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YMMV / Kimba the White Lion

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  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • The first episode of the 1989 series adapts the first chapter of the manga with the black characters being portrayed more respectfully and by "more respectfully" we mean "not as racist caricatures otherwise known as 'Blackface.'" Likewise, the Mighty Whitey element of Mary as Conga/Tonga becoming leader of an African tribe is removed by having the character being a member of the tribe by birth named Conga/Tonga.
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    • The first dub of the original series had Kenichi renamed to the impossibly corny "Roger Ranger." The 1993 dub and the dub for the 2009 special have the far less corny name changes of "Jonathan" and "Kevin O'Donnell" in stark contrast.
  • Awesome Music:
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: For the voice actors anyway. Knowing absolutely nothing of how the original story was supposed to evolve, a woolly mammoth coming out of nowhere sort of threw them for a loop.
  • Broken Base: Is the 1989 series unnecessary, destroying everything the original series stood for, or does its more "realistic" tone make it more engaging than the sillier, light-hearted '65 series?
  • Common Knowledge: The claim that The Lion King (1994) plagiarized this series has led to many people unfamiliar with the franchise making assumptions about it being more similar to The Lion King than it actually is. Whereas in reality, any similarities beyond parts of the basic premise and some very surface-level visual and character tropes generally don't actually exist; one might as well claim that Futurama is very much like The Jetsons because both are about a redheaded man in a futuristic setting and the comedic misadventures he gets involved in. For instance...
    • Simba is often thought to be "Kimba" with one letter changed. In fact, "simba" is actually the Swahili word for lion, and has been a Stock Animal Name for lions both real and fictional as far back as the 1920s. This has been such a common lion name for such a long time that the English localizers were originally considering making Leo's dub name Simba, but decided against it because they feared the name would be too generic for them to claim as their intellectual property.
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    • Claw is commonly claimed by some sources to be Kimba's Evil Uncle and the Big Bad of the series in order to compare him to Scar. In truth, Claw has no mentioned biological relationship to Kimba, and only appears in a few episodes. Moreover, his personality is very different from Scar's, being a temperamental and brutish figure rather than suave and playfully sarcastic like Scar is.
    • Pumbaa is often said to have been inspired by a Kimba character named Gargoyle G. Warthog. But Gargoyle isn't the happy-go-lucky comic relief character Pumbaa is, he's a very angsty and insecure guy who has a character arc about discovering his own self-worth. On an additional note, Gargoyle is not nearly as important a character as Pumbaa, only appearing in a single episode of the 1965 anime.
    • Pauly Cracker is often compared to Zazu since both are birds, and thus many assume Pauly to be a royal majordomo with a similar uptight personality. In fact, Pauly is just a friend of Kimba's who doesn't have any such position in the court, and has more of a Hair-Trigger Temper personality in contrast to Zazu's more timid and loyal attitude.
    • Many sources mention both series having a wise baboon/mandrill as characters. However, Dan'l Baboon is not an eccentric witch doctor like Rafiki is, and is more of a stereotypical Grumpy Old Man.
    • One can find many videos comparing shots from Kimba to shots from The Lion King. What these videos generally don't say is that many of the Kimba shots are from a movie released in 1997, three years after The Lion King came out, and were made exclusively for the movie and have no counterpart in any earlier Kimba-related content. If anything, they're evidence that that particular iteration of the franchise was deliberately aping TLK, rather than the other way around. The shots that did predate 1994 are generally cherry-picked from more than 3,000 minutes' worth of footage, often not only implicitly given more importance than they ever were in the source material but also edited together in misleading ways to make it look like they happened in sequences mirroring events in TLK. As Adam Johnston of fame has pointed out, one could very easily make the same arguments about Kimba being superficially similar to properties that have predated it.
    • A panel from the manga with a very leonine cloud is often cited as similar to the ghost of Mufasa that appears to Simba. But this isn't the ghost of Kimba's father, nor was it the inspiration for the dead Mufasa appearing before Simba — that came from Hamlet.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: In several series, Kimba preserves his father's hide in his home. Unfortunately, the "hide" looks more like a corpse, so most interactions with it come off as Black Comedy - this can range from it being cleaned, worn, used as a hiding spot and even as a chair. One episode goes even further and has an entire sanctuary filled with the hide-corpses of Kimba's ancestors, which are also subjected to similar (mis)treatment.
