I’ve been holding out on picking a moment from this show – a foregone conclusion given how much I’ve been enjoying it week after week. I still think it’s the best show to come out of the fall season from among those I follow, in part due to the awe I’ve felt towards how far the show pushes its luck on what TV anime could be. I don’t think any of this could be the norm – but some of the directorial and storytelling techniques may find its way to a more mainstream show in the future, and I’ll be happy with that.
In this episode, a recap half gives the show a plot focus for whatever that’s worth. The villain is revealed, and much like the binaries presented by the show, the antagonism is that of a rivalry:
|Binary or Dichotomy||Representation|
|Angels vs. Demons||Panty & Stocking vs. Scanty & Kneesocks|
|Order vs. Anarchy||Scanty & Kneesocks vs. Panty & Stocking|
|Church vs. State||Garterbelt vs. Corset|
The binaries in all cases are deconstructed. Their traditional meanings are “corrupted” given how Angels are not “pure” (they are lustful and gluttonous), while Demons represent order and rules (all participants are liberal with sex). The Church stands apart from the State, but both are corrupted; as with the angels they are headed by lustful chiefs that are wholly into BDSM.
And yet, depravity does have consequences, and the show points towards a core meaning to things: Love, of all things!
Stocking gets back to heaven as due compensation for their ghost busting work. Panty however, despite her contributions to the effort clearly had different priorities; represented to its extreme by her goal to have sex with 1,000 men. In this sense sex for Panty is a meaningless game of accumulation of short term highs.
Heaven punishes her for her values (never mind the negligence on the job). She is made to re-do the ghost busting task but with new conditions: she cannot have sex. Heaven knows that Anarchy Panty wouldn’t be able to follow rules, so it divinely reconstructs her hymen, making her a “new” virgin.
This is important because amidst the depravity in this show there is a relatively “pure” character: Brief. His love for Panty is presented as selfless and true (if prudish and backward). He eschews appearances and vanity to present his truer self (if obsessive and creepy). He is now “key” to the story (as it were).
An aside: Brief is key also in the sense that his penis is a key to unlocking some important plot-device, as a direct reference to the film Ghostbusters. Brief, when he doesn’t look like Romeo as played by a young Leonardo di Caprio, looks like Rick Moranis from the aforementioned Ghostbusters film.
I’m kicking myself for not seeing the overall reference earlier. The angels’ operation is precisely ghost busting. This time a bigger reference is erected by making Brief play the role of the Keymaster just as Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) did in the Ghostbusters film. In both cases, their penises will unlock something truly dangerous.
The interesting thing is that Louis Tully is nowhere near presented as having a pure and true love for anything, the way Brief is. Brief represents the “righteous key” that Panty can open the the way up to heaven. He frames the Love vs. Lust binary that somewhat suddenly becomes important.
It shouldn’t be too sudden, since Stocking already manifested this contrast in her love story with the ghost of all frustrated male losers. It’s just too easy to dismiss that, and the affections Brief has been attempting to send Panty’s way ever since he became a member of the cast.
To emphasize all this, and to foreshadow the renewed virginity (and perhaps shared innocence both characters have when it comes to love), Panty and Brief meet as if for the first time in a scene directly lifted from Baz Lurhman’s Romeo + Juliet film.
From the thrown accessory into the washbowl to the reflection, to the refraction tricks through the aquarium, through the music, this scene remembers love so hard.
And… this is where the show really, really gets me… as if it hasn’t already done so. Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt takes a shortcut to establish love as a theme by alluding to the most celebrated love story in Western literature: Romeo and Juliet. But, it does so not directly through Shakespeare but through Baz Luhrman’s film, which to me shares the irreverent spirit of this anime: camping it up, but still communicating the same things, but ending up saying more by making the story its own film.
That’s a lot to accomplish in a scant half an episode, and is enough for me to make it one of my favorite moments in anime this year.
What’s your favorite moment from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt?