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Panda! Go Panda!

directors: Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata

70 minutes (U) 1972
Manga DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Jo Johnson-Smith
I love Miyazaki's anime, especially the early things a creator does, so you get the feel of the roots of a personality and we get that here in Panda! Go Panda! (aka: Panda kopanda). A young girl is left alone by her grandmother for a while, and while as an adult we may think that this is utterly irresponsible as a child we love the idea.

Mimiko (our little heroine) does everything she should do, goes to school, cooks and cleans but she also finds herself adopting a couple of escaped pandas as well, and the pandas end up living with her in her grandmothers house in a large bamboo thicket just outside the rest of the village. The whole idea of living in peace with a couple of pandas is something you find yourself wondering how you'd cope but our little heroine does so without a turn of her head. The rest of the village doesn't exactly see it her way but, after a while, they accept it as much as she does. What her grandmother thinks is anyone's idea.

The entire thing is filled with borrowed ideas from both western and eastern myths and fairy tale, the two episodes we get on the disc is enough to keep anyone occupied and you get drawn into the world and stop questioning after the first half hour. It's definitely one for those of us who never grew-up; the fun of the action is in the thoughts of the adventures. The second story is something that is pure fantasy but, if you're like me, you'll be in the reality of childhood and that is enough to keep you going.

For young kids (under the ages of seven) this is a goldmine, and it's fun, brightly coloured and has stood up to the rigours of time, but be prepared for questions about the way the pandas speak and what they do for a living. Anthropomorphic panda isn't something you come across every day and it'll have the kids talking to the bears when they go to bed in the hope that one of them will say something back.

They say it's nice to visit your childhood once in a while, if it's anything like Miyazaki's imagination I'd have loved to have stayed there.
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