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Panda! Go Panda! Blu-ray Review

“Panda! Go Panda!” is strictly for children. 

1972’s anime short film “Panda! Go Panda! was directed by Isao Takahata and scripted by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. The story follows a kind hearted young girl (Mimiko) who is left home alone after her grandmother travels to a memorial service. Why she couldn’t get a babysitter, who knows. After seeing her grandmother off, the parent-less Mimiko returns home to find a baby panda and later a big father panda both of whom can talk (although nobody seems surprised by this). The three soon hit it off and decide to become a family with the father panda becoming Papa Panda and Mimiko being the mother of the baby panda named Panny. Yes, it’s a very strange dynamic. The rest of the story is more of a series of adventures with Panny going to school with Mimiko, zookeepers looking for Papa Panda and Panny, and Panny going missing. Also, expect lots of handstands (don’t ask).

The follow-up short (1973’s “Rainy Day Circus”) finds Mimiko, Papa Panda and Panny coming across a baby tiger (Tiny) in their home. This leads to more adventures involving circus shenanigans, Tiny’s mother, a giant flood and a runaway train.

For those expecting these two shorts to be on the level of Studio Ghibli, they’re not. They skew towards a much younger audience and even look and sound like a cutesy children’s book (especially with the simplistic dialogue). There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but if you’re watching this as an adult, you might not get much out of it. You will, however, likely be driven mad by the theme song. 

Perhaps the most interesting angle is seeing how these stories clearly influenced Miyazaki’s later work. There’s a lot of “My Neighbor Totoro” here and even some “Ponyo.” Miyazaki also clearly pays homage to fairy tales like “Goldilocks And The 3 Bears” as well.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? A wonderful transfer with bright colors. 

Audio Track: Japanese and English 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How do they sound? The Japanese audio quality is sort of tinny and low quality while the newer English track is of  higher quality (even though the dub is average at best). A Spanish track has also been included.

Extras:
* DVD copy
* 4 trailers
* A 1994 conversation with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki.
* A 40 minute interview between director Isao Takahata and interviewer Miki Sakaue.
* “Panda! Go Panda! Exhibit- The Impact of Hayao Miyazaki’s Image Boards”- 13 minutes of footage from the exhibit along with footage from a screening of the 2008 theatrical release. 

July 5, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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