Parents' Guide to

Panda! Go Panda!

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Classic anime is charming but quirky; pipe smoking.

Movie NR 2022 72 minutes
Panda! Go Panda! Movie Poster

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Is It Any Good?

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It's remarkable and downright fun to look back at Miyazaki and Takahata's early work, which was originally produced 12 years before they founded the legendary Studio Ghibli. Kids fascinated by anime may enjoy seeing the early output of these two modern-day powerhouses. And the two "Adventures of Panda and Friends" stories bundled for Panda! Go Panda!'s 50th anniversary release are absolutely adorable. Mimiko is the shiniest ray of light, Papa Panda is so chill and go-with-the-flow, and Panny is cute and sweet. The trio are the very embodiment of love. (It's worth noting that, at the time, Miyazaki and Takahata were working on a Pippi Longstocking film that was never given the green light, and there's no doubt of Mimi's design influence.)

All of that said, the story is a jaw-dropper because of the way storytelling, filmmaking, and childrearing have changed since the 1970s (which was also the height of a "panda craze" thanks to China loaning two giant pandas to the Ueno Zoo in Japan). Grandmother leaves Mimi home alone for what appears to be weeks, if not a month. Mimi tells everyone she happens upon that she'll be staying home alone for a long time, and no one bats an eye. When someone knocks on the door, she tells them to come in without seeing who it is. Mimi is hopeful that burglars will break in, and when home invaders do come, she's delighted. Her underwear peeks out of her skirt for most of the film, and she's constantly doing handstands, with her dress flipping over her head, exposing her belly and underpants. It's all very much like a little girl, but it can feel surprising to see it when viewed through a modern lens. What's not surprising is that, with no human supervision, Mimi enters into danger constantly -- like walking into a tiger's cage, jumping into a torrential waterfall, or even just leaving the stovetop burning. But that can provide you with an opportunity for your kids to identify what Mimi is doing wrong and what they should do if they end up home alone. Children and fans of anime are likely to get a kick out of the film, and the catchy theme song will bounce around your brain for days.

Movie Details

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