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2017-11-04

Photos: Panda Kopanda and the Rainy-Day Circus (1973)

Photos: Panda Kopanda and the Rainy-Day Circus (1973)

Photos: Panda Kopanda and the Rainy-Day Circus (1973)

Photos: Panda Kopanda and the Rainy-Day Circus (1973)

Photos: Panda Kopanda and the Rainy-Day Circus (1973)

Here are some nice DVD screenshots from the 1973 short film, Panda Kopanda and the Rainy-Day Circus. This is the second of the two Panda cartoons made by Isao Takahata, Hayao Miyazaki, Yoichi Kotabe and much of the old Toei Doga crew. It's also the better one, more interesting and funny and visually diverse. This roughly-half-hour cartoon is packed with scenarios and funny situations.

I really do wish more of these little movies had been made, at least one or two more. However, time moves quickly, and only a year later, Takahata, Miyazaki and Kotabe unleashed Heidi, Girl of the Alps to blockbuster success, leading the anime revolution of the 1970s. They would unleash an unparalleled string of animated classics over the next four decades, barely catching their breath.

Panda Kopanda is a children's cartoon, and there are no pretensions otherwise. There are no complex deeper themes or preachy moral lessons, no cynical attempts to sell toys or merchandise. Thank Heavens for that. These movies are criminally underrated (a new English-language dub would help a lot), but at least they're available on DVD, courtesy of Discotek.

Little touches that I enjoy: the sight of a rural town massively flooded, a precursor to Miyazaki's own Ponyo; the shot of Baby Panda being chased by a sea of hands, again a precursor to the flashback scene in Nausicaa; a bumbling burglar voiced by Yasuo Yamada (Lupin); a runaway circus train, packed with animals, crashing through a town and stopping at the mayor's front gate. Everything is cheerful, everyone is having fun. What more can you ask for?

1 comment:

Christopher Sobieniak said...

They are certainly like the animated equivalent to the Pippi Longstocking project Miyazaki wanted to do, and it certainly fits the bill perfect in that respect.

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