Kimba, the white lion

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Kimba, the white lion
Original title ジ ャ ン グ ル 大帝
transcription Janguru Taitei
genre Action series , adventure
country JapanJapan Japan
author Osamu Tezuka
publishing company Gakudosha
magazine Manga Shons
First publication November 1950 - April 1954
expenditure 3
Anime television series
Country of production JapanJapan Japan
original language Japanese
Year (s) 1965-1966
Studio Mushi Production
length 25 minutes
Episodes 52
Director Eiichi Yamamoto
music Isao Tomita
First broadcast October 6, 1965 - September 28, 1966 on Fuji TV
first broadcast
January 4th - October 4th 1977 on ZDF
Anime television series
title Boubou, king of the beasts
Original title ジ ャ ン グ ル 大帝 進 め レ オ!
transcription Jungle Taitei Susume Leo!
Country of production JapanJapan Japan
original language Japanese
Year (s) 1966-1967
Studio Mushi Production
length 25 minutes
Episodes 26th
Director Shingo Araki
production Eiichi Yamamoto
music Isao Tomita
First broadcast Oct. 05, 1966 - March 29, 1967 on Fuji TV
first broadcast
July 6, 1991 on Pro 7
Anime television series
title Leo - The little lion king
Original title ジ ャ ン グ ル 大帝
transcription Jungle Taitei
Country of production JapanJapan Japan
original language Japanese
Year (s) 1989-1990
Studio Tezuka Productions
length 25 minutes
Episodes 52
Director Takashi Ui
production Takashi Yui
music Tomoyuki Asakawa
First broadcast October 12, 1989 - October 11, 1990 on TV Tokyo
first broadcast
August 9 - October 19, 2000 on Junior

Kimba, the white lion ( Japanese ジ ャ ン グ ル 大帝 , Janguru Taitei for Jungle Taitei , to German "Jungle Emperor") is an internationally successful manga series by the Japanese illustrator Osamu Tezuka , which was also implemented in the form of anime . The first implementation of the manga as a television series was also the first Japanese series in color. The three TV series comprised a total of 130 episodes in the period from 1965 to 1989.

The story is about a white lion who wants to rule the jungle after the death of his parents.


The white lion Caesar ( Panja ) is the king of an African jungle empire. When humans catch his mate, Caesar is killed trying to free her. On the long journey by ship that is supposed to take her to a zoo, Caesar's companion gives birth to his son Kimba ( Leo ) and tells him about his father. To succeed Caesar, Kimba jumps overboard and looks for the way to Africa. Soon after, the ship with Kimba’s mother sinks in a storm.

Finally Kimba discovers land together with the French rat Jaques and finds a human friend in the boy Kenichi. He lives with him for a while, always vacillating between his instincts as a wild animal and the friendship and generosity conveyed by Kenichi. Finally he returns to his father's country. There the white lion child has to find out that it is almost tamed and does not fit into the jungle. But Kimba wants to be just as strong and proud as his father and rule the jungle. However, the lion Bubu has now appropriated the kingdom. Not being a good ruler, Prince Kimba receives the animals' support to regain the throne.

Creation and publication of the manga

Kimba, the white lion appeared in Japan from November 1950 to April 1954 in the manga magazine Manga Shōnen published by Gakudosha . The individual chapters were later published in three edited volumes. A first new edition followed with Hobunsha , a second with Kodansha . In the 1960s and 1970s, Tezuka revised the story a few times and drew other series and remakes around Kimba. The final version appeared in 1977.

The 600-page series was Tezuka's first publication in a magazine and quickly became a success. The manga was heavily influenced by Disney's Bambi and is partly considered the Japanese answer to the film.

The series was published in German in 2001 by Carlsen Comics in three volumes. The publisher is now bringing out a new edition in 2 hardcover volumes. The second volume was published on August 28, 2012.


