If you hadn't figured it out from the opening episode, then this second episode of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt should make the aim of GAINAX's latest series perfectly clear - it isn't just a riff on US cartoon shows of a certain era, it's more of a gentle prod (or homage perhaps) towards American pop culture as a whole.
With that in mind (and after an opening voice-over which is a tongue-in-cheek invitation for kids to sit down and enjoy this cartoon after school), it's no surprise that Panty and Stocking's next mission as angels is to infiltrate a high school, which they duly do in an inevitably not-too subltle fashion. Here they meet the school's "queen", a cheerleader named Barby who ends up in a full-on rivalry with the newcomers, which we get to see via the wonders of montage - another piece of fun at Hollywood's expense, methinks. Of course, Barby turns out to be the Ghost the girls were sent in to find, and they duly despatch her and go on their way, although not before Panty has predictably slept with the entire school football team.
In a bit of a turn-around, the second half of the episode doesn't have a Ghost in sight, instead flinging us into a plot where Panty has become some kind of squeaky clean superstar celebrity, leading to her eventually making her movie début... only it isn't a début if you count some amateur porn movie she was in previously. Needless to say this doesn't go down too well with her adoring populace, so herself and Stocxking end up having to track down all of the copies of said movie to save her reputation. Does it work? Of course not...
While Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt still looks at risk of becoming repetitive rather quickly with its quick-draw blend of lowbrow humour, sex references and swearing, I do have to admit that this episode managed to be pretty amusing in places, if only for its arch take on America and Hollywood. While a lot of these references were pretty arbitrary (with nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey and so on), there were occasional moments of sharp, biting wit on show - witness Panty posing with some black child orphans for publicity, or the high school class teaching kids to abstain for sex at all costs before handing out condoms were a couple of the more obvious ones. Making fun of American culture, politics and so on is nothing new but it can be amusing, and I wasn't really expecting a show such as this to be quite so forthright in doing it. If only there was a little more of that kind of comedy on show, then this series could have become something quite special indeed - as it is, it's just a decent (or rather, indecent) bit of fun that brings out a wicked grin in you every now and then.