Panda Go Panda US Discotek DVD
Earlier this year, Discotek reissued Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki's two Panda Kopanda short films on DVD, under the common Western title, "Panda Go Panda." The previous home video release was handled by Geneon, which featured a butchered title sequence and no extras. This 2012 version is much better by all counts.
The two short films - Panda Kopanda (1972), Panda Kopanda and the Rainy Day Circus (1973) - are included complete and uncut, which is nice if you're a fan of Animal Treasure Island and My Neighbor Totoro and enjoy their opening credit sequences. For picture quality, I cannot speak from first-hand experience, but it does appear that Japan's Studio Ghibli DVD has a higher bitrate, which means a sharper, cleaner picture. The US disc trades a lower bitrate in exchange for a 40-minute interview with director Takahata, and a 13-minute bonus feature. All of these extras include English language subtitles.
Panda Go Panda deserves to be a part of your movie library. For every fan of My Neighbor Totoro, it's an obvious must-have. For everyone else, young and old alike, these two short animated films are a delight, free of cynicism or insincerity or shameless marketing. These are the sort of cartoons I grew up watching, and I would very much like to see that tradition continue.
Discotek has been on an absolute tear this year. Panda Go Panda and Lupin III: The Complete First TV Series are only the tip of the iceberg. It's easy for anime fans to bemoan the state of the industry, but these gentlemen are working their tails off, day and night. They deserve your support.