Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby Elton John » May 4th, 2016, 3:23 pm

I've heard people say this, and while there are things that point towards it being true there are logical inaccuracies that point towards the answer being 'no'. Also nobody has shown real genuine proof of this claim.

1: the original title of the film was 'king of the jungle' which is similar to to kimbas japanese name, jungle emporer leo. According to disney they changed the name after realizing that lions didn't really live in the jungle.

2: some of the original concept art shows a white lion. White lions really do exist in the wild but it is an odd coincidence.

3: simba and kimba. Not a letter swap as kimba is aboriginal for brushfire and simba is swahili for lion. But it is an odd coincidence.

4: matthew broderick originally thought tlk was a kimba adaptation. This might have been a strange misunderstanding.

5: i read somewhere that osamu tezuka wanted disney to do a 'kimba' adaptation what with him being a huge walt fanboy, having seen bambi over 100 times.

But none of this is definitive proof. If it was originally a kimba adaptation i can understand why there would be no credit given to the tezuka family from disney as disney has said that all similarities are coincidental and that the film was directly based on bambi the bible and shakespere. As far as I know, the tezuka family has not claimed that tlk was originaly supposed to be an adaptation. I remember reading that they didn't sue disney because they didn't have the money to.

None of this is definitive proof that tlk was originally a kimba adaptation that fell through because if it was wouldn't the tezuka family try to make such a claim? How does it benifit them to be so silent on the subject?
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby KopsTheTerminator » May 4th, 2016, 4:29 pm

Honestly I've heard critics of TLK bring up this 'controversy' over and over but I personally couldn't care less whether TLK took inspiration from Kimba. Kimba doesn't really interest me in the slightest.

People still love Avatar despite the film's concept being done to death by Hollywood. I don't see why TLK should be an exception. It's not so much about 'who can come up with the most original ideas' anymore because there's no such thing at this day and age. It's about who executes the idea the best.
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby Captain Cupcake » May 4th, 2016, 4:31 pm

Barring the (reaching) similarities found within the final product itself. There's never been much solid evidence of Disney's supposed attempt to make a Kimba adaptation before turning it into an original story. The closest thing is the image with a white lion, but it's merely a conceptual piece than a representation of any characters within the story. We can also throw the original title, "King of the Jungle," as a form of evidence out of the window, as that is just a world famous moniker for lions and predates Jungle Emperor/Kimba. Heck, Tezuka probably based his series' title off of it, just as Disney was going to do the same.

Kops wrote:Honestly I've heard critics of TLK bring up this 'controversy' over and over but I personally couldn't care less whether TLK took inspiration from Kimba. Kimba doesn't really interest me in the slightest.

People still love Avatar despite the film's concept being done to death by Hollywood. I don't see why TLK should be an exception. It's not so much about 'who can come up with the most original ideas' anymore because there's no such thing at this day and age. It's about who executes the idea the best.


I believe the topic at hand isn't merely about whether TLK was actually inspired by it or not, but whether Disney actually sought out to create an adaptation in the first place. Whenever this controversy is brought up, inevitably, someone comes in to bring up how not only did Disney "steal" from this anime, but that they wanted to make a movie based on it but couldn't secure the rights. The problem is, just as the rip off claim itself is flimsy, these claims about TLK's beginnings starting off as an intended adaptation are even flimsier, with no solid sources to back it up.
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby KopsTheTerminator » May 4th, 2016, 4:41 pm

I can see why people would think that, but unless there's evidence to back such bold claims up there can be no solid conclusions. Of course if this is true I'm not sure Disney would admit to it after this controversy arose, so I'm fairly sure we'll always be left in the dark about this.
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby TheLionPrince » May 4th, 2016, 6:30 pm

(We kind of covered most of this in the thread Interview with Roger Allers.) My answer is no, but that doesn't stop this Kimba fansite from making that accusation. Don Hahn's "The Lion King: A Memoir" and the book DisneyWar confirmed the genesis for The Lion King began with then-Disney studio chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg on an airplane trip to Europe with Roy E. Disney and Peter Schneider during the European promotional campaign for a Disney animated film. Don Hahn claims it was for Oliver & Company in 1988, but the latter claims it was during the European campaign for The Little Mermaid. The initial scripts for The Lion King (one of which that was titled King of the Beasts) written as far as back in 1990 felt very much different from what you except from the family-friendly mood of Kimba. In short, the claim that The Lion King began an adaptation of Kimba has been thrown around for many years, but never with been solid backing from official sources. People throw that claim because it's easier to throw it around without doing their own homework about it and they blindly want to believe it regardless of whether it's really true or not.