  • Designated Hero: Kimba/Leo does some very unheroic and appalling things in the 1966 series that the audience is meant to side with him on because he's the main character - like abusing his newborn son and abandoning him in the jungle to fend for himself, or helping to escalate a bloodbath between a hunter and a group of leopards because of his own warped sense of morality. The show does have him get called out by people on this, but it still treats him like a good father who just needs to learn more, and no matter how much there are some justifications, this version of Kimba/Leo comes across as hard to feel justified as a character.
  • Ending Aversion: The manga is mostly a lighthearted adventure. However, towards the end, several main characters start dying for little to no reason. Kimba himself becomes blind, has nightmares about never reuniting with his son who ran away from home, then promptly dies sacrificing himself to save one of his human friends. And after all of these horrible things happen at once, what is the final moral of the story? "Don't ever challenge nature." What's ironic is that Kimba's actions would help humanity move to a greener source of energy, which would be extremely beneficial to nature. But in the end, nature apparently decides to screw him and his family over for no reason.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Given that the series is long this is bound to happen.
    • Onward Leo! isn't well liked by many fans of the original series due to how Kimba became an Adaptational Jerkass who's an abusive parent and husband. The racially insensitive caricatures and godawful English dub also don't help.
    • The ending of the manga where Kimba sacrifices his life to save Dr. Moustache, never getting a chance to see his son again. Some people prefer the adaptation of the ending in Onward Leo! where Kimba lives.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the English dub of the 1997 film, Mike Pollock voices Dr. Mustache. Around the same time as the dub's release in 2003, Mike had also started voicing a certain other pudgy doctor with a bushy mustache that he would later become well known for.
  • Iron Woobie: Kimba. Both of his parents managed to die in the first episode when he was still a young cub... and yet he still manages to forge ahead and create a peaceful utopia.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Some people want to watch the show for the oddly dark scenes like Kimba dragging the pelt of his deceased father, or the elephant genocide.
  • Memetic Mutation: X copied Kimba! note 
  • Memetic Molester: Claw became this after the episode Battle at Dead River where he tried to marry Kitty. When they first meet, he creepily asks her to become his bride. When she refuses, he orders his hyenas to capture her.
    Kitty: Claw, I really don't understand what's going on.
    Claw: (chuckles) You will!
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • If Hamegg didn't cross it in the very first episode by killing Panja, then he certainly crosses it when he betrays Kimba's hospitality and steals all the animals after he knows they're sentient. In the 89 series, he later attempts to kill Leo the exact same way and ends up killing Leona.
    • Bizo and Pagoola cross it in Episode 25 of Leo the Lion. Lea is dying from the plague, so Rune has to take a cure from the humans back to her. Meanwhile, Bizo tries to destroy the cure for no reason in particular other than watching Rune suffer. When the humans stop Bizo from succeeding, he runs away crying to his father and convinces him to kill them all. Pagoola, being the massive idiotic bully he is, orders his herd of elephants to kill the humans who are trying to save Lea's life, along with the entire jungle. Bizo then watches as the whole war unfolds with a near-psychotic smile on his face, and the only thing that stops the elephants is when they get infected with the same plague that was about to kill Lea. They're so particularly nasty this episode that all the animals, including Leo himself, don't give a damn if they die and only agree to cure them out of fear the disease might spread even further.
  • Narm:
    • The Leo the Lion English dub, done in 1984 (for a 1966 series!), is filled with many unintentionally hilarious moments.
    • This line from a gorilla, made even more hilarious by the voice acting. Oh, and if you watch closely, she didn't even bite his toe.
      "Oh you bit me.
      Oh you bit my toe.
      Oh my poor toe.
      That's not fair.
      I didn't try to hurt you now, did I?"
    • In the same clip, there's also that weird constipated-sounding groaning Rukio makes when the gorilla grabs her tail.
    • The first dub for the original series changed Kenichi's name to the rather corny "Roger Ranger." The 1993 dub removed the corniness by having him be renamed "Jonathan", with no mention of a surname, and the dub for the 2009 special changed his name to "Kevin O'Donnell", sounding like a name anyone would have.
