What They Say
Daten City is being rocked by weird happenings. It's the work of Ghosts taking advantage of human desires! Two angels, Panty and Stocking, are sent from above to deal with the threat...but they turn out to be a pair of delinquent miscreants?! A storm is brewing in Daten City as the double trouble ghost hunt begins!!
Daten City lies on the faultline between Heaven and Hell, and is a place where humans live under constant threat from evil spirits. Our heroines, Panty and Stocking, are tasked with protecting the residents, under the guidance of Garterbelt, a priest who provides them with hints from heaven as to where the next attack will be. Public toilets seem to be the current problem, with many people having been essentially eaten while dealing with calls of nature, and so Panty and Stocking are called to duty. Which, frankly, takes as while, as neither of them are really all that motivated. Once they do get the urge to get moving, though, evil spirits lookout - these girls don't take no shit. Their first trip in search of problems draws a blank, but a post-curry trip to the crapper for Panty results in her getting more than she bargained for. Later, an out-of-control possessed sports car provides the next challenge for the girls, and this is one spirit who won't go without a fight...
Right, where to start. Can I just say that, in keeping with the nature of the show, this review will contain strong language! I think anyone who saw the short preview clip for Panty and Stocking a few weeks ago would have been aware that it was going to go for the "what the fuck!?" response, and frankly I would have been disappointed if it hadn't delivered on that front. It did, and in spades - and perhaps more surprisingly, I enjoyed it.
But let's start at the beginning, shall we? Our heroines are described in the show as "the hoebag, and the goth with the stupidly long hair", and that pretty much describes them to a tee - blonde-haired Panty spends as much her free time as possible in bed with whoever she can pull (size is secondary to flexibility, apparently), while Stocking is rather more demure at first glance - although no less foul-mouthed. The pair drop f-bombs with regularity, and lesser swear words every other sentence - this is not the show for you if you easily take offence. They're under the tutelage of priest Garterbelt, who keeps them in business and, where necessary (often) motivated. Don't be expecting much in the way of character depth, at least yet, as the show moves along at such a rapid pace that there's very little time for retrospection - it's all action, all the time, and very rarely takes a breath.
The need to not take offence also applies to the story, in places. The episode provides two short stories, the first of which delves right down the crapper while the second is a more simple high-speed chase. Normally, toilet humour just gives me the squicks, but it's played quite well here, with the style of animation thankfully helping to make the copious amounts of excrement that get thrown around a little less ick to look at; and with the second story focussing as much on Panty's lack of panties as on the runaway spirit itself, you're left in no doubt that this show's sense of humour is aiming straight for the lowest common denominator. And yet it works surprisingly well - while I wasn't just blown away by the sheer audacity of what the show's trying to pull off, I was laughing along and genuinely enjoying myself. Colour me pleasantly surprised.
As for the visual style... If you took the people behind the Powerpuff Girls, pumped them full of mind-altering substances, and then locked them in a room until they came up with something, this would probably be what you get. The style is distinctly western in its look (a feeling reinforced by all the on-screen text being in English - whoever picks this up for DVD release won't have to worry about a songs & signs track), and even takes a little inspiration from 1960's Batman, with Splat! Thud! Pow! appearing splattered across the screen where appropriate. Amongst anime, it's unique - but it also takes a little of getting used to. If I wanted something in the Genndy Tartakovsky style, I'd turn over to Cartoon Network - watching anime, I expect a somewhat different, more Japanese, style, and you don't get that here.
Overall, though, I have to say I loved Panty & Stocking - there's nothing like it out there at the moment, and while it's gutter humour it's oozing with the confidence and style that's needed to pull it off. Whether it'll keep its appeal over the full run is something I'm less certain of, but I'm certainly looking forward to finding out, and this episode almost demands that you at least give it a try..
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.