Friday, 1 October 2010

Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt - Episode 1

It's new anime season time - hurrah!  Could there be a more contentious way to kick off the autumn season that with what is likely to be the most argued about series of the next few months, GAINAX's Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt?

Panty's days at finishing school were clearly well-spent
This opening episode is actually split down the middle into two stories, introducing us along the way to the world of Daten City, a location somewhere between heaven and hell that attracts more than its fair share of so-called "Ghosts" intent on wreaking havoc of some kind of other upon the inhabitants.  Removing these pesky ghouls is the job of our pair of anti-heroines - the sex-obsessed Panty and the sweet-toothed Stocking, both of whom work for a Samuel L. Jackson-wannabe and man of the cloth (although what kind of cloth I'm not quite sure) Garterbelt.  The two sub-episodes of this opening instalment see our intrepid twosome taking on a spate of incidents where people are eaten by their toilets (if you needed a clue as to where this series is aiming, this is it), followed by a runaway car which turns into one long high-octane chase.
Even if you haven't seen the trailer for this series, the image in this post will tell you a lot about Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt - visually, it dares to be different with non-stop bright colours and thick lines with a very simple comic book style that belies some genuinely impressive moments of animation.  This barrage of visual information suits the fast-paced delivery of the series to a tee, allowing it to throw in loads of sex jokes and double entendres in the midst of all-out insanity - put simply, the series knows it doesn't have to make much sense and it doesn't care, using simple plot devices to give it an opportunity to riff on everything from porn movies through to magical girl transformation sequences.

In terms of both its artwork and content, this is clearly going to be a Marmite series - some people will love it, others hate it.  As it goes, I generally enjoyed this opening gambit; the visuals appealed to be more than I expected (and some of the fluid action animation is hugely impressive at times), it made me laugh a few times, it was superbly soundtracked and it generally worked in its incredibly quirky and oddball way.  That said, I have to question whether the series can keep this up for its entire run - by the end of this episode Panty's sexual references were already starting to feel old, not helped by Stocking being given almost secondary billing at times leaving us with little to reign things in.  Still, I have to applaud GAINAX for doing something different once again with Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt - I can't really call it "fresh" because this kind of thing has been done before, but in the midst of your typical anime season it does feel like a unique breeze that makes for a change for the norm; the trouble is, I imagine GAINAX were looking to whip up a hurricane instead.

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