Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt

Once in a great while a groundbreaking work of art reveals itself, each often revolutionizing the way art is interpreted. It can come in a variety of different forms, such as Di Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Van Gogh’s Starry Night, to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby or Orwell’s 1984, to even Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion. We can easily agree that all of these are very unique to one another in their own right, yet all are great pieces of art expressing ideas and emotions beyond belief. Artists aren’t afraid to cross lines or push boundaries for the sake of their work, and they must throw larger stones to make bigger splashes. And sometimes brilliance comes from very unexpected places. In 2010, a new masterpiece was unveiled in the form of a gag anime by the name of Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt.

If I were to try to sum up PSG, I would start by saying it’s a Japanese take on a 90’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon filled with potty humor. It’s like if a Powerpuff Girls and South Park mix were to be aimed at adults and attempt to destroy American pop-culture. To make it even better, this show was produced by none other than Gainax, the studio that gave us Gunbuster, Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL, and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Never before have I seen a show that is so aware of itself and its audience and continues to, for lack of a better term, troll everything. In short, Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt is brilliance at its greatest. Here’s why:

Panty and Stocking are two angels that have been cast down for their misdeeds from Heaven to a place called Daten City, a city located on the edge between Heaven and Hell. In order to earn their way back into Heaven, the angel sisters team up with a black priest named Garterbelt, a geeky boy named Brief, and pet dog Chuck to destroy evil ghosts that plague Daten City. Armed with special weapons— Panty’s panties become powerful guns and Stocking’s Stockings become swords— and powerful addictions— sex and sweets, respectively— the two set off to save the world and win their way back into heaven.

Anime has a very distinctive art style. Characters often have big eyes, small mouths, disproportionate curves, and crazy hair-dos of many different colors; when you see this type of animation, you assume it’s anime, or influenced by anime. However, PSG is one anime that certainly does not fall into this trend of animation. Like I said earlier, this show really has the art style of a 90’s Hanna-Babera cartoon, and overall has a very American feel to it, but the style does jump around from time to time, such as with the classic transformation scene (straight out of Sailor Moon); this is probably used to emphasize exactly what it’s doing with all of it’s pop-culture references.

And it certainly isn’t lacking in pop-culture references. As a theme, each episode name is a twist of some American movie or TV Show. Titles include: Sex and the Daten City, Pulp Addiction, High School Nudical, etc. Beyond the simple title references, each episode is packed to the brim with references to various celebrities, movies, cartoons, etc, both American and Japanese, such as Saving Private Ryan, and American Pie. What makes this so brilliant is not only with how comedic the parodies are, but also with how sneaky they are with it and how well it fits in with the overall theme of the show.

There really is no over-arching plot. Like The Powerpuff Girls, or Dexter’s Laboratory, each episode is a stand-alone and often have two or more stories within one episode. However, the demon sisters, Scanty and Kneesocks, are reoccurring villains which later play a large roll in the finale. Each episode also has its own unique style, likely as a result of having a different director for each, bringing in their own different styles that really provides a greater variety for greater enjoyability. As the series progresses, the styles become weirder and more clever. Nothing is predictable; nothing is controllable; nothing could be better.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the greatest things about this show is how much Gainax plays with its audience. They build up expectations and suddenly turn in another direction, or they exceed themselves so ludicrously even when you think that they can’t make it any better. Like other Gainax shows, PSG is a roller coaster of fun and has you enjoying from start to finish, and just gets better as it goes. While on the surface, PSG is just a ridiculously fun show, it gets even better when given a closer look. Hints and tiny clues are lain about all over each episode; when given no second thought, they come back several episodes later with something new and completely unexpected, yet not unprecedented.

It really is hard to try to sum up and describe Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, because the sheer brilliance is too much to contain. This show has most certainly been one of the best shows I’ve seen in years, and probably the best I’ll see in a long while. Overall, this dirty-mouthed show easily boasts a 10/10, and is now among my favorite shows of all time, rivaling Neon Genesis Evangelion. I highly recommend this not only to diehard fans, but also to casual watchers who will definitely get a good kick out of this show as well. Thankfully, hints to a second season have been given to us through the amazing original soundtrack, but who’s to say that Gainax isn’t playing with our expectations once more? Well, until we can truly say, this has been just another review by The Geek With Taste.

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