On July 9th, 2013, the complete, 52-episode run of the classic anime series, Kimba the White Lion (1965-66), hits stores in a 10-DVD collector’s edition from Nozomi Entertainment. Repackaged and remastered since the release of Nozomi’s previous, Ultra Box Set release, this complete series collection features the entire run of the English-language version of Kimba, the first Japanese animated series ever to air in color. What’s more, the series comes packaged in a beautiful, chipboard collectible box featuring artwork from the series!
Kimba (or Leo as he is known in the Japanese version, Jungle Emperor) was the brainchild of none other than Osamu Tezuka, the God of manga/creator of Astro Boy, and the series was adapted for television from his 1950 manga, Jungle Emperor, by Tezuka’s own studio, Mushi Production. As such, this is as true an adaptation of the artist’s vision as is possible, and to that end, the episodes in this set are presented in order according to the storyline originally conceived by Tezuka!
First-time, modern viewers of the series will be struck by the familarity of certain narrative elements in Kimba, not the least of which is the death of a noble lion in the first episode, his son’s return to jungle society from exile, and his son’s battle for control of the jungle against an evil lion with an army of hyenas at his command. For indeed, Kimba inspired The Lion King (note also the similarity between “Kimba” and “Simba,” right?). That said, Disney took this story in a very different direction from its original, which is to be expected really given the vastly different running times of the two texts: The Lion King is a feature film and Kimba is a series of 52, half-hour episodes.
Instead of weaving a distinctly Shakespearean tale of betrayal and revenge as The Lion King later did, Kimba follows the growth of Prince Kimba into a capable ruler, seeking peaceful coexistence among all animals and later between animals and mankind. In this, each episode finds Kimba struggling to do the right thing in the face of adversity and act as morally objectively in the interest of all his subjects as possible, even when it means his kingdom must take the most difficult of paths that lay before them. This includes finding Kimba allegorically forced to convince all jungle carnivores to change their diets from meat to vegetables in order to improve the lives of his herbivore friends. In this, Kimba is an exceptional program for children to watch as it promotes social consciousness through Kimba’s actions, and ultimately stresses the humanitarian lessons inherent in his decisions by depicting the gradual improvement of the society in which the jungle animals persist. To this end, the series features an actual narrative arc in which some story elements carry over from episode to the next, rather than resetting at the end of each episode. However, each episode does have its own distinct focus and therefore the series requires only a marginal amount of narrative retention across episodes, making it easier on young viewers.
In short, when you purchase Kimba the White Lion: Complete Series you’re not only investing in a historically-significant work of television animation, but a valuable educational tool for your children as well.