DVD Review: PANTY AND STOCKING WITH GARTERBELT

(I cannot top this release's own tagline: "Drop Those Britches, Bitches!")

When animation studio Gainax (home of the "Evangelion" franchise) announced "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt" we sort of threw a wobbler here at Twitch. The ever more worrying 'lolicon' trend in Japanese animation seemed to have reached a new low point, as early designs showed pictures of what looked like little girl puppets in a sexualized context.

Flash forward several years to me watching the new Manga UK DVD-release and laughing my socks off.

For "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt" is one of the funniest, most irreverent anime I've ever seen, and its eclectic mixing of styles and hectic pace is a marvel to which I quickly got addicted. And while it isn't too raunchy, it certainly IS cheeky in places.
Read on...


The Story:

Daten City is under constant attack from evil ghosts in all shapes and sizes. Who you gonna call? Why, the Anarchy Sisters of course: Panty and Stocking!

Two angels banned from heaven for not being AT ALL celestial, Panty and Stocking hunt ghosts to earn heavenly coins which one day might buy them a trip back home. In the meantime, while they are stuck on Earth the hot Panty bangs any boy who looks halfway pretty and the cute Stocking is addicted to eating cakes and candy. The "Charlie" to these angels is Garterbelt, a giant priest who likes young boys a wee bit too much. Could this trio get any dodgier? Add to this the fact that in case of emergency the girls' underwear magically transforms into guns and swords, so Panty and Stocking have devised a rather attention-grabbing routine to get their weaponry out in a fight...

Panty_Stocking_with_Garterbelt_ext1.jpgDespicable behavior notwithstanding, after several successful ghost-hunts Panty and Stocking are well on their way towards amassing enough coin for the trip back upwards. But then they meet their neme-sisters: two sizzling demons called Scanty and Kneesocks... and Daten City is in for a bitchfight of biblical proportions.


The Series:

How to describe "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt"? Think of a mixture of "Dexter's Lab" and "The Powerpuff Girls", then throw in enough cursing and sexual references to make it R-rated. Sporting the abstract looks of American cartoons as made by Genndy Tartakovsky, the series nevertheless revels in being lewd. It spoofs the whole fanservice phenomenon, yet at the same time some of the cheekier parts are lovingly rendered in very detailed anime sequences which well... do the trick. It's a typical case of having your cake AND eating it, but the series constantly manages to do so without making me angry.

According to its creators this series saw the light of day based on a drunken idea, and that at least is easy to believe. Director Imaishi's earlier stellar effort "Dead Leaves" had similar origins so I advise everyone to buy him a drink whenever you meet him.
Because "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt" is funny. Laugh-out-loud funny even at times. Jokes zip along with great speed using either exaggeration, rudeness or references to other genre material. That last one is always tricky of course: cultural referencing can be the death of a series like this but Hiroyuki Imaishi keeps things a bit smarter than in, say, a series like "Family Guy". There is always an additional joke added to the references, something which makes the characters even more bizarre or their actions even more over-the-top. An episode-long spoof of "Transformers" therefore stays amusing rather than becoming tired.

Not that you're likely to become tired anyway, as the episodes (nearly) all consists of two mini-stories which are only 11 minutes long. It makes the series bite-sized and all the more easily digestible. Now if only I could get the funky opening tune out of my head...


Conclusion:

Irreverence is the name of the game here, and "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt" succeeds at that. It's probably too lightweight to ever be classified as satire but I would be lying if it didn't entertain the hell out of me. And I just might have to buy the catchy soundtrack.

I'd love to recommend this but there is this thing called taste. It differs amongst people, so I'd recommend you check out a sample first. Having said that: if you liked the trailer go get it!


About the Discs:

Manga UK is releasing "Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt" as a three-disc DVD set,coded PAL for region 2. I would have loved a BluRay of this but nobody outside of Japan is releasing this in HD, so I'm not going to blame Manga UK. This DVD-set is perfectly serviceable though and pulls off the neat trick of including a couple of the extras found on the Japanese BluRays. This is important, so more on that later.

Panty_Stocking_with_Garterbelt_ext2.jpgVideo and audio are good, with both Japanese and English dubs present. I really prefer the Japanese dub here though as the original voices are spoofs already. The optional English subtitles are good as well.

Now for the extras: there are LOADS of them, over 100 minutes worth. We have clean opening and closing credits, promos, mini-films, English voicecast bloopers, a fan event which is very funny for the vast amount of background information and the incessant cursing of the Japanese cast... But the real gold is in the explosions.
I'll explain: whenever Panty and Stocking defeat a ghost, you see a live-action sequence of a plaster model of that monster being blown up. It's a great visual joke which never gets old and the extras show in great detail what effort went into creating these sequences. You see the crew nearly shocked to death by the loudness of the first try-out with the explosives, and you see their shit-eating grins when checking the footage in slow-motion. In short: you see grown-up people having way too much fun while doing their job. The behind-the scenes shots here are awesome, and I could watch these guys blow shit up all day. One of the best extras I've seen this year on a disc.

All in all I really recommend checking out these discs. I had an almost illegal amount of fun with them.



You can buy this discset through our affiliate (click here).

NOTE: Amazon had temporarily pulled this item due to a mastering error on the third disc which resulted in the end credits missing on the last three episodes. Unfortunately that meant an intentional post-credits sequence on ep.13 was also missing. Botched discs can be returned to Amazon for a refund, and Manga UK has re-released a repaired version.

I didn't notice it during the reviewing, although the sudden ends struck me as a LITTLE odd, but now that I've been alerted I checked my copy and yes: I've got one of the faulty ones. Grrrr.... it's a shame as this was really one of my favorite releases so far this year.
We've now been assured that if you buy this title through a major outlet you should only get the fixed version.

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