Sep 7, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 23 - Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, May 2015

A few months ago, my son told started getting me into some of the anime that he'd been watching. We binged through the amazing Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and upon finishing it, he said there were two others that he wanted me to watch. One was the brilliant Kill La Kill, and the other, he told me, was called Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Needless to say, from that title alone, I was a little concerned to be watching it with my son.

Having watched it, I can see why he recommended it to me, and not to his Mum. Panty & Stocking is, bar none, one of the crassest pieces of television I've ever watched. It's an anime aimed squarely at skewering North American animation, and our culture's boundless fascination with sex and consumption. Fallen angels Panty and Stocking eat (Stocking) and fuck (Panty) their way through Daten City, under the guidance of gay BDSM priest Garterbelt, all the while on a mission from God to rid the city of ghosts. Stocking's stockings become swords, Panty's panties become a gun, but only when they strip them off in the most lascivious ways.

I could not make this up.

The thing is, it's a remarkable piece of animation, running the gamut of styles, though sticking mainly with the one you see on the cover of the graphic novel up there. It's a single season of 12 episodes, with a crazed after credits sequence in the last episode that just messes with the characters and the viewers. As far as anyone can tell, there's no plans for a second season, so when I found this volume at the amazing Anime Universe on Spadina in Toronto, I was ultra-stoked. The comic, a series of 8 new short stories, is, if anything, even more crass and explicit than the cartoon, totally in keeping with the feel of the television series. There's no attempts at continuity (one story takes place, somehow, in outer space), no attempts at making sense. One story even involves characters from Tagro's other work, Abnormal Psychology Seminar, complaining about censorship in manga, until Panty and Stocking burst in and destroy a ghost that is censoring everything.

It's weird. It's fucked up. And it's joyful. I can't necessarily recommend the series to everyone. There's definitely some people of more delicate sensibilities that might find it insulting. But as a satire, and as an outlet for some of the most bizarre ideas you're likely to see on television or in comics, it's just wonderful.

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