How Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt Spoofed and Celebrated American Cartoons

10 years ago, the legendary studio Gainax premiered its last genuine hit. This anime would immediately stand out against the myriad of other anime coming out in time in both its looks and its humor, and the team behind it would soon go on to form their own studio, TRIGGER. The show we’re talking about, of course, is Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.

The anime follows angel sisters Panty and Stocking, who were cast down from Heaven for bad behavior and poor performance. Panty is a promiscuous but confident woman obsessed with finding her next hunk of man-meat to have a good time with, while Stocking is a cold morbid goth girl who only cares about her stuffed animals and stuffing her face with sugar and sweets. The two are now forced to work alongside Reverend Garterbelt to catch enough ghosts who feed on human desire so they can one day return to Heaven.

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The show is packed with references to Western cartoons. The Comedy Central show Drawn Together is often cited as the source for the series’s crude humor and foul language, but it goes much deeper than that. The anime’s use of sharp thick outlines, distinctive silhouettes and large round eyes are reminiscent of Cartoon Network shows from the ’90s and 2000s, most notably The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory. The design and role of the mascot character Chuck also bear a striking resemblance to Gir in his dog suit of the cult classic Nicktoon Invader Zim. Properties like Ren and Stimpy and the fictional indie band The Gorillaz receive homages, and each episode of the show is divided into two 11-minute mini-episodes like a Western TV cartoon.

Any given segment could be about absolutely anything, from Stocking trying to lose weight to a zombie apocalypse to an episode dedicated to nose-picking. “Nothing to Room” stands as one of the show’s best episodes, carried entirely by Panty and Stocking’s dialogue. This bottle episode has the angels waiting all day in the living room for a special lunch prepared by Garterbelt, as the two get into conversations about their most recent club night, returning to Heaven, and reality TV. “Sex and Daten City” is also a favorite, with the aforementioned angels becoming celebrities but needing to go delete every copy of Panty’s most recent sex tape before their first feature film screening. Each episode is roughly self-contained until the latter half of the series. “Les Diaboliques,” the start of the show’s loose ongoing plot, is a particular standout on the action animation front, with the high octane fight between Panty and Stocking and the demon sisters Scanty and Kneesocks.

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The show is also infamous for its troll-y ending. After the credits roll in the finale, Panty, Stocking, Brief and Garterbelt all return to the chapel, only for Stocking to attack Panty out of nowhere with her sword, slicing her into bite-sized pieces. Stocking reveals she’s actually a demon. Afterward, Corset reemerges, and he and Stocking leave the perverse men in complete disbelief of what just happened. This massive cliffhanger never got resolved, as the series received poor ratings in Japan and the crew behind it moved on to form TRIGGER only a few years later. During a Reddit AMA, when series writer Hiromi Wakabayashi was asked if he’d ever make a second season of PSG, he said he and other staff members would love to, but because it’s still owned by Gainax, it would be very difficult.

Still, as troll-y and out of nowhere the ending to PSG is, it’s so in line with such an off-the-wall and chaotic series. It’s a shame such a one-of-a-kind anime never got its second season, but despite it, Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is still remembered today as one of the all-time best anime of the 2010s, which echoes of its style appearing in other TRIGGER anime like Kill la Kill and Promare.

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