Of all the characters in TLK, I find Kovu's life rarely compares to others, and that is why he is probably my favourite of them all. This article is based on his personal character.
Kovu to me is one of the most interesting characters in most animated features that I have seen. There is a lot that he has gone through. Some of it has been shocking and outrageous and some has been one of the best things that could have happened to him because of how he was brought up. But he has also seen two sides to his personality: One with evil and hatred, and one with heart, love and innocence; and this has made him realise exactly what and who he really is.
He starts off being an innocent lion cub born to run his own path of life. He wants nothing more than to take care of himself and live freely without having his playbook written for him and therefore becoming someone who he is not. That all changes when Scar takes him in and chooses him to follow in his paw prints, even though Kovu is technically not Scar's son (I wish that we all knew who Kovu's father really was; and so far as I'm concerned, Kovu is not Zira's son either. I think that Kovu had two different parents and was taken in when they passed away). Kovu knows now that as the Chosen One, he must fulfill Scar's legacy and train hard to eliminate the rightful heir's to the throne so that he can claim it. Although deep down inside he still wants to do things on his own terms; but as Scar's mate and Kovu’s mother, Zira will not allow that to happen as she will do anything for the one who she loves; and since she presumes that Simba killed Scar, she becomes even more desperate. To her, nothing will be better than for her own son to avenge Scar's death and kill the one who she thinks took her mate away from her. She also believes that this will only be the way for her "own kind" to escape from the "war battlefields" of the un-inhabitable Outlands. She persuades Kovu to this and he knows that as Zira's son he has no choice and he must accept his fate.
But Kovu is still extremely reluctant to accept his set destiny as he continues most of his cub days roaming around the Outlands and even as far as the Pride Lands and playing around. His heart then sees a different side when he meets a girl who is sweet, kind, friendly, and very playful; and it is from that very moment with her that makes him see the true side to the Pride Landers as opposed to what he has been told about them by his mother. But somehow his mother still manages to persuade him after she thinks that Kovu's "friendship" with a Pride Lander will be the perfect plan to get to Simba and leave him taking the dirt nap in his own blood bath. Taking it from your own mother as you should, Kovu believes what Zira tells him about the evil intentions of the Pride Landers and how only he can avenge his own bloodline as the Chosen One. Kovu manages to become manipulated enough to take the training to become a killer with what Zira describes as a "lust for being bad".
When Kovu is ready to take the plunge, his heart has become so black and filled with evil and hatred; and nothing can stop him now that he has had all the necessary preparations to carry out his set destiny. After successfully rescuing Kiara from the Hell's inferno, if you will, he manages to persuade Simba into letting him join his pride; which Simba accepts but without trust because he knows that Kovu is Scar's heir; or so he thinks.
Kovu now waits for the perfect opportunity to strike, but that would be cut short after spending time with the daughter of who he is destined to kill. It is not just lessons in hunting that they go through together. Kiara also shows Kovu the meaning of fun; which he has never been familiar with considering that all that he has been brought up with is hatred and evil intentions. For the first time ever, he learns how to have a good time through the fun life; but Kovu is also able to see more than that: He realises that after having such a great time with Kiara and her friends, he really likes her; and his heart starts to travel down a different road. He now doubts all the things that his mother told him about the Pride Landers being his enemies. How could they be enemies when a couple of them give him a chance and let him play around with and spend some time with them? And how could they be enemies when they even act so loyal and kind? He even realises that he is in love with Kiara.
He now has a change of heart when he knows that he has been manipulated and brainwashed by his mother. He also remembers that he is not even Scar's son; and so why should he have anything to do with him at all? Just because Scar took him in and chose him to follow on has absolutely nothing to do with it. Why should you even take after someone who is not even related to you? Who are they to tell you how to live your damn life? And how could Zira even be considered a mother to him when all that she has done for him is lied, used him as a weapon and turned him against everyone that do not seem to be all bad; especially those who are willing to give the "not so worthy" a chance?
This is not the only thing that is eating Kovu up inside. He realises that Zira's evil plot is still hanging in the balance, and it is due to turn nasty at any point soon. He knows that he must tell the Pride Landers about Zira's plan and how he was brought up before the worst case scenario occurs; but he finds it hard to do so because he fears that they might not believe him or they might call him a traitor for setting them up. They could then send him away again or even send him to the grave with one deadly strike. But he knows that if he does not tell them, something really terrible might happen to the Pride Landers. He is even afraid for the one who he loves; and because she trusts him, he knows that he must tell her first because she will understand.
This would also be cut short once again when Simba talks to Kovu in person and explains the true story of Scar to him; including Scar’s hatred and betrayal to his own family, his near destruction of the Pride Lands, and what he did to Simba. Kovu is in shock at what he has heard and he now believes that Scar was nothing more than an evil dark soul with the most of cruel and murderous intentions; and he assures himself that he is nothing like him and he should have never taken after him in the first place.
