PlotIn during the mid-20th century, as mankind encroaches, the Panja (Caesar in the English dub) gives the jungle's a safe haven. However, he angers nearby villagers by stealing their cattle and their food to feed the jungle carnivores (in the English dub he merely frees the cattle). A , Ham Egg (Viper Snakely in the English dub), is called in to stop these raids. He avoids directly attacking Panja. Instead, he records the sounds of Panja and uses them to trap his pregnant mate, Eliza, who then becomes bait in a trap for Panja. Panja is killed for his hide (but not before asking Eliza to name their child Kimba), and Eliza is put on a ship, destined for a . Kimba (Leo in Japanese) is born on the ship. Eliza teaches him his father's ideals. As a huge tropical storm nears, she urges her cub out through the bars of her cage. The storm wrecks the ship and Kimba starts to drown in the ocean. The fish help him learn to swim. As he begins to despair, the stars in the sky form the face of his mother, who encourages him. Guided by , he makes it to land. Kimba lands far from his ancestral home and is found and cared for by some people. He learns the advantages of human culture, and decides that when he returns to his wild home he will bring culture to the jungle and stand for peace like his father. The show follows Kimba's life after he returns to the wild, still a young cub, and how he learns and grows in the next year. Kimba soon learns that only communication and mutual understanding between animals and humans will bring true peace.
MangaIn 1950, the original ''Jungle Emperor'' story started in ''Manga Shōnen'' (Comic Boy) magazine. The first manga volume has been released bilingual (Japanese-English) as Jungle Emperor Leo – Leo Edition.
1965 seriesThe animated series was first broadcast in Japan on from October 6, 1965 to September 28, 1966. It was the first color TV anime series. Other than the original broadcast in Japan in 1965, the series has been broadcast in many countries around the world. In Asia, it was broadcast in on , and SCTV (1995–96); in on Channel 1; in the on ABC 5; in on Saudi TV and in on ART TV. In Europe, it was broadcast in on RTVUSK; in on ATV Split/ TV Jadran, Nezavisna televizija (NeT), TV Nova Pula and Gradska TV Zadar; in Germany 1977 in ZDF; in France on ORTF (1972) and on ; in Italy first in syndication from 1977 and lately on (in 1999 and 2003 with the title ''Una giungla di avventure per Kimba'' iterally "a jungle of adventures for Kimba" and Boing (2010) and in Spain on . In North America, it was broadcast in Canada on ; in on . It was broadcast, with English-dubbed voices, in the United States and other English-speaking markets, beginning on September 11, 1966. It was first commissioned for U.S. development by NBC Enterprises (the original version, now part of ) and adapted by . In 2005 the original 1965 dub of ''Kimba the White Lion'' was released as an 11-disc DVD set by Madman Anime of Australia and Right Stuf International of the U.S. It was a best seller. The series was re-dubbed into English in 1993, featuring the voice of Yvonne Murray as Kimba and having a new opening, with an all new soundtrack composed by Paul J. Zaza. In 2012 Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker releases "Kimba the White Lion: The Complete Series" 10 DVD box set of the original 1965 series. It was broadcast several times in the United States: on (1965–67; dub), on (1965–77, re-runs until 1980; dub), on (1965–77; dub; 1993, re-runs until 1995; dub), on Kids & Teens TV (1993 re-runs; 2005–2009) and on Inspiration Life TV (1993 re-runs; 2005–2009). In Oceania, it was broadcast in Australia on Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC, 31 Brisbane and Access 31 and on the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, NZBC in New Zealand.
1966 filmThe theatrical version of ''Jungle Emperor'', directed by Eiichi Yamamoto, was released in Japan on July 31, 1966.
1966 seriesA sequel series, ''Leo the Lion (anime), Jungle Taitei: Susume Leo!'' (''Jungle Emperor: Onward, Leo!'') first aired in Japan on Fuji Television from October 5, 1966 to March 29, 1968, featuring Leo (Kimba) as an adult. It aired in the United States in 1984 as ''Leo the Lion'' on Christian Broadcasting Network, CBN Cable Network.
1989 seriesIn 1989, Dr. Osamu Tezuka died at age 60 on February 9. A remake of ''Jungle Emperor'', ''The New Adventures of Kimba The White Lion'' was broadcast in Japan from October 12, 1989 to October 11, 1990. This series bears little resemblance to the original manga or the first TV series, as the plot is extremely different and the characters have been completely reworked and changed. Several heavily edited episodes of the series were dubbed into English and released directly to video in 1998 under the name: ''The New Adventures of Kimba the White Lion'', by Geneon Universal Entertainment, Pioneer Family Entertainment. It features the voice of Brad Swaile as Kimba.
