The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar


With “The Lion Guard,” you have to keep telling yourself, it’s mainly a show for the kids, and you might be able to forgive some of the mistakes it makes. While it does make the wise choice of somewhat ignoring the lackluster sequels to “The Lion King,” it also adds unnecessary dimension to what was already a complex animated movie. Since the series “The Lion Guard” is touted for kids, I doubt Disney will do much to patch up continuity problems, so you have to decide if you want to acknowledge “The Lion Guard.” This time around, “The Lion Guard” is set somewhere during Simba’s reign and obviously before “The Lion King 2.” As a matter of fact, “The Lion Guard” essentially ignores “Simba’s Pride,” altogether.

We now follow Simba’s son Kion who, while never mentioned in the sequel, is very much apart of his dad’s life, and working toward becoming a protector of his pride. Kion learns that there is such a thing called “The Lion Guard,” a council of animal protectors that watch over the pride and protect the balance of the circle of life. Why are the council never mentioned in the original film? That’s apparently not important. What we do learn is that Skar was much more than a jealous brother working toward killing his brother for a place at the throne. He was a Lion Guard with the power of the roar, and tried to get the lion guard council to help him murder Mufasa. When they opted not to, he killed them, and then made a play for him. These are very important and key events never brought up in “The Lion King,” so again, you have to choose if you want to forgive these issues on mythos for “The Lion King.”

What about Skar’s children from the second film? What about his wife? Did they have his powers and abilities? Again, never mentioned, and we’ll likely never see them mentioned again. “The Lion Guard” is primarily a vehicle for “The Lion King,” in where Kion is a blossoming young hero tasked with protecting his pride from various menaces including hyenas, and assorted obstacles that will come his way. The series works hard to push new characters while only keeping characters like Timon and Pumba supporting players who act more as role models. So while the pair of animal pals keeps reminding us about Hakuna Matata, there’s Kion’s friend Bunga, a brave honey badger with a big heart, and other animals like a strong hippo, and Ono, an egret with keen sight. Although for fans devoted to the original series, we still see Simba, Nala, and there’s a very neat cameo from Mufasa.

“The Lion Guard” has a fairly creative concept that allows for a platform to continue the story of Simba’s pride, and I enjoy how the series revels in simplicity and its more youthful energy. There’s less conflict about survival and murder and more about trying to prove yourself, or learning how to handle great power at such a young age. I’d like to see the show explore other themes somewhere down the line, like perhaps the idea that not all hyenas are awful, and maybe dig a little deeper in to the Lion Guard legacy. I also hope the lionesses don’t just serve as fodder for the male heroes to rescue them, as I think it’d be nice to see more female characters carrying on Nala’s tradition of independence and courage. That said, while “The Lion Guard” doesn’t re-invent the wheel, it’s a neat animated continuation with some fine animation, and welcome diversity.