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Disney Gets Accused Of Stealing The Idea For ‘Lion King’ From ‘Kimba The White Lion’ And Some Frame-By-Frame Comparisons Are Convincing
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Animation, Entertainment3 years ago

Disney Gets Accused Of Stealing The Idea For ‘Lion King’ From ‘Kimba The White Lion’ And Some Frame-By-Frame Comparisons Are Convincing

YouTuber Alli Kat released a video with side by side comparisons between Disney’s The Lion King and Osamu Tezuka’s Kimba the White Lion, and it’s a perfect introduction to the 25-year-old controversy. Kimba was created in 1950 and animated in 1965. The Lion King, on the other hand, came out in 1994. However, immediately after Disney’s animated movie hit the screens, people accused the company of stealing the Japanese story.

Following The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast, (1991) and Aladdin (1992), The Lion King was presented as Disney’s first big animated feature that wasn’t a retelling of a fairytale or previous story. And while the popular Disney movie took a lot of inspiration from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, most critics and audiences still praised its originality. But not everyone.

Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Emperor) is a Japanese series created by Osamu Tezuka which was published in the Manga Shōnen magazine from November 1950 to April 1954. An anime based on the manga was broadcasted on TV from 1965 to 1967.

Although the two similar movies follow different screenplays, they share quite a few artistic similarities, and The Lion King contains numerous sequences that closely match Kimbas. Other similarities are thematically deeper and more pronounced, for example, both stories feature the theme of the circle of life.

“I can say there is absolutely no inspiration from Kimba,” animator Tom Sito told HuffPost Entertainment. Over the years, Sito has worked on such animated Disney movies as the before-mentioned Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and, of course, The Lion King. “I mean, the artists working on the film, if they grew up in the ’60s, they probably saw Kimba. I mean, I watched Kimba when I was a kid in the ’60s, and I think in the recesses of my memory, we’re aware of it but I don’t think anybody consciously thought, ‘Let’s rip off Kimba.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, The Lion King co-director Rob Minkoff said, “Frankly, I’m not familiar with [the TV series],” in reference to the controversy. He also stated that he and co-director Roger Allers first learned about the debate on a trip to Japan to promote the movie.

But that sounds a bit fishy, considering that Allers had previously lived in Tokyo and worked in animation there during the 1980s, the time when Tezuka had already become known as ‘Japan’s Walt Disney’ and a remake of Kimba was airing on prime time television.

Eventually, the studio’s denial of Kimba‘s inspiration only deepened suspicions among Tezuka’s supporters.

And that’s precisely why people are angry with Disney. Not the fact that The Lion King drew inspiration from other productions, rather, it’s that Disney has asserted that it was the studio’s first original animated film.

Georgetown law professor Madhavi Sunder said that the number of closely matching scenes comprises the “highest level of evidence of copying” and that if Tezuka productions had pursued legal action against Disney, the case would have been “very strong.”

Check out the video below to watch the similarities between the movies side-by-side

Image credits: Alli Kat

Even The Simpsons made fun of the whole situation

Image credits: The Simpsons

Here’s what people said about it

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What do you think ?
Tyler Duffy
Community Member
3 years ago

This is obviously a copy of the original, I absolutely loved Lion King as a child but the fact that I loved it doesn't prevent me from being objective. It's a copy.

Zori the degu
Community Member
3 years ago

I watched both movies. Kimba, being an older movie doesn't look as good as Lion King, but it's definitely the original. I was so confused when I watched it at first. I didn't even know its name until years later this debate arose. Lion King could easily be just an improved version.

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Alexandru Bucur
Community Member
3 years ago

So we're doing this again? I mean this was widely known in industry even at the time - Disney wanted to do a remake of Kimba but for some reason they were denied the rights. Problem was they were so confident they'd already started work. Opps. So instead they filed off the serial numbers, changed the initial of the name and the colour of the main character, changed the story and released it as "original work". And now that they own 90% of everything, they keep trying to impose their version of reality, because "of course" they'd never even heard of it, besides entire scenes being exactly the same.

Parmeisan
Community Member
3 years ago

Maybe it was widely known in industry, but it's the first I'm hearing of it. Maybe I was too young when Lion King came out. Either way, it doesn't hurt to inform a new generation of the facts.

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ChiveChilly
Community Member
3 years ago

The similarities are way too much to ignore. This is 100% a copy.

Anna Murashev
Community Member
3 years ago

Renard, Kimba the White Lion has many many movie adaptations made of it before LK and wether it is a movie or a series, blatant plagarism is blatant plagarism

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Tyler Duffy
Community Member
3 years ago

This is obviously a copy of the original, I absolutely loved Lion King as a child but the fact that I loved it doesn't prevent me from being objective. It's a copy.

Zori the degu
Community Member
3 years ago

I watched both movies. Kimba, being an older movie doesn't look as good as Lion King, but it's definitely the original. I was so confused when I watched it at first. I didn't even know its name until years later this debate arose. Lion King could easily be just an improved version.

Load More Replies...
Alexandru Bucur
Community Member
3 years ago

So we're doing this again? I mean this was widely known in industry even at the time - Disney wanted to do a remake of Kimba but for some reason they were denied the rights. Problem was they were so confident they'd already started work. Opps. So instead they filed off the serial numbers, changed the initial of the name and the colour of the main character, changed the story and released it as "original work". And now that they own 90% of everything, they keep trying to impose their version of reality, because "of course" they'd never even heard of it, besides entire scenes being exactly the same.

Parmeisan
Community Member
3 years ago

Maybe it was widely known in industry, but it's the first I'm hearing of it. Maybe I was too young when Lion King came out. Either way, it doesn't hurt to inform a new generation of the facts.

Load More Replies...
ChiveChilly
Community Member
3 years ago

The similarities are way too much to ignore. This is 100% a copy.

Anna Murashev
Community Member
3 years ago

Renard, Kimba the White Lion has many many movie adaptations made of it before LK and wether it is a movie or a series, blatant plagarism is blatant plagarism

Load More Replies...
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