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Panda! Go, Panda! (1972)

Director: Isao Takahata, Isao Takahata
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Studio: Geneon
Genre: Anime, Animation, Cel, Dysfunctional Families
Running Time: 75 min.
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
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This title is currently out of print.

This strange and lively animated short was the first real collaboration between Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, who together formed Studio Ghibli in 1985. Panda! Go Panda! tells a simple story aimed at young children, but the oddness of the premise also keeps it interesting for older fans of Miyazaki's work. The plot revolves around Mimiko, an orphaned little girl living on her own, who discovers a pair of talking pandas. She takes in the father and his baby son, and together they form a surrogate family. What follows is cute, innocent fun as Mimiko and the pandas get into various comical mishaps, but there is some noteworthy subtext for adult viewers, as well. The "papa" panda can alternately be seen as a proxy father, a husband figure, or even a child for Mimiko, and the cheerfulness with which she deals with being parentless is both inspiring and unsettling. Still, this is first and foremost a bright, cheerful tale that will please the young -- and young at heart -- with its wholesome action and humorous situations. From these modest beginnings, Miyazaki went on to create such masterpieces as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Spirited Away, while Takahata directed the unforgettable Grave of the Fireflies. ~ Skyler Miller, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Was a hit with my daughter who loves Totoro by greenie August 9, 2004 - 1:13 PM PDT
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful
My daughter had seen Totoro, and I was looking for more Miyazaki for her. And me, too.

Papa panda is definately Totoro-esque. Watch the way baby panda jumps up and clings to his belly. How he tiptoes gently despite his obvious weight. How he opens his mouth so wide. Even the shape of his body. This story of a gentle spirit, and a little girl that is completely unafraid of him, are obvious parallels between this movie and Totoro.

But there is much more to this story for the small (3-year old) female viewer. In Panda.. she'll see a spunky young orphan girl who is (surprisingly) left alone to tend her house by herself. She responsibly does the grocery shopping and the chores, and bravely laughs at the idea of burglars coming into her house. She is a true female protagonist, not a damsel in distress. Something that is rare in the, dare I say, Disney world.

This DVD contains two cartoons. I am not familiar with the history of this cartoon, but it seems like the first one is a pilot episode, and the second one a follow-up. Seems like the start of a series, but it has no definitive conclusion. The animation has a clunky, made for TV feel to it. Despite all this, it was enjoyable and exactly the type of story we were looking for.

a kids movie - yes, really, it is by skybrian June 19, 2003 - 12:38 AM PDT
2 out of 4 members found this review helpful
A sweet children's video but unlike Totoro or Spirited Away, there is not the additional depth to interest adults. The animation is minimal, TV-quality.

Little kids will like this one :-) by hneline1 June 2, 2002 - 11:52 PM PDT
14 out of 14 members found this review helpful
Originally released as "Panda Family" in 1972 and "Circus in the Rain" in 1973, "Panda! Go, Panda!" is a cute, innocent movie about good girl Mimiko who finds adventure with a huge talking Papa Panda and a little baby Panda, Panny, after her grandmother has to go away for a few days. This is definitely a little kid's movie, so go find a kid to watch it with! Little kids will be delighted with the happy opening sequence of pandas transforming, little Mimiko's self-reliance around the house, the unexpected "family" created when the Pandas move in with Mimiko, and the many touches that spark imagination. I think the most magical sequence is when the valley is flooded after an all-night storm, and Mimiko and the Pandas climb onto a floating bed in the sunny morning to go rescue the circus animals -- the bed seems to fly through the air when the camera looks up from the valley floor through the crystal clear waters. Also, I watched this in English and the translation was fine, which is helpful with little kids who wouldn't be able to understand Japanese or read subtitles. ;-)

This is the first original screenplay by Hiyao Miyazaki, often called the father of Japanese animation, whose later works include Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, The Castle of Cagliostro and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Director Isao Takahata is also a famous pioneer in animation, whose works include the poignent Grave of the Fireflies. Viewers interested in anime history should watch this movie because it predates many of Miyazaki and Takahata's more famous works and you can see how their ideas evolved. The giant Papa Panda is an early incarnation of the giant Totoro.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.87)
100 Votes
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