Monday, November 15, 2010

God Bless Gainax

Time for me to come clean…so to speak:

When I bother to catch an episode, I actually find the anime Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt to be pretty damn funny. I really thought I wouldn’t, believing the series would be more about fanservice than lulz, but…while there’s still a tonne of fanservice, you can almost (almost) believe the show is more about making viewers laugh, because less people (only less) would get off on the raunchy antics of stylized, super-deformed characters than realistic ones, and the show is extremely manic anyway.

What the show is about is, um, two girls who fight evil with their respective garments which transform into weapons. Oh, and they’re also sister fallen angels trying to get back into heaven, which they do by collecting the coins that appear when they blow up monsters. The be-‘fro-ed priest, Garterbelt, watches over them, and Chuck, a green thing that bears a suspicious resemblance to dog-suit GIR from Invader Zim, pops up to get dismembered or smacked around. A nerdy kid named Brief who dresses like a Ghostbuster also joins the cast early in.

So while I’m not here for the fanservice, part of what’s great about this show is how rude, selfish, and lazy the two heroines are. Panty loves sex, Stocking loves sweets (though of course manages to usually remain super-deformishly thin), and both of them spend a lot of their time just not giving a crap. For all the people like me who are tired of female characters being the nannies of the cast, this is awesome.

(And yes, I did see the Transformers parody episode; pure gold.)

P&S is also frankly, unrepentantly obscene and scatologica1. I’m not normally a huge fan of stuff like that, but I’m not really angry about that, either, and I can hack it when all the slapstick and comedic sociopathy makes up for it. I try to pride myself on flexible standards, y’know?

I just plain love the art style, because it’s so wild and colourful, and don’t find the actual animation as horriblbe as many seem to. Like everybody’s saying, P&S also looks like an American cartoon of a certain stripe, namely the off-the-wall weirdness and simple animation typically associated with Adult Swim, or the early Cartoon Network shows, though its content is more South Parkian.

Yet, just like American attempts to draw “anime style”, something feels a little bit off, so that P&S couldn’t quite pass as an American show if it was dubbed and you didn’t know it was Japanese. P&S owes at least as much to Gainax’s other show, FLCL, as well as to Dead Leaves in terms of cracked-out visuals. Still, it’s interesting to see the modern trend reverse itself, hearkening in an odd way back to American animation’s influence on anime’s early works.

So yes, I will be watching more of this. It threatens to cross over into guilty-pleasure land, but that’s okay.

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