Blu-ray: Panda! Go Panda! (Discotek)

Order

Panda! Go Panda!


English Blu-ray Title (Region A)

Panda! Go Panda!

Sound:

Japanese (2.0 Stereo), Japanese (1.0 Mono), English (2.0 Stereo)

Subtitles:
Length:
Release:
Company
:
Discs:
Aspect Ratio:

English, English (Onscreen Text Only)
72 minutes
2017
Discotek
1
1.33:1

Movie:

Panda! Go Panda! / Panda! Go Panda! Rainy Day Circus

Blu-ray

Extras

  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (6/6)
  • Trailers: Panda! Go Panda!, Panda! Go Panda! Rainy Day Circus, Panda! Go Panda 2008 Re-Release
  • Panda! Go Panda! Exhibit (13 minutes)
  • Interview with Isao Takahata (40 minutes)

Captures


Review

By: Anthony Romero

Discotek unleashes the two Panda! Go Panda! films to Blu-ray. These two films were early entries from Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. They are almost always released together as they are short in length because they originally were released alongside other movies, with the first released with a reissue of Destroy All Monsters (1968) and Daigoro vs. Goliath (1972).

As for this particular release, it's really great across the board. It's got excellent video and great audio presentations while it has a wealth of extras as well.


 Video: Star Rating


I was bracing for a video track that essentailly was a high definition version of what was available on DVD by Discotek. That assumption was based on the fact that the packaging was the same and the extras were, more or less, the same. However, as it turns out the video quality is vastly superior here. This is immedialty noticed on the opening title screen which, while still not flawless, looks so much better.

As for the movies themselves, which still share one video track, they look pretty much perfect. The low brightness and muted colors from the DVD are gone, as the movies look very vibrant here. Source damage, outside of the title sequences, is pretty much nonexistant too. Even grain is pretty much gone here, while clarity is excellent. In fact, if not for some of the cruder animated parts one would think this was a more modern animated production rather than one from the early 1970's.

Both movies are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

 

 Audio: Star Rating


There are three audio tracks found on this disc, which run across both movies on the single video track. That includes two different ones for the original Japanese audio, both a single channel mono and a stereo version. It's worth noting the latter was not available on the DVD version. Quality wise, both are good. Dialogue is clear and there are no signs of inconsistences either. As for how the stereo track fairs, the range isn't that great, which is probably not a surprise from a mono to stereo conversion. Of the two, the mono is going to be the better way to watch the movie.

As for the third option, the English dub, it's a mono presentation. The interesting thing about the English dub is that it takes a few liberties with the soundtrack, replacing much of the score with new music, in fact all of the music except the opening song. As for the performances, they are okay, and do a good job at trying to mimic what the Japanese cast sounds like even if the overall performance certainly falls below modern dubbings of the Studio Ghibli films. As for the audio quality, it's about on par with the Japanese mono track, as the sound effects and dialogue is clear.

The disc comes with optional English subtitles, with two different versions. One translates both the dialogue and onscreen text and the other translates just the onscreen text and is intended to be paired with the dub track.

 

 Extras: Star Rating


This Blu-ray has a good selection of extras, matching almost everything that was found on the 2012 DVD release by Discotek.

First up is a collection of trailers. Different from the DVD set, this release removes those unrelated to the film, leaving just three that are relevant to the Panda! Go Panda! series. This includes for the two main films and also for the 2008 re-release event. To my surprise, these have been touched up and look even better than the DVD release, beyond just the increase to high definition. The Panda! Go Panda! Rainy Day Circus one in particular is a large improvement, as much of the notable print damage is gone and while it's still a little blurry it's much better than it was on the DVD version. As before, each trailer offers removable English subtitles as well.

Next is a 13 minute video on the Panda! Go Panda! exhibit and the 2008 re-release of the films at the Studio Ghibli museum in Japan. This covers crowd reactions to the re-release, while covering things found at the exhibit which includes a few stuff related to Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) and other movies that were originally released alongside the Panda! Go Panda! films in the 1970's. A lengthy interview with Goro Miyazaki, Miyazaki's son, is also included. As for the video quality of the extra, it's not the best as it's definitly a standard definition source that was blown up, creating additional artifacting. An interesting thing to note, though, is that it's featured here in widescreen versus the full screen ratio found on the DVD. Comparing the two, it appears it should have been in widescreen all along and the DVD messed this up. The feature is in Japanese with removable English subtitles.

Finally is an interview with director Isao Takahata. This is 40 minutes long and is a great extra, as the director discusses aspects of coming up with the movie and responds to concept art for the production as well. Either becuase he was told to do so or on his own, Takahata definitly tries his best to connect the movie with My Neighbor Totoro (1988). As for the video quality, it's technically in high definition, but is something that was filmed in standard definition and then blown up to HD. The result is additional compression and to be honest it would have been better if they just presented it here in standard definition, as the quality suffers a little as a result. Like the previous extra, this interview is in Japanese with removable English subtitles.

 

 Overview: Star Rating


If you have been considering picking up these movies or are curious if this disc is worth buying if you have the DVD already, the answer is a clear yes. Discotek has done a great job with this Blu-ray. In fact, it's great enough that I'm more eager for other entries from them as well. Hopefully they revisit the live action titles they once did as well, as it would be great to get films like The War in Space (1977) on Blu-ray.