The original Lion King is one of Disney's most beloved movies. The remake is currently number one at the box office and has already made over $713.6 million. With that being said, when the original arrived in theaters in 1994, some eagle-eyed anime fans were quick to spot some striking similarities to Osamu Tezuka's Kimba the White Lion series. Since the remake has brought The Lion King back into the public consciousness, many are bringing up the similarities to Tezuka's work yet again.
A side-by-side video has compiled many of the similarities between Disney movie The Lion King and Kimba the White Lion and it's pretty mind blowing. Director Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff have all denied even knowing about Kimba, though Aller's had lived in Tokyo and worked in animation back when Osamu Tezuka was touted as the Japanese Walt Disney. Those claims have been challenged numerous times over the years as members of Disney's animation team admitted to knowing about Kimba. As far as the Simba vs. Kimba similarities, that is more than likely coincidence since "simba" is the Swahili word for lion.
There are some major differences between the two stories too. For instance Kimba the White Lion features humans and The Lion King does not. With that being said, the stories are broadly alike, but it's the designs and some of the shots that are where the real similarities are shown. Lion King has a villain named Scar and he has a scar over his left eye. Kimba features a villain named Claw and he also has a scar over his left eye. Claw's henchman consists of two spotted hyenas, while Scar has three.
The initial designs of Simba are really close to Kimba, especially since he was originally a white lion, just like Kimba. The similarities don't stop there. The Lion King features a young Simba looking at a cloud in the shape of his father who was murdered, there's the iconic lion standing on Pride Rock at sunrise scene, and even the climactic battle between the Simba and his uncle looks pretty much identical to the work of Osamu Tezuka. Watching the video is a real eye opener into how much was allegedly borrowed by Disney.
Shockingly, Tezuka Productions, never pursued legal action against Disney. Had they done so, copyright experts believe they would have had a "very strong" case after The Lion King became a hit on the big screen, a hit Broadway musical, and now a hit remake. While Tezuka Productions never took legal action publicly, there are more than a few people who believe Disney may have paid them off in secret to save face. That is pure speculation and has not been confirmed by anyone officially. You can check out the similarities between Kimba the White Lion and The Lion King below, thanks to the Alli Cat YouTube channel.