Wow, I go away for a few days and this happens... Just when I thought that there would be nothing new to say about Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt the second half of the show's fifth episode comes along and blind-sides me.
Before all that however, the first half of this episode is everything we've come to expect from the series from this point, with an obvious gross-out factor from its plot that sees the latest trend in Daten City involving picking your noise, a turn for the ridiculous as the inventor of this technique holds a party within an airship that can only be flown to using the participants feather-light boogers, and a sexual element featuring what can only really be described as nasal sex. Of course, the aforementioned inventor also turns out to be a Ghost, leaving our two anti-heroines needing to use their usual abilities to save the day before this airship crashes into the moon. There are a few laughs laced throughout this sub-episode to be fair amidst all the eye-rolling over the top craziness of it all, so I suppose I can't write it off completely.
Here's here that everything is turned almost complete on its head for the second half of the episode - rather than following Panty and Stocking as they swear, sex and eat up a storm, we instead join an ageing man within Daten City named Taroa in his dead-end job as a salaryman towards the bottom of the career ladder as he's sneered upon by his colleagues and pitied by his boss. Despite being a devoted father, things just seem to get worse and worse for Tarao, and when he picks a decidedly odd present for a female temp in his workplace, leaving her in tears, he's forced to join the office for a drinking session and despite not touching alcohol normally he then finds himself with no choice than to drink a mountain of beer - a state of affairs which leads to the creation of a vomit-induced ghost, which Panty and Stocking duly arrive to despatch.
Simply from reading the above, you'll probably get a very different feel for that sub-episode from anything we've seen from this series before, and so it proves - the animation style is vastly different, swapping the colourful Flash-esque normal animation with a slightly surreal yet dreary and grimy world which is Tarao's home and changing the pace and tone from break-neck frivolity into a slow and brooding analysis of the Japanese office worker and the stressed, strains and social crosses he has to bear in every-day life just to get by. It's an arch piece of social commentary that sits entirely outside of the confines of the mainstay of this series, yet the two are beautifully merged as Panty and Stocking appear in their normal art style (albeit slightly muted in terms of colour) to win the day, standing out so much for once you can understand why they are the cities heroes.
It's really hard to know what more to say about the second half of this episode - it's so striking and fascinating I want to see more of the same, effectively telling tales from the Ghost's point of view as it reaches its point of inception, but at the same time this sub-episode would have been far less striking and fascinating has it not been from the lowbrow insanity which preceded it. Have Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt's four and a half episodes of gross-out and sexual comedy all been building up to this moment? I very much doubt it, but either way it's just sent my interest and feelings about this show up a notch, so it's an intriguing move by GAINAX.