When I first saw Panty and Stocking I was put off by the cartoony art-style but I guess it has grown on me, occasionally it’ll break into an anime art-style during the magical girl, pole-dancing, stripping transformation. The art-style is kinda like the Power-Puff girls, and in fact the whole thing is littered with references to Western pop culture. I and ThoughtAgent went over many of these references in our YouTube Discussion. The characters cuss and curse a lot, there's a lot of "fucking", "slut", "whore" and that sort of thing which is kind of the appeal of the anime, basically something with raunchy humour but in a western cartoon art style.
Earlier I said it was a bit like the powerpuff girls, that is true when it comes to the artstyle and the monster of the week approach it takes. I would also say it is also a parody of magical girls anime, honestly at this point it feels like there are more parodies and subversions of magical girls anime than the real thing being made if we exclude the franchises like Precure.
The story follows two fallen angels, Panty Anarchy and Stocking Anarchy, in Daten City (a parody of a generic American city) who have to defeat evil monsters called Ghosts to collect heaven coins and return to heaven but they are more interested in having sex and eating candy. Basically they are two overpowered chaotic “good” selfish brats who will not stray from their path.
The anime is 13 episodes long, it peaks at episode 6 when the two evil demon sisters show up, most episodes are divided into two parts, each part dealing with one “Ghost”, because of this every episode has two titles. Episode 6 is an exception and the whole episode is dedicated to one story, and there’s some eye-candy sakugafag worthy action scenes there. The two evil demon sisters want to impose order over Panty & Stocking’s chaos but the themes are not really explored beyond just being presented, in the Scany and Kneesocks (the two demon sisters) are just two badies that need to be defeated.
For those who care, the anime was created by Studio Gainax and directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, right after he directed Gurren Lagaan. I didn’t like Gurren Lagaan, it seemed too much like a hollow homage to Gainax’s early spirit found in stuff like Gunbuster, retreading the same ground, but going so over the top that it becomes a parody of what it wanted to celebrate. Panty & Stocking on the hand felt fresh, and in its own way did channel that over the top, “we’re just going to do it” spirit of Gainax in some places, notably in the climax in episode six where Panty says "I can't help doing the things I want to do, and right now the thing I want to do the most is crush you."
The same message but not in an innocent way like the Daicon III and IV animations, Otaku no Video, and GunBuster but the same “Faustian” message anyway. A youtube comment I recently read said “Trash talk anime all you want, but many anime from the early 2000s onwards are retellings of Faust. Japanese culture takes a lot of influence from German culture, so paradoxically in order to embrace European German culture, the youth have had to do so second hand.” I believe this was the case before the early 2000s already, especially in manga.
The story of (Goethe’s) Faust is that of a man who is not particularly good but is redeemed by his striving always towards something. A different kind of innocence, beyond the dualism of good and evil. Goethe who wrote Faust admired Napoleon and could forgive him for his cruelties in his campaigns because he was striving, engaged in activity, not staying still, becoming. He was destined to fail, on a hopeless quest, and yet somehow precisely because of it he deserved to win, and so was easy to root for.
Panty can only do what she wants to do, damn the rules. I guess it passes off as the rock and roll or punk spirit here, in fact there’s a whole music video at the end of episode 10, where there’s a bunch of parodies of popular rock and roll album covers and other references to music up to the early 2000s. Notice the MTV logo-like logo at the top left of the music video.
The music is quite nice, I especially liked Scanty and Kneesocks theme. The lyrics to the songs in PSG cover the themes better than I could, very much I felt like the anime was harking back to a time when people cared about pop music enough to base their identity as fans of this genre or that genre and get their values from the music. As Zarathustra’s Serpent observed this culture is dead because of the internet you are no longer limited to making a music single which lasts only a few minutes in order to reach an audience.
This may not necessarily be a good thing as I feel music encouraged a certain kind of spontaneity and room for individual interpretation because you can only say so much in a 3 minute song (as opposed to say a multi-hour podcast or a long blog-post) whereas now people just expect to be told what to think down to the last letter. I also feel like these music communities did more stuff than internet communities, so many people just picked up some instruments and tried to start a band or to strive towards something. It is true that there’s a lot of people creating all sorts of stuff but because everything is digital I as Toshio Okada of Gainax said, that it is too easy to call yourself an otaku. The example he picked on was anime fan magazines which you could find in universities back then as opposed to the anime blogs of today… It’s much easier to make a blog than a fanzine, and yet most people don’t even bother with that and just passively consume without creating anything themselves, perhaps back then they had a better balance between difficulty and ease.
Gainax certainly had that virile musical spirit until it lost it sadly. Hideaki Anno is a sixty year old now. Panty & Stocking was one of the last spurts of that virility left in Gainax. I doubt Gainax will rise again from the ashes like a phoenix, even though it would be the thematically appropriate thing to happen.
Panty & Stocking is just a raunchy comedy full of references to Western pop culture (you know stuff like Pulp Fiction, the Beatles, the Micheal Bay transformers movies, most episode titles are references to western pop fiction plus some sex humour) so I’ll admit it’s a bit of a stretch to say PSG has anything to do with something as great as Faust but, I guess, in a very small way it has in how it refuses to stay within its bounds and makes countless allusions to other works outside of it, and we shouldn’t look down on comedies, even raunchy ones – that was Zarathustra’s Serpent’s point though I wouldn’t go as far as to say that comedies are better than tragedies, according to him most life is comedic, I am not sure I would agree with that yet.
I couldn’t notice any references to Japanese pop culture though more discerning eyes than mine will doubtlessly point them out.
There’s a dumb plot twist after credits scene at the end of the last episode as sequel bait to a sequel that will probably never come. Even if they do make it, I believe the people behind the anime are all scattered now so I doubt it would work out. The twist came out of nowhere but it didn’t really bother me that much, just ignore it.
I have listened to the Japanese and English dub because some people said that the English dub was better but no, they were wrong, watch it with subs.
I found out what the "chiralism" in the lyrics ("I got no mercy for chiralism") of the episode 10 "D Rock City" music song meant: "In Japanese, "chiralism," or chirarizumu チラリズム, is, pretty much, accidental or natural "flashing," as in the exposition of skin or underwear.
This term is used in contrast to deliberate flashing, which is considered inferior to chiralism, by the warped logic that seeing skin or underwear is good, but showing it off deliberately is obscene, and obscenities are degrading, and degrading means it loses value.
Thus, somehow, it's more valuable to catch a glimpse of something you want to but shouldn't see than being shown it right away."
I don't see what's warped about this logic, it seems internally consistent.
By Otaking, or The Good Student