DVD: Panda! Go Panda! (Discotek)


Panda! Go Panda!

English DVD Title (Region 1)

Panda! Go Panda!


Japanese (2.0 Mono), English (2.0 Stereo)

Aspect Ratio:

English, English (Onscreen Text)
72 minutes


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



  • Menus (English)
  • Chapters (9/8)
  • Trailers: Panda! Go Panda!, Panda! Go Panda! Rainy Day Circus, Panda! Go Panda 2008 Re-Release, Sea Prince and the Fire Child, Little Nemo, Fantastic Adventures of Unico
  • Panda! Go Panda! Exhibit (13 minutes)
  • Interview with Isao Takahata (40 minutes)



By: Anthony Romero

It's hard to believe that these two titles have been released on DVD in the United States a grand total of three times, although this is a testament to the power of the Studio Ghibli brand that people are eager to jump on things associated with it. These 1972 and 1973 animated films respectively came from Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, who can be credited with much of Ghibli's success.

As for this DVD release in particular, it's the best in the region 1 market, getting access to a lot of the bonus material that was created for its 2008 release in Japan. This coupled with good video and audio quality, especially for a film this age, make this an easy addition to the collection of Studio Ghibli fans.

 Video: Star Rating

The movie contains one video track, with both of the movies placed on it. With the respective movies being a little over 30 minutes in length, this equals a total length of 72 minutes. Quality wise, the track fairs good for the two 1970's productions. This includes using prints which appear to be in good shape, with little to no overt signs of print damage. Noise levels are also excellent, with very low visible grain. The colors could stand to be a bit more vibrant, though, and the brightness feels a tad low here. That said, the colors are distinct and show little sign of discoloration. The caveat to all of this, though, are the opening titles. The colors here look to be discolored, and the sharpness is lost on the drawings during these sequences as well.

Panda! Go Panda! and Panda! Go Panda! Rainy Day Circus are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1.


 Audio: Star Rating

The disc includes two different audio tracks, which are used across the combined video track for the two films. The first is the original mono Japanese track presented across two channels. The quality here is good, although shows its age at times and lacks true vivid clarity. This is very apparent during the opening song, which sounds rough on a few occasions. That said, there are no overt signs of damage on the audio track, like pops or crackles, that can be heard.

The other audio track is a stereo English dubbed version. This one, being a modern creation, sounds very good in contrast to the Japanese one. It makes the odd choice, though, of totally throwing out the music to the original for an all new soundtrack, with the exception of the opening Japanese song, which appears with the same quality across both tracks. In terms of the performances, they aren't great compared to what Disney is using for their Studio Ghibli releases, but serviceable and certainly better than some of the half hearted attempts seen on other releases as well.

The audio can be supplemented by removable English subtitles. This includes an alternate track that just translates on screen text as well, which is supposed to be paired with the English dubbed version.


 Extras: Star Rating

Contrary to the earlier region 1 releases, this disc is actually packed with extras. The first of these is a 13 minute video related to the Panda! Go Panda! exhibit and the 2008 limited re-release of the films at the Studio Ghibli museum in Japan. This feature goes over the design of the exhibit and also some the memorabilia surrounding the films and their stint as part of the Toho Champion Festival. The video is sprinkled with thoughts from Goro Miyazaki, Miyazaki's son who is fresh off directing Tales from Earthsea (2006). While the son is insightful, there is a hint that he was sometimes neglected by his father due to work that comes through during the course of the extra... which is a bit of a downer. That said, he does relate that because of the Champion Festival, the first Godzilla film he got to see was through the multi-billings with Panda! Go Panda!. The feature is in Japanese with removable English subtitles, but is presented in full screen here rather than widescreen that causes a stretching issue.

Next up is an interview with director Isao Takahata. The director touches on a lot of different aspects of the production as they go over the movie's conception and response while image art created for the film is sometimes shown. Clocking in at 40 minutes, this extra feature is substantial. It does its best to tie in this film with My Neighbor Totoro (1988) as well. Likewise, this feature is in Japanese and also has removable English subtitles.

Finally, the disc also boasts a wealth of trailers. Three of these are dedicated to the Panda! Go Panda! series. These range from good quality to the sadly poor quality one for Panda! Go Panda! Rainy Day Circus, which features a lot of print damage and is quite blurred. The DVD also has three trailers for other Japanese animated films, although none are related to Toho. As a nice touch, each of the trailers include removable English subtitles to tackle the Japanese audio tracks for them as well.


 Overview: Star Rating

Bottom line, this is the best release to date for English fans of these two films. This release sports good video and audio quality and is paired with a solid amount of extras as well. As a result, anyone looking to get these movies on home video has a good, in print means to do so from this release, especially versus the older Pioneer/Geneon offerings.