Seriously guys...it's been twenty LOOONG years! Don't you think it's about time to...i don't know, get over it?? This controversy between Kimba the White Lion and Disney's The Lion King, has been giving fans of both franchises a headache for two whole decades! Enough already! And not only is this controversy still being bitched about today, but a new; yet similar controversy has reared its ugly head recently, this time; the target is Disney's new film Frozen.
I know i've discussed Disney's discretions on plagiarism before; with this exact controversy within that description. But i am willing to challenge this particular controversy that has so many people split, because i've only recently noticed just how petty it actually is. But i would like to elaborate that this isn't going to be an opinion biased statement, i know being a huge fan of The Lion King may damage my credibility in challenging this, but i assure you; i will handle it WITHOUT emotional involvement. I love both Kimba AND The Lion King, i grew up watching both of them. My mother loved the Kimba cartoon when she was a kid, so we used to rent the series on VHS from our local video store. And i never noticed any 'similarity' between that and TLK until the internet told me there apparently was, so clearly it isn't as OBVIOUS as people keep saying it is. Which is why i want to write about it now. If the evidence was too clear and undeniable for me to defend The Lion King, i would acknowledge that; i even have in the past. But now i'm having second thoughts about it, and i wish for you to hear me out; and then make the decision on your own.
KIMBA VS. THE LION KING
If you've been a part of either fandom for more than 15 minutes; no doubt you're sick and tired of this controversy by now. People scream shameful plagiarism at Disney's The Lion King for (apparently) copying Kimba the White Lion, an anime cartoon from the 1960's. What evidence do people have of this you ask? Pictures. Screenshots of Kimba compared to screenshots of TLK and saying that they look similar. And that's pretty much it. Some even get angry about the names of the protagonists' being similar, but that can be refuted very easily. Simba = lion in the Swahili language, many names of the TLK characters also come from Swahili terms i.e Nala = gift, Rafiki = friend, Sarabi = mirage, Pumbaa = simpleton...and so on. So i give Lion King a free pass on this one. Another comparison is saying how the characters look similar. The Kimba series had a character for nearly every African animal in existence, so of course they would look similar, but similar doesn't mean they're the same.
Now for the screenshot comparisons:
First off is a shot of Panja (Kimba's father) standing on a rock; in a similar way that Mufasa stood on Pride Rock. Ok. Lions stand on rocks, so what? In the wild they do it all the time...it's not really a secret. Lions use rocks as vantage points for spotting prey and rivals, some even live around large rocks for this reason. Also, both Kimba and TLK are set in the exact same continent, Africa. Both are in the same natural setting, so of course Lion King will utilize the same natural landscape as Kimba, why wouldn't they? You can't call copyright on a natural environment. I also sincerely doubt the 'Circle of Life' sequence would have been nearly as epic or dramatic if it took place on a grassy knoll or a termite mound. I just don't see a way around this one, so i give this a free pass too.
Next is a shot of Kimba hanging off a cliff while an evil lion looks down on him in almost the same way Scar peered down on Mufasa/Simba later in the movie. Again, natural setting guys! It's really difficult to create a scene of tension and urgency (without utilzing other animals or humans) in an all natural environment. Rocks really are the only other way, why else do you think the Lion King movies used rocks and cliffs so much in their death scenes? Kimba had a whole series to use every possible danger scenario in the landscape. It wouldn't matter what Disney used for the movie, it would always be traceable to some point in the Kimba series, i think people are really nitpicking here and really looking hard to find traces of this 'evidence' they claim there's so much of.
Then there's the shot that everyone says is the undeniable evidence of this controversy...the ghost of their dead parent appearing before the protagonists in the clouds. Uhhh, remember when The Land Before Time did the exact same thing several years BEFORE The Lion King did? No?...ok. Also, The Lion King is based heavily on Hamlet; Disney acknowledges this all the time. This happened in Hamlet. So, it's not like Kimba was the first to come up with that idea. Mufasa's ghost was also reminiscent of the 'burning bush' from the story of Moses, another story Disney took inspiration from for TLK.
And as far as the story goes, Kimba and The Lion King are almost NOTHING alike. In fact, i believe Disney took more from The Land Before Time than Kimba. Think about it: An adventurous youngster is born to a loving family, he has a young light colored female friend, they both get themselves into terrible danger only to be saved by protagonist's parent, his beloved parent gets brutally murdered, he cries over dead parent's body in a very emotional scene, he then must wander a deserted wasteland alone, until he meets some friends: a fat one that eats a lot (Pumbaa vs. Spike), and a small talkative one that rides on fat one's back (Timon vs. Ducky). After some soul searching; the dead parent appears to him in the clouds and ultimately guides him home, after overcoming some obstacles in his way; and with the help of his friends, he finally makes it home and lives happily ever after. Sounds familiar doesn't it?
Now lets take a quick look at Kimba's story in comparison shall we?
"In Africa during the mid-20th century, as mankind encroaches, the white lion Panja gives the jungle's wild animals a safe haven. However, he angers nearby villagers by stealing their cattle and their food to feed the jungle carnivores. A hunter Viper Snakely is called in to stop these raids. He avoids directly attacking Panja. Instead, he records the sounds of Panja and uses them to trap his mate, Eliza, who then becomes bait in a trap for Panja. Panja is killed for his hide, and the pregnant Eliza is put on a ship, destined for a zoo.
Kimba is born on the boat. Eliza teaches him his father's ideals. As a huge tropical storm nears, she urges her cub out through the bars of her cage. The storm wrecks the boat, and he flounders in the ocean. The fish help him learn to swim. As he begins to despair, the stars in the sky form the face of his mother, who encourages him. Guided by butterflies he makes it to land. Kimba lands far from his ancestral home and is found and cared for by some people. He learns the advantages of human culture, and decides that when he returns to his wild home he will bring culture to the jungle and stand for peace like his father.