First series

Tezuka's anime studio Mushi Productions produced an anime series with 52 episodes based on the manga in 1965 , directed by Hayashi Shigeyuki. Artistic director was Tsuyoshi Matsumoto. The film adaptation of Jungle Taitei was the first color television series in Japan. This is due to the participation of the American company NBC , which did not want to broadcast a black and white series. NBC also had further influence on the production, so episodes 1 and 8 were produced in such a way that episodes 2 to 7 could be omitted in the American version. These deal with Kimba's time with Kenichi, which the American broadcaster did not want to show. NBC also ensured that Kimba would remain a young lion and not grow up completely like in the manga, and that the episodes, as in American series, had a complete story instead of the epic one of the manga. The series was executed as a limited animation with cel animation .

The anime aired on Fuji TV from October 6, 1965 to September 28, 1966 . From September 1966, it was broadcast in the USA. The series was broadcast on television in France, Spain, Latin America, Italy, Portugal and the Philippines.

Kimba, the white lion was first broadcast in German in 1977 on ZDF . The German version only consists of 39 episodes. The missing 13 episodes were later broadcast as part of the sequel series Boubou, King of the Beasts . The US version, in which some of the names of the Japanese original had been changed, served as the basis for the German synchronization. For example, “Kimba” means “Leo” in the Japanese version, “Caesar” is called “Panja” in the original. The anime was later repeated by Sat.1 and Junior .


role Japanese speaker ( seiyū ) German speaker
Kimba Yoshiko Ōta Oliver Grimm
Caesar Asao Koike Georg Corten
Narrator / Daniel Klaus Miedel


The music for the series was composed by Isao Tomita , also the opening title Jungle-Taitei ( ジ ャ ン グ ル 大帝 Janguru-Taitei ) and the closing song Leo no Uta ( レ オ の う た Reo no Uta ). The US version of the opening credits comes from Bill Giant.

Second series

In 1966 Mushi Productions produced a 26-episode sequel that takes place a few years after the first series. Kimba has already grown up here and has children of her own. The plot corresponds to the last part of the manga, which was not implemented in the first series at NBC's request. Directed by Hayashi Shigeyuki and Shingo Araki, the artistic director was Nobuharu Ito. Isao Tomita composed the music . The series aired from October 5, 1966 to March 29, 1967 by Fuji TV in Japan.

The second series was shown on French and Spanish television and also appeared in English and Italian.

23 episodes of this sequel were shown for the first time from 1991 to 1993 on ProSieben and Kabel eins as part (episodes 15–37) of the 37-part series Boubou, King of the Animals on German television. In episodes 1-14, the unsynchronized in the 70s episodes of the first series and a newly dubbed version of the 39th Kimba episode Jungle Lady with Hat were submitted. For legal reasons, the German names from the first series could not be retained, so Kimba was renamed Boubou.

In 1996 the series was released in another dubbed version completely on VHS and video CD under the title "The Lion King". All names were changed again, so Kimba or Boubou became "Leo" and all references to the previous series were removed.


role Japanese speaker ( seiyū )
Kimba Takashi Toyama
Rukio Eiko Masuyama
Purasu Goro Naya

Third series

In 1989 the Tezuka Productions studio produced a third series of 52 episodes directed by Rintaro and Takashi Ui . The character design was created by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. The series aired from October 12, 1989 to October 11, 1990 by TV Tokyo in Japan. The anime also focuses on the adult Kimba.

The series has been translated into English, Polish, French and Portuguese, among others. It ran on the pay TV channel Junior under the title Leo - Der kleine Löwenkönig on German television.


role Japanese speaker ( seiyū )
Leo Megumi Hayashibara (Young)
Shinnosuke Furumoto (Old)
Leah Sakiko Tamagawa
Kutta Hiroshi Masuoka


The music in the series was composed by Tomoyuki Asakawa . The song Savanna o Koete ( サ バ ン ナ を 越 え て Sabanna wo Koete ) by Ichiro Mizuki was used for the opening credits, the closing song is Yūbae ni Nare ( 夕 映 え に な れ ) by Tomoko Tokugai.


In 1966 the film Chōhen Jungle Taitei was released in Japanese cinemas. In the production of Mushi Productions led Eiichi Yamamoto Director.

