Pandaman's most distinctive feature is his head, which is stylized to look like his namesake (and sometimes emblazoned with the word PANDA). Whether this is a mask or his real face is unknown.
Meanwhile, his physique can vary wildly from appearance to appearance. Though most "official" portraits (including Oda's original contest submission) depict him as tall and well-muscled, many of his cameos in the actual manga and anime depict him as slimmer, if not outright scrawny, to keep him better-hidden in crowd scenes.
Apart from his black trunks and lace-up boots, Pandaman usually goes undressed, and may bear a pair of heart tattoos on his pectorals, and bamboo tattoos on his arms. At times, however, he has been seen in civilian, pirate, or even Marine attire.
Pandaman does not always make cameos in the flesh. Indeed, cameos of his name have appeared scattered throughout the series in both katakana and romaji script.
Pandaman's physique frequently varies. This example is from the "alternative" cover under Volume 52's dust jacket.
Little has been established about Pandaman's personality in canon - save, perhaps, for his cowardice in constantly fleeing from debt collectors.
In contrast, video games frequently portray him with the boisterous, hot-blooded bravado stereotypical to pro-wrestlers. Apart from eagerly accepting any and all challenges to fight, he also constantly peppers his speech with the vocalization "sasa" (ササ,"sasa"?), a reference to the term for bamboo (笹,sasa?).
Pandaman is said to be in love with Pandawoman, but it is unknown if these feelings are reciprocated.
Pandaman, unfortunately, is also constantly on the run from Tomato Gang, a debt collector to whom Pandaman owes money.
Pandaman's greatest rival, Unforgivable Mask, is hired by Tomato Gang to track Pandaman down and retrieve the money he owes Tomato Gang.
Abilities and Powers
While Pandaman has demonstrated no combat ability in any of his appearances, he does - according to Oda's contest write-up - have a small repertoire of attacks:
S.P.D., short for Sasa no Ha Panda Drop (笹の葉パンダドロップ,Sasa no Ha Panda Doroppu?, literally meaning "Bamboo Leaves Panda Drop").
Giant Panda Deathlock (ジャイアントパンダデスロック,Jaianto Panda Desurokku?).
The same write-up also notes that Pandaman has a strength of "3,300,000 Chojin Power" after eating bamboo and before meals.
In his playable appearances in Grand Battle! and Grand Battle! 2, Pandaman uses a variety of wrestling-based attacks, with the Giant Panda Deathlock in particular portrayed as a brutal backbreaker drop; aside from these, he also possesses the ability to summon Panda Sharks against enemies. Meanwhile, Gigant Battle! portrays him with the ability to fire an energy beam by crossing his forearms.
As an infant, Pandaman was said to have been abandoned in a bamboo thicket, and subsequently raised by giant pandas. Growing up, he was frequently picked on for claiming to have seen Princess Kaguya, and as a result trained to become a "Devil Chojin" (悪魔超人,Akuma chōjin?).
Eventually, Pandaman grew into a man of wealth and prestige, supposedly presiding over his own island. Rumors of this island (and its panda-like populace) reached as far as Foosha Village. Some time later, however, Pandaman fell into financial trouble with the debt collector Tomato Gang, who began relentlessly pursuing him, even hiring his rival Unforgivable Mask as an enforcer.
Pandaman first crossed paths with the Straw Hat Pirates during the Baratie Arc, where he witnessed the altercation between Sanji and Fullbody. Since then, he has appeared in the background of every locale the Straw Hats have visited (and several they have not, such as Lulusia Kingdom). The one exception is the all-female isle of Amazon Lily, where Pandawoman took her place; it is said that Pandaman fell in love with this woman, but it is unclear whether she even knows he exists.
(The true age of Pandaman remains unknown, though his chronologically earliest appearance places him among Mont Blanc Noland's voyages, some four hundred years before the Great Age of Pirates.)
In Movie 3, he is seen with the animals that were called by the trumpet pig when the new animal king is being announced.
In Movie 7, he is seen as one of the inhabitants of the island the turtle is approaching.