Elton John wrote:3: simba and kimba. Not a letter swap as kimba is aboriginal for brushfire and simba is swahili for lion. But it is an odd coincidence.


Kimba's real name is Leo from the Japanese manga and anime. The name, Kimba, came from NBC when they dubbed the anime series into English.

Elton John wrote:5: i read somewhere that osamu tezuka wanted disney to do a 'kimba' adaptation what with him being a huge walt fanboy, having seen bambi over 100 times.


While it is true Osamu Tezuka was a fan of Bambi and he met Walt himself at the World's Fair in 1964, it was Walt Disney who told Tezuka that he hoped someday he would make a project similar to Astro Boy, not Jungle Emperor Leo. (source, another source)

Elton John wrote:But none of this is definitive proof. If it was originally a kimba adaptation i can understand why there would be no credit given to the tezuka family from disney as disney has said that all similarities are coincidental and that the film was directly based on bambi the bible and shakespere. As far as I know, the tezuka family has not claimed that tlk was originaly supposed to be an adaptation. I remember reading that they didn't sue disney because they didn't have the money to.

None of this is definitive proof that tlk was originally a kimba adaptation that fell through because if it was wouldn't the tezuka family try to make such a claim? How does it benifit them to be so silent on the subject?


You must have misremembered. It wasn't that the Tezuka family didn't have enough money to sue, but they claim if Disney took ideas from Jungle Emperor Leo, Osamu Tezuka would have been pleased and decided not to sue:

The Baltimore Sun wrote:Yet not everyone who admires Mr. Tezuka is upset. Takayuki Matsutani, president of Tezuka Productions in Tokyo, notes the similarities and says they have been much discussed.

"If Disney took hints from 'The Jungle Emperor,' our founder, the late Osamu Tezuka, would be very pleased by it," he says. "Rather than filing a claim, we would be very happy to know that Disney people saw Tezuka's work. On the whole, we think 'Lion King' is absolutely different from 'Jungle Emperor' and is Disney's original work."


The Independent wrote:Forty-two professional cartoonists and 116 other fans of Osamu Tezuka, the country's most famous animator, have signed a letter of complaint to Disney. It claims that The Lion King borrows heavily without acknowledgement from Tezuka's Janguru Taitei (Jungle Emperor) of the 1950s.

But the company that Tezuka founded before his death in 1989 has said it has no plans to sue Disney. The cartoonist's daughter, Rumiko, said: 'My father would have been pleased if his work influenced Disney. So we wouldn't think about a lawsuit at all.'
Last edited by TheLionPrince on May 4th, 2016, 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby Elton John » May 4th, 2016, 6:35 pm

I knew that his japanese name was leo, I probably should have been more clear with that.

A lot of info I didn't know, thanks everyone :)
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby Amur_Tiger » May 4th, 2016, 7:48 pm

The case for being a Kimba rip-off falls apart pretty readily in my eyes.

The plot is pretty clearly Hamlet, so clearly the plot isn't a Kimba rip-off.

The characters... I mean they're lions sure but there's some pretty huge stylistic differences in the depictions, tlk ending up quite a bit closer to actual lion anatomy.

That basically leaves details, like the layout of scenes and images which for me wraps around to what the media is trying to do. They're both hand-drawn animations for kids featuring talking lions, you're going to get some animation techniques used to achieve similar goals that are going to look similar.
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby Squeely » May 5th, 2016, 12:08 am

The "couldn't get the rights" thing certainly doesn't hold up. If anything, Tezuka, and his company and family, would know how much Tezuka loved Disney and would have been onboard with the idea. After all, Tezuka pretty much owed everything to Bambi.

Anyway, I don't think The Lion King was ever intended as a Kimba adaptation. There are some pretty big coincidences in similar characters and motifs, but those are just that: coincidences. And as a fan of both, the two share far more differences than they do similarities anyway.
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby Gaze » May 7th, 2016, 9:56 am

I remember reading the Kimba fan site back when I was a kid and being pretty convinced that, yeah, it was most likely something fishy was going on. later reviews of the site still had me fairly convinced, but I honestly never could really bring myself to care fully. I love TLK and I really enjoyed Jungle Emperor Leo, and never felt like taking sides or getting very invested in the issue.

lots of good info in this thread, though, and now I'm thinkin it was all just a few bizarre coincidences!
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Re: Was 'the lion king' originally a kimba adaptation?

Postby Elton John » May 7th, 2016, 10:55 am

I remember going to that site a decade ago and thinking that it had much too heavy a slant, akin to going to fox news for an unbiased view of liberals/democrats.
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