People in Britain are used to the idea of Japanese anime or manga sometimes being rude, violent or sexual. What might surprise people is that some series which look Western are actually anime made in a Western cartoon style.
The most notable of these is the provocatively titled Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, a 13-part anime series from 2010 which from the title automatically sets itself out as being risqué. However, for many people what jumps out is the style. It was directly influenced by adult animation from America. If you showed the dubbed version of the series to a passing member of the public, the chances are they would say that it is American rather than Japanese.
The series follows the Anarchy Sisters: Panty and Stocking, the most badly behaved angels in all of Heaven. In fact they so bad that they are thrown out of Heaven and are now working their way back up. The two are sent to Daten City, located on the border between Heaven and Hell, where they live with Garterbelt, an African-American priest with a huge afro and cursed with immortality, as well as a dog-like creature called Chuck.
The Sisters job is to go around killing various “Ghosts” that haunt the city. This is done by turning their undergarments into weapons – Panty’s panties turn into a pistol, and Stocking’s stockings become swords. Each time they kill a ghost they get “Heaven Coins” to buy their way back to Heaven. The problem however is that the Sisters are too busy indulging their sinful lives. Panty has a goal of sleeping with 1,000 men before going back to Heaven, while Stocking is a sugar-addict.
As the series progresses Panty and Stocking come across various allies and enemies. They are often helped by a nerdy Ghost-hunting kid called Brief, who despite being a constant victim of abuse has a crush on Panty. On the other hand they often battle against the two Demon Sisters, Scanty and Kneesocks, who help create Ghosts.
Arguably the main reason to watch Panty & Stocking is the style. If you are new to anime and do not mind your comedy to be rude, then this is a series to invest in. It looks like something you might see in a post-watershed Cartoon Network slot. Think of the Powerpuff Girls if they said “Fuck” a lot and did more shagging. The episodes, which are usually 24 minutes in length, are often split into two so each part tells a different story, so they are more like 10 minutes long, like a traditional Western cartoon.
There is also a mixture of styles. While most of the action is Western-looking, whenever Panty and Stocking or Scanty and Kneesocks transform their lingerie into weapons, it turns into a more anime-looking style. When a Ghost is killed, it cuts away from the animation and to a paper-mache model of the Ghost and is blown up on live-action film. There is also one story which is filmed entirely in one shot, without the “camera” moving.
The plots are varied too. Some are action-paced. Others are more comedic. One or two are romantic. Another is a music video. The comedy is the central elements in Panty & Stocking. This is probably the best example of a gross-out anime. There are lots of jokes featuring violence, foul language, and especially sex. Not only do you have Panty’s nymphomania, but Stocking and Garterbelt seem to be fetishistic too.
Obviously Panty & Stocking is not going to be for everyone, but if you like your comedy blue, it’s a series to look into. If you don’t like it, then fuck off.
The series is released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Manga Entertainment. The original DVD release was dogged by faults and was recalled. The DVD release is OK now, but do be careful if buying second-hand.