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Anime on DVD: Panda Go Panda!
We'veall heard of Miyazaki. He's famous for such films as "My Neighbor Totoro","Laputa", and the more recent "Princess Mononoke, but what came before allthese? Before Miyazaki started working on the big movies, he was involved inmany TV series and Short TV movies. Unfortunately, very few of these are knownin the West. One of the titles that has slipped through though is "Panda! GoPanda!" Alongwith Isao Takahata ("Grave of the Fireflies", "My Neighbors the Yamadas")Miyazaki made 2 short TV movies about a little girl called Mimiko, who liveswith her Grandmother. At the beginning of the first movie, Mimiko'sGrandmother has to leave for a while to Grandad's Memorial. She's reluctantto leave little Mimiko alone but Mimiko assures her that everything'll be fineand pushes her Gran onto the train and kisses her goodbye. You know whenMimiko's feelin' great because she does a little hop and lands standing onher hands. WhenMimiko arrives back at her little cottage in the middle of a bamboo patch shenotices that someone's been there while she was away . She goes around to theback of the cottage to find the cutest stuffed panda you ever saw sitting on abench by the wall. Mimiko is thrilled with her discovery and gives the panda abig hug, only to realise it's not a stuffed panda, it's a real one!! Panny(that's his name) was just snoozing after getting lost in all the bamboo.Mimiko wants to be friends with Panny, and when Panny agrees, Mimiko does herlittle handstand, which Panny then tries to copy, but falls on his head andbounces along the ground.
Soon, Panny's Papa turnsup on the doorstep looking for him. Papa panda (or Papanda for short) wants tointroduce himself to Mimiko's parents, and isn't happy when Mimiko tells himthat she doesn't have any. Papanda then volunteers to be Mimiko's Papa ifshe'll look after Panny like a Mom. Then the adventures begin......... Thefirst film is about how Papanda and Panny have escaped from the zoo andthere's a big hunt on to find them and get them back.Papanda is only too willing to return,but not until he finds Panny (who's gone missing yet again). When it turns outthat Panny is in great danger, both Mimiko and Papanda save the day and win therespect of everyone in town, and as a result Papanda gets a "job" at thezoo, being on display for the guests at the zoo until it's closing time, thenhe signs out and takes the train home to Mimiko, who's waiting for him at thestation every day. Eventhough I'm a teenager, I couldn't help but be encaptured by the sheer charmof this show. I definitely recommend this to all parents with young children asI'm sure both will enjoy it thoroughly. Thesecond Movie, "Rainy Day Circus", is about when the circus comes to town,and a baby Tiger gets lost and finds himself at Mimiko's cottage. That night,a huge storm floods the whole town and the Train carrying all the circus animalsis trapped. Yet again Mimiko, Papanda, and this time Panny and the baby Tiger,all save the day and get the animals to safety. Availablenow on VHS and DVD from Pioneer, the DVD boasts the original Japanese Languageand music with subtitles and an all-new English dub and musical score. Kids willprobably prefer the dub, which is pretty good, although Papanda's Jamaicanaccent can either be regarded as quite funny or really annoying, but anime fanswill want to go for the original Track. Unfortunately the original Japaneseopening sequence has been taken out from the film, but it can be seen in thespecial features section of the disc. I recommend everyone take a look at leastonce. It contains little drawings of Panny and Papanda that are both hilariousand really cute at the same time.
Pioneer DVD cover Written by Steve Biggins