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Anime / Panda! Go Panda!

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Panda papanda kopanda!

A pair of Isao Takahata-directed animated shorts from the early 1970s that were originally lead-ins for some of the Showa Godzilla films. They are most notable for being some of the first anime with notable creative imput (writing, layout, scene design) by Hayao Miyazaki. The design of the pandas also parallels the design of the Totoros from My Neighbor Totoro.

In the first one, simply titled Panda! Go Panda! a young girl named Mimiko finds a small panda on her doorstep, who she calls Panny. Soon after, Panny's father, Papa Panda, shows up, and offers to be Mimiko's father as well. She accepts, though she takes a more motherly role to Panny. However, it turns out that Panny and Papa Panda have escaped from the zoo, and police and zookeepers soon come to take them back.

In the second, Panda! Go Panda!: The Rainy-Day Circus, a baby tiger called Tiny shows up at Mimiko's house as well. She takes him in, but it soon turns out that Tiny comes from the circus, and he takes Panny with him to meet his mother. Mimiko follows, and eventually gets Tiny back to his mother and takes Panny with her, after getting tickets to the show. However, a huge rainstorm completely floods the valley that night, forcing Mimiko and the pandas to free the circus animals.

Interestingly enough, the films can be considered an Inversion of Just Here for Godzilla, as Japanese audiences were more interested in watching the Godzilla films more for these short films rather than the main features with Godzilla himself.

This series provides examples of:

  • Civilized Animal: The Pandas. By the end of the first installment, Papa spends his days going to work as a zoo attraction and then clocks out and heads to Mimiko's house for the evening.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: It is said in dialogue that Mimiko doesn't have a mother or father.
  • Gentle Giant: Papa Panda is huge and a little scary before he really appears, but he's actually really friendly and even offers to be Mimiko's father.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: Mimiko barely holds herself with just one hand from the edge of the waterfall of a dam while the whole town helplessly watch.
  • Just Train Wrong: The steam train apparently is able to work underwater and to go on without rails.
  • Message in a Bottle: Tiny uses one of these to let the main characters know that the circus animals are in trouble.
  • Missing Mom: Panny doesn't appear to have a birth mother — only his father is mentioned or shown.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Both pandas are this, but especially Panny.
  • Spiritual Successor: Inverted in the sense that Panda! Go Panda! is in some ways a spiritual predecessor to My Neighbor Totoro. While Totoro is a more serious movie than Panda (which is very much intended exclusively for children), the pandas' appearances, personalities, and mannerisms certainly informed those of the Totoros.

Alternative Title(s): Panda Kopanda