Panty and Stocking: Wake up your Anarchy

May 15, 2011

Daten City. Surface world that exists between heaven and hell. A place where people live under constant threat of darkness that invades people’s souls, and not one person realises it is consuming them. There are angels who seek to obliterate these perverse manifestations of human desire with transcendent light, but has the duty of repelling the darkness fallen to these messengers of God? Or the servants of Evil?

As pointed out by ghostlightning, one can appreciate the binary of forces that operate within Daten city. There are demon sisters representing order, using fixed body of organisation that is constantly controlling and shaping the city. A deceptive place of uniforms, education of sex as fatal disease, media distortions, latest celeb fads, fixed looking down on fat/busaiku(ugly) people, and capitalist machines. Whatever desires left of people are channelled to this cancerous system, giving birth to dark manifestations of regret that conceals truth and taints one’s soul without desire, only sick needs.

I must say, the machinic imagery in this show is exceptionally expressive in how people and objects are reduced to mere clogs in an assemblage, moving and arranged in autonomous manner.

Director Imaiki also liked portraying machinic nature of the state in his previous work Dead Leaves

On the other hand, angel sisters represent anarchy (lack of order), not giving one damn about what the school or any system of organisation dictates. In contrast to demon sisters (organising agent) that binds a body to become blind, limp, and destructive, angel sisters are anarchic force that disobeys rules and tears through this assemblage of body and thoughts, where productive desire can then flow free. Driving their humvee named ‘See Through’, they search and destroy ghosts using the only weapons that can hurt them, their ‘holy garb’, which essentially tear the ghost apart.

Also interesting to note how expressive the act of disassembling most of their battles are, further underscored by paper-model explosion of each ghosts they defeat.

Interesting representations aside there isn’t much point rationalising every single details, because I agree with many viewers when they say Panty and Stockings is foremost an exercise in style, and that this binary serves more as a template for many kinky (if bit crass and lewd) ghost designs and scenarios to be created. But the last two episodes are simply begging for over-analysis, because many events take place that raises puzzling questions like, why was Stocking the only one given wings to the heaven? What’s the meaning behind Garterbelt’s claim that Corset’s form of bondage lacked self-control? And the ending…yea the ending.

Experimental to the very core, Panty and Stockings is an action comedy, parody, music video, ‘Yuasa-esque’ animation short. And also a love story in the case of episode 9 and Panty and Brief segment, which have to be my favourite moments. It’s hard not to see the ghost in episode 9 as anything other than a character, even though he is essentially dark manifestation from some ugly guy who no girl would date, ultimately twisting his soul to no longer desire and experience the sweetness of relationship, but addicted to the demented need for some girl, any girl, to go out with him. Behind the over the top presentation, it was actually a sweet and heart-warming story with a lesson that Panty too later learns to gain her own set of wings to heaven.

To remain true to her bitch self, not giving one hoot about demons or her lack of power. To see Brief no longer as a 1000th partner enslaved by her need, but to bear genuine desire to help him, and make love for who he is. There is no god to find in this city where people are constantly reduced to being limp and controlled as a part of assemblage. But there are angels who can wake up your anarchy, and bring forth the kind of desire so sweet and pure, enough to grow wings and reach heavenly light, even if only for that brief moment.

~~

some music, including TATU

Maybe Garterbelt's message is that there is a danger to an unchecked anarchy, and Corset's version of bondage is complete anarchy. The kind of 'debauchery in disguise of freedom'. Who knows.

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12 Responses to “Panty and Stocking: Wake up your Anarchy”


  1. Excellent presentation of the machinery aspect of the “rules” sisters. It most certainly portrays the order aspect that they represent… though the machinery images precede their entrance in the narrative (as it were).

    It wouldn’t be quite anarchic if there were a fixed and orderly set of meanings that “solve” Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. This is the ironic symmetry in the work as a whole: a dedication to anarchy that overcomes mere lazy and loose craftsmanship but actually stands for the opposite of that and everything else but that.

  2. 2DT Says:

    Hmm. But then what do you say about Panty not giving a damn about Brief again once she gets her powers back (i.e. when he’s falling in the last episode, she sees and doesn’t save him)?

    I’m reminded of something a friend said when I showed him some choice episodes of this show: “So this is what it’s like to watch a show with completely unsympathetic leads.” And in that sense perhaps this is an experiment in more than just visual style, too.

    So glad to see you again! :D

  3. Sasa Says:

    @gaguri: Ohhh, you are still alive! Awesome post. I remember that there were times when I couldn’t watch Panty & Stocking because I have the habit of watching anime while I eat… the only other anime that ever made me like that was Aachi and Ssipak. :D I do think that Panty & Stocking has a certain ‘depth’ to it, underneath the surface of its seeminly one-sided characters. With the way it makes fun of all those clichés, it seems to me it’s also a commentary on the shallowness of society in general, on the way Americans/Hollywood are perceived in Japan and finally on how movies/anime are made.
    I also love how you put a video of Tatu there. There certainly are parallels.

    @2DT: But the world is full of unsympathetic characters. XD I love Panty & Stocking for their brutally honest ‘bad’ character traits. Female emancipation would probably be much further if all women were this honest. Aside from that, just like gaguri said, this is mostly an exercise in style and an action/comedy show. Of course there is some exaggeration going on.

