Panda! Go, Panda! (パンダ・コパンダ , Panda Kopanda literally "Panda, Baby Panda") is an animated film that premiered in December 17, 1972. It was written and created by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Isao Takahata for TMS Entertainment (formerly Tokyo Movie), predating Studio Ghibli. It was followed by a sequel, "Panda! Go, Panda! Rainy Day Circus" (1973).
This short movie hit Japan at the height of the panda craze, initiated in September 1972, when the government announced the loan of a pair of giant pandas from China to the Ueno Zoo as part of Panda diplomacy.
In September 1972 (Showa 47), China offered a giant panda to Ueno Zoo as part Panda diplomacy. This caused a panda boom in Japan, and this animated film capitalized on the crazy. However, Director Isao Takahata has clarified that planning "Panda Kopanda" began long before.
It was one of the entries in the "Toho Champion Festivals", and was simultaneously screenings with two other works, "Destroy All Monsters" (1968) and "Kaijū funsen–Daigorō tai Goriasu" (1972).
The film was a collaboration between Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki and Yoichi Kotabe, who had transferred from Toei Animation to A Production (later Shin-Ei Animation ). Kotabe and Takahata had previously worked on "Heidi, Girl of the Alps" (1974) and were originally planning to adapt Astrid Lindgren's "Pippi Longstocking", but couldn't due to failing to acquire the original author's permission. "Panda Kopanda" features elements taken from "Pippi" such as the protagonist Mimiko living alone, Mimiko's design (braids with freckles on her face), and the setting of Mimiko's house (kitchen with oven).
At that time, A Production was an exclusive subcontractor for Tokyo Movie, but this project is said to have been planned and produced under A Production.
On March 17, 1973, the sequel "Panda Kopanda Rainy Day Circus " was released.
On March 15, 2008, "Panda Kopanda" and "Panda! Go, Panda! Rainy Day Circus" were screened simultaneously in Cinema Angelica in Shibuya and several parts of Japan for six months. It was broadcast on TV by CS broadcasting stations and later rebroadcast on Cartoon Network.
The plot follows Mimiko, a bright little girl left alone when her grandmother leaves on a trip, which, according to the grandmother, is Mimiko's grandfather's memorial service. After making a few stops at some local stores, Mimiko comes home to her house in a bamboo grove and finds a baby panda named Panny sleeping on the back doorstep. She quickly makes friends with the little panda, and invites him in for a drink. His father, Papa Panda, soon comes to visit, and they decide to become a family after Papa Panda offers to be Mimiko's father (Mimiko never had any parents). The three adjust to life together during their first night together, while Mimiko writes the first of many letters to her grandma (who she promised to write to every day).
The next day, Mimiko goes to school, reluctantly allowing Panny to tag along (even though she told him to stay home). In a close call, Panny ends up getting all of Mimiko's school (save for Mimiko) chasing after him. The next day, Mimiko gets an unexpected visit from a local policeman, who came to check on her. Expectedly, he freaks out after seeing Papa Panda. He goes to notify the local zoo staff, who invites the zookeeper (who lost Papa Panda and Panny after they broke out of the zoo). The zookeeper demands the safe return of his pandas, so he joins the police and zoo staff in the search.
Meanwhile, Mimiko and her family go out on a walk and, after scaring off some local bullies, they inadvertently lose Panny after he rolls down a hill. Mimiko and Papa Panda go searching for him, eventually gaining help from local police and the zookeeper in the search. They find Panny floating on a piece of wood, heading towards an open floodgate and hurry to save him. The handle, however, has rusted, leaving Panny in a dangerous situation. Mimiko comes very close to falling into dangerous waters after she jumps down to save Panny from death, but Papa Panda saves both of them by closing the floodgate. Mimiko, alongside Panny, Papa Panda, the zookeeper and the local police, cheer their success. Papa Panda, alongside Panny, return to work at the zoo, under the condition that they can leave after the visitors have left to spend time with Mimiko.
The Rainy-Day Circus
The adventures are continued in another short movie from the same staff, Panda! Go, Panda!: The Rainy-Day Circus (パンダ・コパンダ 雨降りサー スの巻Panda Kopanda: Amefuri Circus no Maki). In this episode, Mimiko and the pandas meet a ringmaster and one of his cronies, who were searching for something in their home. Mimiko is overjoyed, thinking that they are burglars, but they are quickly scared off by the family, and run away in fear. The family soon starts dinner, but Panny finds his food has been eaten. In a way similar to the story of Goldilocks, Panny finds what the ringmaster was looking for: a baby tiger named Tiny. After getting spooked by Tiny, Panny (along with the entire household) makes friends with the little tiger.
The next day, Mimiko goes to ask around town, to see if anyone knows where Tiny is from, only to lose both Panny and Tiny when Tiny goes to see his real mother. Mimiko is invited to the local circus, which is exactly the same one that is owned by the ringmaster that had tried to break in the night before, by a few of her friends. She gladly accepts the offer. At the circus, Tiny introduces Panny to a local otter. Panny tries to do the otter's trick, but ends up getting chased by the local circus performers and the ringmaster. To make matters worse, Panny crashes straight into the tiger cage, where Tiny's unhappy mother waits. Mimiko slips into the circus after someone yells that Panny is in trouble and runs into Tiny's mom. They both return what isn't theirs to the other (respectively, Panny to Mimiko and Tiny to his mother) and become quick friends. The ringmaster gives Mimiko and her family tickets to the show, but on the way home, a nasty storm breaks out. Overnight, it floods most of the land around Mimiko's hometown.