1991 OVA filmIn 1991, an original video animation film was created, using the Symphonic Poem for its audio.
1997 filmA new ''Jungle Taitei'' theatrical film, ''Jungle Emperor Leo'', was released in Japan on August 1, 1997. Directed by Hiro Takeuchi, it is based on the second half of Dr. Tezuka's original manga story. It is not entirely faithful however. It was dubbed into English and released on DVD in 2003 under the name ''Jungle Emperor Leo'' by Anime Works. The film was later released on Blu-ray and DVD by Discotek. In 1997 Julian Grant the head of the Fant-Asia film festival received a Cease-and-Desist from the Disney company to attempt to keep the ''Jungle Emperor Leo'' film from showing at the festival. Despite the order, the film screened to a full house. However, this is the last North American screening the film would ever receive. The film had a distribution income of () at the Japanese box office in 1997.
2000 short filmA 9-minute anime short was released in Japan on March 18, 2000 titled ''Jungle Emperor Leo: Hon-o-ji''. It was shown at a theater at Tezuka Osamu World in Kyoto.
2009 television filmA television film, , aired in Japan on September 5, 2009 with a completely new story, different from both the previous TV shows and the original manga. The setting was an artificially created jungle in 20XX Earth. In this movie, Panja and his mate, Eliza, are still alive; Coco is an unspecified female bird; and Sylvester, the black panther, serves as an antagonist until he changes his ways when a young boy mends his leg. In 2019, the Japan Foundation produced an English dub of the film which was released on ''RetroCrush'' in July 2020. An earlier English dub of the film premiered on Cartoon Network in the Philippines on November 19, 2010.
Music videoThe music video for the song "A Boy" by Leo Ieiri, which has an animated part made by , features an anime version of the singer (based on Kimba and modeled after the singer) which meets other characters from the ''Kimba the White Lion'' series.
Other mediaJungle Emperor (ジャングル大帝 Jungle Taitei) is a cancelled 1990 eight-bit platform action game that was in development by Taito for the Famicom, Nintendo Entertainment System, based on the popular manga/anime of the same name (aka Kimba the White Lion) by Osamu Tezuka. Not much is known about this game, except that it was going to be released in November 1990, but it was cancelled for unknown reasons. No prototypes of the game are hasn't not release yet. There was planned for the unreleased Nintendo 64. Jungle Emperor/Kimba the White Lion possibles N64 game title under Emperor of the Jungle is a canceled N64 video game that was made for the 64DD, magnetic disk drive peripheral. The only known evidence of its existence is a short video clip from Space World. It was to be an action-adventure game with vast exploration, but no information regarding the plot of the game currently exists. The game had its first on-video appearance at the 1996 Tokyo Shoshinkai Show, after which the game was announced to be released in spring 1999. A little bit later only a few scenes from the game were shown at the Nintendo Space World. Later that year in an interview made on 1998's E3, Mr. Miyamoto mentioned that the project is in a bit of trouble and may take longer to complete than originally expected, due to inexperience. It was unfortunately soon followed by the cancellation. ''Jungle Emperor'' characters have cameos in the Game Boy Advance, GBA game ''Astro Boy: Omega Factor'', as well as a chapter from the ''Black Jack (manga), Black Jack'' manga and Naoki Urasawa's Pluto. In the sixth episode of Season 2 of the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox TV series ''Fringe (TV series), Fringe'', Earthling (Fringe), Earthling, Kimba had a cameo in one of the episodes.
MusicThe series uses several themes. The 1966 Japanese version uses an opening theme and a closing theme. The opening is called . The end song is . For the Japanese remake, the opening song is sung by Ichiro Mizuki, and the ending is sung by Tomoko Tokugai. The American theme was written by Bernie Baum, Bill Giant and Florence Kaye and sung by Bill Giant. The opening song for the sequel series is "Go Ahead Onward Leo!" written by Isao Tomita and sung by Mieko Hirota. The US-English theme song known as "Leo the Lion" was written by Mark Boccaccio and Susan Brunet of Miami, Florida's SONIC-Sound International Corporation in 1984. ''Jungle Emperor Symphonic Poem'' (by Isao Tomita) was released on LP in 1966.
