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A wonderful Japanese anime series created and produced by Osamu Tezuka. English versions of the classic show originally ran in the U.S. in 1966 and 1967, and were syndicated by NBC through 1978.

Kimba's 52 half-hour color episodes feature a young lion who, after his parents are killed, courageously leads his group of jungle animal friends. He works not only for their survival, but struggles to keep everyone living in harmony. In Tezuka's vision, the story was a parable for civilization.

The show has characters with depth and warmth. Some of Kimba's friends are Dan'l Baboon, Pauly Cracker (a parrot), and Bucky (a deer). The stories are intelligent, exciting, funny, and charming. Although no one at Disney will admit to it, they essentially borrowed the overall Kimba story to create The Lion King. (They only changed the lead character's name by one letter!)

DO NOT buy the New Adventures of Kimba episodes, which are badly cut and have different voices, different dialogue, and different music. The original 60s dubbed versions are far superior.

The series has the greatest theme song! It was one of the things that helped me remember my beloved Kimba fondly between the time its syndication ended and 2000, when the original episodes finally became available on VHS.

Who's the king of deepest darkest Africa?
Who's the one who brought the jungle fame?
Who's the king of animals in Africa?
Kimba the white lion is his name!

When you get in trouble and you're in a fight
Who's the one who just won't turn and run?
Who believes in doing good and doing right?
Kimba the White Lion is the one!

I was just a young thing when the syndicated episodes of Kimba aired. When I bought the videos, I was a little worried the show might not really be as wonderful as it was in my memory. I'm happy to report It is!

Some additional information:

The original title was Jungle Taitei ("Jungle Emperor"), and long before it became anime, it was a manga series (running from 1950 to 1954). Also, the main character's name is "Leo" in the original.

Enthusiastic about the success of the animated version in the USA, Tezuka started to work on a sequel, which would have told of the adventures of Kimba/Leo after he grew up. Only after already doing substantial work on it did he talk to NBC about the project - and got rejected, because the NBC people found his new character designs and plotlines "too dark" and not suitable for children...

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