Three words to describe this episode: God. My. Oh! (A little inside joke there for when you've seen it.) Three more words: What. The. F**k!? But then, this is a Gainax series, and you really wouldn't expect anything else from them when it comes to series closers.
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!!
With her powers gone, Panty has been turfed out on the streets by Garterbelt - "the bitchy angel is now just a bitch", as he so eloquently puts it himself. To make matters worse, it seems that the world around her is happily having sex - the one thing she's no longer allowed to do. Time passes, and Panty finds herself living on a farm and enjoying the farmgirl life - as much of a surprise to her as it is to us, it seems - but thoughts of her old life (and Brief) aren't far away. There's a rescue to be carried out, and Panty's the only person who can do it...
Right. Here we are, at the end of the series (or is it?). Going into the episode, I had a little mental checklist of what I wanted to see: some sort of conclusion to Corset's plans (which would of course feature the demon sisters); the return of Stocking, who was sorely missed in episode 12; and a few scenes that would make the whole thing live up to the promise of the Gainax Ending and leave me scratching my head and wondering what I'd just seen. It's Gainax, it's what we expect of them, right? Happily, I got to check all three items '" along with a few other things that genuinely surprised me, which is something I always appreciate.
You can split the episode into three segments: the first sees Panty regressing to life as a 'normal' farmgirl, as there's not much else she can do without her powers. It's certainly a change from the norm, and seeing Panty happy and not bitchy is surprisingly enjoyable to watch. Earlier in the season, they could have done a segment with this and it would have fit in perfectly '" here, though, there are too many other things that you want to see happen that you can't help but get a little impatient at waiting for the sh*t to hit the fan, which you just know is going to happen.
And happen it does, which brings us to the second segment: the quick and brutal end of Panty's rural life, her return to Daten City to rescue the boy she wants to bang (Brief), the consummation of the deed, and the final battle against Corset, which of course brings Stocking back into the mix. This part of the episode moves along at a rapid pace, with the action being top-notch, beautifully animated and, above all, as funny as hell '" it takes everything that the series has done up until this point, cranks it up to 12, and just runs with it, to great effect. It brings together all the little things that I've enjoyed about the series, right from the start, and you can't help but love it '" the girls are together, more badass together, screwing up in more drastic ways than they've managed to before now, and yet still doing what they set out to do in the way that they always have, and you just get carried along, cheering them on, with occasional breaks for 'whu!?' when the inevitable Bad Things are thrown into the mix.
As the closing credits roll, the main story has been tied up, the gang are set to live happily ever after, and it seems as though there hasn't been a loose plot thread left hanging. And then the post-credit sequence kicks in, which brings us to the third segment I was talking about. This throws everything back in the mixer, gives us the biggest plot twist of the series so far (which is pulled completely out of nowhere and doesn't make much sense, frankly), and is the classic Gainax mindf**k '" which also, coincidentally, sets things up for a second season that may or may not happen (the official word is that it depends on merchandise sales and, curiously, whether the series director can be arsed or not). Sentiment on the 'net in the aftermath of the episode's airing was that Gainax was trolling the fanbase '" which would be completely in keeping with their usual style and a suitable way to end the series. I'm split on the end, I have to say '" it has flair, but it throws so much of what happened earlier in the episode that I couldn't help but be a little annoyed at Gainax for doing it. Which is probably exactly the response they wanted.
To add to the three-word descriptions I used at the start of the review, come the ending you could also add 'epic-level troll' '" it's Gainax, it's what they do, and if you expected anything less, what were you thinking. But it's also huge fun to watch, taking all that's been good about the series and eschewing the bad to give us one last blast before going out with a bang. If a second season never happens, I'll be fine with that, as this works extremely well as it is '" if / when this hits Blu-ray, it will be mine. Well worth making the time to see.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Apple MacBook Pro 17" with 4GB RAM and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.