Daniel Thomas MacInnes Categories: books, panda kopanda
Let's take a look at some of the terrific image boards Hayao Miyazaki drew for Panda Kopanda, back in 1972. Like the Totoro image boards, these appear in in the 1983 art book, Hayao Miyazaki Image Boards, and now they appear here in all their pencil-and-watercolor glory.
Panda Kopanda emerged in the wake of the Pipi Longstockings project, which was planned and developed by Isao Takahata and Miyazaki for a considerable time, only to be dashed to pieces once Astrid Lindgren, the author of the series of Pipi children's books, refused to grant the rights. In many ways, it's a slighting that Miyazaki never forgave, and you can see similar red-haired, pigtailed females throughout his career.
The frustration and pent-up energy was poured into Panda Kopanda, as much of the old Toei Doga crew (Otsuka, Takahata, Miyazaki, Kotabe) were reunited at A Pro. The result is a charming and amusing pair of short films. I think the concept deserved more attention, perhaps a weekly TV series. The two short episodes are not nearly enough. Mimi and the pandas and the tiger, they're terrific fun, and it's over much too soon.
Older shows and movies are revived all the time; why not Panda Kopanda? It has a great cast of characters. It has a famous history and pedigree. And it has almost limitless potential, at least in the right hands. A team of clever writers and animators could really create something special. Of course, the overwhelming odds are that any new Panda series would become a hideous train-wreck of Poochie proportions. What I'm asking for is a classic cartoon, not a stupid and cynical toy commercial aimed at the stupidest and slowest kids in the room. Nah, it'll never happen. Maybe if you add futuristic robots and Tron light-cycles...Hmm, I wonder if Jesse Ventura would sign onto the project?
I better not tempt the fates.