Kimba, the White Lion-Volume 1 (Jangaru Taitei) (AV Channel) (1965)

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Released 21-Sep-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Audio-Fan Info - episode listings and credits
Trailer-Angelic Layer Vol 1, Panyo Panyo Di Di Charat Vol 3
Trailer-D.N. Angel Vol 3, Stellvia Vol 1
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 235:17 (Case: 220)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Eiichi Yamamoto
Osamu Tezuka
Studio
Distributor
Tezuka Osamu
Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Isao Tomita


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    As far as I am concerned, the greatest cartoon ever produced is the 1980s version of Osamu Tesuka's Astroboy (Tetsuwan Atomu). I used to watch Astroboy with almost ritualistic dedication, but somehow managed to completely miss Tezuka's other famous series, Kimba the White Lion. Produced in 1965, two years after the black and white Astroboy made its debut (also available from Madman), Kimba is admittedly a little before my time. Whether the program was off the air during the 80s or managed to pass me by some other way, watching Kimba now without a nostalgic bias still made for a few hours of great viewing.

    After his father, Caesar, is killed and his mother captured by hunters, Kimba, although only a cub, takes on the role of king of the jungle. Having interacted with humans and learnt to speak their language, Kimba is determined to teach the animals the best of human civilisation. An interesting style of socialism is established in which Kimba encourages all animals to become vegetarian and work together on a communal farm and other projects. Naturally all sorts of problems arise, not least the stubbornness and resistance of older and larger animals, but Kimba's determinedness and measured explanations of right and wrong usually prevail in the end. At times, though, Kimba's own sense of justice threatens to undermine his socialist system: in the episode "Jungle Thief", for example, Kimba allows the needs of one sick animal to come before the needs of the group as a whole, almost losing the farm in the process and causing a revolt amongst his subjects. It takes all of Kimba's efforts to help the jungle animals to understand the value of living by human ideals of equality.

    I enjoyed Kimba quite a lot. I was a little worried that without the added value of nostalgia, Kimba might turn out to be fairly unimpressive. But Tezuka's story manages to display a large degree of charm, a little humour and a lot of political thought. I get the feeling that Tezuka's political ideals were a little clearer in his mind than what occurs in Kimba: he has claimed that his work is aimed at encouraging the viewer to "love all creatures! Love everything that has life!" In Kimba though, no ideological framework seems to work perfectly in bringing about this utopian ideal and democratic, socialist, and laissez-faire systems are all shown to have their own problems and issues. Perhaps it is this underlying political tone that appealed to me - the idea that nothing is black and white in national and global politics. Kimba, though, can be enjoyed on the level of story alone, and although I wouldn't rate it quite as highly as Astroboy, Kimba is leaps and bounds ahead of the cartoon drivel being produced today.

    Kimba the White Lion, Volume 1, presents the first ten episodes over two discs. Episode summaries can be found here: http://www.kimbawlion.com/epguide.htm.

    I should note, too, that Madman have presented Kimba with the original English dub. Warner released Kimba to DVD in 2003 with the 1990s dub, causing a minor uproar among fans: Madman have entirely rectified that issue and hopefully they will bring a few more of Tezuka's animated films and television programs to Region 4.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Sadly Kimba's video transfer is not quite up to scratch and has some serious issues with MPEG artefacts. It is presented in its original aspect ratio of full frame 1.33:1.

    The transfer is for the most part nicely detailed and sharp. The colour scheme, at times, is fairly dark so that some characters blend with backgrounds, although this seems fairly typical in older animation. Low level noise is present throughout.

    Kimba suffers from heavy and consistent pixelization. Solid colours, especially blacks, are very blocky. Many characters, like Samson the black water buffalo and Dan'l baboon, are plagued by heavy macro-blocking and backgrounds also pixelize easily. I found the pixelization very distracting. On a CRT TV, it might be bearable, but on plasma or LCD, the transfer would be completely unwatchable, as it was when I had a look at the transfer on my Powerbook. I also noticed many instances of Gibb effect. Normally I would give examples and times, but MPEG artefacts were so prevalent that I gave up recording them.

    Interlacing is also a problem, especially in the opening credits, but is to be expected in such an old animation. There are plenty of film artefacts in the form of black and white marks. On Disc 2, a large hair appears on the right of the screen at 10:16 and remains for a minute or so before disappearing momentarily and returning at 12:13 for a few more seconds. Apart from this single instance, film artefacts, although very frequent, are small and unobtrusive.

    No subtitles are recorded. Layer changes for both discs are between episodes.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Kimba comes with an adequate English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio track.

    Dialogue is always clear. I noticed a little hiss in the soundtrack, especially during the opening credits. The track is fairly flat and non-dynamic, but exactly what you'd expect from 1960s monaural sound.

    Music is provided by Isao Tomita and sounds right at home in a cartoon. The theme song, written by Bill Giant, Bernie Baum and Florence Kaye and performed by Bill Giant, has to be one of the most catchy theme songs I've heard: once you've heard it, you'll find yourself humming it constantly. The music always sounds thin, but mostly undistorted.

    Naturally there is no surround or subwoofer activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The menu consists of a very colourful image of Kimba accompanied by a catchy segment of music.

Trailer

    Madman trailers on both discs.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Kimba the White Lion can be purchased in individual volumes or as part of a box set with an exclusive disc of extras, including the first Japanese episode. The extras are identical to the box set released in Region 1 by Right Stuf, suggesting that the transfer may also be much the same. Most reviews tend to rave about the video quality of the Region 1 release, but given that both releases are likely from the same source, I would want to make a direct comparison before claiming Region 1 the winner.

    The original Japanese series is available in Region 2 in a very expensive box set, without English subtitles.

    Of course there is always the Region 4 Warner release with the 1990s dub, but from the reviews I've read, the video transfer sounds even worse than Madman's.

    I'll call it even between Region 1 and Region 4 for the moment.

Summary

    Kimba the White Lion is an excellent animation, ranking with the great Astroboy.

    The video transfer is very problematic.

    Audio quality is adequate.

    Extras consist of trailers only.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

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