Tag Archives: lions

Spotlight: The Lion Guard – Kion

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Yes, I watch Disney’s The Lion Guard. So what? I am not as big a fan of it as some are, but with my other choices being The Walking Dead or Beavis and Butthead, I have made do with what I have. (For those of you wondering how I can skip out on such a compelling show as The Walking Dead, please remember that I have stated that I do not like horror stories, the genre which includes zombies.) I will take talking lions and cheetahs and baboons – oh, my! – over the undead and stupid caricatures at every opportunity.

The Lion Guard focuses on Simba’s heretofore unknown son, Kion. The second born cub of Simba and Nala, and Kiara’s younger brother, Kion is given the responsibility of protecting the Pridelands and the “Circle of Life” by leading a team known as the Lion Guard. Their mission is to defend the Pridelands from invasion, as well as the imbalance due to the greed of the creatures that live in and around the territory controlled by Simba and his pride.

Other than his royal heritage, what gives Kion this right and responsibility? He has inherited the power of the “Roar of the Elders.” When Kion roars, the great lions of the Pridelands’ past roar with him. This gives his own roar quite a big boost, allowing him to knock down and scatter the enemies that continue to trouble the Pridelands and threaten the Circle of Life. Turns out, Scar had this roar, too, when he was a cub. But he got to like wielding it too much and thought he could use it to get Mufasa out of the way and make himself king.

Well, when he asked or demanded that his Lion Guard – made up of lions from the pride – help him overthrow Mufasa, they refused. Enraged, Scar used the roar on his own Lion Guard. This presumably killed them, and the fact that Scar used the roar for evil cost him his ability to use it. It also made him the skinny, unhealthy looking lion we saw in the first Lion King film.

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Now there has been a big to-do over Kion’s Lion Guard. This Guard is supposed to show “diversity” in that the only lion in the Guard is Kion. The rest of the animals in the Guard are Bunga, a honey badger; Ono, an egret; Beshte, a hippopotamous, and Fuli, a cheetah.

It is more than slightly laughable to think that this mixed bag of animals is a good representation of “diversity” for children. Eventually, the children will grow up to learn that animals in the wild do not mix like this. Egrets, honey badgers, and hippos all do their own things, while cheetahs will get up and leave a kill when a lion starts walking toward it and them. Because lions are bigger than cheetahs, the smaller cats have very, very little to do with them, mostly because they do not want to be the lion’s side dish at the dinner table.

You can see that I give the “diversity” aim of The Lion Guard the respect it deserves. Why, then, do I continue to watch the show – even to avoid a series like Beavis and Butthead? I watch the show because the lead character and his male friends are actually allowed to be smart, chivalrous boys.

Allow me to explain: if you watch Sofia the First or Elena of Avalor with your daughters/nieces/sisters/whichever, you have seen the girls lead the boys in everything. They are braver, smarter, more compassionate, and completely better in every way than the men in their lives. Although the main male characters in these shows might not be bumbling, fumbling fools ninety percent of the time, the side male characters often are.

Now, admittedly, The Lion Guard has a character that falls into this category ninety percent of the time. This would be the honey badger, Bunga, Kion’s best friend and the adopted nephew of Timon and Pumba. Bunga’s position in the Guard is the bravest – he is so brave he “[borders] on stupid,” to quote Kiara. Most fans find him annoying and want him dead.

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I think that last part is a little harsh. I agree that Bunga is irritating, but this is a children’s show, people. And Bunga’s voice actor should get a chance to pay for his college education, too, so I do not want his character dead. If he could be a little less stupid and a little more observant, I would not say no to that; dead, I will not accept.

Bunga is the only member of the team to act in a consistently dense manner. The other two male members of the Guard – Beshte and Ono – are far from unintelligent. Beshte is the hippo and the strongest in the Pridelands. He is therefore the quintessential gentle giant, and there is nothing wrong with that. Andre the Giant was a gentle giant; gentle giants are good characters. And Beshte also has a temper that will flare up occasionally, so he has a little spice mixed in with the sweetness.

Ono leans toward the studious know-it-all trope. The keenest of sight in the Pridelands, Ono acts as the Guard’s eyes, looking for trouble and yelling it out to the Guard. While Ono has many of the nose-in-a-book stereotypical trappings, the difference is that he will fight without too much hesitation. He has mixed it up with vultures, hawks, and land animals, no mean feat for a bird that is not a raptor. It usually makes up for his skittish or know-it-all failings.

Kion is, by far, the one who breaks the mold of the modern formulaic boy. He is polite, friendly, calm, fierce, and quick-thinking. Even Avengers Assemble struggled with portraying the male heroes in this fashion, as you will find if you read the posts about the series here on my blog. The male Avengers – especially Hawkeye – were portrayed as fools in most of the episodes at the series’ start. This is due to the fact that the writers began telling the story of Assemble through a liberal-ified lens in the first season and kept it going through the second (and they seem to be reverting to that form with a vengeance for season four).

