Welcome to the surprise review… a.k.a, the opinion that goes against the norm. Probably the quintessential love it or hate it show…and I know which camp I’m in.
What They Say :
The Anarchy Sisters Panty and Stocking are two nasty angels who got booted from the pearly gates for being foul-mouthed bitches! Now they spend their days blowing up ghosts in the lecherous abyss between Heaven and Earth. Panty likes sex, Stocking likes sweets, their afro-sporting main man Garter Belt has a fetish we can’t mention. Together, they’re keeping the streets free of bodily fluids. Ghosts don’t have a prayer against their panty pistols and stocking swords, and if this debaucherous duo can collect enough Heaven Coins, they just might get their halos back. They’ve got a slim chance in hell, but rolling commando is the best way to get lucky – especially with Panty and Stocking!
The Blu-Ray release has a 5.1 Dolby Surround track along with a standard 2.0 Japanese stereo track. Whilst both tracks are good I did have to raise the volume a little on the English dub which surprised me considering the usual quality of Manga Entertainment’s audio releases. No issues when synching in with subtitles and flowed through without a problem. Visually the show is stunning, P/S has a very unique style of animation to say the least so transacting it into Blu-Ray format was near flawless in terms of colour, transition, subtitles and no issues with slowdown or other things such as pausing and colours getting grainy, practically a perfect release in regards to the visual quality.
Both menus are identical, clips of the show whilst the track ‘Fly Away’ plays in the background with the title on the top and selections of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and on the second disc Extras. Like with most Blu-Ray menus, it is super fast to navigate as they immediately bring up a sub menu to select your choices or to go back/forward and no issues with selection from the menu or from watching the show, the only criticism is that there isn’t actually a set menu itself – it is literally just clips from the show, no background, no pictures of any characters, just the clips playing so whilst nice to look at, seems a bit lazy.
The Blu-Ray release of P/S has a ton of extras to get through which is much appreciated, fans of both languages can enjoy something on there in terms of both the dubbing and the creation of the series.
First extra is called ‘Panty + Stocking with Garterbelt Revealed: Unrated Cut’ which is a behind the scenes dub extra involving Colleen Clinkenbeard (Director and voice of Scanty), Monica Rial (Stocking), Jamie Marchi (Head Writer and voice of Panty) and Chris Sabat (Garterbelt) – it is a fan little gush at the show explaining many of the scenes and a few spoilers here and there, describing the characters (all agree on one thing…Panty is a slut), their favourite moments, episodes and ghosts, talking about the animations and even how much work they did in making the outtakes which was done a bit differently than normal. It’s a lot of fun and seeing how they enjoyed working on such a different show is great to look at ourselves.
A similar extra next is called ‘Sit Down With Panty + Stocking’ which is a sit down small interview with the above 4 actors rather than separately, as they explain how some of them heard about the show before, wondering what tricks Monica and Jamie are conspiring for this time, how language became a factor in reworking the dub, how many shows they’ve done over the years and various jokes from the cast in particular from Monica and Chris – both silly and informative.
The next extra is a set of mini-episodes called ‘Panty + Stocking In Sanitary Box’. These are short episodes that take place throughout the series which are only a few minutes long, ranging from Panty opening a pitch at a baseball game, to Brief going on a date with Zombie Panty, what Garterbelt really does on his spare time, to Panty + Stocking: Super Mario Brothers edition. They are nonsensical and silly, but are short and sweet.
We next get a behind the scenes look at the ‘Ghost Explosions’ a.k.a. the live action bits whenever P/S kill a ghost off – the director Hiroyuki Imashi goes through it in terms of photography, storyboards, creation, setting, whilst having a sit down interview with everyone in the process in regards of the creation part, whilst discussing their favourite monsters…so they can blow them up. It’s definitely unique as this isn’t something you see every day in an anime so it was nice to see this. We then get to see their handiwork by seeing all the ghosts explode via the main camera, in multi-angles and we get to see how it compares to the outdoor shot to what the viewer sees in the show.
We get a collection of TV Promos and Commercials, introduced either by Panty, Stocking, both or Garterbelt – depending on the time the promos released, the dialogue changes with the girls but a lot of them are very similar, though different animation is used.
