Manuel Palma Cornejo’s review published on Letterboxd:
The anime has important milestones in its history that have led it to become what it represents today. One of them was "Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors" (1945), the first recognized anime of all history and then the wonderful "The Tale of the White Serpent" (1958), placed as the first color anime. Also, "Panda! Go Panda! "("Panda kopanda") represents an animation closer to that of our days. The quality of the drawings has increased significantly, and the characters have more the Japanese look.
Isao Takahata had been the director and was working for Toei Animation before being one of the pioneers of Studio Ghibli. In the midst of these events, he participated together with Hayao Miyazaki in the realization of a film for children, which until now can be recognized as one of the beginnings of the greatest animators that Japan has had. It has the features of the ideas that would come later in "My Neighbor Totoro" (1988) and Ponyo (2008).
The story follows Mimiko (Kazuko Sugiyama) leaving her grandmother at a train station. She is a very small girl, but smiling and motivated, ready to live alone and on her return home she finds a little Panda (Yoshiko Ohta) and his father, a Totoro-style (Kazuo Kumakura). The animals are left to live with the little one and between them they share roles: the girl will have a panda as a father and the panda baby will be the brother-son.
Between adventures and a cycle of awakening-eating-school-sleep, they learn to value family union, to enjoy life (standing on their hands whenever they are happy) and take advantage of the good bamboo that grows in the forests of the area. There is also a police man (Yasuo Yamada) who looks for the pair of animals because they have left the zoo where they lived. The creatures do not wish to return and there the climax of this jovial fable develops.
Just as they are funny in their roles, I detect that the characters are not strong as in "Fantasia" (1940) or in "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree" (1966), their roles contribute little respect to what should be done or should be avoided. Even so, the issue of the division of roles and the independence of children is very much rescued and motivates trust and cooperation.
"Panda! Go Panda!" is entertaining for children, although not so attractive for adults. It's funny especially when the adult panda meets humans or when he eerily manifests his desire for bamboo. Even with its weaknesses so original structure, it turns out to be an attractive and funny symbol of an improved and increasingly financed anime and by far the deployment of Miyazaki and Takahata in this industry.