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The Lion King (and a bit of Kimba)
This is it. This is the most financially successful entry in the Disney Animated Canon. Number one. The top of the heap. But does it deserve this honor? Read and find out. (Short answer: Hell yes it does.)

Let's start with the film itself. Cribbing from Hamlet, Bambi and, yes, Kimba, this is presented as Disney's first "original" film. While this isn't totally true, this doesn't demerit the film at all. Not at all.

From the opening of the film, the Circle of Life, you can tell this film is gonna be good. But even this Crowning Moment Of Awesome fails to illustrate just how good this film is. It's one of the most tightly plotted films in the Canon - there aren't any Big Lipped Alligator Moments, every song is an Establishing Character Moment for the singer, and, best of all, EVERY character - even the Plucky Comic Relief - are three-dimensional, and probably the most well-rounded characters in the Disney canon. The soundtrack is one of only four films in the Disney Renaissance to not involve Alan Menken, and while the other three films were quite good, this film is chock full of Awesome Music. All of these elements - a Crowning Soundtrack of Awesome, a great and truly evil villain, and three-dimensional protagonists, and the best usage of comic relief in the canon - make a film that, in This Troper's humble opinion, not only sits at the top of the Disney Renaissance, but would even make Walt Disney himself prouder than any other film in the canon.

As for the Kimba controversy, well... I've concluded that, yes, The Lion King does take a lot of inspiration from Kimba. However, it has enough differences - the lack of humans, the personality differences between Kimba and Simba and Caesar and Mufasa, and the entire narrative owing more to Hamlet than Kimba, which owed more to Animal Farm - make it more than able to stand on its own merits. Particularly, Scar is a far more effective villain than Claw was. However, I do think Disney should put an "inspired by Osamu Tezuka's Kimba The White Lion" in the credits. I highly recommend not only The Lion King, but all its stated inspirations. Oh, and catch the Broadway musical if you can - it's awesome.
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