Panda Go Panda & Rainy Day Circus
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Cheerful Mimiko has a very strange family for a little girl - a Panda for her Papa, and his son, Panny, calls her Mom! Join this happy family and their many adventures! When Panny follows Mimiko to school, he must pretend to be a teddy bear so Mimiko won't get into trouble, but everyone wants a cute Panda! Despite his efforts to behave, Panny causes trouble in the school kitchen, and now the whole school is after Panny! Then, Panny makes a new friend, Tiny, a baby tiger who's wandered off from the circus. Includes both movies: Panda Go Panda & Rainy-day Circus
Written by the inimitable Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies), Go Panda! offers a charming pair of adventures for children. In Panda Family, Mimiko, a cheerful, energetic little girl, adopts a baby panda and is adopted by his father. Her parents are dead and her grandmother is away, so Mimiko is delighted to find a substitute family. They quickly establish a merry menage, although they wreak havoc wherever they go. Mimiko and the Pandas befriend Tiny, a lost baby tiger in Circus in the Rain. Unruffled by a storm that floods her town, Mimiko organizes the rescue of the circus animals, including Tiny’s mother. Like Miyazaki’s Totoro, whom he resembles, Papa Panda embodies the warm, reliable, magical friend children dream of having. Suitable for all ages; minor cartoon violence. --Charles Solomon
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The only true problem is that the authoring house set the aspect ratio flag incorrectly for the 13-minute "Panda Go Panda Exhibit" special feature, so the video appears vertically stretched in a 4:3 ratio instead of the player converting the natively anamorphic video into widescreen like it should. Depending on what DVD player and TV you have, you may be able to force the video into a widescreen format by using an adjustable "zoom" function. Even if you can't, the movie itself and the major bonus feature (the Takahata interview) are natively 4:3 full-screen, so they aren't affected by this issue. When you take into account that Eastern Star is a relatively small label, I'm willing to give them a pass in this instance.
Before you think about skipping this release and getting the somewhat techinally superior Japanese release, remember this: While the Japanese release has a higher video bitrate as well as English audio and subtitles for the main feature, its extras lack English subtitles. Also note that it costs about $50, which is about 3x what I paid for this release from Eastern Star. As for the previous US release from Pioneer/Geneon, it's long out-of-print and doesn't have any substantial extras. Even if it were available at a reasonable price, I'd rather own this release instead.
All said, considering that I didn't have any hope of ever getting Panda Go Panda at a reasonable price after Pioneer/Geneon went out of business, I give a sincere tip of the hat to Eastern Star for rescuing the license to this and putting out a very good DVD. Thumbs up!
In Panda! Go, Panda!, young Mimiko is left alone by her grandmother and so a daddy panda and a baby panda show up at her house to keep her company, after apparently leaving a nearby zoo. Fun and trouble persists.
In Rainy-Day Circus, a tiger cub has escaped from a traveling sideshow and has hidden out in Mimiko's house. What will Mimiko do?
Both are lovely touching stories, that every adult and child should see. You can choose between English Dubbed or Japanese with English subtitles, both are great options. As with all Discotek releases, the video, audio and extras have been upgraded substantially beyond previous releases. Never seen before extras include the original trailer, a 13 minute storyboard and 40 minute interview with one of the directors. If your child enjoyed any of the previous Ghibli stories, particularly My Neighbor Totoro then pick this up now.
Rating - A
Anyway, this DVD consists of two 1/2 hour "episodes". The first "Panda Go Panda" and the Second "Rainy Day Circus".
The first is by far the best! It's quirky, very cute animation and dialogue. (Do not expect anything as complex and well written as Totoro etc). This is clearly geared towards young children but the quirky oddness of it appeals to many of those with a sense of humor and a fan of silly anime.
The second "episode" is still cute but definitely more for a younger crowd. Not as silly as the first and there's just alot of running and laughing, like something you'd see on NickJr. Still enjoyable though.
Overall it is very cute and silly. Definitely one for your Miyazaki collection :)