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If you drop by the Disney channels, even for the advertisements alone, you will find them to be mostly girl-centered. This is not just with shows like Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Elena of Avalor. Disney has a whole series of ads called “Dream Big, Princess” to inspire girls to be anything they want to be. They also have advertisements for Lab Rats, Descendants, and other shows which make boys look like brainless idiots and girls look like uber women in training.

This is not only unrealistic and disheartening, it is dangerous. What is your son/nephew/brother or the boy next door supposed to achieve with these caricatures as his models? Disney has no “Dream Big, Prince” television ads encouraging boys to be great men like Prince Phillip, Prince Eric, or even Kristoff in their last big film, Frozen. Instead they push the popular narrative that boys are mini-barbarians or mini-buffoons in training who will someday grow up to be Big Barbarians or Big Buffoons.

If I had to bet, this is one of the reasons why The Lion Guard has taken off. Throughout the series so far, Kion has rarely failed to be a good little boy. In the first episode of the series, Kion ends up in the Outlands after chasing some marauding hyenas out of the Pridelands. While on the other side of the border, he bumps into a female hyena named Jasiri.

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At first, Kion is suspicious of Jasiri, referring to her as “hyena” and being snappish when he speaks to her. But when Jasiri proves to be totally unlike the other hyenas, Kion starts treating her better. He proves that his earlier conduct toward her was a lapse in judgement and a jump to a conclusion when he comes back to defend Jasiri from the same marauding hyenas at the end of the episode. Though Jasiri proves to be a capable fighter, there is never a hint that Kion should apologize for coming to help her or defer to her as some fighting goddess he should worship.

In fact, at one point during the battle, he thrusts Jasiri to the ground in order to headbutt a hyena she has not seen coming. Not only does the move show fast thinking, it proves that Kion’s earlier behavior was a mistake he has since recognized and corrected.

And so far in the series, when fighting alongside a girl, Kion does not leave his manly concern for her at the edge of the battlefield but keeps it with him at all times. Jasiri even thanks Kion for his help in this show, a rare thing in modern media. (Just look up Avengers Assemble’s “Captain Marvel” episode from season three to see why I say this.)

This is not the last time that Kion behaves in a chivalrous manner toward a girl, either. Although they have the regular spats any pair of siblings would, Kion treats Kiara with a respect that is the exact opposite of simpering worship. It also has overtones of a greater reverence than most boys in modern media show their sisters. It is an esteem which comes from a healthy dose of – *gasp* – chivalry!

Yes, I just said that the lead character in The Lion Guard possesses chivalry. Kiara is still a poor fighter in the series; this is to presrve the timeline for the story. We saw Kovu point out twice in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride that Kiara’s fighting tactics were less than stellar, and the television show did not change this fact. In The Lion Guard, Kion had to come to his sister’s direct defense in “Can’t Wait to Be Queen.” He also showed a fair bit of attachment to, and concern for, her in “The Rise of Scar.” Kion also demonstrates a chivalrous deference and love for his mother, Nala, in the episode “Never Roar Again.”

But the best episode to show Kion’s sense of chivalry so far was “The Search for Utamu” because it was his most obvious display of the virtue. It also added a healthy dose of chilvalry to the other Guard members’ characters as well.

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In this episode the lone female member of the Guard, Fuli the cheetah, overexerts herself while she is supposed to be resting. Cheetahs can only keep their amazing speed going for a few minutes. After that, it can take them up to half an hour to get their breath back. Once a cheetah makes a kill, it has to sit beside the animal for at least that long to get its breath and then it can eat.

This is why it will get up and walk away when it sees a lion coming to check out the kill. Not only is the cheetah smaller and weaker than the lion but, when out of breath, it cannot outpace the lion.

Fuli is still a cub, and as of this episode she did not believe that she had any limits. Her inevitable exhaustion after her lone escapade leaves Fuli vulnerable to an attack from a group of vultures. When the male Guard members learn about her danger, they all rush to their female friend’s defense. Kion especially shows anger at the vultures when he blasts them into the distance with the Roar of the Elders (which is probably why we did not see them for some time after this episode).

So while Fuli and Jasiri are both female characters who can manage their own affairs – and who often say they can look after themselves without interference from “foolish males” – they have both landed in situations where they needed Kion and the other boys’ aid. And while Kion respects the abilities and competence of his two female friends, he also treats them with the special regard that they deserve as girls.

This does not diminish the girls’ fighting and survival abilities and, amazingly, it does not make the boys’ desire to protect them when they cannot defend themselves appear silly. This showing of chivalry is a great thing, as it spotlights a virtue which male characters have been denied in similar series – created by Disney and other companies – for far too long.

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Another way our male lead demonstrates his chivalry is by his dealings with Kiara’s airheaded “friends,” the lioness cubs Tiifu and Zuri. While the Guard has Bunga, the typical “boys drool” character, Kiara is saddled with two lioness cubs who are more concerned with their looks and social status than with anything even vaguely important.

