Critic's Log - Earthdate: October 31, 2012. Review #20: Kimba, The White Lion
Back when I was about 5 or 6 years old, there was a Disney movie that I watched all the time. That Disney movie was The Lion King. I loved the animation in the movie and I never got tired after repeated viewing. Today, I haven't watched it as much because there are other movies I like and I have shows that I want to watch. I decided to do a little research on the movie and I found that it bears a striking resemblance to Kimba from the anime Jungle Emperor (Kimba, The White Lion in The U.S.) There was a controversy over The Lion King because of its similarity to Kimba, The White Lion. It's been 18 years since The Lion King was released so I have no comment about the whole comparison of both things. My theory is that Kimba, The White Lion was the primary influence for The Lion King. It didn't completely plagarized Kimba, The White Lion. I also want to mention that I am treating this review as a retrospective. With that said, here's Kimba, The White Lion!
The basic premise of this anime is that Leo (Kimba in the American release), a young lion cub who becomes king of the jungle when his father was killed by a human hunter.
To be technical, this is a Mushi Pro production and this is an anime adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's manga of the same name. Don't know who Tezuka-san is? I'll tell you. Tezuka-san is a cartoonist, manga artist, animator, producer, activist, and was best known for series such as Astro Boy (which was the first anime to come to the U.S.), Black Jack, and Kimba, The White Lion. Tezuka-san was often nicknamed "The Godfather of Anime" and often considered the Japanese equivalent of Walt Disney, which made total sense. Tezuka-san was influenced by some of Walt Disney's work. Tezuka-san has a prolific output, and had pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinitions of genres that earned him nicknames such as "The Father of Manga" or "The God of Manga".
Before I go any further, I want to apologize beforehand that I dropped this series and I don't plan on finishing it. I will simply give out my retrospective of Kimba, The White Lion to the best of my abilities.
First of all, I am going to excuse the quality of animation on this anime for a couple of reasons. First off, this is the first anime in color. Secondly, this was a 60's anime. The animation has definitely aged as time goes on.
The music by Isao Tomita may not be recognizable today but he often composes soundtracks of the anime adaptations of Osamu Tezuka's series.
As far as voices go. This is going to be a bit difficult to talk about. I am assuming the Japanese cast is good on this show. The Dub is from way before 90's dub quality and the dub is corny but actually watchable and that's saying a lot. Too bad the American release never included the subtitled version. it's a Dub-only affair in the U.S.
The characters are simply introduced well but it was hard for me to latch on to the characters in this show. I don't have much to say on this matter
Then there's the story, It is kid-friendly but it does challenge the audience with some mature themes. It has a simple premise that expands as the show progresses. I've read a source that the story has redeeming value and it blends drama, humor, morality, and a little playfulness. There is a slight discontinuous storyline and uneven pacing but nothing that would hurt the show too much. I should also point out that Rintaro (who went by the name Shigeyuki Hayashi during the making of Kimba) was the chief director. You might want to do a little research on this guy because there might be a few animes that he was involved in that you probably didn't know that he was part of. Also, Eiichi Yamamoto was also the director of this anime and he also did the series composition for Space Battleship Yamato (Star Blazers in the US).
After sharing those little tidbits, allow me to mention The Lion King once more. About the whole controversy about whether The Lion King homaged this anime or plagarized it. There are comparisons of both Kimba, The White Lion and The Lion King.
Scar looks like Claw, sort of...
Kimba fights Claw, Simba fights Scar, Protagonists vs. Villians in their respective series.
The Baboon is a minor character in their respective series
I don't think I've counted all the comparisons, so I'll just leave what I say as examples of these comparisons. This anime was influential in Japan and might as well be a major influence to The Lion King. The Lion King might as well be an American tribute to Kimba, The White Lion.
Kimba, The White Lion is available from Right Stuf.
With that said... Kimba, The White Lion is an anime worth checking out if you are looking for an anime that is definitely worth seeing if you want to go as far as the 60's. This may not be everyone's cup of tea. However in order to fully appreciate this anime, you will have to overlook the flaws and technicalities that this show had to offer. This was a 60's anime, this anime was completely hand-drawn and not many sound effects were possible at the time. What you see is what you get when it comes to this anime. Many children in Japan grew up watching this anime and now are the key players in the anime industry today. I may not have a big interest in this anime, but at least I was able to give out my first-impression retrospective into the series.
I give Kimba, The White Lion a 5 out of 10, it is SO-SO!
feel free to comment, and give out a might roar!
This series of reviews will focus on anime which although they were never masterpiece lever, they still retain lots of quality in their own special way. I will start with this one, which although has the name “emperor” in the title, it is not that great of a show.
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Although it appears quite silly in our days, the Jungle Emperor was the first color anime series ever made. Made by the man who created the anime morphology, the God of Manga Osamu Tezuka, this title paved the way of the anime industry. It has a high historical value for being one of the first anime ever made and for being a sweet memory for the older otakus. Aside from that though, it doesn’t have much replay value and it is not memorable in any particular way.
ART & SOUND SECTION: 5/10
They will be unbearable if you haven’t been raised with old titles. But they were a technological miracle at the time they were made. They are full of cute animals, a strong depiction of emotions and a high esteem for justice and friendship, dressed nicely with smart camera angles and colors that focus the viewer’s eyes were they should be paying attention. Osamu founded these techniques and they were brand new and downright attractive back in those times.
By today’s standards for most people it will be something to laugh at, as the animation fluidity is terrible and all those innocent eyes staring upwards with respect gets irritating pretty fast. The entire cheery atmosphere feels out of place in our era of emos and anti-heroes. Younger otakus would rate them with a 4 or a 3.
Just remember that the animation was done by hand, frame after frame. There were no stereo or computer-generated 3D graphics and sound effects back then, so the work they put into making this series in a time when anime were just an unknown form of entertainment, was amazing. So, it gets an aesthetic increase in the marks just for that. Just remember Disney’s Snow White and you may understand why old graphics and sound are still nice to listen to.
STORY & CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10
Well, there is nothing much to say. A little white lion is protecting the jungle, helps his friends and learns from the wisdom of his elders. Being shallow even for a children’s story, the series is good only for promoting moral messages to its audience. Besides that, it’s just episodic stories, without much character or story development. The animals are either good or bad and none of them has a strong presence.
I’m not going to try to give an aesthetic increase in the marks in this one. There were fine stories being made in the 60’s and I ‘m generally not fond of simple, too-goody characters.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Definitely surpassed by a myriad other anime titles, both in characters and general concept. I don’t suggest this to anyone younger than 25.
Older otakus and anime collectors on the other hand will appreciate its simple format and its artistically, emotional dressing.
I regret to inform you that the patient has left us. But worry not, as his ideals keep living inside his descendants.
If you like series with animals in a jungle, there is the much newer Jungle Book: Shounen Mowgli.
Disney has reused the same idea and made The Lion King.