If you've never heard of "Kimba: The White Lion", the consider yourself to be in good company, because until I actually sat down and watched this DVD Box Set, I really had no idea what the show was all about. "Kimba: The White Lion" is often referred to as one of the first generation anime classics to be broadcast in 1965.
"Kimba: The White Lion" is about a young, white lion (a coincidence, I think not!) who has inherited his throne from his deceased father. Along with a cavalcade of jungle friends, Kimba seeks out to improve the lives of his brethren. For example, the determined little cat attempts to institute educational programs, create a farm, among other things.
The thing I enjoyed most about "Kimba: The White Lion" is the fact that it doesn't dumb down it's content, except for the obvious mean-spiritedness of the hunters. Jungle animals get shot and killed. There are villains amongst the jungle animals. Not every cloud has a silver lining. I appreciate cartoons that adopt that style over the one where everything ends happily. I guess that must be my years of cynicism talking, but I'm also the guy who likes "Spongebob Squarepants." You figure that one out.
"Kimba" is a DVD Box Set filled with 26 episodes in total, with a running length of approximately 25 minutes each. Here is a summary of each episode broken down by disc:
Go, White Lion! - Kimba's father is shot by hunters, while Kimba's mother gives birth to him on an ocean liner. Kimba swims to Africa.
Wind in the Desert - All the jungle animals turn to Kima as their leader. Kima has to fight for his freedom after being captured by humans.
A Human Friend - Kimba saves a human, and learns their language. Kimba starts a school and teaches animals how to talk.
Great Caesar's Ghost - A friend of Kimba's father visits, and brings three mules to feast upon. Kimba frees them and gets himself into a world of trouble.
Fair Game - Speedy Cheetah believes that Kimba's father killed his grandfather. It's up to Kimba to prove that's not the truth.
Jungle Thief - It's hot in the jungle, and the emergency provisions have been stolen. Kimba convinces everyone to start a farm.
Battle at Dead River - Claw is upset when Kimba is declared the prince of the jungle. As a result, he decides to show everyone who's boss.
The Insect Invasion - Kimba attempts to turn all the animals into vegetarians. Insects destroy the farm, which causes Kimba's plan to hit a major snag.
The Flying Tiger - A flying tiger challenges Kimba to a fight, and all of Kimba's friends and enemies help out.
Two Hearts and Two Minds - Kimba has a dream that Kitty is in danger. As a result, he travels to her jungle to make sure she's alright.
Catch 'em if You Can - Three hunters are in a competition to see who can capture Kimba. It's up to Kimba to outsmart them.
The Hunting Ground - The gaming commissioner declares that Kimba must be captured. He is taken prisoner and the hunters go after the rest of the animals.
The Trappers - The man who killed Kimba's father is back. It's up to Kimba to make sure that none of his friends are hurt.
Journey Into Time - The annual lion convention is held. Roger Ranger tells Kimba a story about his ancestor to cheer him up.
Scrambled Eggs - It's cleaning day and Speedy accidentally pushes some eggs into the river. The eggs must be saved in the nick of time.
Diamonds in The Gruff - A plane flying overhead tosses some luggage out. Unfortunately for them, one of them contained millions of dollars worth of diamonds.
The Magic Serpent - A snake invades Kimba's jungle, and casts an evil spell on everyone.
The Runaway - Gargoyle runs away, and Kimba and the other animals have to save him before he's killed by baboons.
The Mystery of the Deserted Village - Claw lures Kimba to a deserted village in an attempt to get rid of him.
Restaurant Trouble - Kimba has an idea to open up a jungle restaurant. This idea creates a lot of anger and jealousy.
The Bad Baboon - A mean baboon is back, and wants a rematch with Daniel. It's up to Kimba to save the day.
Dangerous Journey - The animals are infected with an epidemic that causes them to become sick. Kimba seeks out the medicine tree to cure them all.
The Gigantic Grasshopper - A grasshopper is mutated and grows extremely large. .
Gypsy's Purple Potion - The animals build a tribute to Kimba's father, but Claw has other ideas.
Too Many Elephants - A hunting party looks to thin out the population of elephants.
The Revolting Development - The animals are sick of being vegetarians, and look to revolt. Kimba looks to find a solution before he loses control of his kingdom.
"Kimba: The White Lion" is another Rhino release that wasn't cleaned up for DVD transfer. There are numerous specs of dirt throughout the print, and the colors look to have faded over time. In addition, there are numerous instances of color bleeding (in one scene, the rats aboard a ship bleed into the background). But honestly, this is as good as it's ever gonna get for Kimba, especially considering it's a niche title. Just be happy that Rhino decided to even release it.
Presented in Dolby 2.0, "Kimba: The White Lion" sounds as good as I expected considering it's almost 30 years old. There isn't much action to give my speakers a workout, but it sounds relatively good. Audio levels are good for the most part (sometimes the dubbing doesn't match the background music). Overall, I'm indifferent. It could have been better, but it could have been worse.
An animated DVD menu plays the show's catchy theme song and allows you to toggle between episodes. It's actually a very pleasant menu, thankfully.
We've got three bonuses in this DVD Box Set (hey it's better than nothing):
The first is an "Interview with Kimba Program Production Coordinator, Fred Ladd." He's fairly informative, and goes on for a good 15 minutes.
The second is an "Interview with anime historian, Fred Patten, of Animation World Magazine." A much longer interview, Fred goes on and on for over 30 minutes about Kimba's role in anime. I was left less than moved.
Last, but certainly not least, is a "Proposal for Kimba sent to NBC by Mushi Productions (including original spelling and grammatical errors). If you think "ALL YOUR BASE BELONG TO US" is bad, you'll enjoy reading some of what's written here.
Personally, I don't know if there's much demand out there for "Kimba: The White Lion" amongst the DVDTalk crowd. It's a decent cartoon, but there are so many bigger and better ones out there (especially in the anime world). If you're a fan of the cartoon, then run out and buy this DVD Box Set. Otherwise, you're best off renting it and deciding for yourself.