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YMMV / The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

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  • Adorkable:
    • Kovu certainly has his moments, such as when he's with Kiara or learning new concepts like "fun things are fun." A major one is right after his Accidental Kiss with Kiara, where he is left in utter befuddlement and slight confusion, whereas Kiara, while still embarrassed, realizes what happened.
    • Nuka. He's lanky, nervous and too bumbling to be actually despicable.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Zira. Did Scar ever really love her? Is her obsession with him the result of being manipulated by Scar to the point of insanity? Did Scar abuse her? Was she a loving, kind lioness before becoming a loyalist to Scar? Given that Scar was known to be abusive towards his own family and never loved them, it's plausible that Zira's relationship with Scar was a major case of Mad Love.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: One major point of contention with the original movie was how Mufasa treated the hyenas as Always Chaotic Evil, which was questionable considering how much he emphasized all living things being a part of the circle of life to Simba. This movie has similar Fantastic Racism towards the Outlanders as its core conflict, which ended with Kiara arguing against their hostility towards each with Simba's similar message of "We are one." However, it's also been argued that this moral is somewhat undermined by writing off the Always Chaotic Evil race in favor of a new antagonistic faction of the same species.
  • Award Snub: A lot of people felt Suzanne Pleshette should have won an Annie Award for her portrayal as Zira.
  • Ass Pull:
    • Twice, Zira is able to know just where the protagonists exactly are, despite having no general idea where they could be. This is especially glaring with the ambush, as Simba makes it clear he came up with this idea himself, and Zira should have had no idea where Simba and Kovu were going to be.
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    • Likewise, although Kiara and Kovu have absolutely no idea where the two prides are fighting, they manage to arrive there incredibly quickly.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Simba in this film. A lot of fans (particularly on this very site) thought him turning into an Overprotective Dad and treating Kovu absolutely awfully was justified. Others felt that Simba was being incredibly smothering towards Kiara and saw his treatment of Kovu as excessive Jerkassery. His actions at the trial definitely saw even his most sympathetic defenders see him as a colossal jerk.
  • Broken Base: The characterization of Timon and Pumbaa. Many think their presence is rather unnecessary in most parts of the plot and their jokes, especially those that inexplicably refer to human concepts, feel unfunny and quite forced. There's even a Fan Edit that completely removes them from the climatic battle. That being said, others still find them as hilarious as always and think their jokes help to diminish somewhat the most emotionally dramatic moments of the film.
  • Cant Unhear It: Regardless of the film itself, several actors are impossible for fans to not associate with their characters.
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    • Neve Campbell's performance as Kiara is widely liked due to the fact that Neve makes Kiara an incredibly believable character, along with the fact that it is a break from horror movies.
    • Jason Marsden's performance as Kovu is just as well liked for the fact he portrays Kovu as a deeply torn and guilt ridden lion torn between his family, and his love.
    • Suzanne Pleshette as Zira is widely acknowledged as one of the most iconic voices of the film, for portraying a violent sociopath whose barely calm tone hides the fact that her rage is barely restrained.
  • Contested Sequel: To some, The Lion King II is a great extension of the Disney masterpiece. To others, it's clunky and plothole-ridden. This is really saying something, however, considering how other Disney DTV sequels fare. The same can be said for the other Lion King DTV sequel, The Lion King 1½.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Vitani is this in the fandom for her cute appearance as a cub and for being a Dark Action Girl as an adult.
  • Evil Is Cool: Zira is near universally considered one of the better Disney sequel villains due to being genuinely threatening, occasionally entertaining, and having a very intense Villain Song.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • Scar is not Kovu's father. But is he really the father of Nuka or Vitani?note  If not, where is their father? Do the siblings even share a father or not?
    • The Outlanders relationships to the Pridelanders and why they weren't in the original film.
  • Fanon: Many fans take the original version of Zira's death as canon, as it emphasizes just how much she hated Simba - when given the choice of dying or being saved by Simba's bloodline, she embraces death and smiles all the way down. Fortunately, since the finished scene cuts away just before she falls and still uses frames of the original ending, it's easy to pretend she chose to die by her own hand.
