Anime Meta-Review


Jungle Emperor Leo


By Date




Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: watchable
  • people: Tezuka
  • made: 1997
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

This movie is a modern descendant of an admired older product which some consider to have been a `source for ideas' for a disney movie. This is obviously rubbish, as there are no sing-a-long musical numbers and not enough time focusing on the comedy side-kicks. On the other hand it is almost as cloyingly mushy as any disney film.

The story considers a spot somewhere deep in the african jungles. This jungle is ruled and protected by the great while lion leo and his family. The other animals of the area, including some `magical' occupants, look to him for leadership and, possibly, protection. At the same time mankind is making various inroads to the forest, and Leo is philosophically uncertain as to how to avoid violence yet carry out his duty to protect the forest. His young son lune has an even simpler concern, being impressed by and curious of the artifacts and organization of human society. This comes to a head when it turns out that the area contains a very valuable resource which the humans will go to great lengths to obtain. As the story plays out both Leo, and his son, will experience the two faces of humanity.

I have to admit, I don't understand or appreciate this sort of thing. To me an animal is an animal. These are basically funny looking humans, with human intelligence, society and philosophical viewpoints forced upon them. They are clearly meant to represent the purity and integrity of a more `naturalistic' time, but to me they are simply so obviously artificial that I find my belief well and truly exceeded. Still, some people get off on this `primitive' philosophy expressed through the words and actions of `smart' animals. The side you take will determine how much you enjoy this movie. The story itself is strangely paced and fairly illogical, seemingly just a framework for the `message' to be given. This message apparently being that animals are inherently more noble (and smarter) than humans. The conclusion, and some events, are designed for emotional effect rather than logical or story reasons. The character designs and dialog are very simple, with all humans being either very bad or very good. In fact the movie feels rather old fashioned and relatively simple, if the intelligent animal concept doesn't appeal to you there's probably little reason to see this film. Still, if you want to find out where you stand the movie is quite watchable.

The animation is pretty strange. It was clearly intended for cinematic release and a reasonable amount of money has been spent on it. On the other hand it has to match some older material, which leads to a somewhat strange appearance. This is most obvious in the humans, who have a very strange look, and the lion family who are heavily anthropomorphised. Indeed there are times when leo looks more like a human than the humans. The vast majority of the other animals look like animals, barring some minor character parts. Likewise there are some very trippy sequences (a dream and a circus) which are very, very strange indeed. There is also some computer animation (I assume) used for terrain rotation, although this disappears before the film has gone too far. The action scenes are relatively rare, and are fairly simple, but are quite entertaining. Effects are pretty primitive looking. The voices are fine, although the lions hog the good voices and lines, and the music is suprisingly subtle, with some scenes being done in silence.

None of the sites I source from has a review of this title. The original material was by Osamu Tezuka and is often called Kimba the White Lion in the western market. This movie is a recent (1997) release and as such should be seen as a tribute towards, rather than an example of, this earlier material. In addition this movie is intended as a conclusion, so it may be that those who know more about the series get more out of it. In any case Kimba W. Lion's Tiny Corner of the Web has lots more information.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:20 WST 2009