Kovu's chance at explaining himself to Simba is blown when the entire Outsider pride ambush The Lion King. At the same time Zira makes Simba believe that Kovu had set him up. After Simba escapes, Kovu's brother Nuka passes away from the pressure of the heavy logs crushing his weight after he tried to catch Simba on the log pile. Zira blames Kovu for his death and is completely infuriated at Kovu's betrayal; where she scratches Kovu across the eye, giving him the exact same scar that Scar had. Kovu runs away from Zira and the Outsiders to go where he now truly belongs. Kovu is feeling outraged at receiving the scar and therefore a replica image of who he wants nothing to do with any more. Now he will have to reluctantly carry this hard and false burden for the rest of his life. He knows that The Pride Landers and the other animals of the Pride Lands will not be fooled by his appearance when he shows up with the scar on his face; making him appear that he is indeed Scar's heir; and even when he will try to explain himself, they will not believe him. Therefore he has no chance of being forgiven.
After Simba exiles Kovu from the Pride Lands, Kovu's heart is shattered once again because he does not know which way to go now that both the Outsiders and the Pride Landers have banned his presence from them. He realises that he has himself to blame for what happened because he waited too long to tell everyone about the plot, and he could not escape the consequence because the Pride Landers see who he was brought up to be. He is also disconnected with the one who he loves, and he really cares about her because she touched his heart and helped him to recover from his black heart. Now that she is far away from him, he feels that he will not be complete without her. To him, even though he saved her life, deep inside he feels that she also saved his life. If not for her, he would have been lost. Kovu knows that if he didn't change his heart and let go of his hatred, it would have destroyed him. Like when Scar could not let go of his hatred, which eventually killed him.
After his reunion with his beloved Kiara, he tells her how he feels about her, and she immediately feels the same about him. Kovu finally feels complete when he is with his true love. But now they must focus on the task at hand; which is to stop the war between the Outsiders and Simba's Pride and unite them both as "one"; which Kiara finally manages to understand after years of uncertainty. They both manage to get to the battle in time and block their parents from attacking each other. Kovu even proves who he is to the Pride Landers by defending Simba and Kiara from Zira's attack; therefore standing up to the one who raised him in hate to show how infuriated he is with her for what she made him become. Kiara then tells her father that both prides are the same and that they are only fighting between their own species. She calls for peace when she says that they are both "one". Simba and the Outsiders understand these words well as the Outsiders join the Pride Landers; leaving Zira to fend for herself.
When Zira attempts to attack Simba, Kiara bravely defends and sends her down the walls of the gorge and into the flowing river. The war is now over and both prides are united as one. Kovu is relieved that his true love is still alive and Simba and his pride are now safe. Simba even apologises to Kovu for his misjudgment on him and says that he does indeed belong. Nala mentions to him that she also believed in him when no one else did, and she trusted him with her own heart. Kovu is most grateful to her for her belief in him. It warms Kovu's heart more when Simba allows him and Kiara to be wed. From there, Kovu feels like Kiara and Simba have become his new family, and his life is saved once again.
But at the same time something still hits him: Even though his heart has changed; just seeing Zira go just brings back horrible memories on his upbringing; and he wishes now that he should have gone to run his own gauntlet alone without having anyone to tell him what to do. He also realizes that Zira is not like family at all to him, and his older brother was not much help either. His sister Vitani was there for him on the rarest occasion, but she was raised exactly the same way that he was, and so it didn't really help. He also hopes that his sister will be able to change her heart and see reason to things after her own evil upbringing by Zira. The point is that Kovu has found his real family through the good times and the important lessons from those with wise and noble hearts; and therefore his life is saved through love and family connection.
The most important thing that Kovu has learned through his life is that love conquers all and saves lives. Peace, prosperity and family connection are brought together through love and love erases all evil. Kovu may have been raised by hate and he may have been persuaded to do bad things, but his heart has changed through love and family connection; and because of that he will come good.
In summary, Kovu was chosen to follow in Scar's paw prints but was very reluctant as his innocence as a cub was clearly seen. He had no choice, though, and as the Chosen One he required years of training by his mother, Zira, to reach his destiny by killing Simba and taking over the Pride Lands. His views on the matter changed when he met a sweet girl who was close to his heart and showed him the goodness of life. He then began to question how he had been raised and what he had been told about the Pride Landers, who did not seem as bad as he would have thought. He then realised that he had been brainwashed and manipulated by his mother; and he was in love with Kiara; therefore he wanted to switch to the other side of his heart: The good side. His heart is hit even more when he hears the evil story of Scar from the mouth of the one who he was destined to kill: Simba. After his betrayal is recognised and Simba is ambushed, Zira gives him a false and uneasy burden to carry for the rest of his life: the exact same scar as who he was destined to avenge: Scar. After his exile from Simba, he is completely lost, but he is saved once again when his true love, Kiara, comes for him and they bond together. After ceasing the war between the Outsiders and the Pride Landers by bringing them together as one; seeing his mother go; and becoming connected not just with his love Kiara but the Royal Family as well; Kovu feels that he has found his real family and his life is saved. Throughout his tough life, Kovu has gone from being an innocent cub to being brainwashed and raised by hate to feeling the good side of the heart from love and family connection. The most important thing that Kovu has learned is that all lives are saved through love as love conquers all.
This is why I believe that Kovu is the most interesting character in the Lion King saga. You can either agree or disagree with me if you wish, but this is just my opinion. If any of you have different opinions, do not hesitate to send them on to me. I would like to hear what you have to say.
© May 2010.