A coming of age story about a young African lion cub who loses his father too early. An evil uncle with a scar over his left eye. A ragtag group of friends comprised of random animals. Sound familiar? Of course it should because I’m talking about the popular Japanese manga/anime series, Kimba the White Lion.
Don’t know what you thought I was going on about.
Created by legendary manga artist Osamu Tezuka in 1950 (and has since spawned a heap of anime shows and movies), Kimba tells a Hamlet-eqsue story about Kimba as he is forced to grow up when his father is killed. Throughout his journey, the lion is forced to learn about heavy things like the cycle of life, as well as facing off against his evil uncle, Claw, and his uncle’s hyena henchmen.
However, Kimba is aided in his long journey by his group of supportive animal friends, which includes a wise mandrill and a bird that serves as an adviser. Hell, even Kimba’s late father reappears to him as a cloud in order to remind him about responsibility and the like.
Sure it does take some inspiration from William Shakespeare but everyone does it. And besides, Kimba is a pretty original story that’s never been done before at the time or since.
So why am I bringing up this old manga/anime series now when it’s been many years since its debut? Well 2019 is an important anniversary for the series: it’s been thirty years since Tezuka-san’s passing.
Kimba is one of Tezuka-san’s best known works and it’s about time that a new generation be exposed to its beautiful animation, its exploration of philosophical themes like life and responsibility. Plus the main character is a lion and we’ve never seen that before!
There’s never been an experience quite like Kimba and its highly unlikely that there will be anything like it ever again be so don’t sleep on it any more.