The show follows Kimba's life after he returns to the wild, still a young cub, and how he learns and grows in the next year. Kimba soon learns that only communication and mutual understanding between animals and humans will bring true peace."
Yeah...how is this similar to TLK again? Lion King doesn't have humans in their world, at all. I don't think humans even exist in their universe, these two stories sound NOTHING a like! I know Disney was originally at some point going to do a full length picture based solely on the cartoon, this was when The Lion King was called King of the Jungle. But they lost the rights to it for some reason, and Disney had to start the project from scratch. So I'm sure Kimba was the spark for the Lion King, but at least for the most part; i think Disney kept away from it as best they could.
BAMBI VS. KIMBA AND THE LION KING
You're probably wondering where Bambi fits in all of this. He plays a bigger role here than people realise, fact is; neither TLK or Kimba would exist (or at least not as we know them) if it weren't for Bambi. He is the original Kimba and Simba. People keep sympathizing with Kimba; saying how shameful it was of Disney to 'rip him off' like that and how original Kimba is compared to Lion King. Well, he's not. Kimba was based on Bambi, they even have similar features if you look closely enough. Big eyes, large head, same shaped cheek fur, black ear tips etc. And their stories are relatively similar too, at least more closely similar than The Lion King. Osamu Tezuka was a huge fan of Disney's Bambi, and even got the license to adapt it into a Japanese Manga which was published in 1951. So the evidence here stacks up pretty well. And it is well acknowledged that The Lion King was based on Bambi; as well other stories. It was described as Bambi in Africa, with Hamlet thrown in; or 'Bamblet' as they joked. So that's a 'no brainer'.
THE LION KING VS. FROZEN
Ok, this is the new controversy that many people are talking about. to the point where i think Frozen is going to be treated exactly the same way The Lion King was, which is so PAINFULLY ironic! The idea is that Frozen copied the story structure and other elements from TLK. for example:
Both movies start with an ominous chant song to set the tone and setting of the film, the movie then presents a happy royal family, the parent/s die tragically leaving protagonist/s alone, hero runs away out of fear and bears the guilt for their loved ones, they then sing a song about giving up on the worries of life and moving on, their homeland becomes a barren wasteland, there is a usurper of the throne who deceives the royals into trusting him, the usurper convinces the protagonist for being responsible for the death of their loved one, the bad guy is dealt with (Scar is brutally eaten by his henchmen, while Hans is...punched in the face...way to go Disney, very epic?) and then everything magically returns to normal. The end.
I'll admit, the fact that Frozen was compared to The Lion King but NOT in a way that made Frozen look good; made me pretty happy to begin with. I really hate Frozen, so this was pretty welcome news to me; even if i didn't notice it until someone pointed it out. But much like the Kimba controversy, i got sick of it really fast. Is it true? Probably. Disney recycle ideas all the time, and the fact that The Lion King is one of their highest grossing franchises of all time, why wouldn't they try and milk it some more? But i don't get why it's only The Lion King they're comparing Frozen to though. I can compare Frozen to HEAPS of other films! To me, Frozen is pretty much: Tangled, Wicked, The Snow Queen AND The Lion King. But mostly, it's Tangled.
Seriously, there's a princess locked away in a castle/tower (even though they can physically leave at anytime), they are sheltered from the world, they're both clumsy and awkward; but can sing despite never having any lessons. A guy comes into the picture, he is then pressured into going on an adventure with ditzy girl because he needs something from her. They don't like each other, they bicker and argue but you KNOW they'll fall in love within the set time limit, they do, but something stops them from being together and they mope, but then the guy goes to find the one he loves, blah blah blah you know it already.
So it seems the movie is split in two. Elsa's story arch is The Lion King, while Anna's is Tangled.
But it's not just Tangled and those other movies, it also has elements taken from other animated films like: Rise of the Guardians, Lilo & Stitch, Ice Age and even Toy Story.
- Olaf is basically just Sid from Ice Age and Mr. Potato-head from Toy Story mixed together.
- Elsa is Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, Nani from Lilo & Stitch and the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio.
- Anna is just Rapunzel from Tangled in a red wig and freckles.
- Kristoff is just Eugene from Tangled; but fatter, blonde and less charismatic
- And finally Sven is just Bullseye from Toy Story but as a reindeer. Honestly, i don't think they even tried there.
So yeah, the comparisons are numerous and hard to ignore, but it doesn't surprise me in the slightest. It was clearly a smart move for Disney, since it raked in so much money for the company; and gave it the comeback audience it was hoping for.
Look, i understand if plagiarism is something you're highly against. I really do understand that, but all i ask is that you actually look into the research yourself and develop your own opinion. Don't just blindly accept what you hear from other people, and definitely not from the internet. You could read this and say that I'm full of shit, and that's fine. I just think people should judge movies as they are, rather than what films they may or may not resemble. Unless the plagiarism is so shamefully distracting and obvious of course, but even those movies can be enjoyable sometimes. As much as it distracts me how similar Disney's Dinosaur is to The Land Before Time, i can still enjoy both movies for what they are. You can hate a movie for being too boring or unlikeable, but hating on something JUST because it slightly resembles something else; is pretty stupid. And you'll find yourself not liking many movies at all, and you definitely won't like many films from Disney! Just please don't let it bother you so much. And please stop complaing about something that can't be undone anyway!
Simba, Bambi and Olaf (c) Disney
Kimba (c) Osamu Tezuka