I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx

“That’s What Girls Do!” A Review of Panty & Stocking (with Garterbelt) Episode 4

by Ryk McIntyre
June 29, 2011

So, you just barely make it through the heavily Autotuned intro song, with its charming, seizure-inducing graphics and you have made it no further than the title shot, when the creepy factor kicks in.  The title “The Diet Syndrome” is scrawled across the naked torso of a woman, given the look of the near-down-to-the-crotch midriff shot. Ok, to be fair, it could also be a young male, if they were doing the “Silence of the Lambs” dance. In other words, we start off at creepy and icky and it’s not going to get any better.

It's pitched like this: two Angels are kicked out of Heaven because they really like sex and/or sugar. They are sent to a place called Daten City, a Japanese version of Townsville from the Power Puff Girls, except everyone there is obsessed with sex, dieting and sex. To be sure, this isn’t the PPG. On the other hand, it’s not the worst of Japanese Sex Anime, as it does omit octopoid aliens with tentacles tipped with bifurcated penises. Wow... there are some sentences that really make you sit back and ruminate over why you became a writer instead of a carpenter and the previous sentence was surely one of them for me.

Whilst in Daten City (a play on the Japanese word Datenshi, which translates as “Fallen Angel.” You know who has a great song called “Fallen Angel”? King Crimson, on their album Red. Also Robbie (“The Band”) Robinson of his self-titled first solo album. Check them out, that’s some beautiful music. Yes, I know this doesn’t have anything to do with the cartoon, but if it can get away with what it does, I can go on about archaic music.

Back to the girls, who are trying to earn their way back into Heaven (whilst fully enjoy the treats and privileges of the material world), by battling “Ghosts” and earning “Heaven Coins” when they win. They are joined by a talking dog named “Chuck” (who should really be called the long-lost cousin of GIR from Invader Zim) and a priest who tries to manage the girls, named Reverend Garterbelt. Yeah, I know... but one doesn’t look form intellectual depth or gender equality in a show like this. One looks for “women” dressed as schoolgirls, who transform their underwear into deadly weapons. Of the two Anarchy sisters (yes, that’s their last name) Panty Anarchy is a sexy blonde that loves her celebrity status and turns her panties into a gun called “Backlace.” Her sister, Stocking Anarchy is the dour Goth, who turns her panties into a pair of Katanas, and isn’t interested in sex like her sister, although she seems to be into bondage, electrocution, and has a giant dildo in her room. A shrine, no doubt. The Reverend Garterbelt is a priest very much into young boys, and Chuck has a demon in his head that controls him. He only ever says his name (much like a fucking Pokemon) but he does receive “visions from Heaven” that instruct the girls where the next “ghost” is and remove the need for exposition or plot or logic. Good dog.

Yeah, this cartoon isn’t weird at all. I don’t mind watching it. FML.

While most of the antagonists in this series are the afore-mentioned “ghosts” there are other characters that wish our slutty little rambo Ninjas much ill and provide subplot material. They are all about as substantial as the dialogue provided them. In other words, don’t expect the genius writing here, any more than you should expect anything really salacious, never mind erotic. It’s a lot of cursing, talking about how much one enjoys sex (without actually talking about sex) pant shots, light bondage, dieting, snack-cakes and other things that girls like, according to this cartoon -- a magical place that combines noogies and face-spitting with weightlifters landing head-first into girl’s cleavage. And just don't look at the portrayal of black people in this cartoon. Just don't.

The intro goes something like this: “The city where love and desire flow freely. Daten City. Where a young girl’s life is one of dieting.” Well, I don’t think anyone’s ever accused Japanese Pop Culture of pushing any feminist envelopes, but this is... well, it’s typical, but disappointing nonetheless. Still, one doesn’t look for gender equality fables in this kind of Anime, any more that one looks for emancipation metaphors in a Pokemon episode. In for an inch, in for a mile-san.

In this particular episode Stocking (who displays, in her food dysfunction, the same gravitas her sister affords her own sex addiction) is chowing down on some “Whitey-White’s Special Roll Cake.” Wow... Twinkie metaphors and Aryan subtext, all rolled up in one intro. How efficient. As Stocking sits there (with her partially-exposed-skull teddy bear) nomnomnom-ing away, we are told that she can eat all the crap she wants, Angels don’t gain weight. Except these cakes are made with a cursed cream filling! So Stocking grows huge like Mothra (Caterpillar Stage) despite all her best angelic efforts. I’m not going to ruin the villain reveal but it is particularly fetishistic and kinda hard to believe even when you’re own eyeballs are in full reception mode, submissively taking it all in -- every hot, pixilated inch. 

Truly a cartoon that goes well with sugar overdose, amphetamines, seizures, light kink and a dubious interest in underage tail. Bon appetite. 食べる何を注意しなさい

Ryk McIntyre is a Multi-Hyphen sort of person. Poet, critic, performer, workshop facilitator and co-host at both GotPoetry! Live (Providence) and Cantab Lounge (Cambridge,MA). He's been living in RI for the past 6 years, with his wife and daughter. Ryk has performed his work at Boston's ICA, NYC's New School, Portsmouth, NH's Music Hall and Lollapalooza, to name just a few. He has toured the US, performing in countless Poetry open mics and festivals.  He turned down Allen Ginsburg once.