I feel off the anime bandwagon a years ago. But dismissive as that sounds, that means I used to watch it. I used to love anime. The characters we so cool, the action was intense, and some times, plots could get more intricate and heady than the movies I was watching at the time. Anime has a incredible, over-the-top charm that immediately makes it a divisive form of entertainment (this interest can still be found in me, since I effin’ loved No More Heroes). Of course, the rabid and often embarrassing fanbase could be another thing against it gaining any sort of mainstream acceptance.
But, it was inevitable that I’d get to the point where I saw that every anime had several flaws. Unbelievable plot that were dragged out way after their expiration date, cliche-recycling, and undue focus on exposition, and way too much fan service. How many modern animes have a character with a latent ability that’s overpowering them? Also, at some point, I couldn’t stand the art style. I couldn’t sit through a single episode of Code Geass back when that was huge because the art was unbearable. Death Note was the last anime I can remember really getting into.
This is a very circumlocutory way of setting up that Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt was the first anime that’s piqued my interest since then. I’m not entirely sure where I first heard about it — the Anime Vice panel at the bottom of Giant Bomb pages may have been the main culprit — but for whatever reason, I jumped on it. There’s the obvious element of TNA (which P&G overflows with), but if that was the only reason, then I had many more options to choose from.
I think what attracted me to it was that I assumed that it was anime’s take on American animation, as well as a parody of actual anime, a suspicion that, while fairly obvious, turned out to be more accurate than I though it would be. You’re given a loose setup (Panty and Stocking are angels who have to kill ghosts in order to get back into heaven), then left to watch a monster-of-the-week framework. After watching the entire first season, I ended up liking it quite a bit, and I can say that without feeling like I’d soon post a video on YouTube compromising any respect I’d earned up to that point.
Everything about P&G is so stupid and crazy that it’s hard not to think the show is doing it for effect. It appeals to a very juvenile sense of humor (the first monster they fight is made entirely made of shit), and it makes no appeal to craft any sort of story besides its premise until the very end of the season, which, unfortunately, it’s at its worst. Because it doesn’t take itself seriously in any real capacity (like so many anime do), the farcical fight scenes are that much easier to swallow, and it makes the show as a whole more enjoyable.
It even manages to deviate adeptly from its insane plot; one episode has a man whose daughter is a fan of Panty and Stocking, being fired from his job and forced to promise his daughter that she’ll get to see her idols for her birthday. This episode takes a completely different tone, and it (hopefully) shows that Gainax has more than just fan service and parody planned for the series.
So yeah, I liked Panty & Stocking. Enough to watch it in Japanese with subtitles, something I’ve never done. I think the fact that it’s stupid and it knows it is a huge part of why I can enjoy it without hating myself. And the soundtrack’s not bad either.