The Lion King is one of Disney’s greatest classics. It is a work with a gigantic legion of fans, but it is also the subject of some controversies! For some years now, a controversy has haunted this work: there is a rumor that the film is, in fact, a copy of the anime Kimba, The White Lion. Let’s investigate!
It cannot be denied that The Lion King, in a way, helped to shape the personality of an entire generation. It was the first major Disney work that did not address the theme of princesses. Okay, before that, there was Bambi, Pinocchio and Dumbo, but these films did not have the same repercussion, even by the time they were released!
The Lion King was launched in the 90s, a time when everything ended up being converted into products by the market, such as sticker albums, notebooks, backpack, lunch box and dolls – among thousands of other options. With the emergence of the internet, some similarities with another work from a different time have emerged. That was what raised the idea that the film would have copied the anime of the 60s.
The Lion King vs. Kimba, The White Lion
Kimba, The White Lion arrived in Brazil and had its first full season aired by TV Cultura. Over here, the title was literally translated as Kimba, The White Lion. The original name of this anime is Jungle Tai Tei. He tells the story of a lion cub named Kimba who had his father dead and who had many adventures after that.
There are some arguments that people raise to supposedly prove that The Lion King copied Kimba. Among them, it is rumored that Disney tried to buy Kimba’s rights, but the negotiation was denied. As a form of revenge, the company would have created its own version that ended up becoming more famous and overshadowed the anime.
There is no way of knowing if this story is true, but it is a little doubtful. At the same time, Disney was already very successful with other films involving animals, such as Bernardo and Bianca, Aristogatas and Robin Hood.
Similarities between The Lion King and Kimba, The White Lion
The names of the characters
One is called Kimba and the other is called Simba, there is no denying it. However, look how curious: the name Simba is of African origin, which makes sense, since he is an animation exclusively from Africa. The name Kimba is of Australian origin, it is an aboriginal name, from a place that has no lions.
The main adventure of the two characters takes place after the death of their parents, but the difference is stark between the two cases. Simba’s father Mufasa was killed by his own brother who aimed at the throne of the kingdom’s lands. Panja, Kimba’s father, was killed by hunters.
He wasn’t even the king of the savannah or anything! In fact, he was just a good leader that animals, in a way, followed, but there was no tradition of reign as in The Lion King.
And another… hunters? In The Lion King, humans never even appeared! Some even believe that the film is set in a primitive era. There are not even human traits in history, unlike what happens, for example, in Bambi and Mogli.
Enemy with scar on eye
Coincidence or not, it is true that the two works show enemy lions that have scarred eyes. But Scar was responsible for Mufasa’s death, exactly to take control of the Kingdom lands. Buba, on the other hand, only had fun with Kimba because he was in love with a teenage girl who wanted nothing to do with him. This lioness later became Kimba’s wife.
There is a scene in Kimba’s drawing in which an image in the shape of a lion forms in the clouds. Many claim that The Lion King was inspired by this scene to make Simba’s conversation with Mufasa’s spirit. Anyone who claims this has clearly never seen Kimba’s drawing.
In this scene, Kimba doesn’t talk to the cloud, she just appears as if she has the idea that his father’s spirit is protecting his son. Even if this scene was true, do you know that other animes have already done practically the same thing? Hold this one: Dragon Ball and Knights of the Zodiac.
In Knights of the Zodiac, this happens just when the Lion Knight first appears. He sees, above Saori, the spirit of his older brother who was killed because the Knight of Gemini tried to take power from the sanctuary. In other words: The Lion King is more like Knights of the Zodiac than Kimba! Coincidence (or not), the knight involved in this scene was Leo.
And look how interesting: Goku also died because of his older brother, who started Gohan’s adventure. So, did the Lion King copy Dragon Ball too?
Burying the Controversy
It is very easy to accuse someone of plagiarism when he just took advantage of clichés that many people have used. How many works do you know in which an orphan begins his adventure after his father’s death, initially disappearing and then returning as a badass? Even Naruto is like that!
Even Frozen has been accused of plagiarizing The Lion King, both of which simply follow the narrative style known as ‘The Hero’s Journey’.
To finish and prove once and for all that The Lion King has nothing to do with Kimba, we will summarize the history of this anime and we will bury this controversy once and for all: a white lion named Panja was famous for causing problems to hunters and farmers, as he attacked them and released the captured animals.
One day, a group of hunters was hired to end Panja. To do this, they captured his wife to use her as bait and ambush him. When he tries to rescue the lioness, he is shot and dies. Her skin starts to be used as a carpet and the female is taken to Europe, by ship, to be exposed in a zoo.
During the trip, Kimba is born – the lioness was pregnant. She tells her son everything his father did and he runs away. However, he ends up learning about human civilization and, not only that, he learns cultural and social aspects of men. Therefore, he decides that he will teach all this to animals, exactly so that the animal kingdom is organized and stops suffering from the action of humans.
Kimba, thanks to this learning with civilization, ends up becoming friends with a human. With this, he also learns to speak as a person, so as to act as a spokesman between animals and human beings.
There are several scenes from this anime, for example, in the fight against other lions, which Kimba battles using blows like punches and kicks – and not bites and scratches like a real lion would. Among all these countless differences, there is the most striking: opposing ideologies!
In The Lion King, animals almost religiously defend the idea of the Life Cycle, which says that all animals play a role that makes the animal kingdom work. This justifies, for example, carnivores killing herbivores for food.
In Kimba, it is the complete opposite. The protagonist, thanks to human civilization, starts to teach carnivores to eat plants, fruits, mushrooms and even honey! This is so that they do not act “like animals” and start defending one another as a healthy human civilization would normally do.
It is very easy to look only at those 5% similarities between the two works and ignore the 95% differences and still say that it is a copy. The Lion King and Jungle Tai Tei have absolutely nothing to do with each other.