  • Foe Yay: Believe it or not, there are people who have created a Simba/Zira pairing.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Nuka pretending to die during "My Lullaby". He later gets crushed by logs, and his last words are him apologizing to Zira for his failed attempt.
  • Genius Bonus: While not stated outright, as it is a kids film, people who recognize the symptoms will realize that Simba likely has post traumatic stress disorder as a result of what he went through in the first film. He clearly has trouble sleeping, can quickly go from kind and nice to a screaming fit in one second, and is endlessly fixated on what his father would have done, all clear symptoms of PTSD.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The crocodiles attacking Kiara and Kovu become a whole lot more serious after a toddler was killed by an alligator at Walt Disney World. To make things even worse, in an error on the DVD, the scene is labelled "Alligator Attack". It was always serious, but the death of the toddler sent it Up to Eleven.
    • The scene where Simba stands poised to pass judgement on Kovu, while all the animals assembled taunt and jeer at him resembles Aslan getting taunted and mocked at the Stone Table before the White Witch executes him in Edmund's place, with the exception that Kovu is not executed and Simba is not a bad guy, though he does come dangerously close. Seven years later, Disney would adopt the Chronicles of Narnia, which would show Aslan's execution in all its horror.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Simba's Pride and Mulan came out the same year (1998) and in each there's a moment where Kiara and Mulan are not being listened to, with the Plucky Comic Relief asking if she said something:
    Kiara: Will someone just listen to me?
    Timon: I'm sorry, I wasn't listening. Did you say something, princess?
    Mulan: (to Mushu) No one will listen.
    Mushu: I'm sorry, did you say something?
    Mulan: Mushu!
    • Liquid Snake is the one singing about how family is awesome in "We Are One". And like Mulan, both came out in 1998.
    • Rafiki and Mufasa arguing about whether or not Kovu and Kiara should be together turned out to be quite prophetic of internet Shipping wars.
    • A group of traitors who leave the main group because they fanatically supported the tyrant's attempt to overthrow the rightful king? That sounds identical to Red and his followers from War for the Planet of the Apes. Both villainous groups get the Remember the New Guy? treatment in their respective films. Simba's refusal to accept Kovu is also similar to Caesar's refusal to initially accept Nova.
    • Nathan Lane's character getting called "fatty fat fat!" while sharing a scene with Matthew Broderick. Bonus points for Ernie Sabella appearing in the deleted scenes of the Recursive Adaptation.
    • Despite the film's contested status, the story is solid enough that Disney would later have Kiara's brother Kion go through the exact same conflict as Kovu — from the fear of turning into Scar to getting a scar in the same place — in the third season of the midquel animated series. Apparently, despite being a Disney sequel, the plot was popular enough to use twice!
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Neve Campbell, despite having never done voice acting beforehand, or for a long time afterwards, manages to sound genuinely broken when Simba banishes Kovu. Her later plea to Simba to stop the fighting is also so soft and powerful that it also is widely acknowledged as one of the best parts of the film.
    • Matthew Broderick's tone during Kovu's trial is stone cold and cruel, especially immediately afterwards, in that it sounds incredibly effective, given that Broderick is mostly known for playing nice people or jerks at worst.
    • Suzanne Pleshette managed to portray Zira's barely controlled Tranquil Fury so well that she nearly won an Annie Award for her role. Her singing voice is just as well liked, as the song "My Lullaby" is widely acknowledged as one of the best songs of the sequel.
    • Jennifer Lien — perhaps best known as Kes on Star Trek: Voyager — is worth mentioning, as well; she delivers a deliciously sinister performance as adult Vitani. More's the pity, then, that she's not listed in the credits.
  • Ho Yay: All of the "Upendi" animals end up pairing off into couples towards the end of the song, including two male ostriches. This could be Animal Gender-Bender at play, however.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Zira COULD be this, if you believe her Freudian Excuse and pity her enough for it.
    • After all Simba went through in the first film, you can't blame him for being so overprotective in Simba's Pride, and in the end, he admits he was wrong.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Zira probably crosses this when she threatens to kill her own daughter for refusing to take part in the attack on the pridelanders. Well, if she didn't cross it before then. This is even an in-universe example, as all of her followers defect after this.
