Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt Episode #05 Anime Review

There's a new fad in Daten City: nasal excavation. Or picking your nose, if you prefer - the method of choice for removing troublesome suji-pollen. Stocking doesn't get it, but Panty's as into the fad as you could possibly imagine - which is handy, as the pollen she's excavating is filled with gas and just the thing for lifting her up to the private airship of one Oscar H Genius, where the party of the year is in full swing. But Oscar turns out to be a Ghost, intent on using the boogers of Daten City's fine residents for his own nefarious means. Later, it's time to visit Little Tokyo, Daten City's must grim and run-down area, where ageing salesman Terao is having a hard time making his sales targets. It's his daughter's birthday tomorrow, and all she wants is to be able to meet Panty and Stocking - and with growing resentment at his work eating away at Terao and making him more Ghostly by the moment, she may just get what she wished for...

Starting at the beginning, the opening segment is just what we've come to expect and love (or hate, viewpoint depending) from Panty & Stocking - the act of picking one's nose is equated so often with certain other activities in the name of humour that you almost lose track: animated up-nose scenes of picking are passed off as oral sex, reference is made to making holes lose if you keep stretching them... you get the picture. It's what P&S does, and if the first four episodes stroked your funnybone then this segment will raise a chuckle as well. It did for me, at any rate.

It's also the poster child for those who say that the show has no depth and nowhere to go, having gotten stuck in a rut where all it has is shock value. The good folks at GAINAX have clearly anticipated such criticism, though, and have hit back with the second segment of this episode, where our heroines play only a cameo role and where the stage is moved to Little Tokyo. With a name like that, I kept expecting the Samurai Pizza Cats to appear, but no - this is a place that is much like the "real" world, with realistic people like Terao suffering from realistic problems and drowning under the weight of them. It's drawn in a real-world style - I was reminded of Paranoia Agent's visual style, only with uglier character designs - and you can't help but hear the tearing sound as the series pulls itself away from it's usual look and feel and sets about doing something different (a feeling that's reinforced when, towards the end of the episode, Panty and Stocking appear to do their Ghost-killing routine and are drawn in their usual Powerpuff-esque style. Talk about jarring.). Given that it's only got around 10 minutes to work with, the segment does a surprisingly good job of telling a human interest story, and even manages to avoid making our otherworldly heroines look like arseholes when they eventually drop in to do their thang.

Whether it works is up for debate - it's not what you expect from the series, and if you're in the mood for the usual rude and crude entertainment it's not going to work for you, but it's a brave attempt to do something out of the ordinary, and credit has to be given for that.

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