The List
7 of Anime's Strangest Pandas

by Lynzee Loveridge,

Hey guys! It's been a few busy weeks here in the land of anime news. The Spring Preview Guide just wrapped up, and I'm trekking around Seattle for the 20th annual Sakura-Con convention. If you spot me, come over and say hi! I always love to meet readers, even if it's just so they can tell me what I should include in one of these Lists. This week, we're taking a look at some of anime's cutest bears, specifically the bamboo-eating kind. I thought we should round out last summer's previous look at monkeys with one of anime's favorite animals. Pandas have run the gamut from martial arts transformations, mecha operators, and lazy good-fer-nothings.

Genma Saotome (Ranma 1/2) - As far as dads go, Genma ranks pretty low on "father of the year" list. He's constantly promising his son off as a dowry to make up for his mistakes. One of those mistakes was practicing martial arts with Ranma in an area surrounded by cursed springs. Thus began Genma's life as a transforming panda after falling into the wrong pool. His bear form rarely seems to bother him though, and he can often be spotted going about his daily business as his panda self. If he needs to communicate, he'll let out a guttural roar or hold up a conveniently written sign. The loss of his opposable thumbs doesn't seem to affect his calligraphy abilities either.

Panda (Polar Bear's Café) - A classic layabout, Polar Bear's regular Panda customer will do anything to get out of housework. He's also very aware that his adorable appearance will endear most people into letting him get away with it. He found his ideal job working at a zoo, where visitors flock to watch him do cute things like nap and eat bamboo by the bushel. He uses his payment to buy more panda goods, because when you're this cute, you have to accumulate merchandise of yourself.

Pan-Taron (Panda-Z: The Robonimation) - Before anime shorts became a regular thing, Shuichi Oshida created Panda-Z, a flash-animated parody of Mazinger Z except with pandas. Pan-Taron is the show's main character who also happens to be a robot and a mecha pilot. His giant mecha panda of justice is Panda-Z, and with the help of some other robot animal friends, he battles Skullpander who also has a giant mecha. The short is memorable for its comedic use of intertitles instead of dialogue and a soundtrack that includes the likes of JAM Project.

Toby (Pandalian) - Years before World of Warcraft introduced its Pandarian monks living on the back of a giant turtle, Hideki Ooba introduced the planet of Pandasia, the fluffiest group of aliens to grace the airwaves. The show's protagonist is Toby, who's tasked by a fairy to defeat evil invaders named Gold and Silver who are after some magic beans. This show actually got dubbed and aired on TV by Funimation if you want to try to hunt it down.

Monokuma (Danganronpa: The Animation) - His status as a true "panda" may be dubious, but this little black-and-white bear is here to ruin your entire life. As the mascot character (and central villain) of Spike Chunsoft's mystery series, Monokuma is in the business of murder games. His job is to get the ball rolling at Hope's Peak Academy so the cast of characters will start killing one another. Attempts to destroy the seemingly stuffed bear only lead to a BAD END. He relishes in despair and has a sick sense of humor to boot.

Xiao-Mei (Fullmetal Alchemist) - The List's tiniest panda, Xiao-Mei's growth is permanently stunted due to a disease. As a result, she was orphaned until May Chang took her under her wing. Despite her small stature, this panda has a Fighting Spirit far larger then expected, fighting off suspicious people with a fierce chomp. She looks to May for guidance and often imitates her when she isn't practicing martial arts. The two are inseparable, and the panda has even developed some magical abilities on top of its fighting techniques by story's end.

Ryu-Ryu (Princess Resurrection) - Technically a zombie panda. Ryu-Ryu was killed in a horrible tire accident at a zoo but got resurrected with Princess Sherwood's blood. He ends up living with the princess and two other pandas after swearing his allegiance to his new sovereign. Whenever Sherwood is in trouble, Ryu-Ryu's "panda sense" activates, turning his fur completely white. If my blood had resurrection abilities, I'd definitely create a legion of cute animals to do my bidding like Sherwood.

The new poll: Kana Hanazawa is one of anime's most popular voice actresses. Which of her roles did you enjoy the most?

The old poll: What are your favorite shows from 10 years ago? What about 20 years ago?

Favorite 1997 Spring Anime

  1. Pokémon 42%
  2. Revolutionary Girl Utena 31.4%
  3. Slayers Try 18.8%
  4. Tenchi in Tokyo 7.7%
  5. CLAMP School Detectives 4.6%
  6. Hyper Police 2.8%
  7. Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 2.4%
  8. Cooking Master Boy 1.9%
  9. Maze 1.8%
  10. Haunted Junction 1.4%

Favorite 2007 Spring Anime

  1. Gurren Lagann 37.2%
  2. Darker than Black 21.8%
  3. Lucky Star 16.8%
  4. Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit 12.2%
  5. Claymore 10.1%
  6. Romeo × Juliet 7.0%
  7. Lovely Complex 6.7%
  8. Den-noh Coil 6.5%
  9. Kaze no Stigma 5.7%
  10. Hayate the Combat Butler 5.4%
  11. My Bride is a Mermaid 5.0%
  12. Big Windup! 4.8%
  13. Bokurano 4.2%
  14. Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS 4.0%
  15. Emma: A Victorian Romance Second Act 3.8%
  16. El Cazador de la Bruja 2.7%
  17. Toward the Terra 2.4%
  18. Oh! Edo Rocket 2.4%
  19. Heroic Age 2.2%
  20. Bakugan Battle Brawlers 2.1%
  21. Princess Resurrection 2.0%
  22. Story of Saiunkoku Second Series 1.6%
  23. Blue Dragon 1.5%
  24. sola 1.4%
  25. Spider Riders: Yomigaeru Taiyou 1.1%
  26. Kamichama Karin 1.0%

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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