The verdicts are already starting to come in on Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. If there were a consistent way everyone wrote the name of the show in their tweets, you could probably do a nice little search to find that 90% of them mention The Powerpuff Girls, or at least say something about how “non-anime” the anime is.
Unlike some anibloggers (and this fact makes me cringe slightly), I remember fairly clearly when that cartoon started airing, and spent more than a few post-college Saturday mornings enjoying their antics and trying really hard not to grow up. Also, Pokémon.
This is all pretty tangential I think, but it’s gonna get worse before this post is over.
Point is, Panty & Stocking, if truly influenced by that series (and maybe it was), is a great example of things coming full circle. There have been western-influenced anime before, but to springboard off a cartoon that was itself greatly influenced by both magical girl and kaiju elements — that’s new.
The comparison probably could keep going if you wanted it to. Craig McCracken had no intention of kids watching the series. It was highly indebted to rave culture aesthetics, and the humor relied heavily on the juxtaposition of cute kids behaving with excessive violence. P&S clearly has a hardon for dance music, and relies on the somewhat less awesome contrast of pretty girls behaving badly.
And therein begins the more Japanese-ness, or at least anime-ness, of the whole thing.
Another tidbit I’m hearing is the debate over whether Panty is a feminist or at least a somewhat empowered woman. Well, she’s a slut, that’s for sure, and she owns that, big time. She doesn’t really need a man to be complete — just to help her get off. So I suppose there’s something… admirable(?) there. But is it really “feminist” if it’s played for shock and humor? I don’t get the feeling that we’re supposed to admire Panty for her enlightened and progressive ways, I get the feeling that we’re supposed to be laughing at what a slut she is. Hard to say. The Greater Gainax Theory, to which I still like to adhere, would state that a mold-breaker like Panty is a traditional heroic Gainax figure so maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt.
I liked the second segment a lot more than the first — sure, the much-screencapped transformation sequence was a lot of sexful fun, but the speeding ghost that continued to get bigger and faster was a lot more fun that the shit monster. And that’s probably because Gainax fell back stylistically on what usually works for them: Increasing size, speed, and damage until climax. It’s an obvious and childish sex metaphor here, but tell me it doesn’t remind you a little bit of Gurren Lagann.