This is an interesting, detailed article in Friday's Washington Post about rumors or possibilities that the original Disney animated film The Lion King (and its subsequent incarnations may have been plagiarized from a Japanese anime and comic book creator.
It turns out that this isn't a recent issue, but one that some people in the animation field have whispered about for years. I don’t know remotely enough to know the truth. There are certainly a lot of overlaps -- the opening two paragraphs of the article by Hannah Denham appear damning --
A comical warthog and wise baboon. An evil lion with a deformed eye and hyena henchmen. A lion cub that experiences profound loss, grows up under the tutelage of a talking bird, then reclaims his throne and his legacy.
-- as does the fact that the Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka and Walt Disney met in 1964, and Disney had expressed interest in adapting an earlier work by Tezuka. However, after reading the full piece, the sense I get is that the movie was not plagiarized in our legal sense (and in that of Japanese law and culture which are different, which in large part is why no one ever sued), but that perhaps there were some people who did know of the earlier work and may have possibly “inspired” them in part. Or not.
Oddly, for all the comments from animation experts and historians, I find a quote by of all people Matthew Broderick -- who did the voice of the grown-up Simba in the original film -- the most interesting in the article, not as proof of anything, but showing that awareness of the Japanese TV series was not limited.
You can read the article here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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