Victoria’s Secret Laboratory
Would I be exaggerating if I claimed that Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt was the best thing Gainax has done since Evangelion?
Nah. I’d probably be downplaying its awesomeness.
People have been making a bunch of noise about Underwear With Guns and how it reminds them of The Powerpuff Girls. It makes sense, what with the character designs kinda resembling one another. But in watching the first episode I got more of a Dexter’s Laboratory vibe from the series. Maybe it’s the awesome title cards that pop up before the episodes that depict some thematic drawing that goes with the episode. Then again, the same thing can be said of most other cartoons of the “two shorts in the time span of one thirty minute episode” genre, but it was the first thing that came to my mind as I watched it.
And now that I think about it, I’d throw The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy into the mix. Panty’s totally what Mandy would be like if she grew up and decided to trade in her copy of the The Prince for a copy of The Game.
That makes Underwear With Guns a raunchy version of the Saturday Morning Cartoon that still dominates the US animation market (Despite the fact that said cartoons now air on weeknights on channels like Cartoon Network, Toon Disney and so on. They’re still the same Saturday Morning Cartoon-styled shows.). That means two things:
1) It’s essentially an Adult Swim show that’s airing in the “wrong” country, since the vast majority of the series on AS boil down to the same format made “adult.”
2) It’s essentially doing the same thing that High School of the Dead did, which is take a genre that’s rarely, if ever, seen in anime and turn it into an anime. Just replace “zombie movie” with “Adult Swim series.”
That means you’re gonna have to have a certain predisposition to get into this series. I’m sure some fans’ll dig it simply on its own merits, but most people who get into this will likely be the sorts like me who grew up with this shit. We’ve watched enough Saturday Morning Cartoons over the course of our lives and we know the beats. We know how they tend to work, whether it’s the way characters are presented or the way an episode is paced. Underwear With Guns follows all of the little details of a Saturday Morning Cartoon. It moves at the same brisk, almost frantic pace of most of these shows. It has the same abandonment of real life logic and follows the same trains of thought first conjured up in old school theatrical cartoon shorts.
It also follows the pattern of having the first few shorts be relatively weak. The first episodes of many of my favorite shows of this sort tend to fall a little flat. Going back and looking at the first episode of Billy and Mandy is kinda painful since all it does is lay down the foundation for further episodes. Instead of having an episode rift off of the setting and allowing the jokes to come about naturally, these first episodes are basically the build-up to all future punch lines. That’s how the first episode of Underwear With Guns plays out. We’re getting the foundation so later episodes can be a hell of a lot funnier. That’s what I’m seeing at least.