Okay, I’ll plead ignorance by admitting that I have never been aware that “The Lion King” was a purported rip off of “Kimba” up until reading this interesting article that makes a damn good case for it. “The Lion King” is, after all, one of my all time favorite animated movies, so imagine my surprise when I discovered the similarities absolutely astounding… and then I viewed the series.
There are many stories about Disney’s infamous cribbing of the series. Some stories purport Disney wanted to remake the series into a feature length film, but went over their heads when they couldn’t, and some claim they just outright intended to rip the series off even opting to have Simba be a white lion during screen tests. There are even reports of Matthew Broderick explaining his new project as a remake of “Kimba.”
As for other similarities explained by Kimba fans, you really can’t deny the shocking similarities; a talkative parrot sidekick, murderous hyenas, a spiritual baboon, a villainous uncle, a goofy warthog. There’s even a historic scene in “Kimba” where his dead father appears in the sky in the form of clouds. The controversy continues with fans of the series at a constant debate with fans of the film and so on, and even as a huge fan of the Disney film, I’m more inclined to believe Disney ripped off the rather obscure series. Since when is Disney known for their sound business practices?
That aside, “Kimba The White Lion” is a crudely drawn but oddly entertaining adventure series about a royal Lion family stolen by Poachers in the middle of Africa. In order to restore peace to his land, Kimba traverses back to his land to bring some semblance of order to his people, but that’s easier said than done as he comes of age among vicious predators, deadly obstacles, and the nasty hyenas looming in the bushes to attack the animals of the jungle led by Kimba’s uncle Claw.
Though grating in its simplicity and one-dimensional characters, “Kimba” is also oddly entertaining with Kimba as an admirable and sympathetic hero who takes it upon himself to defend his people against outside menaces. When he’s stolen along with his family, the first two episodes in the DVD set chronicle his journey back home, learning to swim, and his eventual introduction to the predators seeking to eat his friends and take over the jungle. In spite of the controversy, “Kimba” is a nice little cartoon series with great cult appeal.