A frantic cry of help from Tiny (in the form of a makeshift bottled message) sends Mimiko and her family in a search for him. They learn from the ringmaster that the train has all the animals, and it's stuck out in the middle of nowhere. Mimiko and her family go to free the animals, which they succeed in doing, but unintentionally cause the train to start (due to the playful antics of Panny and Tiny).
The train goes off the rails, and ends up in a collision course with the mayor's house. However, Papa Panda stops the train, and Mimiko and her family become town heroes. The movie concludes with Mimiko and her panda family enjoying a day at the circus.
Behind the Scenes
The pandas of Panda! Go, Panda! are considered by some to be precursor of "My Neighbor Totoro", sharing many design and animation similarities. The spunky red-headed heroine, Mimiko, is sometimes seen as a mix of a prototype Mei, the younger sister in "My Neighbor Totoro" (because of her braided hair) and a prototype Satsuki, the older sister in ""My Neighbor Totoro" (due to her acting as an older sibling to Panny). Mimiko also shares several traits with "Pippi Longstocking". Astrid Lindgren had been contacted by Miyazaki one year earlier, as he wished to use Pippi in his animation. His request was refused.
|Bully||Osamu Ichikawa||Mona Marshall|
|Stork Clerk||Tetsuya Kaji||Doug Lee|
|Papa Panda||Kazuo Kumakura||Dougary Grant|
|Nana (Friend A)||Hiroko Maruyama||Katie Evans|
|Cayo (Friend B)||Yoneko Matsukane||Barbara Goodson|
|Teacher||Eken Mine||Sparky Thornton|
|Baby Panda/Panny||Yoshiko Ohta||Melissa Fahn|
|Grandmother||Reiko Seno||Aline Leslie|
|Mimiko||Kazuo Sugiyama||Julie Maddalena|
|Zoo Director||Ayao Wada||Simon Isaacson|
|Omawari-san/Policeman||Yasuo Yamada||Gully Jimson|
|Mori (Male Student)||Yoko Yamaoka||Ian Hawk|
- Original: Terue Nunami, Kazuko Yanaga, Yoshihito Yasuhara
- English: G. Gordon Baer, Alexis A. Edward, Leigh Everest (Candy Store Clerk), Melissa Fahn, Dougary Grant, W.T. Hatch, Chet Huntley, Steve Kramer, Cody MacKenzie (Boy), Mona Marshall (Kitchen Staff), Julie Maddalena, Dan Martin, Harold Muckle, Claude Wayne, Heidi Wilbur
|Character Design||Yasuo Ōtsuka|
|Animation Director||Yasuo Ōtsuka, Yôichi Kotabe|
|Art Director||Hisao Fukuda, Shichirō Kobayashi|
|In-between Animation||Fumio Shinagawa, Hiroko Kikuchi, Hiroko Kodama, Hiroshi Fukutomi, Kanji Hara, Kazue Morimoto, Kazuko Tsurutani, Kazunori Tanahashi, Kazuo Minato, Kazuyoshi Shimada, Kenji Haruki, Kensetsu Fukuhara, Kiyoshi Naramura, Mariko Murata, Masako Chiba, Masashi Kubota, Megumi Ueno, Michiko Takahashi, Michiyo Yamada, Minoru Maeda, Roku Shinohara, Satoshi Oshima, Seiji Arihara, Shinichi Otake, Takao Horie, Takeshi Motoori, Tamayo Hirata, Tomoko Tanaka, Yoshitaka Gojo, Yukio Suzuki, Yuko Sakashita|
|Background||Akio Fujitsuka, Eiji Hirakawa, Etsuo Sato, Hiroko Igarashi, Hirotsugu Tani, Ichiro Nakano, Junko Kubota, Kazuo Oga, Kazutoshi Shimizu, Kenji Kumugai, Kimiko Kitagawa, Kumiko Yoshizawa, Masato Itou, Noboru Tatsuike, Toshiharu Mizutani, Toshiro Nozaki, Yasuyuki Chiba, Yumiko Honma|
|Key Animation||Eiichi Nakamura, Hayao Miyazaki, Hideo Kawauchi, Hiroshi Kanazawa, Hiroshi Wagatsuma, Kenji Kitahara, Kenzo Koizumi, Kōichi Murata, Motoji Suzuki, Norio Yazawa, Shingo Arakai, Syunji Saita, Takao Kōzai, Tomekichi Takeuchi, Toshiyuki Honda, Tsutomu Tanaka, Yasuhiro Yamaguchi, Yasuo Otsuka, Yôichi Kotabe, Yoshifumi Kondō, Yuzo Aoki|
|Photography||Akio Wakana, Katsuji Misawa, Mikio Wakana, Toru Owada|
- ^ Encyclopedia of the world's zoos, Volume 3. Catharine E. Bell.
- ^ "Story: Panda Kopanda". Nausicaa.net. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
- ^ "Panda! Go Panda". DVD Times. 2001-07-31. Retrieved 2008-03-21.
- Panda! Go, Panda! (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Panda! Go, Panda! at the Internet Movie Database
- Panda! Go, Panda! at Nausicaa.net
- Animerica review