Panda! Go Panda!: Review/Synopsis

by: Grace Lin

The movie Panda! Go Panda! is composed of two episodes, "Panda Family!" and "Circus in the Rain", starring the little girl Mimiko, Panny the baby Panda, and Papa Panda. The three characters go through a series of fun and silly events which lead up to a happy ending in each of the two episodes.

The movie was produced in 1972 with Takahata Isao as the director and the story, scripts, and layout by Miyazaki Hayao. Panda! Go Panda! was made for young children who are oblivious to the troublesome details in life. From the opening credits of dancing pandas to the ending credits of shots from the movie, everything is delightfully simple.

Accompaniment music is limited to variations of the few tunes introduced in the beginning of the movie. However, different moods are conjured by the different tempos and instruments used to perform the tunes. Music to happy moments have a carribean feel to them due to the light percussion, displays of cuteness by Panny and his friend Tiny the tiger in the second episode are presented with the same tune played on the xylophone.

Most of the characters and events are quite impossible in real life. But these are the things which make the movie appeal to the younger audience. Older viewers may first be baffled by the appearance of talking pandas Papa Panda and Panny, then the family formed between Mimiko and the two pandas with Mimiko as Mama to Panny and Papa Panda as father to Mimiko and Panny. But if one can get past these abnormal phenomena, the rest of movie becomes very fun to watch.

The artwork is very elementary with mostly solid patches of colour. This plain colouring adds to the air of childhood when everything is fun and easy. Objects in the movie are also formed of basic shapes, such as the clouds which are ovals of varying sizes most of the time. Most of the things in the movie are from the western culture, for example, the house in which Mimiko and the pandas live in are mildly similar to 16th century Dutch houses.

In addition to the art, the movie has a few plot and character references to the western culture. There are references to the Goldilocks story, with Tiny playing the role of Goldilocks and Panny being similar to, of course, the baby bear. However, with Tiny and Panny becoming fast friends, the moral of the Goldilocks story is not present in Takahata's film. The character of Mimiko can be seen as a reference to Pippi Longstockings without the mischief and with all the energy.

Panda! Go Panda! is a wonderful movie to watch when one wants to leave everyday troubles behind. The simple animation, music and plot are easy on the eyes and mind. There might be people who dislike how simple everything is and how easily situations resolve themselves, but the silliness with which everything is done balances it out to make the movie very lovable.