Footnote to the Lion King essay:
In his commentary published with the Rhino set of Kimba DVDs, Fred Patten goes to great lengths to downplay or even discredit the evidence concerning the origins of Disney's Lion King. He repeatedly makes factual errors, however, so conclusions based on these errors don't hold water.
To start with, Mr. Patten says that Dr. Tezuka was commissioned to produce the Japanese manga adaptation of Disney's Bambi in 1951. He goes on to say that this was the inspiration for Tezuka's Jungle Emperor. However, Jungle Emperor was first published in 1950; Mr. Patten asserts that the publication date was 1952, which is wrong.
Mr. Patten also states that Kimba fans could not remember details about the show they loved, and as a result they made false claims about the Lion King. But videos of Kimba were available to fans, and highly prized by them, during the entire time Kimba was not officially available. And to suggest that fans of a show know nothing about what they're fans of sounds like ivory tower thinking one would hope that a "historian" would not engage in. Plus, to hear Mr. Patten make this assertion after hearing Fred Ladd, on the same disc, tell how the similarities of the Disney movie to Kimba were blatantly clear to him, well... the "befuddled fans" idea is not a valid argument.
Mr. Patten goes on to state that the "Kimba The Lion Prince" videos further confused the poor fans. His claim was that the new dubbing scripts for these Kimba videos were specifically designed to add in similarities to Disney's Lion King. The conclusion was drawn that these new videos caused Kimba fans to see similarities between Kimba and The Lion King that weren't originally there.
But, since the series of Kimba shows released to home video with the title "Kimba the Lion Prince" carry a copyright date of 1993, and The Lion King was not released until May 31, 1994, the scripts for the Kimba videos could not have been designed to resemble The Lion King. Also, this new version of Kimba was not released in the US until 1995, which was well after this debate started.
In fact, again contrary to Mr. Patten's statements, it wasn't until 1995 that these shows received the "Lion Prince" title, and then it was only on the video tape boxes. The connections between Kimba and Lion King had already become famous by then, and the home video company probably did seek to exploit this with their packaging and ads. But this has nothing to do with the content of the shows themselves. (The shows contained in UAV's "Lion Prince" boxes in fact retain the original title "Kimba the White Lion".) But even so, all references to the content of Kimba the White Lion in my "Lion King?" essay come from the original 1966 Kimba series; nothing is taken from anything in the new scripts written for the 1993 version.