With Jungle Emperor Leo - The Movie ( 劇場版 ジ ャ ン グ ル 大帝 Gekijōban Jungle Taitei ), another movie was released in 1997 for the series. Directed by Yoshio Takeuchi . It shows the birth and life of Kimba’s children Lune and Lukio. It was released in German on July 11, 2008 by OVA Films .

Reception and interpretation


The work presents a human-modeled society of animals that strives for justice. The animals unite against the destruction of their habitat by humans and want to be recognized as equal to humans. To this end, Kimba also ensures that the carnivores become vegetarians and the animals begin to farm. According to Fred Patten, the story conveys that problems that may seem simple to children become very complex for adults.

Classification in the work of Tezuka

The television series Kimba was the second anime series produced by Tezuka and also the last to be created under his personal direction. All of the series produced by Mushi Productions afterwards were created without him and Tezuka continued to devote himself to mangas and short films.

Reception and effect

Frederik L. Schodt describes the anime as a pioneering achievement. Manga and television series are known to this day in Japan and Kimba , together with Astro Boy, has the same significance for Tezuka's oeuvre that the characters Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck have for Disney. The music in the series, composed by Isao Tomita, has become part of classic children's music in Japan. Toys, figures and other merchandising items are also in stores long after the series aired.

The series had great success in the USA and merchandising items such as Kimba dolls were also sold . The second airing of the series was one of the main reasons for the establishment of the first anime fan club in the United States.

The lion king controversy

The film The Lion King by the Walt Disney Company is often referred to by those familiar with the series as a new version of Kimba . This is justified with a similar plot, the growing up of a lion child without a father, and many similarities in characters and names. On the part of Disney it was denied that those involved in the film knew of Tezuka's series. However, Matthew Broderick , spokesman for Simba in The Lion King , said he thought the film was a recast of Kimba .

Fred Patten notes that The Lion King contains many parallels to Kimba , but also a lot of original content. He sees the core of the discussion in the fact that Disney marketed the Lion King as the first self-invented story. However, regardless of possible borrowings from Kimba , this is not the case, since many older works already tell stories about an aristocratic court of animals in which the lion is king. Patten also stated that Disney should have known about the work because of the great success and importance of Kimbas and Tezukas in Japan, which Disney has repeatedly denied. But this is an indictment for Disney itself, as the studio would always claim to be well informed about the animation industry worldwide.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Patten, 2004. pp. 244–156
  2. Patten, 2004. p. 140
  3. ^ [1] , Carlsen publisher website for the new edition. Accessed May 3, 2012
  4. ^ Trish Ledoux and Doug Ranney: The Complete Anime Guide p. 2. Tiger Mountain Press, Issaquah (Washington), 1995.
  5. a b Paul Gravett: Manga - Sixty Years of Japanese Comics, p. 28. Egmont Manga and Anime, 2004.
  6. a b c d Trish Ledoux and Doug Ranney: The Complete Anime Guide p. 15 f. Tiger Mountain Press, Issaquah (Washington), 1995.
  7. Patten, 2004. p. 221
  8. German Film Institute - DIF / German Film Museum & Museum of Applied Arts (ed.) (2008): ga-netchû! The Manga Anime Syndrome p. 56. Henschel Verlag.
  9. German Film Institute - DIF / German Film Museum & Museum of Applied Arts (ed.) (2008): ga-netchû! The Manga Anime Syndrome p. 111. Henschel Verlag.
  10. Kimba, the white lion in the online movie database
  11. Frederik L. Schodt, Osamu Tezuka (preface): Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics p. 63. Kodansha America, 1983. (English)
  12. Frederik L. Schodt, Osamu Tezuka (preface): Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics p. 186 ff. Kodansha America, 1983. (English)
  13. Patten, 2004. p. 57
  14. Antonia Levi: Samurai from Outer Space - Understanding Japanese Animation p. 6 f. Carus Publishing, 1996.
  15. Patten, 2004, pp. 156-172


  • Fred Patten: Watching Anime, Reading Manga - 25 Years of Essays and Reviews . Stone Bridge Press, 2004.
  • Susanne Phillipps: Osamu Tezuka. Figures, themes and narrative structures in the entire Manga work . iudicum, Munich 2000.

Web links