I think everyone who has seen "The Lion King" and "The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride" movies can agree that "The Lion Guard" doesn't do a very good job with fitting in there. I have only seen all of "The Return of the Roar" and several clips from some other episodes. But that's enough to conclude that this TV show fails miserably as a Lion King series. I'm sure the majority of my fellow Millenials from this fanbase agree with me, but I know there are Lion King fans who nonetheless enjoy and love this new series. Fans who don't think it sucks. Good for you, guys, if you can find something to enjoy in it. You manage to be much happier than the rest of us. So, I respect your opinion and feelings but allow me to explain why I think this show sucks. And what that big fat 'but' in the title is all about.
"The Lion Guard" adds magical superpowers and mythos that doesn't fit in the world of those first two films. In "The Lion King" and "The Lion King 2" the only magic that happened was Rafiki being able to summon Mufasa's spirit, and then him and others to see and talk to that spirit. It was spiritual and very specific kind of magic and the only character who was able to practice it was Rafiki who clearly was the equivalent of a shaman in a human tribe. But "The Lion Guard" suddenly introduced a full-blown magical roar ability that has been passed down for generations and that makes the Earth shake and characters fly miles away and so on. Linked to a magical "tattoo" type of symbol on the fur coat. That's ridiculous and so not the way The Lion King universe originally was meant to be like. This superpower addition took away maturity and timeless depth from The Lion King universe.
Also, in this TV show a spirit doesn't need to be summoned anymore. Kion is able to see and talk to his grandfather Mufasa just about any time he pleases. Mufasa just pops up in the sky. What the--?!
Also, Kion seems to be some sort of a lion version of Superman. There's a scene where he is a cub approximately the same size as cub Simba was in "The Lion King", but managed to neck-punch Nuka - a lion at least three times his size - several meters away from him and apparently almost knocking Nuka unconscious. And he did that with little to no effort. Oh, and apparently he had also pinned Nuka down earlier. How the *beep* does that cub defy the laws of physics? I mean, note that we're not talking about his magical roar now but about his body and size.
Then there's characterisations of old characters that are messed up big time. In example, Zira. She behaves downright politely, and even helps Kion to explore the extend of the magical roar's powers. Sure she's still a villain but her personality is almost nothing like the Zira in the movie though during the time period of this show, in the TLK2 movie, she was raging and bitterly plotting the death of Simba. Forget the rage, too. In this TV show Zira gently tells Nuka to "play nice". She's portrayed as an actual motherly person whom Nuka is somewhat afraid of simply because she's his mom and he doesn't want to get caught misbehaving. Whereas in "The Lion King 2" movie she was intimidating all of her children and especially Nuka and Kovu were deeply afraid of her because she was a psychotic bitch. I'm sure toddlers were and are watching "The Lion King 2". Why did Zira have to be watered-down like that?
And then there's the fact that Kion ever entered the Outlands to boss Zira around in the first place, when the Lion Guard was supposed to guard the Pridelands and not the area around it. And why does the honeybadger know more about the magic roar than the boy who actually has the roar? You'd think that Simba would have told Kion all about the roar as the very first thing upon finding out that the boy had it!
I'm sure there are boatloads of other contradictions and f-ups, those are just a few I was able to observe based on the pilot and little more that I've seen of the show.
Then there's the matter of animation. I didn't expect the same quality as the first two movies have because this is only a TV show, but I almost felt like weeping when I viewed the clips. The Lion Guard's drawings are so harsh and flat. And the animation is...Well, it's not bad as is, except for the walk cycles and jumping/leaping animations which are quite far from professional level. I think it all would be passable if this was just a random original animated series. But for a Disney show and especially for a Lion King series it's very distracting.
I would have expected more from a Disney produced animated series when it comes to the visual side of it. Especially when that series is supposed to link to The Lion King and The Lion King 2. I saw the clips but I still can't believe how lazy and clumsy the drawing and animation is! It's like watching a mini-death of The Lion King movie's animation simply because this show's is sooooo bad in comparison! I know, I know, it doesn't really take away from the majestic, award-worthy animation and drawings of the first film but it feels like it kinda does. And I know the TV show division (which also made The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride) doesn't get the same budgets as the theatrical movie creatng division and I've heard their budgets are smaller now than they were in the '90s. But this is The Lion King related - you'd think they would have granted this project a proper budget! Especially as it's supposed to be a 20th anniversary thing!
