How do you make a series laden with references to violence, sex and bodily excretions starring two thoroughly unpleasant women entertaining? If Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is any indication, you give it to GAINAX. Suffering the same initial incredulity as Lucky Star's promotional material had when it was first revealed, the series is a riot of aggressive stylisation, wildly varying animation and a barrage of provocative jokes. Puritans will denounce its cavalier depiction of fornication, the no-holds-barred treatment of various human fluids or the utter crudity of it, but in only three episodes there has been nary a repeated scene or situation. But most of all: it's just plain fun.
Splitting the running time into two separate segments, two story of angels sent from heaven to defeat marauding ghosts is only background noise to the bickering and bedlam the two sisters get up to. The pace at which each story moves is astounding with some beginning right in the thick of the action and only coming up for air when the credits hit. There is no character development here, each one wears their personality - foibles and all - on their sleeve and instead of being hindrances, end up as ammunition for the bedlam that every episode entails.
It was spring 2009. Code Geass had been over for many months and nothing had filled that void: a show which unified otherwise disparate fans. Production I.G. had long since wrapped up the Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex project, following them up with two other Masamune works of varying popularity and polish - Ghost Hound and Real Dive. Kenji Kamiyama meanwhile had completed the respectable Serei no Moribito and was then attached to a new project. Could this be? All the signs pointed to another A-grade production, so was Eden of the East The Next Big Thing?
Sometimes a specific element of a series becomes notorious, the murderous end to School Days for instance, and Yosuga no Sora (Sky of Connection) has its own as an epilogue to the first episode. Female masturbation isn't something certain facets of anime have shied away from but it poses the question of whether or not it's in good taste. Short answer: no. What puts the series into a different category of lewdness than other tasteless series such as Ikkitousen, Queen's Blade and Kanokon is that here the series makes a desperate attempt to tell a meaningful story of emotion and heartbreak the likes of which visual novels are renowned for.
It's all been done before though, and done better. The beige-grey palette will be familiar from Futakoi Alternative and though the characters avoid the most egregious archetypes, their motivations and reactions feel all too commonplace. That black undercurrent though, with plot threads such as the sister's incestuous obsession with her brother, feel far too forced. Their taboo nature magnified when the characters are still schoolchildren of indeterminate ages and maturity. More succinctly: it crosses the line between the self-knowing, head-shaking titillation of Ladies versus Butlers and into deviant fetishism and disquieting sexual territory.