The Panda Neko is brilliant in its simplicity—it doesn’t claim to be more than a vehicle for expression in the Hanamaru-verse, giving characters a chance to interact or otherwise behave in a kooky manner more suited towards their real age—all this while having an incredibly catchy and memorable tune.
I’m not sure if this is some sort of non-canon representation of the eponymous dance (if it is, what are they doing there?) but for what it’s worth, it captures the personalities and seemingly pointless nature of Hanamaru Kindergarten so well. Be it timid Koume, genial Anzu, or reticent Hiiragi, in 90 seconds we’re treated to a Cliff’s Notes version of their range of emotions throughout the series.
The lack of pretension is probably what makes Panda Neko’s presence in Hanamaru feel so natural. Let’s take a panda, and add cat ears to it, slim it down a little, grant it an anthropomorphic appearance… and there you have it, instant mascot. What’s it for, you say? What’s the story behind it? Why bother with such complicated matters when you can just beat around the bush and, by selectively choosing what to display of it, utilise it as an effective mascot-cum-motif?
The playfulness of the Panda Neko belies the fact that it is, for all purposes, a sign of infinite possibility. Its design screams “Look, I’m a cat and a panda, because I’m just that awesome!” and its presence in the OP signifies everything but the kitchen sink—boundless imagination, fleeting fancy, wishes, hopes, and dreams. Infinite possibilities.