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Panda Z Vol. 1
Distributor Beez Entertainment
I admit it. I was lured to Panda-Z with the promise of a free toy and the expectation of something a bit different. The free toy (a Panda-Z figure) is now sitting on my desk at work, facing off against my cheap Gundam. As for the ‘something a bit different’ part, well, different isn’t quite the word!
Panda-Z is about a cute robotic panda called Pan-Taron, the pilot of a huge panda mecha called (you guessed it!) Panda-Z. Along with his cute robotic friends of the Robonimal world, they fight the evil robonimal robots of the Warunimal empire who seem intent on attacking them.
Each episode is about 5 minutes long (including a hilariously cheesy Bon Jovi’esque rock intro) and is generally just a big excuse to put a bunch of strange, albeit cute characters in ridiculous and funny situations. Some of Pan-Torans adventures see him battling not only evil female mechs that like to fire their breasts as missiles, but also the everyday practical problems of how do you eat batteries with a knife and fork?
Panda-Z has no dialog whatsoever. Instead, the story is told through a series of title cards that pop up in between the animation and each episode is accompanied by a guitar-riff led backing track. This isn’t as annoying as it might sound due to the fact that the guitar riffs are different for each episode, which is nice. The animation itself is fine for what it is but don’t expect any blistering visuals.
Volume 1 comes with 15 episodes of a 30 episode series, with the running time coming in at around 75 minutes. Yeah, it’s short but you get a healthy bunch of extras and a free toy for your money. Whether the actual feature itself is worth the price, I’m not sure. Panda-Z is a hard one to rate because its’ success hinges on whether you find the gags funny or not, as there’s really little else here. Personally, it had me laughing out loud in places, as well as leaving me just plain confused in others. Would I pay twenty-five pounds for it? No. Fifteen? Probably not. A tenner? Yeah.
The thing that Panda-Z does so well is that it’s incredibly easy to watch! Whether you found an episode funny or weird, you can’t help but want to play the next episode just to see what happens. After all, it’s only five minutes!
Panda-Z is quite generous on the extras front. There’s an interview with Shuichi Oshida – the creator of Panda-Z, three CG short episodes and quite a comical hidden feature with Panda-Z battling some real life opponents such as Vanille, the Chihuahua! There are some Beez trailers for Witch Hunter Robin, Eureka Seven, .hack//Legend and My Hime, as well as the textless opening/closing themes.
If you’re in the mood for a weird gag anime, Panda-Z is certainly worth checking out. It’s maybe not worth the full-whack price but it’s charmingly addictive!