THE NEW ADVENTURES OF KIMBA THE WHITE LION is a lively reworking of the classic Japanese animated TV series from 1965. The plot line begins with the birth of Kimba and chronicles his later struggle to take his rightful place as king of the jungle.
Panja, the great white lion of the African jungle, is killed by a hunter who captures Panja's pregnant wife, Eliza. Aboard the ship heading across the Atlantic, the captive Eliza gives birth and names her son Kimba. She tells Kimba all about his father and his destiny, which is to return to the
jungle to take his father's place. At her insistence, Kimba escapes from the cage and leaps overboard to swim back home.
After a harrowing journey, Kimba makes it back to the jungle only to find strong opposition from Jamar, a scar-faced lion who was Panja's rival, and Shaka, a black panther. Kimba meets a female lion cub, Raya, and befriends an antelope, T.K., and a parrot, Koko. He proves his worth to the other
animals of the jungle during a forest fire by diverting the water from a waterfall to extinguish the fire. In his final confrontation with Jamar, Kimba is aided by Old Dice, a rhinoceros who was close to Panja.
This 1998 home video feature was compiled from a 1989 Japanese animated TV series that was a new version of the popular 1965 series, "Kimba the White Lion" (shown in Japan as "Jungle Taitei"). It was produced by Tezuka Productions and created by pioneer Japanese animator/manga artist Osamu Tezuka
(who died the year this premiered on Japanese television). Three episodes of the 1989 series are credited on the tape, although the first six were reportedly compressed to make up this 60-minute feature. NEW ADVENTURES was dubbed and rescripted for US viewers, in an effort to appeal to small
children. The result has none of the original series' edge and serves anime fans poorly by cutting out huge chunks of the narrative.
Still, this incarnation of Kimba is a bit more fluidly animated than its fondly-remembered predecessor. The film also generates a good deal of suspense as Kimba faces long odds in his effort to fulfill his destiny. Since no move has been made to officially release the original Kimba TV series on
home video in the US (although the show's second Japanese season has appeared in a different form on video under the title "Leo the Lion"), NEW ADVENTURES does something to fill that void. The more Kimba programs that become available in the US, the clearer it becomes how extensively Tezuka's
creation influenced Disney's THE LION KING (1994).
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