    • "Too Many Elephants" (a.k.a. the infamous "elephant genocide" episode) has a ridiculously over-the-top sequence close to the end where the entire elephant herd is killed by humans in tanks. Once they're all dead, Kimba gives us this line that comes across as hilariously dark out of context.
      Why couldn't all the elephants be nice like Peewee? Then they wouldn't have had to be exterminated.
    • Kimba/Leo keeps his deceased father's pelt around, frequently talks to it like Ceasar is still there with him in spirit, plays with it, and occasionally uses it to inspire other animals. This is portrayed as something completely normal, and while it's disturbing at first, after a few episodes it starts to become hilariously morbid. Especially since the 1966 series reveals that Leo's kids, Rune and Rukio, would also have a connection with their grandfather's corpse.
  • Newer Than They Think: Many of the more convincing screenshot comparisons in the "Kimba versus Lion King" compilation videos are actually not from the original sixties series, but the 1997 Jungle Emperor Leo film, which came out three years after The Lion King (1994).
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: A fan wrote a tirade about how the 1989 anime betrayed the series by being too dark and bleak, lacking the optimism that Tezuka would put into his work.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: Outside of a few select countries, people in the West mostly remember Kimba because of the controversy surrounding The Lion King (1994). As it turns out, there are far more people who are aware of the controversy than there are people who actually watched the show.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • The 1966 Onward Leo! series is even less faithful to the original manga and even more episodic than its predecessor, despite Tezuka having complete control over it. It only lasted 26 episodes and the Darker and Edgier tone, coupled with several continuity issues, characters from the original being Demoted to Extra, and the reinstatement of racially insensitive depictions of African natives, scared away potential buyers from the West. The series wasn't dubbed in English until 1984, when it received what's possibly the cheapest voice work made for American television of all time.
    • The 1989 version starts relatively well, but around the start of the second half, it slowly departs from the core message of Osamu Tezuka and descends into a depressing, tragic story. It feels like at least one character is contractually obligated to die every single episode, the human-to-animal antagonism scale is incredibly unbalanced to the point you lose faith in humanity just by watching these episodes, not to mention the disaster related episodes featuring acidic rains and nuclear radiation. There's also a strange arc involving a magic tree which comes out of nowhere that creates a force-field to protect the jungle.
  • Squick: Kimba talks to the fur hide of his deceased father as if it were alive, and later in Leo the Lion, this extends to his two children who treat it as if it were their real grandfather.
  • Tear Jerker: See Tezuka's page.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Certain aspects from the original comic did not age well, particularly some scenes that tend to depict African people as racist stereotypes from old cartoons.
    • At least one episode of the 1965 anime depicts spanking as an entirely acceptable way to punish a child. Starting in The '70s, Corporal Punishment would be increasingly controversial.
  • Values Resonance: On the other hand, both the comic and the cartoon generally have a strong anti-war, anti-authoritarian, environmental, pro-peace and equality messaging, which are topics that are still extremely relevant to this day and age.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Happened to those who're not familiar with the series watching a filler episode from the 1990s dub for the first time.
  • The Woobie: Leo in the 2009 special embodies this trope. He hasn't yet learned to hunt properly, and even the *prey* laughs at his pathetic attempts. Considering the original Kimba/Leo swam the seas to get back home and learned early on to get tough, this cute-but-less-confident Leo comes as a bit of a surprise to fans.
    • Poor, poor Snowene/Eliza. First she watches her mate die right in front of her, after being captured and used as bait to lure him in. Then she's forced to send her son away, knowing the ship they're on is about to sink in a storm. Then she drowns.
    • Rune in Onward Leo!. He's neither as physically adept nor as brave as his sister Rukio, and Leo is absolutely awful to him.
  • Woolseyism: The dub actors weren't given the episodes in order and were forced to write their own scripts. While this brought up some issues later on involving Kimba's past, they really tried to make the best possible show they could.
    • Unfortunately, the 1990s redub wasn't so lucky. It's worth noting that the original 1960s dub sells for about $110 in boxset form, while the 1990s redub is a staple in most dollar stores.
      • While fans will admit the 1990s redub sticks closer to the Japanese script generally, they disliked that the dub removed the original background music and non-dubbed voices. There's also a feeling that the original dub cast overall gave a better performance of the characters and that despite some confusion and censorship still retains much of the intended spirit of the show.


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