  • Narm:
    • Kovu somehow managing to sleep through the entirety of "My Lullaby", with his entire pride chanting of his eventual rise as Simba's killer and the new king of the Pridelands, complete with the lionesses leaping about him as he rests.
      • While the song itself isn't bad, one could argue Suzanne Pleshette's singing voice doesn't quite have the range to pull it off. Those used to certain foreign dubs of the song (Such as German or Finnish, for example) may find the English version to go into Dull Surprise territory.
    • The "Not One of Us" song sequence is a sad scene (or Narm itself), but the Hungarian dub managed to make it more ridiculous by the repeated unironic use of the word "galád" - which is an Inherently Funny Word meaning "wicked". It sucks out any seriousness of a scene that was meant to be dramatic.
    • When Kiara gives Simba a fierce Calling the Old Man Out, she runs into the den sobbing, except there are no tears coming out of Kiara's eyes. This could be an oversight screw up, but the fact that Kiara makes similar noises throughout the film when she is happy or in a laughing mood means that the lack of tears in that scene slightly ruins the emotional part of the scene.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Timon's mocking Lampshade Hanging of some of the other Narm-y aspects of the movie can make things more tolerable however. Even he knows the Rocky Roll Call has been dug into the ground.
    • "One of Us" shows a bunch of animals like gazelles, zebras and elephants shunning a lion and booing him out of their lands. It sounds (and is, for some) silly but yet it works.
      • During the song, Kovu passes through a river and briefly looks down at it and sees Scar looking back at him. Heavy-handed symbolism? Yes. But within the context of the scene and given that Kovu just got an identical slash over his eye like Scar and looks more like him than ever, it's still a punch to the feels.
    • In the climax Kiara asks Simba "what differences do you see?" between the Outsiders and their own pride, despite the differences being very clear due to the Outsiders all looking much more Obviously Evil than the Pride-Landers. This doesn't make it any less a touching moment. For a more convincing touch, as this pan happens, we see Vitani take on a softer, shocked expression as she comes to this epiphany.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Kovu the trained killer gets knocked out in one second upon actually joining a fight. To be fair, he was kicked (by Vitani, no less) headfirst into a rock, which knocked him out immediately.
    • Simba is widely mocked for coming across as an outright Jerkass to Kovu, being a borderline smothering parent to Kiara, and for being incredibly racist towards the Outsiders. In all three instances, he is portrayed as being in the wrong, but not entirely without reason. Kovu looks like Scar, which given that Simba is heavily implied to have post traumatic stress disorder, merely brings all that trauma back, so his strictness with him is likely due to all that trauma coming back to him, especially given that he has a nightmare about Scar right after Kovu joins his pride. Given that Kiara nearly got killed in a fire, and all the horrors Simba went through as a cub, him wanting to be certain of her safety is very understandable. And the Outsiders really don't like Simba either, only dropping the hatchet at the end of the film.
  • Older Than They Think: The song "He Lives In You" originated from the album Rhythm of the Pride Lands, which was released in 1995 and was also used in the stage musical of the original film.
  • Retroactive Recognition
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: This film makes it pretty clear that prejudice and racism can make even reasonable and nice people pretty horrific, best shown by Simba, who when interacting with the Outsiders, especially during Kovu's trial, goes into full fledged Hair-Trigger Temper mode. It also emphasizes that two competing groups are Not So Different and actually can mend the fences. This is definitely one of the few times before Zootopia that Disney has made Fantastic Racism an overt theme.
  • Squick: Unlike the first film, whenever Pumbaa cries, if you pay close attention, he also blows snot bubbles.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • Simba is portrayed as prejudiced for failing to bury the hatchet with the Outsiders for most of the film, but they don't show any interest in dropping their hatred of him either for most of it (with the exception of Kovu), so it's not really unreasonable for him not to want a group who hate him around him and his family.
    • Simba warns Zira that she and her allies know the rules for trying to overthrow Pride Rock. Zira remarks, "But the child does not!" She's referring to Kovu, and this is true. Whatever misgivings Zira did to Simba in the past, Kovu is completely innocent of, and thus Simba shouldn't outright reject him just because of his association with her.
