a.k.a. Panda Kopanda: Amefuri Saakasu no Maki
“Somebody has been eating my curry, sitting in my chair and is sleeping in my bed”, and that somebody is a young tiger straight from a nearby circus. This may appear outlandish but for a family composed of a little girl and two pandas, this is nothing worth writing home about. When torrential rain threatens the circus and its animals, however, leave it to Mimiko, Papanda and Panny-chan to run… or paddle… to the rescue.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: New characters integrate well in the scenario; funnier than its predecessor
Lows: Just as one-dimensional; animation did not improve
Soon after the completion of Panda! Go Panda, Takahata and Miyazaki began production of its sequel entitled Panda! Go Panda: The Circus in the Rain. Also about a half-hour in length, it picks up where its forerunner left off, which is a blessing considering the first movie leaves the viewer hungry for more.
A bit of the same but still innovative enough not to be dull, this anime features interesting new characters while remaining as cute and entertaining as ever… if not more. Papanda, the papa panda, gets to show more of his talents and strength while amazingly remaining adorable in a My Neighbor Totoro sort of way. His son is, again, the epitome of kawaiiness, and this coming from a person who rarely even utters the word “kawaii“. A few parts of the storyline may be completely far-fetched but a movie about talking pandas should not be viewed with that pragmatic state of mind.
Sadly, even with these many improvements, whatever problems beset Panda! Go Panda was passed on to its heir. Poor animation with a low frame rate and an overly linear storyline are still present in Panda! Go Panda: The Circus in the Rain. Since the main characters were already introduced in the first movie, this one had the opportunity to dedicate more time to an evocative storyline with the same substance as, say, Kiki’s Delivery Service. Yet, it did not capitalize on this benefit and used the same disappointing formula. Not that this movie isn’t exciting, but this lack of ambition becomes increasingly present after each viewing.
Thankfully, you do not need to choose between Panda! Go Panda and Panda! Go Panda: The Circus in the Rain since they are both usually distributed as a single package. The fact that I enjoyed this one slightly more should by no means discourage you from seeing both productions in chronological order.
Highs: Linear story is fun-filled throughout
Lows: Not as innocent as the first; asks too much of my imagination at times; dated
After catching the amusing exploits of Mimiko, Papanda and the eternally cute Kopanda in Panda! Go Panda, I just knew I had watch the whole crew at it again in this sequel.
The story has been expanded to include just about all of the town that Mimiko resides in, rather than just her house and perhaps a hill or two like in the first movie. While in one sense this move does liven up the scenery quite a bit, I was more partial to the uncluttered, plain backdrops of Mimiko’s home. This type of anime doesn’t work as well when there is too much going on.
Essentially, the problems that affected Panda! Go Panda (choppy animation and little attention to artistic detail) are the same problems that affect Panda! Go Panda: The Circus in the Rain. On the other hand, all the same qualities have made the voyage, as well: irresistibly lovable characters and the ability to take the viewer on a nostalgic voyage back to childhood.
After watching hours upon hours of adult characters with adult problems in other shows, it’s a relief to settle down once in a while to an anime made for children… and one that I can still enjoy to this day. Panda! Go Panda: The Circus in the Rain has plenty of problems even beyond the obvious lack of eye candy, but I never once felt that my time was being wasted. If you, too, want to take a break from the everyday, then do yourself a favor and pick up this title.
Panda! Go Panda and Panda! Go Panda: The Circus in the Rain can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE, as one single file.