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PANTY & STOCKING -- DVD Review

Maybe even more lewd than you'd expect a Japanese take on Adult Swim to look like.

If America and Japan’s cross-cultural exchange runs on a two-way street, then PANTY & STOCKING must be getting hawked out of a shady little tent in one of the seedier alleyways that lie somewhere down the middle. No bones about it, this is a filthy f***ing show. So filthy, in fact, that you’re guaranteed to either love or loathe it for its filth. There’s no mediation in between, no punches pulled and no quarter given.

The story goes that Gainax wanted to blow off some steam and produce a response to prime time US toons like AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE or FAMILY GUY. Showing that echoes can actually bounce back louder, this show’s so dirty that it probably couldn’t even play on Adult Swim’s latest-running programming block. Seriously, PANTY & STOCKING’s maybe just one act of careless parenting away from getting a sensationalized “investigative” profile on some local news affiliate.

Smooshing DIRTY PAIR and CHARLIE’S ANGELS together with (uncomfortably enough) THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, this show’s about a couple of killer nymphos who alternately use sex or undergarment-shaped weapons to destroy a legion of “ghosts.” The ghosts range in form from demon cars to monster sperm, and the idea is that these girls, the titular Panty and Stocking, can buy their way out of a banishment to Earth by collecting enough coins of these monsters. (You know, video game logic. Kill a ghost. Get a coin. Collect enough coins for a power-up. Etc.) Their “Charlie” is the jive-talkin’ reverend Garterbelt and… and…

…and that’s all you really need to know.

The show’s about simply putting these girls into the most manic, lewd situations imaginable. One short has Panty scouring the globe to forcibly remove her sex tape from circulation, another short sees toilets eating scores of innocent in order to produce a giant poop monster… and you get the idea. This is “Adult’s Only” content for those of us with decidedly juvenile senses of humor. And it’s at least reassuring to know that, while the girls are definitely sexed-up “lolis,” this show’s mature-rated for almost everything reason other than the girls being presented as titillating spank material.

* AHEM *

Getting back to the subject of that rhetorical two-way street, it’s worthwhile to dredge up the old “dub vs. sub” debate once again. PANTY & STOCKING serves as a rather unique discussion point. I reviewed a few subbed episodes a while back - - not too long after the show started running in Japan. The show was an unabashed hoot, but I stopped watching for a few reasons. For one, episodic shows are harder to review than extended serials in Watch & Learn; and those with two quick one-off shorts per episode are harder still. It’s difficult to find anything meaningful to write aside from plot summaries or simple evaluations that run along the lines of “Well, that was cool.”

More to the point, though, manic comedy shows with rapid-fire dialog honestly take too much effort to keep up with in a sub. (And listen, that’s coming from somebody who can read really fast, all right?) You’re sitting there on the edge of your seat, enjoying all these ribald jokes about lethal sperm and guns made out of underwear - - and the strain of trying to keep up with this ever-fleeting stream of text is just killing your buzz.

So the prospect of a dubbed PANTY & STOCKING sounded appealing. That appeal winds up coming and going while actually watching it, though.

This is machine gun comedy, and the jokes hit the mark at maybe a one-to-three ratio. When they do hit, they’re funnier on account of that ol’ immediacy of language. Of course, with that comes some extra shock value. It’s one thing to read Panty and Stocking cursing like sailors in their subtitles; it’s another matter entirely to actually hear all the vulgarity coming out of these moppets’ mouths. As mentioned, the style consciously evokes the clean linework of shows like THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, so the experience can get as uncomfortable as seeing Rule 34 of the Internet in action.

Frankly, the cussing gets to a frequency that feels akin to a middle-schooler trying real hard to seem adult by swearing as much as she can. There shouldn't ever be a threat of "too much" for a show like this, but still... it got to be too much, sometimes. Amusingly enough, the visual comedy and slapstick is consistently more enjoyable, so this is a case where the storyboard artists are due more than the writers, perhaps.

That said, I don't think your enjoyment of PANTY & STOCKING is going to be decided by its degrees of lewdness. This goes all the way to deliver on the notion of Gainax doing its take on American TV-MA toons, Either you're down for the rumpus, or you aren't.

Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE. Order them on Amazon here & here. Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk

Daniel_Newton moderator on June 20, 2012 at 2:38 p.m.

Loved this show, it's sexed-up and raunchy, yet it's about humour and profanity much more than it is about T n' A, as you pointed out. But yeah, kids shouldn't be watching this stuff. Nuh-uh.

GAINAX definitely has a flare most studios don't, hopefully they're taking notes so we might see a few less school life series or fan-service-fests and more sort of offbeat shows like this. One can hope, anyway.

I think it's worth noting that the constant swearing is considerably funnier in Japanese because half the time Panty and Stocking swear in English, or at least try to. Hearing Panty yelling "FAK YOO" has a certain charm that I imagine is completely gone in the dub.

Anyway, glad you finally returned to Panty & Stocking since you first caught a few episodes of it Tom, I remember you really enjoying it.

Lurkeroon June 20, 2012 at 2:56 p.m.

Too much for Adult Swim even? That's a lotta much.

sickVisionz moderator on June 20, 2012 at 3:07 p.m.

Nice to see you checked this one out Tom. Moreso than anything, Drawn Together was a major inspiration for the series and the overall tone reflects that show, although DT is significantly more obscene and lewd than PS.

I tried checking out the dub and I couldn't get into it for a variety of reasons. I agree on the cursing being a bit much at times as it sounds less ridiculous like it does in the sub and more like a 7th grader trying to be cool. I wish they made an edited gag dub that was like an old No Limit rap song (bleeps and sound effects like bells ringing, screaming, and punching sounds) or a really terrible edit of a movie shown on TV where they change all the words to something else and usually end up getting someone doing a terrible impersonation of the actor/character to dub in the new words.

@Marshal Victory said:

Heck im surprised hulu has two episodes up atm.

Why would Hulu not run this? They've got shows with full on male nudity, boobs, f-bombs, and intense gun based gore straight out of a video game.

Marshal Victoryon June 20, 2012 at 4:05 p.m.

Yeah Adult swim would not air this i think.. but whats more important If you would enjoy it or not.I think the gauge here should be Mad an Cracked magazines.If you liked those at some point odds are you would enjoy this show well enuff.

Yeah i really really don't see Adult Swim ever airing this.Heck im surprised hulu has two episodes up atm.

http://www.hulu.com/panty-and-stocking-with-garterbelt?c=Animation-and-Cartoons

PenguinDuston June 20, 2012 at 4:43 p.m.

@Daniel_Newton said:

I think it's worth noting that the constant swearing is considerably funnier in Japanese because half the time Panty and Stocking swear in English, or at least try to. Hearing Panty yelling "FAK YOO" has a certain charm that I imagine is completely gone in the dub.

I couldn't agree more. It might not be politically correct to say this, but accents can be funny. Desi Arnaz was funny on I Love Lucy, Latka was funny on Taxi and Boris and Natasha were funny on The Bullwinkle Show. Here, it's a bit of a switch with their native Japanese providing the majority of the audio punctuated by awkwardly pronounced English profanities. I found it disarming and not unlike hearing a 5 year old curse. It would seem to me that an all-English dub would lose that element of surprise.

darth_brendroidon June 24, 2012 at 4:38 p.m.

I'm interested in watching this series, but mostly for the animation I guess.

Om1kronon July 3, 2012 at 12:12 a.m.

probably one of the most buckwild anime's I've watched.

Dig Deeper into Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt

Created by Gainax and released in 2010, Panty & Stocking follows the title characters: two angels sent to battle Ghosts that are causing chaos in Daten City.

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