GKIDS will release Panda! Go, Panda! in North America.
The animation distributor announced that it had acquired the North American rights to the classic anime film and its sequel, Panda! Go, Panda!: Rainy Day Circus, both of which were directed by Isao Takahata and written by Hayao Miyazaki, who would later go on to become two of the most celebrated animation directors in film history. The two movies were originally released in 1972 and 1973, more than ten years before Takahata and Miyazaki would come together to start the acclaimed animation company Studio Ghibli. To mark the 50th anniversary of the first movie's premiere, GKIDS will give both films an English dub and a new HD remaster, which promises to restore the vibrant colors of the original release. The company is planning to release the movies in both theaters and on home video before the end of the year.
"Besides acting as a vital landmark in animation history, Panda! Go Panda! is an exuberant, feel-good story that will have you humming the theme song for days," said GKIDS’ President David Jesteadt. "The film has never looked better, and we are thrilled to be able to share it with audiences more widely for a huge anniversary milestone."
The movies tell the story of Mimiko, a young girl who is left alone while her grandmother is away. The child soon befriends a pair of pandas, Panny Panda and his father Papanda, and the trio get into a series of colorful adventures.
Isao Takahata got his start in the anime industry at Toei Animation, where he directed the highly influential but commercially unsuccessful The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun in 1968. While at Toei, Takahata met another young animator named Hayao Miyazaki. The two would eventually leave the studio and team up with several other artists to start their own animation company, Studio Ghibli, in 1985. Takahata is best known for directing films such as 1988's Grave of the Fireflies and 1994's Pom Poko. His final directorial work, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, was released in 2013, five years before his death in 2018 at age 82.
Miyazaki is best known as the director of some of the most acclaimed anime movies of all time, including Princess Mononoke and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away. The director originally planned to retire after the completion of 2013's The Wind Rises, but returned to work to direct a new movie, How Do You Live?, which is inspired by a novel of the same name by Yoshino Genzaburo. The new movie does not currently have a release date.