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As a number of media journalists and fans watched Disney's animated feature film The Lion King, they began to notice that certain characters and situations in the story resembled those of Kimba. Although The Lion King has a different screenplay, there are a number of strong artistic similarities, including scenes that appear to be copied from those in Kimba. Disney has stated that the similarity of these scenes are only coincidental.
Matthew Broderick has said that when he was hired as the voice of Simba in The Lion King, he presumed the project was related to Kimba the White Lion. "I thought he meant Kimba, who was a white lion in a cartoon when I was a little kid," said Broderick. "So I kept telling everybody I was going to play Kimba. I didn't really know anything about it, but I didn't really care."
The controversy has been referenced in a number of national newspapers in the United States, including a June 2007 Los Angeles Times article. In a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, a parody of The Lion King's Mufasa says to Lisa Simpson "You must avenge my death, Kimba...ur, I mean Simba!" The Tezuka-Disney connection extends back decades before the movie. Tezuka met Walt Disney at the 1964 New York World's Fair, and Disney said he hoped to "make something just like" Tezuka's Astro Boy. Tezuka then asked for and got the license to adapt Disney's Bambi into a manga for the Japanese audience. More recently, Disney animators were hired to train Tezuka's crew in the use of color when production was started on the Jungle Emperor/Kimba the White Lion TV series. It was said that an animated film of Kimba the White Lion was planned but later scrapped.