The show strives be offensive in a manner similar to Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. Except, in the latter, Eric Idle specifically states their motives were to “offend absolutely everyone.” Panty and Stocking, on the other hand, can be likened more to South Park, another show that has absolutely no boundaries. Not only does Panty and Stocking showcase a variety of “questionable” comedic bits and gags, most of its references stem from popular American culture. In a way, Panty and Stocking is to anime as Howard Stern is to radio.
The animation style for this day and age is unique to say the least. Hiromi Wakabayashi, the original creator behind the show is an avid fan of American cartoons which showed in the character designs for Panty, Stocking, and Briefers. Famed animator and director Hiroyuki Imaishi brought along many of techniques evident from his previous work Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann to the action scenes. Imaishi-san’s choreographical genius throughout the show is a sight to behold. DJ Teddy Loid composed most of the show’s musical score, which overtime has become a sensation in its own right. Finally, the cinematography and scripting is masterful at best and experimentally profound at worst. Kobayashi and Nishigori bring their unique art styles as well, most noticeably exhibited in episode 5. Imaishi-san’s animation style has been described as wonderfully kinetic.
Final Thoughts: 8/10
Leave it to Gainax to create a piece that is artistically and literally critical of past and present credo and they will give us exactly that and more. They will present to us the dreams of every nerd, geek, and otaku; a re-envisionment of science fiction and storytelling in animation. Panty and Stocking is, above all else, a work of entertainment that harbors many of the same aspects which personified the Daicon animations. A breath of fresh air in an otherwise stagnant season.