Out of all shows that have been presented in Fall 2010, it seems there is no show like Panty and Stocking which has so decisively split viewer opinions into clear cut groups that either believe it's the best thing that's ever happened since sliced bread, or have banished it to the depths of utter disdain. The question I ask right now and will answer in this review is if one or even both sides are justified.
First thing that one should wonder is what this show was trying to accomplish. I'm not a fan of Gainax, and thus I am not extremely acquainted with their works. However it's pretty apparent that Gainax was trying to do something that would be different. What they have isn't a complicated or redeeming story. Far from it. The two main characters Panty and Stocking are impulsive and obsessed with sex and sweets respectively. That's all there is to the main characters, and that never changes throughout the show. The most development you ever see from the story or characters is in the priest Garterbelt, who is given a moderately interesting backstory in one episode complete with some decent use of dramatic and comedic elements. Outside of that, the show cannot be praised for its plot and characters alone. For the most part, the show progresses episodically more or less simply because there is a lack of a cohesive plot.
Given that the show is really not aiming to please its audience with traditional story elements, the main option remaining is clearly humor. Probably one of the biggest factors in creating split opinions among viewers (aside from the deliberately shallow plot) is the decision of the show to choose crude and vulgar humor as its primary form of entertainment. Now please do not take this the wrong way. Crude and vulgar humor alone doesn't ruin a show, but at the same time, there is in fact a right way to do it so that it actually is entertaining. The way I see it, P&S both fails and succeeds simultaneously in this department.
The way P&S fails at humor comes down to how at least half the time, the jokes have nothing to do with anything in the plot. The perfect example of this is Panty's Engrish profanity. You should be ashamed of yourself if you find it funny, because it really doesn't serve any purpose and has no relevance to anything that actually happens. A lot of extremely brief references to pop culture all around the world are made throughout the series, and they might as well not exist since again, virtually none of them have any relevance to anything that happens as Panty and Stocking are destroying things, indulging in worldly desires, playing volleyball, showing off as idols, etc.
On the good half of humor however, some of the show's mini plots do in fact turn out to be truly entertaining and original. Part of the originality comes through the amazing production alone. By itself, the concept of sperm soldiers on a mission to enter the womb might only raise brows at best (given that particular concept has definitely been done at least once by Family Guy as I recall, and only god knows what South Park hasn't covered), but it's the imagination of the developers that truly brings such a concept and a few others to life with vibrant colors, eye catching motions/effects, and sweated detail where it counts. P&S's art style is a bit unusual, comparable more to that of western animation as opposed to what is commonly used in anime. The almost bouncy object designs however work perfectly for this series, which tries its best to be unafraid of venturing into dangerous territory that no other group (besides Gainax presumably) would dare lay eyes upon. It's fair to say that the times that P&S does come up with something original, it is genuinely well presented.
Towards the latter half of the series, while P&S never truly abandons trying to come up with more and more of these good and bad mini-plots, an attempt to create an actual plot direction occurs, but this is extremely brief and intermittent. This isn't to say that there was any extra legitimate plot or character development. However post-introduction of the demon sisters, the quality of action scenes goes from decent to astounding during several interactions between the conflicting angels and demons. Again, the plot and characters really can't be praised for much, but it's at least apparent that Gainax is trying, and it shows in how detailed and well scripted some of the fights become.
All in all, I feel the biggest problem with P&S is consistency. What I believe Gainax was trying to accomplish was anything but a simple task. Being "different" especially in a day and age where there are uncountable records for every original concept that has ever existed is a tall order. Was Gainax trying to be funny? Were they in the end actually trying to make a new kind of story? Or were they just trolling everyone? It doesn't seem far off that they were probably going for a combination of all three, and that resulted in sacrifices in certain areas, or times where they simply just ran out of really good ideas.
All in all, P&S does have its moments, both good and bad, and generally it will be easy for most people to focus on either the good things or the bad things, but not both. To its credit though, it is different. Ultimately I would personally look towards American sitcoms, probably South Park in particular if you're looking for something actually funny. Otherwise it is up to you to decide where your tastes lie when considering this show.