- Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is everything I find wrong in a show and then some
WTF! Did I Just Watch?!: Edition 1
(Disclaimer: With this review series I really, REALLY wanted to have a little fun and put my bit of snarky humor to them. These shows are bad, so I wanted to have a good time and celebrate their schlockyness. In NO WAY is it my intention to offend anyone nor anyone’s taste. If I do, well, I’ll apologize ahead of time……oh screw that!!! I’m sorry for nothing, except having to watch this crap, so you don’t have to…or maybe you do. Who knows? **wink**)
Welcome to the inaugural post of a new review series we’re calling: WTF! Did I just watch?! In this blog series, I take a look at those anime shows, OVA and films that defy description, those that have left me utterly speechless, sick or otherwise left an awful taste in my mouths, not to mention a film of goop over my eyeballs that I’ll have to scrape off later. What I’ll be covering in this series are those anime shows or movies that I’ve deemed are the dregs of the anime world and the reason they were made it at all is beyond my comprehension. However, like anything within creative media that graces us with its presence behaves like an unwanted guest, rudely invades the consciousness and refuses to leave; sooner or later, everything will find its audience; one who will appreciate what a show or film has to offer. The anime series that I’ll be reviewing are the ones that make me cringe with distaste, or disbelief that I’m even bothering with it and those that make me scratch my head, leaving me to ponder:
“What the flying fuck did I just waste 30 minutes (or longer) of my precious time watching?”
And I need to make one thing clear: that I’m doing all this for YOU! That’s right: YOU! Specifically, I’m watching this crap, taking one for the team, and so forth, so you don’t have to—EVER!!!! Unless of course, you want to. Then, in that case, be my guest, but don’t say that you weren’t warned! YOU’RE JUST NOW WARNED!!!! I take no prisoners here, and I draw no quarter.
I have to say, though, that there are some series, or movies, that make us scratch our heads in wonder about the meanings of their bullshit existences. Those shows that didn’t do much for us except make us hope we won’t see it’s like ever again. But as they say, never say never. However, the good part is that what is bad in anime is really BAD. Of course, that’s a matter of opinion. Another man’s trash is another one’s treasure, to turn a phrase. And I’ve seen far more good things during my career as an anime fan (I’ve been a fan for over twenty-five years, since the 1980’s). And of those years too, I’ve seen just as many things that curled my hair as I did really great and cool things. So, if one is adventurous, there is no end of treasures and junk to find. What makes me different from the other anime bloggers out there: I’m not going to tell you to stay away from anything just because I didn’t see something in it that others did. Everyone has the right to see something for themselves and make up their own minds about it. And not to put a fine point on this, but: everyone has a right to have shitty taste. Myself included! I don’t discriminate! Hey, you didn’t think I would get away with my jest scot-free, did you? I know that many of you may not like what I write about here. Some will either agree or disagree, however. But I will never tell you that you are wrong for liking something I hated. I’ll jokingly mock you, but never to the point of being mean. Again: everyone’s opinions/tastes will be different. Mine are as well.
What I will do is provide you with some content guidance for a particular show/film, so that you can make an informed decision for yourselves on whether something will be within your taste or comfort zone. And trust me: within the anime and manga sphere there is plenty to offend an unprepared, and unsuspecting, viewer/reader. Even if you come into something completely prepared, you will quickly find out how wrong you were, and that you weren’t prepared to see this or that. I’ve come across some things (Boku no Pico…**cough***, ***wink****) that I really wish I could “un-see.” Some people don’t mind watching certain things, while others do a great deal. So, I’ll provide as much information as I can about a show without giving away its “special sauce” that is if it even has any. (No: Actually, many of these shows do, so I can’t in good conscience put spoilers to many of these. I’ll just let the imagery I WILL post speak for itself. I also don’t make it a habit of trashing others taste. To me that’s not cool! In fact, the show I’m reviewing today has found its audience and those people really dig it. Others have found it as I do: a steaming pile of horse dung. There is just so much body function humor I can stand before I feel the need to hurl and then take a steaming hot shower. Bawdy, sexual humor in small doses is perfectly fine. I’m a closet perv; no real surprise there to those who know me. But when we get into some of the other stuff like scat (feces play), piss, etc.- no thanks!!!
So to recap: this review series is for those shows that made us go- “what the fuck were they thinking/smoking?” or “The animators were on the pipe when they did this one” [Ed: I think I like that title for this review series better. What do you all think?]
We plan on having another discussion series soon about those shows, new and old, that made us go- “whoa, that was just too cool for school, y’all.” And I’ve run across many of these and some just within the last few seasons! I’ll be composing a list of those shows posting about them a little later on. But for right now, this review series is for the bad and the downright ugly in anime.
