Panda Kopanda (Panda! Go Panda!) is a 30-minute movie made in 1972. Miyazaki created the original idea, the script, the layouts, and worked on key animation, and Takahata directed the film. The story is about a little girl, Mimiko, who was left alone while her Grandma was away. But soon, a big, fuzzy, warm papa panda (Papanda-San is his name) with a cute, little baby panda (kopanda in Japanese) came to Mimiko's house. Since the house had a beautiful bamboo forest (pandas eat bamboo), they decided to live with her. The three became a family and did a lot of things together and lived happily ever after.
This movie is considered a Totoro prototype. Miyazaki said it was the first anime he made specifically for children (especially his own), and he made Totoro since he wanted to make such a movie again. Papa Panda really looks like Totoro with his round design and big smile, and Mimiko sort of looks like Mei with her pig tails. However, she is older than Mei, and like Satsuki, Mimiko is independent and resourceful, and takes good care of Kopanda (Pan-Chan is his name) just as Satsuki takes care of Mei. With its gentle storyline, cute round characters, even a song which sounds somewhat like the Totoro song, Panda is definitely the origin of Totoro.
It was made when Japan
was swept by "panda fever" (Two pandas came to Japan from
China). There is also a 1973 sequel, Panda Kopanda: Amefuri Sakasu no
Maki (Panda! Go Panda!: Rainy Day Circus) made by the same staff