Taking a break from the Pokemon posts before I put up the last one[s]. Enjoy!
Okay for starters let me just address what a miracle it is that I watched the whole thing straight through as it came out and never got more than two episodes behind. This review is going to contain spoilers, by the way, so if you haven’t seen the whole thing, proceed with caution and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
When I first started watching Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, I really wasn’t entirely sure what to think. My impression from the first episode, which I did a post about, was a positive one, but I still really wasn’t sure what I was in for. This is probably a good time for me to make a confession: Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is the first GAINAX series I’ve watched. I caught an episode of FLCL and didn’t really care for it (but it wasn’t the first episode and I was young at the time, so I may revisit this one since it’s short), Evangelion just never caught my interest, and, while I plan on watching Gurren Lagann, I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Let’s keep this lack of GAINAX in my life in mind while reading this review, since that probably had some bearing on my reaction to PSG.
Back to the whole unsure what to think thing. One of my biggest concerns was that the series was setting out to do nothing more than mirror the flavor of Western cartoons. Now, this wouldn’t have been bad, persay, but it wouldn’t have been as entertaining as the potential it has was. I could just watch Danny Phantom and South Park back to back and have the same basic experience. Not to mention a lot of times, if the only goal a piece of entertainment has is to mimic the style of another form of entertainment, it ends up feeling stale. Except this is NOT what PSG was. Yes, there was a lot of mirroring of Western cartoons taking place. However, GAINAX mixed in their own flavor and turned it into something a bit different. This became apparent in episode 6 when Scanty and Kneesocks appeared.
While the majority of the episodes followed the Western cartoon-esque formula, there were enough mold-breakers, including the Scanty and Kneesocks intro, to make it feel unique. Much as it put me off by being the first segment that legitimately grossed me out, the vomit segment was an unusual contrast in tone to the rest of the series. The segments like the D-City Rock music video and Chuck to the Future came out of nowhere to shake things up.
The way the series gave us Garterbelt’s past was one hell of an entertaining method. Of course, you also can’t talk about the unusual aspects of Panty and Stocking without mentioning the ending. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Stocking changes sides. I do hope this will lead to a season 2, because so many of the speculations as to what that means are fascinating. A lot of people are confused as to how Stocking can be a demon if she’s Panty’s sister, but I think it’s pretty clearly out of personal decision. After all, demons often are Fallen Angels. The series was able to deliver itself in a variety of different styles, though it maintained the same basic flavor.
That said, I think the Western cartoon influence was actually a big factor in my enjoyment of the series. I’m sure I’ll be burnt at the stake for saying this, but I enjoy Western cartoons quite a bit, and the throwback in storytelling style to cartoons like the Powerpuff Girls made me happy inside. It’s also a very friendly format for weekly following, and considering my previous track record with watching new shows, that was a blessing.
Something that’s a bit unusual in how it was pulled off is how incredibly likable and interesting the characters were despite being rather flat. Typically a show with such basic characters fails, it’s carried by its plot or some other element, or the fans flesh out the characters’ personalities more. In Panty and Stocking none of the above are true. The characters are lovable on their own despite not having much to them. It’s hard to explain how I got so attached to a blonde whose life goal was to sleep with 1000 men and a gothic lolita whose sweet tooth rivals that of just about anyone, but I really did. Let alone Scanty and Kneesocks. Those two stole the show and I’m still not entirely sure how. Okay, so fans’ attraction to Kneesocks was kind of inevitable, what with the glasses and the, well, knee socks. But I honestly don’t understand it myself how much I got attached to these characters.
Another obvious plus was the music. Most people cite this show’s soundtrack as one of their favorite things about it, at least if they really like electronic music. And well. I really like electronic music. I really like the variety in the soundtrack. It has soft and gentle pieces like Chocolat as well as adrenaline building dance songs like D-City Rock, and it delivers quite well on both ends of the spectrum. Songs like Chocolat usually don’t catch my attention, but it’s one of my favorite tracks. It’s the rare subdued and gentle song that has a hook that keeps me listening to it, not just using it as a song to sleep to.
I have a bias towards the songs with proper vocals, I must confess, but the pure techno dance beat tracks that make up the majority of the soundtrack are also enjoyable to me. I believe it’s safe to say that the best way to judge that kind of music is on how much it makes you want to get up and dance. Most of the techno songs on this soundtrack have me dancing in my chair at the very least, if not up and making a fool of myself in my bedroom.
And then of course there is Juice, which is. Um. A category all to itself.
But that’s not to say there aren’t flaws in Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. It certainly has its shortcomings as well. For one thing, it really doesn’t succeed as a comedy. I think everyone was under the impression from the start that Panty and Stocking was supposed to be a comedy. I think that’s exactly what it was trying to be. But, while the show is enjoyable and easy to get into for other reasons, as a comedy it utterly failed. I don’t think I laughed even once. The series is certainly enjoyable for other reasons, but when a show is aiming to be a comedy but fails to deliver laughs, that really has to be taken as a point against it.
Another fault I found with the series was the obvious preference for Panty over Stocking that GAINAX displayed. I wasn’t one of the fans who vastly preferred Stocking; I liked the Anarchy sisters about equally, but I have to say it was frustrating that Panty pretty much always hogged the spotlight. I somehow get the feeling that this is exactly what caused Stocking to do what she did at the end of the final episode, though, and I hope that’s the case and it results in more screentime for Stocking if we do in fact get our season 2 (hey everyone go buy PSG merchandise so GAINAX will consider making season 2!). Also of course there was not enough of the Daemon sisters. But then again, is there ever enough of the Daemon sisters?
All in all, I considered Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt to be a highly enjoyable use of my time, but certainly not anything moving or groundbreaking. It’s the type of show you watch when you want to watch something entertaining and high energy but doesn’t make you think too hard. I’d recommend it so long as you go in realizing that there will be grossout humor and nothing particularly meaningful to be said.