We get a big extra known as ‘Talk Live Animated At Loft/Plus One’ which is a talk show known in Japan at midnight which gets a lot of the P/S team involved at some point – we get the director Hiroyuki Imashi and the sound director Yoshikaza Iwanami getting interrupted by Arisa Ogasawara (Panty) and Mariya Ise (Stocking), we see some of the pre-art work of the characters, some live voice work, then it switches to a lot of the other staff with Sushio (animation director for some episodes), Hiromi Wakabayashi (concept planner), Fumihiko Morohoshi (Director of Photography) who commentate on the last episode with hints of a sequel, and bring in Atsushi Nishigori (worked on the main character designs), Shigeto Koyama (co-ordinator), Naoko Tsutumi (Production Controller), Masahoko Otsuka (Assistant Director) and Kentaro Shiga (CG Line Director) to discuss the fans favourite episodes and commentating on scenes with a Q & A session at the end. It’s a decent length segment with a variety of people involved on the Japanese side which is well worth a watch.
The extras continue with a Making of the Lingerie Scene, a.k.a. that giant leg scene in the final episode. Daisuke Suzuki (CG animator) discusses whether they could do this, how things got revised, working the animation and setting up the studio before filming. It is interesting to see they used a real model for this (Ayuri Suzuki, a live action model and cosplayer) and how they used markers on the green screen then removed it when needed, as we get previews of how it looks step by step before the legs are added – this is definitely very different and an extra you would not normally expect, but it’s again, very appreciated.
We get a set of Outtakes from the dub which was briefly mentioned in the first extra, which are hilarious, but the unique thing is that the cast did three sets of outtakes – your general flubs, then a second list where they pick their favourite moments of the show, and finally when the cast just do some dirty jokes. Like almost everything on this extras release, it is very unique and also very funny.
Finally, we get a US trailer, a clean opening/ending and trailers for The Disappearance Of Haruhi Suzumiya, King Of Thorn, Eva 2.22: You Can (Not) Advance and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Overall, the Blu-Ray extras are long and plentiful and definitely worth it.
Panty/Stocking With Garterbelt is one of those series that being around anime fans and conventions was building in popularity but never really seen. I knew about the unique animation style and some of the music, the show however I had heard mixed opinions about. A lot of it was positive in terms of being one of the silliest and most unique anime in several years, so it was interesting when I got to watch the DVD release earlier in the year. Now I didn’t get to review it at that time but with the Blu-Ray correcting the glitches in the DVD release (basically the UK release didn’t have the last part of the final episode) I can now give my opinion.
And it’s not one I think people will agree with.
The plot of the show is basically these two ‘angels’ named Panty and Stocking, sisters who fight ghosts/monsters sent by something unknown (at this point) to collect angel coins which would return them to heaven – led by a large man named Garterbelt. All three are rather…strange to say the least. Panty is basically a nymphomaniac who ditches the job any time she feels she can have a sexy time, Stocking whilst more serious has just as much a potty mouth…with a huge sweet tooth, and Garterbelt…the less said about his apparent fetishes the better. The three of them spew vulgarities with abandon whilst trying to get over their inadequacies to finish off these ghosts. Which for example, in the first episode (each episode is done in two halves) is basically a monster created by feces which drags Panty down the toilet as it tries to turn the city into well…shit.
And it only goes downhill and sillier from here.
The nature of the series is very episodic – the plot itself is basically the girls trying to collect coins to go back to heaven despite both of them (in particular Panty) not exactly what you would call ‘angelic’. Their weapons are actually parts of their clothing, hence Panty and Stocking which turn into a gun and sword respectively (and one of the few anime style animations is their transformation sequence) whilst dragging along their dog Chuck (who has an uncanny resemblance to GIR from Invader Zim) and a young boy named Brief who has a huge crush on Panty despite her treating him like dirt most of the time. The monster of the week scenario we’ve seen in many anime (though the live action explosion part is quite unique) which gives us some insight to the characters (one episode has Panty become a movie star though she also worked in porn, which seems to suggest the sisters are caring for each other…then Panty screws over Stocking, who in turn gets her revenge by uploading the one remaining copy of her porn movie over the internet), the ghosts range from evil Red Riding Hood to sperm ghosts which want to get rid of the world’s supply of toilet paper….yeah, the show doesn’t take itself very seriously whilst adding a lot of potty mouth and gross out humour.
Some episodes are really strange even in this format – because they actually take it seriously. There is one episode done more traditional anime style which is about a guy down on his luck at work who wants to get an autograph of the sisters for his daughter, whilst another is simply an episode about Chuck which is a trilogy of shorts on his live and his rival…before cutting to a music video on Panty & Stocking. It feels very random but because the story is so basic, you don’t really lose anything, yet you wonder if the show wants to try and be serious or if it is using the absurdity of the episodes to make it funny in that way. I can’t say the episodes ever confused me, but there were definitely some strange placements in that regard.