In One Piece Gold, he is one of the fighters fighting in a golden cage
In One Piece: Stampede, a newspaper Smoker reads mentions Pandaman appears 20 times. His wanted poster is seen near the Straw Hats. He is also seen sitting by a table at the Pirate Expo. As well, he is seen among the crowd admiring Boa Hancock.
In opening 1 We Are!, he is seen fighting against Zoro.
In opening 4 BON VOYAGE!, he is caught by Usopp's fishing rod during the colored mini-boat scene.
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 64, his head can be seen on a boy's shirt while the crowd is cheering for the arrival of Going Merry.
In Episode 69, there is a panda figure on the book Koby 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 76, there is an orange plant that has a panda figure at the lower left of screen outside the house made of wax where Sanji is drinking tea.
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.
In Episode 105 he is seen passing Nami and Usopp, right before Luffy appears with Smoker chasing him.
In Episode 106 his head is seen as one of the figures in the slot machine, right after Luffy entered Rainbase
Pandaman was originally conceived for the New Chojin Contest (新超人コンテスト,Shin chōjin kontesuto?), a character-design contest for the pro-wrestling series Kinnikuman. As such, his design is meant to evoke a costumed pro wrestler, with lots of exposed skin, striking colors, and an overall "foreign" theme akin to those used by heel wrestlers in real life.
In addition, Pandaman's (supposed) backstory directly references the myth of Princess Kaguya, who was said to have been discovered in a bamboo stalk by a kindly woodcutter.
Anime and Manga Differences
The anime portrays Pandaman more-or-less identically to the manga—as a background curiosity who interacts with neither the plot nor the other characters in any meaningful way. However, the anime will often insert Pandaman cameos where the manga had none; indeed, the anime Pandaman made his first appearance during the Syrup Village Arc, mixed in among the Black Cat Pirates.
Pandaman's usual status was completely subverted in one installment of the Boss Luffy Historical Special, where he not only interacted with other characters, but played a pivotal role in the plot.
In the alternate Jidaigeki-esque reality known as the Grand Jipang (グランドジパング,Gurando Jipangu?), Pandaman is a well-beloved townsman known as "Pop" (父さん,Tō-san?). This moniker led to much trouble when he fell ill, shortly after being trapped in debt to the gang-leader Buggy. On finding him in the care of a neighborhood girl, the Buggy Gang assumed she was his daughter and schemed to sell her off as collateral, even enlisting aid from a corrupt magistrate. Nevertheless, this scheme was foiled by Boss Luffy and the aristocrat Vivi.
After Buggy's threat was ended, his would-be debtor joined Boss Luffy and several close friends in celebrating the exotic foreign holiday known as Christmas.
Translation and Dub Issues
All English translations generally preserve Pandaman's cameos faithfully, with the Viz manga accurately relaying all of Oda's SBS contributions and both the Funimation and 4Kids anime dubs leaving his cameos unremarked upon. His name, however, is generally written out as two words ("Panda Man") rather than one.
Much larger liberties were taken in 4Kids' localization of the video game One Piece: Pirates Carnival. This game originally featured Pandaman in a minor role, as the focus of a Where's Waldo-styled mini-game; the localization kept this mini-game, but also extended his role into a separate mini-game originally hosted by Blueno (since 4Kids had made no preparations for dubbing the Water 7 Arc). As a result, this Pandaman possesses Blueno's abilities, as well as an unusually dark and vengeful personality, claiming to have trapped the Straw Hat Pirates in a burning maze as revenge for picking him out of crowds.
In the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th fan popularity polls, Pandaman was ranked 19th, 31st, 39th, 51st, and 97th, respectively.
Several of his attributes are linked with the number three (三,san?), in reference to the Japanese term for bamboo (笹,sasa?). This extends to his anime-only bounty of 3,333,333.
The anime occasionally inserts Pandaman on items such as shirts, similar to fellow Easter EggDoskoi Panda. The "official" relationship between these two—if any—remains to be seen.
The video game Treasure Battle!, notably, has Pandaman being summoned through a Doskoi Panda token.
His design foreshadows—perhaps inadvertently—the Gifters, whose names and physiques likewise combine human and animal parts. Indeed, he makes a cameo among the group of the Gifters introduced in Chapter 943 (Episode 941), though no in-story connection has yet been established.