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Panda and the Magic Serpent
Violence: Mild, cartoonish
Sex/Nudity: none
Music: C
Runtime Episodes: 1/74 min 58s
Overall Rating: B
Artwork: B
Story: B
Comments: Widely recognized as the first color film from Japan.
Voice Acting English: B
Voice Acting Japanese: NA
Genre: Folk Tale
Extras: previews for Animal Farm, Bugs Bunny: Falling Hare, Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur, Donald Duck/Woody Woodpecker: Pantry Panic, Little Lulu/Little Audrey: The Lost Dream, Mighty Mouse/Heckle and Jeckle: White Wolf, Porky Pig: Porky's Cafe, Gumby: Gumbasia, Tweety/Elmer Fudd: A corney Concerto, Mutt and Jeff: Slick Sleuths, Toonerville, Sing A-Longs, Betty Boop and Grampy, Panda and the Magic Serpent, The Three Stooges and Friends: Goofy Gondoliers, Felix the Cat: Woos Whoopie, Ragedy Ann and Friends: Suddenly It's Spring, Popeye and Friends: Let's Sing with Popeye, Molly Moo-Cow and Friends, Hunkey and Spunkey and Friends: You Can't Shoe a Shoefly, The Wizard of Oz and Friends, Aesop's Fables, Bosko and Friends: Boskos Shipwrecked, The Curious adventures of Mister Wonderbird, The World of Hans Christian Andersen.

Date Reviewed: 10/30/09 Last Updated: 11/16/09

Basic Premise: The tragic love story of Xu-Xiang and the serpent transformed into a girl, Bai-Niang.  Their love is helped along by mutual friends Panda and Mimi.  Unfortunately a Magician confuses the serpent as a demon and seeks to destroy the serpent.
Review: This is a story based on an old Chinese folktale.  Long ago there was a powerful and magical storm.  In it the snake, who was the childhood friend of Xu-Xiang, became a beautiful girl who had magical powers named Bai-Niang.  A fish who washed up on shore next to Bai-Niang became her maid in waiting, Xiao-Shen.  Many moons later Xiao-Shen helped Bai-Niang to bring her mistress and Xu-Xiang together by leaving tokens for him to return to Bai-Niang.  The boy and snake soon fell in love.

Unfortunately there is another great magician named Fa Hai who seeks to destroy the serpent thinking that because the serpent is a magical spirit it is evil.  He jumps to a lot of conclusions about her because of this misunderstanding.  It is very easy to think of him as a bad or evil man because of this.  He soon causes Xu-Xiang to be sent to hard labor in a far away land away from Bai-Niang.  In this land of hardship Panda and Mimi follow and are able to make friends there who can help Xu-Xiang.  

Much of this anime is still shrouded in mystery unfortunately.  Due to editing some of the ending credits were lost.  Sources from animenewsnetwork and IMDB state that both the English and Japanese version were voiced by only one or two people.  The movie was also edited, but it is unclear in what way except that here and there the time seems to jump forward a bit.  This is true even for the credits.  It would have been nice to have a Japanese track and subtitles as well, but this is a dollar bin DVD, so you can't really expect too much.

The animation style is certainly old and somewhat reminiscent of the style that Disney used at that time.  The backgrounds look to be in water colors.  There are artifacts in the animation as if it were from an old filmstrip.  This is ok, but I can't help but think that this could have been cleaned up a bit before hand.  Still, it is one of those dollar bin movies.  What most people who see it in these slim case dollar bins won't realize is that this anime is really a classic anime based on an old Chinese folktale and has significance as the first color film from Japan.  It is also a cute story.

The story felt somewhat overly long to me at times and some of the music is not what I am used to, but it does not fall into a lot of the clichéd pitfalls of todays anime.  There are no fights for women's rights or harems around nerdy boys or underwear shots.  The boy and girl are somewhat shy, but well mannered and cultured and show nothing but love and respect for each other.  It is also good in that it shows some of he roots of anime and how it has evolved over the years.  It really has evolved even though there are many anime titles out there that would make you think it has devolved.  That is where anime reviews come in.  They can help people sort through the myriad titles to find the gems and classics, both hidden and well known that are out there.

Conclusion: An important anime and a great one for your collection.  It is certainly watchable, but can drag on a bit.  Either way, it is a very inexpensive anime and worth a look at least once.

Publisher: Digiview productions
Related Website: none yet
Where Found: amazon
Copyright: 1958/1961
Author: Taiji Yabushita, Shin Uehara
If you enjoyed this anime try: none yet


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