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Episode 11, already? Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is already beginning its evanescent end, but Gainax is up for one more surreal trip this time around. A focus on everyone’s favorite afro-priest and some odd, conversational humor helps Episode 11 evade the flaws seen in the last episode, while still feeling distracting and easy to get lost in. Flawless, no, but still a fun ride.
The first, rather short part of Episode 11 is “Once Upon a Time in Garterbelt,” a quick translation of Garterbelt’s past. After giving another lecture to Panty and Stocking, Garterbelt accidentally reveals one of his “sacred tools.” In an effort to catch Garterbelt and get an upper hand in arguments, Panty and Stocking follow Garterbelt deep beneath the church. After daringly avoiding a number of Indiana Jones-esque traps, the angels find Garterbelt’s diary which describes the afro-priest’s history. The angels read on, discovering that Garterbelt was once a sinful delinquent, earning money through murder, extortion, prostitution, and drug dealing to name a few. Garterbelt’s fate is sealed when gang members kill him and he is set before judgment by God. Instead of condemning him to Hell, God sends Garterbelt back to Earth, forcing him to live throughout the Earth’s history and constantly be given a sign through a key symbol. It’s not until present day that Garterbelt realizes the truth behind his suffering: liberation and happiness. Panty and Stocking finish the story and head to sleep out of boredom. As they leave, Garterbelt is revealed to be in an act of sado-masochism and his “sacred tool” is a ballgag.
“Once Upon a Time in Garterbelt,” despite its surreal ending, was a creative way to put Garterbelt in the spotlight. His history was extremely descriptive and clever, and seeing the guy go through trial after trial throughout time was actually pretty funny. The ending was a bit disappointing, as his “sacred act” was pretty insignificant compared to his comprehensive and well-told backstory. Panty and Stocking may not have had much screentime, but seeing the afro-priest finally get some storyline significance was a real treat.
The second part is “Nothing to Room,” which is easily one of the most pointlessly laid-back scenes in the series. While waiting for Garterbelt to provide them food, Panty and Stocking get pissed off in their living room. Panty gets her arm stuck in a chip can, the angels order huge amounts of food, Panty describes her “giant pole” plan to return to Heaven, Stocking turns her down, the girls talk about their efforts with men and going on a screwing spree, Brief visits, and Garterbelt eventually delivers the food. That’s pretty much it.
“Nothing to Room” was a single stage scene with some minor conversational topics that reminded me of slice-of-life stories seen in shows like Lucky Star. Of course, the sex talk may not seem to fit in that concept, but it did. There wasn’t much behind “Nothing to Room.” It had its moments of being well-versed and funny, especially Stocking’s intricate beating up of Chuck and Panty’s description of her plan to reach Heaven again. It’s a love-it-or-hate-it scene which was a much better diversion than the rather bleak ones like it, like “Chuck to the Future.”
Episode 11 signifies a quick pitstop before things heat up for the end of the series. It’s great to see Garterbelt take center stage, but it was disappointing that neither “Once Upon a Time in Garterbelt” nor “Nothing to Room,” had any real substance behind them. As diversions, these were much better than past attempts (excluding the excellent “We Are Angels”), but still lack that spark seen in earlier episodes. “Nothing to Room” mixed in some Invader Zim-esque stage-setting with Lucky Star-esque conversation, and while it wasn’t top-notch, it still was a funny collection of lesser jokes. With the series winding down, Episode 11 brought one last diversion before Panty and Stocking suit up for the home stretch.