    • Simba's mistrust of Kovu is also true because the circumstances are extremely suspicious. A fire just happens to break out in the area your daughter is hunting in and she is saved by the sole male of the enemy pride, who then asks to join your pride? A downright refusal might be a bit much, but still a reasonable person wouldn't think this is a coincidence. The ambush also makes sense in Simba's mind because he is all alone and led into an ambush. The audience and Kovu knew that Zira was lying when she congratulated him, but Simba certainly didn't.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Some people didn't realize that Vitani was a girl until she was an adult and had no mane.
  • Vindicated by History: When it first came out, the film had quite the polarizing release, and many fans disliked the characters and the plot. Now however, many people actually admit they like the film, with the characters being interesting, the plot being very good, and several interesting aspects being introduced, and find it was one of the better Disney direct-to-video-sequels.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Zira implies that she suspected Kovu for having morals in the past, so you would expect Zira to change her mind over Kovu being the one to fulfill her ambition to kill Simba and take over the Pride Lands. What does she do? She still has Kovu be her agent, and in just a few hours, he already says no to the idea.
    • In fact, one could argue that Nuka would have been better to send from the start. Simba may not have met Nuka or learned his name and even if he did know or guessed right - Nuka's unhealthy appearance would provide a better explanation for his departure from his pride. And with Nuka's desperate desire to please his mother, along with a "promise" to make him the heir if he succeeded...
    • Zira's stupidity strikes her again at the movie's end and is pretty much the reason what lead to her death. Her entire pride betrays her after she threatens to kill Vitani so she is all on her own now and clearly outnumbered by two male lions and about a large number of lionesses. However, Zira doesn't run away as far as she can in the opposite direction because it's clear to see she's outnumbered. Instead, she tries to kill Simba anyway, even if Kiara didn't jump in the way and they didn't fall into the gorge Zira was still clearly dead the minute she jumped at Simba because the whole pride would've immediately intervened before she could kill or even lay a scratch on the king and probably would have finished Zira off.
    • Simba decides to go talk with Kovu alone. He decides to only tell Kiara, and that is about it. He could have easily just told Kovu who Scar really was while staying in the Pride Lands, or if he was really adamant on taking Kovu to that particular place, at least brought a few lionesses. Instead, he decides to take just Kovu with him into a smokey area with no knowledge whatsoever. He almost gets killed in Zira's ambush as a result. Zira even lampshades how stupid it was for him to be so alone so far away from help.
    • When Kovu directly disobeys his mother not to attack Simba, Nuka decides to go after Simba on the logs. Case in point, Simba, despite being in much healthier shape, is having considerable trouble climbing the logs, and he noticeably hesitates before he tries to climb up them. When Simba accidentally kicks some down, Zira and Vitani keep a safe distance, indicating they know that as much as they hate him, they know going on the logs is far too dangerous. Nuka still chases him, and he gets crushed to death when the logs break under his weight.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: While many people believe the film is not as dark as the original, due to lacking the emotional scenes and genuine nightmares of the original, it is actually quite a fair bit darker. Case in point, Grey-and-Gray Morality is portrayed very clearly, the protagonist of the prior film really comes close to becoming an antagonist and is very heavily implied to have PTSD, which made him a very Overprotective Dad, Zira's Villain Song is an explicit song about turning her son into a killer and conquering an entire kingdom out of petty revenge, there is a clear Domestic Abuse setting, which while used for comedy, is depicted as having horrific consequences, and Kiara and Kovu's romance is blocked due to explicit prejudice and discrimination, along with Nuka and Zira dying in fairly horrific ways, the former doing so onscreen.
  • The Woobie: Kovu is forced to participate in an assassination plot he wants no part of, he only wants to be with Kiara, wants to show he is not Scar and is mistrusted by Simba simply because he resembles him, is betrayed by his mother when she sets him as a fall guy, loses his brother in said ambush. He later gets scarred by his mom, and is banished by Simba for something he did not do. All Kovu wanted was a friend.

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