[Hello all and welcome back to Weeb Analysis where this month we’ll be looking back at one of the crassest and most insane anime of the 2010s with Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. Weeb Analysis is a monthly column dedicated to analyzing new anime and seeing which titles are true classics in the making and which ones are worthless shlock not worth your time. The question now stands: is Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt worth your time or not?]
I feel like a bit of a codger sitting here right now.
While this column is meant to talk about the latest anime releases, throughout July there was only one title on my mind. It was a show that I watched back in high school and was the first anime I remember watching that wasn’t on cable or On Demand or on DVD. I can’t remember if my friend gave me some burned DVDs of the series or if he gave me a link to a pirating site where I watched it, but this series was my introduction to watching anime on the internet. Anyway, the series rocked the boat back in 2010, then was quickly forgotten. During Anime Expo 2022, however, the unthinkable happened. 12 years later, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is officially getting a sequel.
It’s hard to really explain why this is such a big deal. Let’s not get into the narrative reasons (yet) why this is significant, but from a production standpoint, this is the equivalent of my favorite show Hannibal getting a fourth season announced. Anime sequels are not guaranteed. As shows become more and more expensive to make and the industry grinds its animators into dust, unless you are a part of a major series that is highly lucrative, the likelihood of getting a sequel is low. Shows can go for years, sometimes even decades, before getting a second season.
It doesn’t even matter if you’re critically lauded. If you’re not prime for generating revenue, a sequel isn’t happening. The Devil Is A Part Timer was a beloved anime that aired in 2013 and is only just now getting a second season. No Game No Life was one of the best shows of 2014 and after getting a feature film in 2017, the odds of a second season are slim. Hell, even Berserk, which is one of the most highly regarded manga of all time and considered by many to be a masterpiece, went 18 years before its story was continued in animation and it’s likely going to be a long wait until even more gets adapted.
So when a series like Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, which was a polarizing release at best for a variety of reasons, was revealed to be continuing, many anime fans, myself included, exploded. It was impossible. It shouldn’t have happened. The series that is so un-anime, so rude, so vulgar and indecent, was going to continue? Sign me the hell up. And it dominated my mind for the month. I was going to talk about Birdie Wing: Girl’s Golf Story and its ludicrous world of mafia golf competitions, but that can wait until the show fully wraps next year. This takes priority. So I decided to rewatch the series for the first time in 12 years. I relived my high school youth here and the show is still just as bonkers and lewd as I remember it being.
The series stars two fallen angel sisters, named Panty and Stocking, who were kicked out of Heaven for just how unangelic they were. Panty wants to have sex with everything that moves and Stocking is a glutton for sweets. Then there’s all of the cursing and the murder, but that’s just to be expected. They’re put under the care of the devout Garterbelt, a man that is ripped straight out of a Blaxploitation film, who tells them that if they want to get back into Heaven, they need to kill ghosts who take on the form of human regrets and suffering and collect Heaven Coins that materialize after they die. In other words, it’s a mature version of a monster of the week.
Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is an anime in the loosest definition of the word. If we’re going to define anime as an animation series produced in Japan by Japanese studios with Japanese creators, then the series is indeed an anime. If we try to encompass many of the design tropes and cliches of the genre, however, then Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt wouldn’t fit that bill at all. The initial concept of the series was pitched by Hiromi Wakabayashi as being directly inspired by adult animated shows like Drawn Together and kids’ shows like Powerpuff Girls. The series was also famously created by the staff of the series famously getting drunk after finishing their previous show, Gurren Lagann, and just spouting off all of the insane things they wished they could do in a series but couldn’t because of things like “standards” and “good taste.”
And by God, these certainly feel like concepts that were drunkenly spouted at an afterparty. There’s an episode where a giant monster made of poop eats people through toilets, an episode wherein Panty stars in a sex film and travels the world to destroy every copy of it, an episode where everyone runs a marathon naked, an episode where a man named Ugly Snot picks their nose and their snot can make them fly like balloons. There’s also a famous episode where the sisters turn into Transformers to fight in a sex war across the cosmos. It makes no sense whatsoever, but logic was never this show’s strong suit.
Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is all about being as fast and as crass as possible. The number of curse words spouted in an episode would make any show on Adult Swim blush and the NSFW nature of the show would make it difficult to talk about in any polite social setting. It’s a series that more conservative minds would protest and talk about the demise of good values and morals. The series often pushes into territory that even more open-minded people may find goes a bit too far. And yes, there are areas that the show crosses into that weren’t really all that cool back in 2010 and still aren’t now. Yet, to an extent, there’s something to appreciate about the sincerity of it all.
Keep in mind that this show was, by design, meant to offend. Not in the edgelord sense of offending people because they could, but offending in a way where the animators wanted to just play with every toy in the toy box. They own up to the fact that most of these ideas came from a drunken banger and were inspired by offensive cartoons. The creators of the show never try to downplay that. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt took time and effort to make and they stand by their work. They’re not ashamed of what they made. It’s not dissimilar from how open video game director Yoko Taro is about why he makes characters with big butts. Taro proudly says he likes women with big butts, so he puts them in his games and that’s that. You have to respect a person and a team for simply doing what they want to do as long as it isn’t actively hurting anyone, which Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt isn’t.
The show is structured very similarly to most American kids’ shows with an intro that lasts only 30 seconds or so and episodes split into two 10-12 minute segments. Sometimes a segment is double-length, as is the case for the sixth and thirteenth episodes, but these are the exceptions. These short segments only stay as long as they need to and quickly move on to the next one. No one concept overstays its welcome as the show bounces from idea to idea. There is an overarching plot, but it only factors into the aforementioned double-length episodes and for introducing two recurring antagonists for the sisters to fight against in certain segments.