I can't believe The Walt Disney Company cares this little about one of its biggest and most beloved classics of all time. I mean, even in general but especially when making something that is supposed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of said film. I don't even understand why they decided to produce a celebration through Disney Junior as in aim it at just very little kids. I'm not saying that adults couldn't or shouldn't enjoy this TV show, just that it's clearly targetted at very little kids and most likely to appeal to that target group. But "The Lion King" was a HUGE hit of a family film that had tons to enjoy for people of all ages and ended up being based on one of the most famous adult plays of all time - (Shakespeare's Hamlet) - as well as on some Biblical stories.
It was a film that gained life-long fans, especially from us '80s and '90s kids, who are now grown up and learned to appreciate the adult aspects of the film along with our parents and are currently also nostalgic about our childhoods. Another, seriously made movie like "The Lion King 2" is, would have served much, much better as a celebration as well as been more logical path to take for a celebration. As well as been much better in terms of making financial profit. Because The Lion Guard is NOTHING like the thing it's supposed to celebrate and thus does not appeal to most of its original fanbase. Add to that all those major fails in the story-continuity matters.
What were they thinking?!
There are two things that make me appreciate the existence of this show. As much as I do wish it was executed with more passion and respect towards the original film and its older fans, there are two things in this show that nonetheless serve the fandom well.
---> As stupid and unfitting as the character's execution is, his creation by The Walt Disney Company and existence itself packs an extra punch against the frustratingly stubborn Kopa believers.
2.) Zira's story.
---> In one of the episodes of "The Lion Guard" Rafiki explains that Zira and the other Outlanders were exiled because they were loyal only to Scar and claimed Scar as the rightful king...and because she attacked SImba who voiced his disagreement. I personally would have preferred no attack on the king but simply the siding with Scar. But THANK GAWD there is now an official Disney explanation for the exile.
Because it should finally put an end to the nonsensical fanfiction theory about murdered/kidnapped Kopa as the reason for the exile - and above all to the Kopa fans' habit of parading that purely fanfiction theory as "official" and "what really happened". Not all Kopa fans are doing that, but oh so many are while there are also some too trusting people who are not Kopa fans but just believe them.
Of course, Zira's story from "The Lion Guard" is not canon to "The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride" because that movie's creators are not the creators of this TV show. But nonetheless that explanation is from The Walt Disney Company and thus the official and most canonical there can be without the TLK2's creators coming forward to give their own. And thus there is no longer any room for anyone who has sense in their head, to believe that there was someone named Kopa who got murdered, kidnapped, or anything. I mean, there hasn't really been since 1998 when the cub was publicly and officially confirmed as Kiara...but it obviously wasn't enough for countless fans. Perhaps this full-blown official explanation for the exile, is?
..........Though I'm sure there'll still be some die-hard Kopa lovers who refuse to acknowledge any facts that don't support their personal preferences. But Kion and "The Lion Guard"'s existence give me hope that at least some come to their senses and this fandom can finally start a less conspiracy-theory ridden era.
"The Lion Guard" , fortunately, is only a spin-off TV show - an alternate universe, while the cub at the end of the first film continues being Kiara when only the first two films combined are regarded. But the fact that "The Lion Guard" and Kion are official The Walt Disney Company creations and link to the movies - has thus provided an actual official male cub option in the animated format for those who refuse to accept that the cub is Kiara. Thus, hopefully, managing to finally silence a few of the craziest and most stubborn fan theories out there. Which I really wouldn't have ever minded if they weren't thrown around as if they were canon/official. I have a passion for the actual canon/official story-line and hate it when it is lied about.
Or maybe this show just gives birth to a bunch of whole new crazy fan theories and the other facts keep getting ignored...Time will show. But I'm prone to optimism.
