Daten City, a place somewhere between Heaven and Hell is beset with Ghost attacks, but not to worry its ‘protected’ by a pair of Angels! The problem with this is that these angels are Panty and Stocking Anarchy, sisters who really don’t give much of a damn about this whole ‘protection’ thing. P&SwG is rude, crude, brazen and hilarious. If you can deal with everyone swearing like particularly obnoxious sailors, over the top action sequences and lashings of toilet humour and jokes surrounding bodily functions, then this is a slice of gold.
Panty a blonde bombshell, perhaps as her name might imply, is utterly sex obsessed, if it’s male and at least fairly attractive it’s basically a massive magnet for her lust. Her sister, a purple haired goth, is equally obsessed, but with sweets rather than boys, happy to pork her way through entire bakeries worth of sweet foodstuffs whilst her sister is taking advantage of the other meaning of that particular phrase…
Apparently kicked out of Heaven the angels only hope to return is by collecting Heaven Coins which they receive for killing Ghosts, which are formed from miserable souls who met untimely and nasty ends. Given half a chance they’d just ignore this task and get on with the business of their own proclivities, but they have a harsh task manager in the form of the Reverend Garterbelt, a huge man with an even larger (award winning) afro. He directs the sisters as per clues about current Ghosts as received from heaven, received via lighting strike into their little dog/thing sidekick, Chuck who is the series immortal buttmonkey, smacked and splattered around like there’s no tomorrow.
As their surnames indicate, this is indeed an anarchic series, with the angels not much caring about their jobs but rather enjoying it once they get into it, when they’re not, uh, enjoying other things. When It’s fighting time (which is frequent) the girls break out their signature weapons, Panty is able to turn her (or indeed anyone else’s) underwear into guns and Stocking can changer her (and others) stockings into swords. When fighting they often transform into their proper angel forms, courtesy of a raunchy magical girl style transformation sequence, complete with stripper polls, flashing lights and funky music.
Beyond the basic premise there’s not really a huge amount going on. The sisters just bicker and fight, indeed with an entire episode given over to their warfare as they become robots in a fantastically absurd homage/parody of the Transformers franchise, but other that offing Ghosts not much really happens until the last few episodes. A pair or recurring antagonists in the form of the Demon Sisters, Scanty and Kneesocks do crop up about half way through though, lovers of order and rules they provide a stark contrast to our ‘heroines’. There is also the human boy, Brief who follows the angels around like a lost puppy, constantly pining for Panty. As casts go, this certainly isn’t the largest.
But size doesn’t matter, ahem, as this isn’t a series about an intricate plot or deep characters, it’s an excuse for the creators (who made Gurren Lagan) to just go crazy and have fun. Each episode is divided into two stories (expect one that has two stories and a music video – which is ace), so there’s loads of adventures (mostly unconnected) and enough variety in story to keep things interesting. Look out especially for the Transformersesque episode, the music video and a spectacular homage to the Living Dead franchise. The Ghosts whilst never deep characters themselves are usually highly amusing and its lots of fun watching them get blown up, which we see as an actual physical model of them being blown up with miniature pyrotechnics in a break to the animation.
The animation is something of a chaotic mix, bold and colourful and paying a lot of homage to western shows like Power Puff Girls, but with a style all of its own. Practically every other scene is animated in a slightly different style and during the angel and demon magical girl style transformation sequences the art suddenly goes top notch, one episode is almost entirely done in yet another style for reasons of the type of story that one’s telling. It is all however wonderful to look at with some particularly well executed action scenes. The first time the angels properly square off against the demons the resulting fight is both epic and incredibly animated.
The series is also great to listen to, many fans of the series prior to its DVD release will already have fallen in love with the Japanese voice cast and they are well reproduced here, but the English dub is also something of a triumph. The dub might polarize people who have already decided that the Japanese cast can’t be topped, but when you give them a chance they are actually great in the roles. Christopher Sabat really stands out as Garterbelt in particular and sounds like he was having a whale of a time. One problem I know people have is with the way in which the series has been reversioned. No dub is a straight translation due to lip synch issues and sometimes there’s various cultural stuff that won’t translate well, but this reversioning has taken quite a few liberties. There’s a lot more swearing added in and there’s a number of example of where the dialogue for Gartbelt has been adapted to be saying something rather different to the original (going by the subs which I understand tone down some of the original swearing themselves), although for me that just added to his character. The changes worked for me as they recognised the absurdity of the series and how over the top it was and just went with it, but some may think they went too far and for them there’s always the original audio and subs.
On an interesting side note, the language in the dub would seem to be largely the reason this is saddled with an 18 certificate (the whole thing is crude and obnoxious, but not that bad), due to an extended parody of Tom Cruise (as his character from Magnolia) as a gameshow host. As I got the reference I found this hilarious, but as its use of language probably kicked this into the 18 bracket, thus making the buying market smaller, that wasn’t necessarily the best dubbing choice.
There’s actually a couple of hours worth of bonus features to be found. There’s the standard clean open and close, some promos, a sort of chat/discussion between cast and crew, outtakes, the OVAs and a bunch of footage of the Ghost explosions.
On another more pressing side note, this release has some major technical issues. A number of buyers (including our provided review copy) have noted that the ending of episodes 11 and 12 are cut off, this is annoying, but almost the entirety of the post credit sequence for episode 13 is gone – this is devastating given what happens in it. Manga UK are addressing this issue (read more here) by re-releasing the series in late September with fixed DVDs, so the advice is to hold off from buying for now until the re-release.
The series is raucous, extreme, queasy feeling inducing and utterly hilarious for the right viewer. If you like the sound of anything that’s been described here, then you’ll love it, if you don’t find that sort of humour appealing, then avoid it. If you can handle the insanity of the series, then it’s highly recommended.