Friday, December 12, 2008

Panda-Z: Simple fun. Cute, to boot.

Panda-Z charactersNine out of ten robot panda doctors agree that, while ostensibly a kids' show, Panda-Z: The Robonimation is a fun anime that will appeal to all ages.

Panda-Z is a series of short (5 minutes long, including the opening and the credits), lighthearted animations about irresistably cute robot animals (thus, a robonimation about robonimals) who go about their pleasant lives and routinely face horrible annihilation at the hands of giant robots engaged in gruesome battles to the death.

Okay, so that last part isn't entirely accurate. Pan Taron, the robot panda hero, regularly takes the helm of the dueling robot Panda-Z (that big thing in the picture here) to fight his clumsy and hapless robot enemies.

The villains are really more like disgruntled friends who forgot why they're angry at Pan Taron but keep on feuding anyhow. One of them even occasionally shows up to play cards.

Some episodes focus on a ridiculous mecha duel between Panda-Z and one or more foes, while other episodes concern anything from a ghost hunt to eating dinner to a dilemma of how to rescue a non-waterproof robonimal from the rain.

Pan TaronAlmost every episode is perfectly kid-friendly, but the show utilizes a brand of very simple humor that, while not always uproariously funny, is enough to at least bring a smile to the face of any viewer of any age, if not cause them to rupture a vital organ in laughter from time to time.

The comedy in Panda-Z comes primarily from slapstick, sight gags, and clever situations, which makes sense because the series is a "silent anime." Like the Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton films of yesteryear, Panda-Z has no spoken dialogue, and instead relies on quick cuts to a black screen with concise dialogue written on it whenever a character speaks.

To fill this audio void is an unobtrusive electric-guitar-driven soundtrack that changes from blues to rock to fusion to perfectly fit the mood of each episode. And that's to say nothing of the contagiously upbeat opening theme song that had my girlfriend and I crooning, "Come on baby do the rock and roll! The moon is high and the sun's just coming dooooooown. Coming dooooooown!" on more than one occasion.

Panda-Z is guaranteed fun for any age, and it's a great way to expose someone to anime for the first time--it requires no more time or brainpower than the average YouTube video. Heck, you can even watch some of Panda-Z on YouTube.

Pan Taron plush toyFor the honest viewers, the complete DVD collection costs around $30-$40 and includes bonus shorts, one variety made with 3-D computer animation and the other filmed with the aid of the Panda-Z action figure (pictured).

Be sure to check out the plush toys and action figures, most of which range in price from about $12-$40. The power of cute compels you. Some of them are difficult to track down, but it is my opinion that no household is complete without a Skull Panda plushy.

Skull Panda plush toy
[Images, in order, from,,, and]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A Skullpander plushie!? Must...have...the...cuteness...