Speaking of the Japanese, I still remember turning into a convulsing freak when I was about seven-years-old if I wasn't in front of a TV at 3PM when "Kimba the White Lion" was on. I thought it was the greatest thing ever invented. And looking back, it really was quite a cool, progressive show.
Kimba was created by Japanese grand animation master Osamu Tezuka. Some people claim that Disney's The Lion King ripped off Tezuka, but the themes are very different in the two stories.
The Lion King presents a conservative view of society. The models for Simba's world are the hereditary monarchy and the circle of life, meaning the animals at the top of the food chain eat the lower animals. There are also bad animal castes: the hyenas in the Lion King are uniformly evil. And Simba seems to have no original ideas - he's out to save his own ass to become king, to reproduce to keep the dynasty going.
The Kimba of the original series was a visionary and a radical utopian. Kimba set up schools for animals, promoted vegetarianism - to hell with the "circle of life" - and sought to bring about an understanding between humans and animals.
Simba is a British monarch - Kimba is Gandhi.
I tried ordering the original Kimba series on DVD, but Amazon bailed out on me with an email saying it wasn't available. Luckily my brother Paul was able to hook me up for Christmas.
There is an amazing Kimba web site here that even has a video clip of the opening credits/theme song from the original US version of the series.
Who believes in doing good and doing right? Kimba the White Lion is the one.