  4. animekritik Says:

    Like ghostlightning says, the show really resists a neat breakdown of oppositions. May I say it throws a “monkey wrench” (tee-hee) into our would-be schemes and breaks down (tee-hee) the oppositions, especially in the case of Corset vs. Garterbelt. tATu’s “we’re lesbians oops no we’re not so omg they’re so fake and yet they were kissing all the time isn’t that what..?” business has similar potential, plus that was the coolest reference in the P & S music video thingy.

    One way to look at Panty getting her wings is that this is what’s supposed to happen. But the show points out that what’s supposed to happen doesn’t make sense, and that’s pretty cool…or something. I don’t make sense anymore ;)

  5. VucubCaquix Says:

    you’re back! Ah we missed you!

    I should probably read your post now.

  6. gaguri Says:

    @ghostlightning

    I think you’re right, although I believe anything creative by its nature has a force of motif driving behind them, maybe very puzzling or not resolved, but there nevertheless.

    @2DT

    For comedy!

    I found the characters fun to watch, probably not really ‘sympathetic’ so I have to agree with your friend there, even episode 9 was exaggerated to the point that it was sweet and touching to an extent, but not really dramatic or sympathetic.

    @Sasa

    I don’t know about the blog but yes I am alive thank you very much haha, aachi wa ssipak is an awesome movie, which of course shouldn’t be watched while eating.

    @animekritik

    Yea there’s lot of things that don’t really make sense, haha. But the music video really was good in making a certain point, considering what we’ve seen from the show so far, the last two episodes is almost impossible to put into a concise and coherent interpretation. But I’m guessing (at least hope) this is the main message, or at least a driving theme behind the show from my eyes.

    @VucubCaquix

    Cheers!~

  7. Vendredi Says:

    Great stuff on the machine imagery in the show. If nothing else, Panty & Stocking is busy – there’s absolutely not a single slow moment in the show.

  8. gaguri Says:

    Absolutely, there’s just so much to look into PSG imo.

  9. kadian1364 Says:

    I see a fair number of people turned off by PSG’s low signal-to-noise ratio, but considering the show’s chaotic drive, the noise seems like the point. Or, seeing what comes of the noise, like the order vs anarchy theme. I doubt there was much forethought that went into the demon sister’s concept; Gainax just threw out some foils to the main duo, and the idea happened to stick. PSG is like the animation of a jumbled mess of ideas swirling around a creator’s mind before he puts the thing to pen and paper.

  10. gaguri Says:

    I think the idea of order as ghostlightning pointed out was central to the rrrurrrres sisters, and you are right there are lot of noise, but what comes out of the noise I don’t think is as random as many people claim. Also interesting at the end to see them getting dirty when the lights are out.

  11. Martin Says:

    Watching this show felt like listening to Melt-Banana in some ways…amidst the chaos and apparently gratuitous noise that superficially seems to *want* to merely shock, there’s definite structure and desire to innovate…and of course entertain.

    A great post on the ‘structure’side of things…it really is great to have you back! I was trying to put my finger on the meaningful-ness of the show, for want of a better word, but was mindful of potential accusations of finding meaning where there wasn’t any.

    The ‘noisiness’ of the show doesn’t help itself, but it does have a truckload of social commentary and (I’ll have to rewatch it to make sure of this) there’s a lot in there that’s intended to make sense. I genuinely believe it has its own screwed-up logic at work in there somewhere.

    As ‘likeable’ leads go, I don’t suppose such brash and boisterous heroines would usually qualify but I found them a refreshing change in some ways. Panty was so brazen that she was ironically a lot more honest than most people are and Stocking…I dunno why, but I think her character is simply awesome. Maybe it’s her dress sense or the underlying ‘dark and interesting’ side to her. “Depth” in a series like this? Yeah, why not?

    I can’t wait to find out if a rewatch alters my thoughts on the ending; I wrote it off as Gainax poking fun at their own knack for making controversial/notoriously unsatisfying endings, but it’s really hard to tell.

  12. gaguri Says:

    Hahaha, “mindful of potential accusations”…it’s what we make of anyway. For me it hit home with something I felt strongly about: addiction and desire. I don’t want to get sidetracked to talking about Deleuze again, so let me just say, there were forces of negative addiction and positive desire in the show, just as in life. For Panty, sex can be a disgusting addiction (in the last episode you can just see her NEED to complete her 1000th sex), or that heavenly experience with the one you love. Playing computer game can be very fun, positively desiring, but for many it is a force of addiction, where there is no desire or joy coming from playing these games, only that sick NEED to be glued there on the screen, without much positive experience. Like a machine. And in society you see the machinic forces being operated on people, to control them to think and act in certain ways. But not only must you be mindful of external forces but also take control of yourself from.

    So when does a desire turn into addiction, and what is the difference, what is the tangible difference between them and what does it do to our soul (if such a thing even exists)? Well I don’t think these are tangible qualities, just some abstract concepts that somewhat help explain what I feel are powerful forces within ourselves, obviously controlling the way we feel and behave.

    For me this is relevant regards to the ending when the pleasure of bondage became her addiction but who knows maybe the director didn’t have time and charged one of his staffs to make up the ending (with a note saying “make it WTF like eva”).

    With Panty and Stockings you don’t really go on any emotional journey like you do in Honey and Clover or Planetes, but you do get to see these clever metaphors mixed into this really fun and wild ride that should, if you choose to indulge yourself, make you think.


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