Today, to kick-off this new review series, I’ll be discussing a screening of Hiroyuki Imaishi’s Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (2010; Gainax)- Episode 1: Excretion Without Honor And Humanity; Death Race 2010. (Streaming currently on Funimation)
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (2010; Gainax)- Episode 1: Excretion Without Honor And Humanity; Death Race 2010.
Introduction and Background
Is it possible for an anime show to be completely off-the-rails disgusting? Well, if that show is Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt, then the answer is: Oh, indeed it could! Watching just the first episode of Gainax’s latest entry will let you know just what you’ll be in for if you decide to continue with the other twelve episodes of this Technicolor, herky-jerky-bad-acid-trip-gone-absurdly-wrong train wreck. It’s bombasiticity, and lasciviousness went so far that even I was offended and trust me when I say this: it takes a hell of a lot to offend me. It should have included this warning: No bodily fluids or functions were wasted in the making of this show! But your time surely will be tested beyond reason.
It uses the same sicko, crass, raunchy, toilet-bowl, locker-room, fraternity sex humor that made South Park, Ren and Stimpy and Invader Zim hit shows back in the 1990’s. I was a fan of those shows back in the day. Do I still watch those shows? On small occasions yes because they are still funny—but in tiny doses because, in all honesty, I’m no longer a fan of the kind of sophomoric, adolescent, playground-style humor shown here in over-abundant supply. Panty & Stocking have almost similar comedic idioms but it cranks up the volume (literally and figuratively) to such an obnoxious degree that it’s difficult to find anything remotely humorous. It wears the veneer of the above shows I referenced, but it lacks the intelligence to glean understanding of what made these shows so impressive or more importantly, why the humor worked so well in the first place. It’s this lack of understanding that causes the jokes in this show to completely fall flat. Body fluids fly, and one of the characters becomes covered in shit. Why? How the hell do we know? But isn’t that funny? No. It isn’t. And that’s the humor in much of this show. Something stops being funny after a while if a gag gets played too often. The audience will come to expect it and probably won’t laugh. I’m not a comedian, but I know how comedy is supposed to work mainly, and seen plenty of comedy films and shows to know which ones are really funny and which ones are a waste. This show is a waste on many levels. And sadly, it wastes the talents of the animators who were charged with putting tasteless joke on top of tasteless joke and then another one. The humor just in this one episode is beyond trashy and tasteless—-almost every bodily function is represented unabashedly, and I do mean EVERY bodily function! Want to have fun being covered in shit?
Wait, don’t answer that!
And right off the bat—we have crude sex jokes, and they’re humorless.
Although the animation style, character designs are unique for Gainax, a studio that was quite popular back in the 1980’s, it’s a style that was so far removed from the more traditional style they presented back then, and other studios are doing now. Which is one of the many reasons this one will come off as an animation creative “shock to the otaku system.” Want to see what happens when a studio decides to “go all in” on a project? You needn’t look any further than this. Art-wise: there’s nothing else quite like it right now in the anime sphere. Quite literally and figuratively–one will get an eyegasm at the sight of it. From the very first seconds, it takes off, and if you’re not quick enough, the train will leave without you. It’s a fast-paced show; especially it’s second half. Also if you happen to be a fan of FLCL [Fooly Cooly (sp?)] (I wasn’t) you will probably like the look of this one; this show was created by the same Gainax folks who did FLCL, incidentally. What you will see the characters doing, however…well, you’re mileage may vary as far as that goes.
Historically, Gainax was known for their parodies of many of their works, and some were even self-parodying in some respects; an anime OVA/series of note is Otaku no Video (Fan Video, or Fan’s Video). Otaku no Video was a send-up of Japanese otaku culture containing many modern otaku references of the day, including very light-hearted jabs at themselves and other anime studios. It’s all in the name of fun and viewers also got to get a “backstage” point of view of the day to day lives of those who make the shows we all know and love. The humor was rowdy with many in-jokes thrown in, some of those may become lost on Western viewers,(references to other anime shows, creators, etc.) that those who knew the references would find the jokes endearing. In the AnimEigo release of the OVAs on DVD, they included a note card with explanations as to what some of the references meant so Western fans could be in on the jokes too. Here’s a brief clip of Otaku to show you what I mean:
Compare the above clip from one of Gainax’s classic anime features to these two clips from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. The differences in animation styles are shocking to the nth degree. It’s stylistically comparable to anything seen in the US on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block. And where much of the scene tableau (for a complete lack of better terms) and writing, it wants to fit in with any of our cartoons, like Ren and Stimpy and South Park. But while those shows were at least funny (the writing and visual humor had a lot to do with it naturally), this show isn’t, and ends up being just annoyingly loud and grotesque. The color palette is SO bright, and the jerky movement of the figures and other elements are rendered so quickly that it makes it difficult to watch to the point where it’s almost seizure inducing if it doesn’t make you want to projectile vomit all over your monitor or viewing device first.
