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Anime / The Jungle Book

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The Jungle Book anime, known as Jungle Book Shōnen Mowgli, is an anime adaptation of the book of the same name that first aired in 1989.

For the most part, it follows the book more closely than some adaptions, although it incorporates some elements from the Disney version. An International Coproduction between Nippon Animation of Japan and Doro TV Merchandising of Italy, the series had 52 episodes, was directed by Fumio Kurokawa (Princess Sarah, Little Women), and broadcast on TV Tokyo. While it shares many of the tropes of the same studio's World Masterpiece Theater, it was not part of that franchise and aired on a different network. An English dub, made in Montreal, saw partial home video release in the U.S., while the French dub aired on Canadian public television.

This anime contains examples of:

  • Abled in the Adaptation: Shere Khan doesn't have his limp in this adaptation, although he does get a bite wound on the leg from Alexander which he claims keeps bothering him.
  • Adaptation Distillation: In the original book, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi the Mongoose is in an entirely separate story from Mowgli's tales, but the producers obviously decided that since he is among the best known characters in the book, such a cute hero should be included in the series.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Luri's name in the book was Raksha.
  • Adaptational Species Change: One the earliest examples where Tabaqui is changed from a jackal into a hyena, likely to visually distinguish him more from the wolves. The English dub still incorrectly calls him a jackal.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the original story, the first of the tigers unintentionally brought disaster to the jungle, but he initially wanted to kill Fear (man) to restore peace among the animals, then later out of grief for finding that all those who once looked up to him would now run away in terror. In the anime, he simply believed that killing Fear would grant him supreme power over all. The Arabic dub has the tiger attempting to frame a man for a murder he himself committed; not as aspiring a goal as the former but no less despicable.
    • The human owner that cared for Bagheera when he was a kitten. In the novel, Bagheera was part of a collection of exotic animals belonging to a rich rajah where he lived in luxury before escaping on his own. In the anime, the owner planned to kill Bagheera for his pelt when he grew bigger as he abused the panther along the way, the owner's daughter named Linda took care of him at that time. Later she frees Bagheera before her father can shoot him. She took the bullet, and it was unknown is she survived or not.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Some of the characters from the book, such as Phaona and White Hood, are absent in this version.
    • Kaa doesn't seem to have his hypnotic powers in this series.
  • Alpha Bitch: Literally with Lala, but she gets better.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The original Japanese version of the opening and ending songs are "Get UP ~Aio Shinjite~ (Get UP ~I Believe in Love~)" and "Chikyuu No Ko (地球の子 lit. "Child of the Earth") sung by the Japanese vocalists Toshiya Igarashi and Shiori Hashimoto. However, some other dub versions are:
    • English: "Wake Up" and "A Child is learning", both sung by the American vocalist Suzi Marsh.
    • French: "C'est moi Mowgli" (I'm Mowgli), sung by Alexandre, which saw 45 single release in France.
    • Hindi: Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai (जंगल जंगल बात चली है), was very popular, original music by Vishal Bhardwaj and lyrics by Gulzar.
  • Animation Bump: The quality of the animation notably varies between episodes. Some, such as the pilot and Shere Khan’s defeat, have decently fluid animation, while others are notably choppy and Off-Model.
  • Animal Gender-Bender: Downplayed with Tha, who is female in this adaptation; she has very small tusks compared to those of Haithi and the other male elephants, which is somewhat accurate to real life (although said tusks or tushes still shouldn't be noticeable).
  • Arch-Enemy: As usual, Shere Khan is Mowgli's. Even moreso here as Khan killed Mowgli's adoptive wolf father Alexander.
  • As You Know: Akela has to remind the pack that baby Mowgli needs to have two members speak up for the boy that are not his parents to fully accept him.
  • Ascended Extra: While they weren’t exactly extras in the book, Mowgli's wolf family is given more depth than the original story.
  • Battle Boomerang: Mowgli's weapon of choice, but then it's replaced with a hunting knife.
  • Big Bad: Shere Khan.
  • Big Good: Akela to the wolves, Hathi to the jungle as a whole.
  • Canada, Eh?: The English dub was recorded in Montreal, and the voices will sound familiar to anyone who's watched Adventures of the Little Koala, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, The Littl' Bits and so on.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Mowgli's human parents.
    • Akela's granddaughter, Lala.
    • Jumeirah and her family.
    • Kichi the red panda.
  • Canon Welding: While the show is based primarily on the Mowgli Stories, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi being Jumeirah's pet mongoose ties in his own story to Mowgli's. This can also extend to Buldeo's pet cobra as the closest this show has to Nag, one of the antagonists of Rikki's story.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kaa in the English dub.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lala to Mowgli over the course of the series.
