Pandaman is a joke character created by the author, Eiichiro Oda. He is, so far, the most notable of Oda's joke characters, having appeared hidden in nearly every One Piece chapter, episode arc, movie, and such. He is also a playable character in One Piece: Grand Battle 2 for the Playstation. In One Piece: Pirates Carnival, not only is there a minigame to find him, but he is a captain in a minigame set in a flaming mansion where you control where the flames go. In the Japanese version, however, this position was used by Blueno. In the 4th Japanese Fan Poll, Pandaman was voted the 39th most popular character in One Piece.
Pandaman usually appears as a muscular man with a stylised panda's head, with the word Panda written across his forehead. Whether this is a mask or his real face is unknown. His arms are black with white bamboo tattoos, and on his chest are two heart tattoos. In the series, his appearance often differs from scene to scene. In one scene, he could be seen as a skinny individual with no black arms or tattoos at all. This is apparently because in order to be properly hidden in some scenes, Pandaman's body features need to be less detailed. The only thing that remains constant is his panda head.
Pandaman appears throughout the series in crowds and backgrounds anywhere, as an easter egg character. He can be found posing as a citizen, a pirate, a marine or Government agent, and many others. He can even be found in flashbacks, going as far back as 400 years. He is sometimes seen in the same panel with Tomato Gang, a debt collector who has been on the lookout for Pandaman for the money he owes. This is also why Pandaman is often seen running away on some appearances.
Pandaman's cameos are not limited to his physical appearance, but also include his name as well. In the first panel in page 144 of Volume 22, on the Alabasta Poneglyph, his name can be seen written in Japanese. This writing on the Poneglyph was noted by a fan and confirmed by Oda.
Pandaman appears in the anime's 1st opening "We Are," as one of the people attacking Zoro and the 4th opening "Bon Voyage", being fished up by Usopp in a scene where the Straw Hat crew is riding the Going Merry.
Pandaman was originally created by Oda for a character design contest called the "New Super Human Contest". This contest allowed artists to submit character designs for wrestlers to be included in the popular anime and manga series Kinnikuman. In December 16, 1998, the comic in which these designs would be included, "Kinnikuman 77 no Nazo", was released and Pandaman was listed as entry number 12.
When Oda wrote One Piece he decided to include Pandaman as a hidden character, along with a little more backstory. According to Oda, Pandaman is a man of unknown age who originated from Tibet with the mortal blow techniques: S.P.D, Bamboo Leaves Panda Drop, and Giant Panda Deathstock. He was abandoned in a bamboo thicket as an infant and was raised by Giant Pandas. Pandaman would often say that he had seen Kaguyahime. However as no one would believe him, he was often picked on. Since then, Pandaman resolved to become a strong demon superhero. Apparently at some point in time, Pandaman used to be a rich guy living on a certain island until he got into some trouble. Pandaman apparently owed a large sum of money. Since then, the debt collector, Tomato Gang, has been chasing Pandaman in order to collect his debt. Tomato Gang also hired Pandaman's rival Unforgivable Mask to catch him.
Pandaman made his first appearance in Chapter 44 where Gin first showed up in the Baratie. He was later revealed and identified by Oda in one of the SBS questions of the next volume. In the anime, Pandaman made his first appearance in an actual episode in an earlier scene amongst the Black Cat Pirates. Since his first appearance he has been in every arc, with exception of the Amazon Lily arc, where Pandawoman replaced him due to the circumstances surrounding the arc.
Oda later confirmed in SBS form that Pandaman is in love with Pandawoman; but it is currently unknown if the feelings are mutual.. There is even a Zombie Pandaman in Episode 351 , shown chasing Usopp and Chopper with the other Absalom's zombies.
Pandaman has appeared most of the time as a hidden character that no one else seems to care about or notice, whose actions apparently do not affect the main plot at all. However, in one special episode of the anime, not only did the main characters actually take notice of him, but he was also made the center of attention (although he wasn't revealed to be Pandaman until near the end):
In the special setting in an alternate universe based on feudal Japan, Pandaman owed a large sum of money to Buggy and his gang, the Clown Family. Because of this, they searched high and low around town for him. This eventually led to them to Orika's house where Pandaman was being cared for by her and her mother. Due to his nickname that everyone around town call him being "Tot-san" (which means 'father' in Japanese), Buggy and his men assumed that Orika was his daughter.
After Buggy's men were beaten off by Detective Luffy, Buggy plotted to sell Orika off to pay for Pandaman's debt as well as get rid of Luffy with the aid of a corrupt Bugyō, or magistrate. It was only with the appearance of Vivi and Pandaman himself that Buggy and the Bugyō's plans were foiled.
Later, Pandaman was seen interacting with the rest of the main characters in Onami's restaurant celebrating Christmas.
In Episode 56 he runs across the deck of a marine ship preparing to give chase to Zoro and Usopp after they rammed a docked marine ship.
In Episode 69, there is a panda figure on the book Coby is reading.
In Episode 70 during the conversation between Mr. 3 and Miss Goldenweek when they are first seen talking, the back of Pandaman's head can be seen with him talking to someone by the pool. He can also be seen behind Mr. 3 after he takes the orders from Crocodile. Another Panda headed person can be seen wearing a bikini, just over Mr. 3's right hand.
In Episode 88 after Chopper uses Brain Point to find Chessmarimo's weak spot, Pandaman can be seen engraved on the castle wall above the door.
In Episode 95 he is seen watching Ace and Smoker's confrontation, later in the same episode he is seen on one of the Baroque Works ships, rushing in the background among other Baroque employees.
In Episode 104 he is seen in the left hand corner of the crowd when showing the Casino from the plaza.
Taking into account that Oda originally designed Pandaman for a contest that would choose designs for wrestlers, Pandaman's design is based on the concept of a themed pro wrestler. This concept normally, if not stereotypically, consists of usually a pro wrestler wearing a colorful themed costume that sometimes comes with a mask; Pandaman's theme is unsurprisingly a panda. This concept of a masked wrestler is shared by another One Piece character, Jesus Burgess, who is a more typical lucha libre fighter. Further, the specific combined concept of pro wrestling and a panda theme is shared with yet another character, Spandam, who wears a mask over his damaged, Panda-resembling face like the one worn by the professional wrestler, Mankind.
The person Pandaman keeps telling people he saw Kaguyahime but keeps getting picked on in return. Kaguyahime is a character from a popular Japanese myth; according to the myth, Kaguyahime is a mystical princess from the moon. She was found inside a bamboo stalk by a kindly woodcutter after he had chopped the stalk down, and was adopted and raised by the woodcutter and his wife. Parts of Pandaman's profile and history can be connected to this myth in some way.
↑ 1.01.1One Piece Manga — Vol.
5 Chapter 44,
In the page where the marine is shot by Gin, Pandaman makes his first appearance in the manga.
↑One Piece Anime — Episode 1,
Pandaman makes a cameo in the first opening We Are!: he is seen running with a sword along with the rest of the enemy pirates on the right side of the screen just as Zoro begins to use his sword attack.