Review of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt Episode 1
Okay. I guess I better give a summary of what this show is about. The show’s premise is that it takes place in the fictitious city of Daten City, which resides in between Heaven and Hell; seems legit. In this city, sin runs amuck, and Ghosts exist to wreak havoc on its citizens. On top of a hill, there is a church wherein two fallen angels reside: Panty and Stocking. The fact that they’re in a church is a bit of a joke in itself considering the personalities of the show’s heroines. Panty is a loud, foul-mouthed blonde and Stocking is quiet, dark-haired and garbed like a gothic-Lolita. These two fallen angels are tasked with destroying the Ghosts and collecting Heaven coins which they hope that if they collect enough of them, they’ll be able to return to Heaven. Heaven. Really? Anyway, under the guidance of their handler, a priest named Garterbelt, they do their job, however grudgingly…..extremely….grudgingly. Panty would rather go around boinking everything on two things that has a penis. Stocking would rather lay about stuffing her face with sweets. However, whenever the need is most dire, they briefly put all that aside and will make short work of the Ghosts no matter what it takes, and chaos will naturally ensue trashing Daten City in the process. To whom should they send the bill? The episode is in two mini segments; the title of the episode I viewed provides titles for each section.
Now, to be clear: I’m not a prude by any means. Slapstick, bawdy humor I enjoy. I grew up loving Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Absolutely Fabulous and Benny Hill when I was a teenager, and I still enjoy them to this day. And I remember laughing until I choked on my soda watching South Park and Ren and Stimpy. Panty and Stocking have nearly the same level of humor, so what went wrong? Generally speaking, I outgrew this type of potty-mouthed, loud, lewd, crude, lascivious, locker room, bathroom-type humor a long time ago. The comedic stylings of the Monty Python troupe were the work of creative genius. Their skit show, as well as their films, still get an enormous belly laugh from me every time. However, the humor of the nature presented here falls very flat, rings too shrill and fails to turn the corners of my mouth even a fraction of an inch.
But what happened to me while I was watching only the first episode was something I don’t think I’ve experienced before watching an anime show or any show that is trying for humor. I received: a sense of shame. At first, I couldn’t understand why. Then it donned on me when I started thinking about Japanese culture as a whole, and its structure is on the principles of politeness; that how could it sink so unpleasantly low to a point that it thought to spawn a show like this. In Japanese society, being crude or displaying rudeness of any kind in public would be looked on very strangely. However, tv shows provide an outlet for them on some level to expel whatever it is that they must hold in during the course of their day-to-day lives. Perhaps, I’m the one at fault, and I didn’t get the meaning of the larger joke. Whatever the case, I’m not going to be returning to this show again to puzzle out the reason why the comedy didn’t work for me. Something in it just didn’t FEEL right…and that’s all I’m able to say. Also, I don’t think there is any solid middle ground for this one. Either you’ll like it, or you’ll hate it. I hated it from jump, and even if I journeyed forth into a next episode, I doubt that decision would change. Typically, I’ll give a new series a couple of episodes in to make the decision if I’ll stay with it or not. It’s rare that I’ll purge my watch queue of a show that didn’t grab me at first blush. Usually, I’ll wait until later to give it another shot. This show is the only case in a while that the first episode was the deciding factor. I hated this one. Let’s move on, shall we?
Overall Rating: Total Epic FAIL
Animation style: C it’s exploding, flatulating, ejaculating eye candy by Gainax (Dudes, WTF were you thinking?! Not my taste of sake and don’t particularly like the style myself; there’s a lot of flashing, bright colors, lighting effects, and other elements used throughout, and if one is prone to seizures or migraines, you may not want to partake this one.)
Story: F— PWP (or Plot? What Plot?): taking the fan fiction acronym. There is a story in here somewhere, but I was too busy not being sick to look for one.
And Panty and Stocking are angels, albeit fallen angels? That might be the case, but the only angels that I remotely care about are my Lovely Angels– the Dirty Pair: Rei and Yuri.
See ya next time when for our next installment I’ll be taking a look (AGAIN? *wince*) at….yep, you guessed it: BOKU NO PICO (My Pico)!!!! And for that one, although it’s considered an 18+ title, I’ll do my best to keep it ‘clean’ but will be under an age-gate (sorry, guys but rules are rules). Just to give you all a heads up. I don’t have a list compiled of all the series/OVA/films I’ll cover in future ‘episodes’, but it’s in the works.