If you are confused about Simba's children and don't wish to read lengthy articles and online debates about them, here's a video I recently made providing answers from the most official sources; from Kopa's actual creator, and the movies' creators:
The TRUE story of Kopa, Kiara and Kion (The Lion King Official Source Facts)
(If you're wondering why I feel this strongly about the true canon being overshadowed by false claims made up by fans, check out my article "Kopa vs. The Lion King" which can be found in The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride Articles on this site. It's currently pinned among the Must-see articles recommendation section on the top of that page, which is by the way delightful and I am very grateful for.)
For the last but certainly not the least, I wish to talk about one especially awful thing about this new TV show. I don't want any more new Lion King stuff for the franchise if this is the direction Disney wants to take it. I mean, this isn't the first case. Already back in 2004 with "The Lion King 1½" movie which came around the 10th anniversary and is the previous instalment from this TV show, they chose to go with a parody of the first film and an offensive fart joke in it. (Granted, that TLK11½'s fart joke is actually clever and funny which is why I can stand it, and because it didn't crap on an emotional scene - but nonetheless it crapped on one of the most majestic scenes in the first movie and thus I wish it didn't happen.) And now this major f-up of a show and an even more - muuuuch more, offensive fart joke?
So...In the final scene of the pilot episode, "The Return of the Roar", the climax is that Kiara gets trapped in a stampede of antelopes stirred by hyenas. An obvious call-back to cub Simba's experience with the wildebeest. How does Kiara get out of that? Does her father, Simba, attempt to rescue her like his father did before him? NO. Simba just stands there. The child honeybadger friend of Kion's makes his way next to Kiara and...he lets out a massive fart which makes the antelope scatter away from Kiara. I'm not kidding. That. Happened. Oh, and after that Simba doesn't even focus on his daughter and make sure she's alright, or at least I don't recall him doing so. Even though the bird member of the Lion Guard literally yelled that Kiara is hurt, before the farting thing ended the danger. Simba not only did absolutely nothing to save and nurture his young daughter but he also only focuses on giving his blessing to Kion's choice of the Lion Guard members.
I mean, can you even GET more offensive than doing that kind of a call-back to a scene that portrays a father unhesitantly risking his life and limb to save his child's life, the brother of that father maliciously murdering him, and the little boy witnessing his father falling to an ugly, slow and painful death. (Assuming Mufasa didn't die from the fall. Anyway, his body would have been mangled in real life but it is a G rated film, so...) Not only does the scene include all that but it was immensely powerfully executed, bringing the viewer up close with all of the characters and the action and showing the death-fall and the body on screen. So..."The Lion Guard" calling back to that with A FART JOKE and making Simba utterly useless and almost careless in the face of his child's potential death!?! I say "almost careless" because he does at one point half-heartedly calls out her name...While her mother, Nala, just says "Oh no!" and also does nothing.
Remember how panicked Mufasa sounded and looked when Scar told him that Simba was at the stampede? Remember how terrified Mufasa looked when he saw his boy hanging on to the dead tree and how encouragingly he shouted out "Hold on, Simba!" and without a second of hesitation leaped into the stampede, taking bad hits in his efforts to get to him?
There's no curse word in any tongue in existence that describes what "The Lion Guard" did here. This is just about the most disgraceful thing I can imagine when it comes to broadening a fictional franchise/story. Especially one like "The Lion King" that was created to reflect human suffering, responsibility, family love/bond, and bravery.
Even so, for years I've been so frustrated with the situation with the "Kopa believers'" stubborness and huge lies - that I can still appreciate those two points I made about how this show's existence may help the fandom. I just really truly hope it does and really makes a difference in that matter. Because if it doesn't, that disgraceful scene and joke exists and nothing even nearly good enough is coming out of this show to even attempt to balance it out. Even that difference-making wouldn't really...I mean, come on. That episode's creators come off downright heartless because of that scene and fart joke.
Why does Disney want to celebrate these decade-anniversary milestones of one of the best and most beloved animated classics they've ever produced, by almost literally crapping on it?