The plot does actually get to a point with the introduction of the demon sisters Scanty & Kneesocks, and the fact that the ghosts are partly their doing and also due to the mayor Corset, who is an old friend of Garterbelt. One of my favourite episodes despite it’s strange ending is seeing Garterbelt’s past and the fact he had to live out life seeing tragedy after tragedy from past to present before finally seeing his eyes open to God and become the priest he is (albeit not one with very high morals) and how that fits in with the ending, whilst the demon sisters provide some antagonists to the Anarchy sisters, though they are usually easily defeated – the demon sisters are fun and bring a bit more interest to the series, but because of the nature of the series they cannot be taken too seriously.
Looking through the series on a whole, it seems very interesting. Very unique animation which seems more fitting in a Western animation (the style is very Powerpuff Girls-ish), an over the top dub and sub track, with an episode nature which ties in and makes it very silly and funny. At least that’s the idea. So what is the main issue I have with the series?
For me, it’s not funny.
A comedy series which doesn’t make me laugh is a big issue. I’m not going to stay I was frowning throughout – there were definitely a few times where I laughed, but the fact that it was throwing foul humour and jokes it didn’t work for me. I grew up on shows like Bottom and the Young Ones and I enjoy that sort of humour, but here, it really didn’t work. I think part of it is just how unlikeable the lead is, namely Panty – they try and redeem her in the one real plot arc they have near the series (Stocking does return to heaven, Panty doesn’t and she loses her powers) but the fact that Brief still loves her especially when she discovers he is actually quite handsome under his nerdish garb combined with his involved with the plot (which is so silly that I refuse to spoil it) feels like she never learned anything. This is kind of nullified in the last few moments of the series which scream sequel but it was so rushed that you don’t feel anything for Panty. So in terms of both the characters, the plot and the comedy, it failed on all three counts for me. I know it could have been a lot worse – because it’s animated, the gross out humour isn’t as bad visually, but when you have got streams of vomit, feces, nose picking, urinating, toilet’s exploding, etc – it is definitely a love it or hate it style. And for me, it’s the latter rather than the former.
I am aware these series has a lot of fans, and I understand that the humour can work in your favour, so it is definitely a taste thing. But as I said, very few of the jokes really worked. The excellent dub definitely helped a bit (Garterbelt played by Chris Cason is one of my fave roles in recent years), and one character I did legit enjoy in Stocking. She was no-nonsense, had a quirk which was quite fun, and at least was competent (and yes, I enjoyed her involvement in the finale) – of course even she had her own bad moments (that ghost dating episode was…weird even by P/S standards) but overall she was far more likeable than Panty and she was quite interesting overall. Brief as well was a sympathetic character and whilst his deus ex machina involvement with the end was a bit thrown on, it at least tied things over and he got some happiness to a degree after being slapped around by the sisters and Garterbelt via most of the show. The demon sisters gave some interest as antagonists but were barely threatening, and the mayor at the end as the major villain didn’t really do anything until the final episode, so any attempt of a plot was very rushed.
I can’t say as I said I didn’t stay neurotic throughout – the hilarious talking in both languages helped a lot and in terms of visuals and voice work, the series is superb. Unfortunately for me at least, the humour really fell flat on its face, the characters were mostly unlikeable and the plot was all over the place. The nature of the episodic series at least makes sense (killing monsters to get to heaven), the music is good and some episodes did work enough to make me amused. It’s a series that really you need to decide if you think the humour will be your cup of tea. As it is though, it isn’t mine, and that’s the worst thing when deciding to buy a comedy series.
Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is either the funniest thing out there or a disappointing comedy – for me, it’s sadly the disappointing part. Whilst there are good things about the series (animation, voice work, music and some episodes can be funny), for me it just didn’t gel very well despite its unique atmosphere. Most of the characters are unlikeable or not told well, the plot as it is feels very rushed, and the finale hints sequel but again, is very rushed through. Decide if you think you would like it or not, but for myself, whilst the dub and the ton of extras helped a lot in raising its grade, it isn’t one I’d personally recommend – but I’d suggest getting a few opinions before going for gold.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Panty + Stocking with Garterbelt Revealed, Sit Down With Panty + Stocking, Panty + Stocking in Sanitary Box, Ghost Explosions, Ghost Explosions: Documentary, TV Promo Video, Official Home Page Video, Commercial Collection, Post Airing Commercials Collection Z, DVD Commercials 1-2, Talk Live animated At Loft/Plus One, Making Of Lingerie scene, Outtakes, US Trailer, Clean Opening/Endings, Trailers
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: A+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 24th, 2013
Running Time: 351 minutes
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.