''The Lion King'' controversyAs a number of journalists, scholars, and fans watched The Walt Disney Company, Disney's animated feature film ''The Lion King'', they noticed characters, plotlines, sequences and events in the Story credit, story resembling those of ''Kimba''. Both share a basic story about a wise lion king being killed, his young son being driven away, and returning only to find his kingdom being ruled by an evil lion with a scarred left eye. Alleged similarities in the characters include the protagonist lion cubs, Kimba and Simba; lioness cubs, Lyra and Nala; wise old mandrill mentors, Dan'l and Rafiki; evil lion villains with scarred left eyes, Claw and Scar; the villainous lion's bad but comedic hyena henchman (Tom and Tab in ''Kimba;'' Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed in ''The Lion King''); pompous but friendly confidante birds, Pauley Cracker and Zazu (though Pauley Craker is a parrot, while Zazu is an African red-billed hornbill). Similarities in visual sequences have also been noted, most comprehensively by animation historian Fred Patten who published an essay on the subject, including: opening title sequences in which a lion king stands on a jutting cliff as birds fly over the savannah, with a panorama of assembled African animals; a stampede in which the protagonist tries but fails to save an important character who clings to a tree for dear life (Bucky Deer in ''Kimba;'' Mufasa in ''The Lion King''), then flees, believing themself unfit to rule; sequences in which the protagonist's dead parents appear to them in the sky (this occurs repeatedly in ''Kimba'', and in one pivotal sequence in ''The Lion King''); fight sequences in which the protagonist flings burning coals or hot sand into the evil lion's eye; sequences in which a wise mandrill convinces the protagonist to face their responsibilities and claim their throne. Upon the release of ''The Lion King'' in Japan, multiple Japanese cartoonists including Machiko Satonaka signed a letter urging The Walt Disney Company to acknowledge due credit to ''Jungle Emperor Leo'' in the making of ''The Lion King''. 488 Japanese cartoonists and animators signed the petition, which drew a protest in Japan, where Tezuka and ''Kimba'' are cultural icons. ''The Lion King'' director Roger Allers claimed he remained unfamiliar with ''Kimba'' throughout production until his film was nearly completed. Co-director Rob Minkoff also said he was unfamiliar with ''Kimba''. Minkoff deflected criticism of similarities between the characters, stating it was "not unusual to have characters like a baboon, a bird, or hyenas" in films set in Africa. , expressed incredulity that Disney's people could remain ignorant. Ladd stated there was at least one Disney animator, Shawn Keller, remembered by his colleagues as being an avid ''Kimba'' fan and being quite vociferous about Disney's conduct during production. Ladd acknowledged that the Swahili word for lion is ''simba'', and acknowledged that this could account for the similarly-named protagonists; in fact, according to Ladd, an NBC executive changed the protagonist's name from Simba to Kimba because he found Simba "too common". Aside from the name, however, Ladd asserted that "The parallels are stunning." Matthew Broderick has said that when he was hired as the voice of adult Simba in ''The Lion King'', he presumed the project was related to ''Kimba the White Lion''. He explained that he "thought he meant Kimba, who was a white lion in a cartoon when I was a little kid, so I kept telling everybody I was going to play Kimba. I didn't really know anything about it, but I didn't really care." Animators Tom Sito and Mark Kausler, who both have story credits, have admitted to watching ''Kimba'', and assumed many of their colleagues had too, especially if they grew up in the 1960s. The Tezuka–Disney connection extends back decades before the movie; Tezuka met Walt Disney at the 1964 New York World's Fair, and Disney said he hoped to "make something just like" Tezuka's ''Astro Boy''. Tezuka's family and have never pursued litigation against The Walt Disney Company for copyright infringement. Yoshihiro Shimizu, the company's director, stated that many of their employees saw resemblances between the two properties, but "any similarities in their plots are based in the facts of nature and therefore are two different works". In his book, Makoto Tezuka states that the controversy started in America and people inflated the issue because of their opposition to Disney's business practices. He also states that he refuses to participate in this denunciation of Disney and that he does not want to see his father's works being turned into a weapon for those people. Tezuka acknowledges that ''Kimba'' and ''The Lion King'' are two different stories with different themes, and if the latter was about a white lion who spoke with humans, then he would not be able to pardon the similarities.
ReceptionIn 1967, the ''Jungle Emperor'' theatrical feature was awarded the St. Mark's Silver Lion Award at the 19th Venice Film Festival, Venice International Film Festival.
Commercial useIn 1978 the adult Leo character, designed by Tezuka himself, became the mascot for the Seibu Lions (current Saitama Seibu Lions) baseball team, along with his sister Lina who was created for the baseball team. The was used on the team baseball cap and helmet for decades Leo also appeared on the players' uniform for the 2014 season, designed by . The Seibu Holdings, Seibu Conglomerate (company), conglomerate-owned team's mascot became highly visible throughout Japan on baseball caps, shirts, etc., as well as being heavily used in advertisement especially in the Tokyo area. Frederick L. Schodt makes the argument that by the 1980s, Leo the lion could hardly escape the notice of foreign visitors to the city. Image from the ''Jungle Emperor'' manga appears on shirts made by Lacoste in cooperation with
See also*List of Osamu Tezuka anime *List of Osamu Tezuka manga *Osamu Tezuka's Star System * Atlantis: The Lost Empire#Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water controversy, ''Atlantis: The Lost Empire'' and ''Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water'' controversy, a similar plagiarism controversy
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