Your enjoyment of the show is going to hinge on how you feel towards Panty and Stocking as characters. As the leading ladies of the series, they take up 90% of the runtime and don’t really change too much over the course of the series. Both of them are surly towards each other, embody laziness and excess, would rather be doing anything else than their job, are rude to everyone else they meet, and only get involved in conflicts if it directly affects them. Sometimes they will go through some character development, like when Stocking falls in love with a ghost for an episode, or in the season finale where Panty tries to better herself to protect a side character named Brief, a local high schooler she considered a punching bag for most of the season.
Like the Powerpuff Girls, most of their character development is static. The structure of the show is weird because it’s a series that is designed to be shown in syndication, hence the segment design, but that’s not how anime production or Japanese television works. It means that any character development is only going to last for that individual episode, so you better get used to the status quo of how these two behave.
I personally never found the two of them grating or annoying. That’s not their MO. The sex jokes, fat jokes, and angry cursing were always enjoyable, but they never really evolved into anything special. Like with most syndicated shows, if you’ve seen one segment of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt then you’ve seen them all. It makes it efficient in recommending the show to a person because they only need to watch one segment for them to get the idea, but that also means the show doesn’t really get a chance to develop beyond its limited scope. It’s one hell of a scope, but it’s still limiting. The only way that the series gets a chance to really flesh itself out is with the character of Garterbelt and its season finale.
Speaking of, if I had to say what was the weakest part of the series, it would be Garterbelt. I don’t mind the concept of him, a foul-mouthed and pious man that is basically just this man but animated. He’s funny, but it’s a bit weird to have him voiced by Chris Sabat. This is an element that I wish they changed for the sequel, having an animated black man voiced by a black man, but the one element they almost certainly need to change is his sexual obsession with Brief. While the show never outright states Garterbelt is a pedophile, the fact that the series even approaches that topic and tries to make humor out of that is not cool at all. I know that it’s a cultural difference, with the age of consent in Japan being 13, but if the show was basing itself so much on Western culture, this just comes across as a huge oversight that makes the show feel icky towards the market it wants to emulate.
You’ll also find the animation of the series very hit or miss. While I could easily hear people describe the animation of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt as being “cheap,” I don’t feel like that word is accurate. There was clearly a budget put in place and the show can go absolutely all in on spectacle when it feels the need to. The entire climax of episode six is a nonstop battle between Panty and Stocking and their demonic rivals, Scanty and Kneesocks, that reminds every single audience member that the series director, Hiroyuki Imaishi, is a master at action setpieces. Then you also have an entire segment that feels more in the style of a Satoshi Kon film that wouldn’t be possible if the series had a shoestring budget. Instead, I would describe the animation as being consistently off-model.
The characters always look like exaggerated versions of themselves for comedic effect. It’s hard to find an exact parallel in American animation other than shows you would find on Adult Swim at two in the morning, but there’s really no other way to describe it. The creators wanted the series to look exaggerated and goofy to really exemplify the stupidity of the gags. Make no mistake, a lot of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is stupid and knows it’s stupid while owning up to it. When the show wants to have an important moment, it’ll put the budget where it needs to be. When it just wants to have a dumb gag, get ready for animation that would make South Park look like high art.
While we’re on the subject of presentation, I feel obligated to mention its banger of a soundtrack. While I tend to only draw attention to the score of an anime when the opening and ending sequences are of note, the entire soundtrack of the series is just dynamite. Thanks to several prominent electronica musicians like TCY Force, LISA, and Teddyloid, most of the soundtrack has a solid rhythm and beat that will inevitably get stuck in your head. My favorite tracks include “D City Rock,” “Fallen Angel,” “Fly Away,” and the absolute banger “Theme for Scanty & Kneesocks.”
All of this has all led to a devout fanbase that has suffered for the past 12 years thanks to the series’ absolutely painful ending. It’s not like the ending is bad. The final episode is quite good, featuring some great spectacle and a great emotional turn for Panty. It’s what happens at the last minute that just destroys all semblance of logic and reasoning. Twist after twist after twist occurs in rapid succession that leaves every single character, villains included, with their jaws on the floor, cutting to black with a banner proclaiming that the series will continue in season 2. Not gonna lie, I forgot about the show’s intense middle finger of an ending until I rewatched it and my repressed memories opened like floodgates. Absolute insanity unfolds in such a short time that I’m still impressed at just how the creators were able to get away with such a bold non-ending.
This is why the Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt community has suffered for over a decade. The show is a polarizing tribute to American animation that is unashamed about how far it goes to achieve that tribute, ending in a way that I’m not even sure the creators had any intention of continuing. Yet, here it is. A new season is going to come next year at some point. It’ll have a different name, for obvious reasons once you’ve seen the finale, but it’ll be back. What can we expect from it? Honestly, I don’t want to expect anything.
Going into a show such as Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt with any expectation is a bad call. The show revels in doing whatever it wants whenever it wants. Asking it to be exactly like the first season may be the safest bet, since I fully expect the cliffhanger to be resolved in an episode, and then we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe the show will actually follow a serialized approach and ape that style of Western animation that so many kids’ shows have replicated in the past decade. I don’t know what to expect from this sequel, but I cannot wait for it. While there’s still time, take a trip down memory lane and rediscover this series, or if it’s your first time hearing of it, go give it a watch if you want an anime unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s gonna be a trip regardless of whether you love it or hate it.
January 2022: Anime of the Year Awards 2021
February 2022: Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc
March 2022: My Dress-Up Darling
April 2022: Platinum End
May 2022: Anime Recommendations Vol. 1
June 2022: Ya Boy Kongming!