The Original Kimba TV Series:
|This is the original Kimba, the real Kimba, the Kimba that went around the world and is still loved by millions of people everywhere.
The show was produced in Japan, where it was known as "Jungle Emperor". The story and characters were created by Dr. Osamu Tezuka, adapted from his own manga which was first published in 1950.
Jungle Emperor / Kimba the White Lion was made in 1965 as a joint production between Tezuka's Mushi Productions and NBC Enterprises. This is the series that has become famous around the world.
Kimba the White Lion is often described as leading the way for modern anime. It was the first anime made in color, beating Speed Racer to the screen by a year. In Kimba, Tezuka established the expressive character of anime, with a much wider spectrum of both paints and animation techniques than in his black-and-white series that had gone before, vividly depicting characters' emotions through color and a wide array of visual poses, animation tricks, and exaggerations. And in spite of the show's chronological age it is actually (still) far ahead of most modern anime in its use of the medium. Tezuka exploited the possibilities of animation with superb imagination and storytelling skills. The stylized characters can express their emotions, motives, and intentions in an instant. Color itself was used in wonderful and powerful ways.
The color aspect is worthy of in-depth scrutiny. In Kimba, even the landscapes have emotion thanks to the creative use of color. The sky, for example, is rarely just blue. In fact, it is very often red, as is the raging water of the river, creating a dramatic tension that is felt subliminally.
One of the most endearing features of the Kimba shows is that they are not all about dramatic tension. There are peaceful scenes, playful scenes, scenes in which characters sing out of pure happiness. Color underscores these as well. Once you consciously begin to see how everything is painted in this show, you can almost feel the joy coming direct from the original designers and painters, through the time and celluloid, just a vivid as if you were there.
This is why you owe it to yourself to see the restored visuals in the Kimba Ultra Edition DVD box--the cheapo DVDs that are around are amateurishly bad, with unforgivably ruined visuals and sound.
The music for the original was written by Isao Tomita, who has written music for a large number of movies and shows, and gained worldwide fame in the 1970s with his amazing analog synthesizer performances. Tomita's imaginative use of the range of sound possibilities of a full symphony orchestra added immensely to the wonder, magic, mystery, and power that you feel as you watch Kimba.
We were lucky when the show was dubbed into English. The American voice actors had performed in many radio and voiceover productions and they were wonderfully talented at characterization. Click on the "Show History" button for more information.
The American theme song was written by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye. You can find it with the "Theme Song" button to the left.
There are 52 episodes. All 52 episodes are available on DVD. Some VHS tapes are still available, too. You can order them using the links on this page.
|More about the original Kimba.|
|The Re-Made Kimba with a New Voice:|
Kimba The White Lion (Worldwide Syndication 1993-Present)
a.k.a. Kimba The Lion Prince (U.S. Home Video 1995)
1993 was a key year for Kimba. The legal battles over the show actually appeared (at the time) to be over. In Canada, Fumio Suzuki made plans to show Kimba on TV again, and had a new English soundtrack produced to go with the original, 1965 animation. These new scripts (by Alisa Lin) in some ways seem to be truer to the original Japanese scripts than the original US version of the show. This version of Kimba is currently being seen all over the world.|
However, the general feeling among older Kimba fans, who are used to the original dubbed version, is that they greatly miss the original voice actors and music. This version was the only version to appear on home video in Australia until the current DVD box appeared, and fans' reactions there ranged from horribly disappointed to enraged. And believe me, I fully understand their reactions. But it has to be said that people who don't know the original version are seeing it now on TV and liking it. There's something about the original stories and animation that can transcend the new bad voice acting, the insipid music tracks, and the shortened stories on the redubbed version. Yes, a couple of minutes have been cut out of each episode in this version. The cuts really hurt the climatic portion of the first episode (inexplicably re-titled "The Legend of the Claw"). Obviously, from the number of worldwide fans, the stories and heart of Kimba The White Lion survived the changes and it appears that this is the way Kimba is to be broadcast from now on.
There is a rumor that this version of Kimba The White Lion was illegally produced by Fumio Suzuki, who supposedly "bolted" from the legal wrangling for the rights to Kimba. The story goes that he took a commercial a set of Jungle Emperor laserdiscs and unilaterally decided he could produce a new English-dubbed version. But since Suzuki's version has been shown continuously on TV around the world for over 10 years now (just recently coming to the United States), the idea that it is an illegal production is ludicrous. The same source states that Suzuki renamed it "Kimba the Lion Prince"--which is wrong; it was a low-budget home video company that came up with that title. And that same source says Suzuki did all this after The Lion King was released--which is wrong also; Suzuki's version was done the year before the Lion King was released.
|The re-made series is not currently available in its entirety on home video.|
Here is a list of home video releases, including title changes applied to various episodes.