Question: When I was very young either in kindergarten or 1st grade I used to watch a cartoon called Kimba, The White Lion. Do you remember it and can you tell me if there is anywhere I can get copies of that show? I'd love to share it with my children.
Televisionary: Ah, but I'm a sucker for Japanime questions.
Yes, I remember Kimba. I was weaned on imported cartoons, after all, and I'm the guy who recently led the column with Marine Boy. Believe me, if I could only sneak an audio file on this page, you'd hear me singing the Kimba theme song. (Then again, maybe I'd rather keep my job.)
And for once, I'm happy to say you can find Kimba episodes on tape. (I get so tired of having to tell rabid fans their beloved shows are unavailable in any legal form.) Online merchants such as Amazon.com carry Kimba tapes (and even a plush keychain!), but be warned: Some of the titles available are productions from the '80s version of the show rather than the original Kimba, which was syndicated in the U.S. in the '60s.
Of note to Kimba fans are the similarities between that show and Disney's The Lion King, a controversy that erupted soon after that smash-hit's release. TLK's creators insist they had no knowledge of Kimba when they developed their film, but Japanime fans and those involved with Kimba point to a number of striking similarities. Kimba is an orphan. Simba, TLK's hero, loses his father. Both characters struggle against an evil lion who usurps the throne of the father and both worlds feature a wise old baboon and evil hyenas.
The late Osamu Tezuka unveiled Kimba in a manga book entitled The Jungle Emperor before creating the animated series you know and love. Interestingly enough, though, the head of Tezuka Productions sides with Disney. Takayuki Matsutani, president of the company, recognizes the numerous similiarities but calls it a compliment rather than outright theft. "If the Disney Co. had gotten a hint from The Jungle Emperor, Osamu Tezuka, a founder of our company, would have been pleased," he told The Los Angeles Times. "And we feel the same way, rather than making a [legal] claim."
Hey, if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me... as long as they try to charge me for singing the theme song in the shower.