A pair of old TLK fan characters of mine have their argument cut short by a new arrival.
Now, before you start typing your replies, let me make it clear that I don't hate Kion. I still think it's way too early to pass any sort of judgement on him or the show that he's scheduled to star in. (Though I must say that I am amazed that they're actually making a cartoon in a very similar style to the original films using 2D animation, especially after Disney shut down their 2D animation studios last year.)
I also think that not having Kopa star in the series is a good
Why? Well, for one thing, The Lion King: Six New Adventures
has been out of print for nearly 20 years, and most TLK fans have learned about Kopa via the Internet, where he has been constantly altered by other fans adding various elements to his story and personality (and sometimes even completely changing his appearance). Why should the writers of TLG go to the trouble to incorporating a character from a series of books published nearly two decades before most of its target audience were even born?
And even if the writers had
heard of TLK6NA and Kopa and tried to work him into their storyline, there's no way they could do it without ticking off a sizable percentage of the rabid, older fans. Having Kopa be Simba and Nala's firstborn cub would probably confuse much of the audience (who are wondering where Kiara and Kovu are), but having Kopa be their second
born cub would probably aggravate the rabid fans who firmly believe Kopa
to be the older sibling. Also, you can be sure that there would be other fans complaining about Kopa's personality in the show not being the way they
interpreted it; whining about the show neglecting to feature supporting TLK6NA characters like Kula, Chumvi, Afua, etc.; or throwing a hissy fit about Vitani not being KOPA'S ONE TWU WUV FOWEVAHZ!1!!
And let's be frank here: Kopa spends most of TLK6NA running around trying to find someone to play with him, complaining, asking to hear stories about monsters "with three horns and sharp teeth" and listening to stories. In fact, the only story which he "stars" in is Vulture Shock, where Kopa goes off in search of his family tree (thinking that it's a literal tree), gets lost, then gets kidnapped by vultures. From that point on, the plot revolves around the other characters trying to find and rescue him. (This is also the story that features rapping vultures. Rapping vultures.
Also, Kopa utters the phrases "Wicked awesome!" and "You guys got the slammin'est sound ever!")
To be fair, Kopa does
have a more active role in the German audio dramas "Friends For Life" and "Fight for the Throne", but hardly anyone seems to acknowledge those stories. Starting over with a blank slate gives the show's creators much more creativity, and avoids the possibility of ruining a much-loved semi-canon character for the fans who are
familiar with him.
As for the younger fans who are afraid that The Lion Guard
will ruin the original series and all the characters they've obsessed over for so long, let's talk about The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa
Until the 2004 release of The Lion King 1 1/2/3
, this TV show which contained the closest thing to an official story about how Timon became an outcast and met Pumbaa (look at the cover of the comic adaptation: clzimages.com/comic/large/b6/b…
). However, it also
contained Loony Toons-inspired slapstick, classic cartoon physics, unambiguously human elements in an otherwise natural setting, a far more comedic and less mature tone than the film it was based on, and Timon and Pumbaa and other canon characters appearing in places far away from eastern Africa (including outer space at least three times). This show also featured things such as:
-Pumbaa's aunt, who lives in an apartment in an urban environment populated by various other African animals, wears a shawl and carries a handbag
-Rafiki's nephew, who has dreadlocks, wears red shorts and stars in a parody of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment from Fantasia when Rafiki leaves him in charge of harvesting gourds
-A purple tigress wandering the savannah while wearing blue eye shadow and curlers
-An elderly lion with mustard-yellow fur, a gray mane, false teeth and a voice like a grizzled old prospector
-A giant zeppelin that nearly crashes on top of Pride Rock during the presentation of Simba and Nala's cub
-Rafiki using magic to make a mouse grow to the size of a giraffe, conjure up a suit for himself with a flock of butterflies, curse Timon to make his tail to grow longer, and swap Timon and Pumbaa's heads, among other things
-Shenzi dancing in a ballerina outfit in an attempt to become a star in a nature documentary
-Adult Simba saying the line: "Hello, Zazu. I'm here to have my diaper changed."
So far, I have yet to run into anyone weeping about how the T&P series ruined the original movie because of how irreverently it treated their beloved characters or how it sullied some of the most iconic scenes from the original film by constantly parodying them. In fact, some of the chief complaints about the series seem to be that it isn't centered around Simba, Nala, or pretty much anyone except Timon and Pumbaa.
Speaking of which, back when TLK1.5 was announced, there were a number of older fans voicing their concerns that it ruin the impact of the original by being crammed full of toilet humor and dumb slapstick to pander to the youngest members of the audience. In the words of one poster on the Lilymud forums, "If I find out that the animals bowed because Pumbaa let one rip, Disney can forget about me (and probably a lot of other TLK fans) purchasing TLK 1.5." ( lilymud.net/showthread.php?t=2…
However, when TLK1.5 eventually came out, it wasn't quite as bad as some people had feared. In fact, some younger fans now seem to like it almost as much as the original. However, the older fans who don't care for the movie's parodying of the original film, blatant plotholes and sophomoric humor have simply decided to treat the movie as noncanon -- an option that is still readily available to anyone who is upset by the announcement of The Lion Guard. Treat TLG as a separate continuity, completely ignore it, or change things around so that Kion isn't Simba's son, but his father's brother's cousin's former roommate, do whatever you want. It won't ruin your fanfics, it won't render your fan characters obsolete. No one's forcing you to conform to every TLK tie-in that exists. In fact, there are so many contradictions between various canon and semi-canon works that it's practically impossible to say which TLK continuity is the "right" one and what should and shouldn't be considered canon/official.
Long story short: Relax, TLK fans; you still have the original movies, and it's unlikely that this new series is going to destroy them any more than the Timon and Pumbaa series did. You've also more than a year before TLG actually begins -- there's no point in staying mad for that long. You also can't deny that Kion has gotten a lot of people talking about The Lion King again (and personally, it's a real treat to see all of these older fans making apparances again after so many years).
About the picture itself: Though this interpretation of Tanabi* started out as Simba's son, who was kidnapped as an infant and returned to the Pride Lands after TLK2 as an adult, I spent a lot more time treating him as a character from an alternate continuity (where Simba had two cubs instead of one) because I found there was a lot more that could be done with that story rather than the one laid down in SP.
As for Shani's** story, though it technically is in
continuity, it is completely tongue-in-cheek, and not meant to be taken seriously at all. In fact, Shani technically shouldn't exist in the same universe as Kiara since "Shani" was one of her early names -- however, that doesn't stop some fans from giving Simba and Nala immense litters of cubs bearing all of the early names of their offspring. Speaking of which, if you've had Nala give birth to Kopa, Kiara, Tanabi, Shani, Chaka, Naba, Shari, Aisha and Fluffy, why throw a fit over one more
cub being thrown into the mix? (And don't get me started about Nala's two mommies again...)
*And just to reiterate something that has been restated countless times already: Tanabi isn't a canon character.
"Tanabi" is just a name given to the cub at the end of TLK by members of the TLK Mailing List prior to the release of SP.
**Not to be confused with the orange-eyed, spotless Shani from The Pride That Never Was, which was another alternate continuity based on the early versions of SP. (akril15.com/Literature/tptnw/T…