  • Fat Bastard: Both Abdullah and Rizwan are as cruel as they are corpulent. The former helped Buldeo kidnap Jumeirah and her family and threatened to have them burned to death as witches, while the latter is a greedy slimeball who will do anything for profit including murder or selling Mowgli to a circus after drugging him.
  • Gender Flip: Tha, the first of the elephants, was male in the original story, but was changed to a female here.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Shere Khan receives a gash over his left eye after a confrontation with Mowgli.
  • Heinous Hyena: Tabaqui, the striped hyena who serves as Shere Khan's sidekick.
  • Honorable Elephant: Hathi the elephant, like his book counterpart, is the temperate but righteous leader and lawgiver of the jungle.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Multiple:
    • Buldeo is a prime example of this trope. Where he was able to convince the villagers to turn against Mowgli like he did in the book.
    • Earlier on, Mowgli encountered a trio of grave robbers in the Cold Lair searching for the treasure, only to have the three kill each other out of their own greed.
    • A flashback shows the downfall of said ruins: a once proud kingdom destroyed in a civil war and fueled by greed.
  • Interspecies Romance: One point Lala has developed a crush on Mowgli (despite her earlier antagonism). Bagheera and Baloo talked about this with Bagheera pointing out the obvious barrier. Fortunately it was one-sided, and she eventually settled down with Sura, one of Mowgli's wolf brothers instead.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Several of the kids from the village bully and ridicule Mowgli, Buldeo's grandson is especially rotten for constantly telling lies and helping whip up the mob against Jumeirah's family.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Louis and his monkeys, which are expies of the Bandar-log from the novels. They serve as lackeys and messengers for Shere Khan.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Mowgli mentions skunks in the first episode of the series, even though skunks are exclusively found in North America. No skunks physically show up though.
  • Missing Child: In the first episode, Mowgli's human parents were frantic when searching for their son. And the fact that they accidentally fell to their deaths without finding their child made it a lot worse.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the scenes involving Mowgli and Jumeirah has the man-cub watching her retrieve water from a nearby stream using a jug. This is almost exactly like the ending of the Disney movie when Mowgli first meets Shanti.
  • Narrator All Along: The first episode begins with a woman's voice introducing our planet, discussing the necessity of animals and man learning to get along and cautioning against despoiling the beautiful jungle for our own advantage. As the woman discusses that last part, we learn that the narration is in fact Mowgli's mother speaking to her baby, and Mowgli's father says this might be a little difficult for baby Mowgli to understand.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Mugger crocodiles (erroneously called alligators in the English dub) appear in some episodes as adversaries. One of them does make peace with Baloo after getting defeated by him.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Chil, the Brahminy kite who serves as a messenger for the wolf pack and Haithi.
  • Noble Wolf: Both Akela's pack and Vermillion's pack is made up of these.
  • Passing the Torch: Akela was originally retired before the series began, letting Alexander lead the wolf pack. But Akela took over after Alexander's untimely death. However he returns to retirement and died after Luri takes the helm.
  • Raised by Humans: Bagheera; he was taken from his mother and then cared for by an abusive nobleman and his kind daughter.
  • Raised by Wolves: Mowgli; after his parents died when he was a baby, two wolves found him and raised him as their son.
  • Savage Wolves: While Akela's pack averts this, Grizzle the rogue wolf and his followers play this straight.
  • Setting Update: If the plane in the first episode is any indication, the show is set sometime in the 20th century.
  • Snakes Are Sinister:
    • Averted with Kaa, who is much more helpful to Mowgli than the Disney version, his characterization being more closely adapted from the books. Unlike the Disney adaptation he is neither weak, nor cowardly; he is in fact the only other non-human besides Haithi who Shere Kahn outright fears and it's well justified. The few times they face off, Kaa wipes the floor with him.
    • Played straight with Buldeo's pet cobra, which is sent to kill Mowgli only to be slain by Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Placing Bagheera and Kaa in the same scene tends to have this dynamic. A far cry from the original books, where Bagheera is a bit scared around Kaa and tends to keep a bit quieter around him.
  • Sssssnake Talk: Also averted with Kaa.
  • Straying Baby: In the first episode, baby Mowgli wakes up from his nap and follows some deer into the jungle while his parents are busy. This kicks off the plot of the series.
  • Tsundere: Lala, the shewolf that usually gives Mowgli a hard time later develops a crush on him. She settles with one of his wolf brothers instead.
  • Word Salad Title: Jungle Book Shonen Mowgli, although it's a little easier to decipher than others: it is the Mowgli stories of "The Jungle Book" adapted into a shonen-age-targeted anime.
  • You Killed My Father: Shere Khan killed Alexander, Mowgli's adoptive wolf father.