Kion treats both these fluff-brained characters in general with a respect they have never earned, only rolling his eyes once when talking to them in “The Rise of Scar” and telling them off, rightly, when they allowed Kiara to go to a meeting with a known enemy on her own in “Can’t Wait to Be Queen.” The only explanation for his willingness to consider these two girls as anything remotely resembling “family” is the fact that they are girls – and oh, yeah, they happen to hang out with his sister.

As I have already mentioned, Kion continually shows quick-thinking during the series. Unlike Star Trek: The Next Generation’s unending roundtable discussions in the midst of calm and battle, most of the Guard’s tactics and strategies are actually made by Kion, either on the spur of the moment or through hours of training between patrols. The other members of the Guard follow his orders and decisions, though not always without question or input. In comparison to other male leads (in the modern Disney brand and other franchises), Kion is far more intelligent than the talking heads would have children believe boys can be.

It is also refreshing to see that, even when Kion must trust his friends to come up with a plan, he does not effusively kowtow to them after this. He accepts their advice and praises his friends’ plans without being a sycophant, congratulating them on their quick-thinking before turning back to the task at hand. Or paw, in his case.

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Something else to note about The Lion Guard is Kion’s fighting prowess. The four leading male characters in the show are good fighters, but Kion is the best of the bunch. Where the girl often comes to the boy’s rescue in current children’s television shows, Kion is rarely in need of such a save. And when he does need the help of a female character, such as in “Never Judge a Hyena by Its’ Spots,” Kion shows by his dialogue that he thinks just as deeply and quickly in such situations as those where he is supposedly “in control” of the circumstances.

Thus far, The Lion Guard has proven to be a better series than I had anticipated. It is a show with a male protagonist who is chivalrous, competent, and smart. Though I take issue with some of the show’s themes, one thing which I really appreciate and cheer on is Kion’s quiet, unabashed, and completely proper masculinity.

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend. Shows which focus on female leads are wonderful inspirations for girls, certainly. But boys need television shows with male characters who are not only unafraid to be boys, but who have a sense of chivalry, along with smarts and fighting ability. They have been denied this for a long time, readers, and The Lion Guard is a more than welcome anticipation of a change in the fads. From what I have seen so far, we need more shows like this one. So, ‘til the Pridelands end –

Lion Guard defend!

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Assorted Tunes – From Enya to Skillet

This post has an odd assortment of songs included.  Below you will find Enya songs rubbing elbows with Skillet tunes and one song by Hillary Scott.  Despite the strangeness of this collection, I hope you enjoy at least a couple of the songs.  If you do, then my work here is done.

‘Til next time!

The Mithril Guardian

The Humming by Enya

 

Echoes In Rain by Enya

 

So I Could Find My Way by Enya

 

Dark Sky Island by Enya

 

Aniron by Enya

(The theme for Aragorn and Arwen, The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.)

 

May It Be by Enya

 

Thy Will Be Done by Hillary Scott

 

Lions by Skillet

 

Stars by Skillet

Spotlight: Zoids – The Blade Liger

Here’s Spotlight! Once again, readers, I take you back to a planet “in the far reaches of the Milky Way.” That planet is Zi. The focus of this post is one of the living “mechanical combat units” that dwells there – The Blade Liger!

There is only one zoids series that truly gives the Blade Liger the attention it deserves, Zoids: Chaotic Century. The other zoids series – Zoids: New Century Zero, Zoids: Fuzors, and Zoids: Genesis – barely give the Blade Liger the time of day. This is because the heroes of these other zoids television shows pilot newer, more powerful Ligers. I think that that is somewhat unfortunate; though I love the Shield Liger, I also love the Blade Liger, and I hate to see it get so little attention in these later stories.

This leads us back to the topic of today’s post. What is a Blade Liger? A Blade Liger is the next step in the evolution of the Shield Liger. When a particular zoid and its pilot work together for a long time, they tend to develop a bond, kind of like a cowboy and his horse. Also, pilots whose skill grows with each battle get stronger and more powerful. The zoid typically keeps up with the pilot’s skill level – until it cannot go any farther.

For some pilots, this means they have to get another zoid. Their old partner just cannot keep up with them anymore, and if they want to keep fighting and increasing their skill, potential, and fighting prowess, they need to stay alive. Piloting a zoid that cannot keep up with you is a good way to get yourself killed.

However, in some cases, zoids can evolve to meet their pilot’s new skills. Usually, this is best achieved by an outside force, typically an Organoid. (I will be discussing these in the next Spotlight! post, so stay tuned!) The Organoid enhances a zoid’s and its pilot’s power. This helps both zoid and pilot to grow and achieve their “full potential.” A zoid could, conceivably, evolve on its own. But that would take time or special circumstances. Organoids speed up the process so that it takes a minimum of a few days, or a maximum of a month (give or take).

The Blade Liger is lion-type, just like the Shield Liger. But it is bigger, faster, and stronger than the Shield Liger. With larger paws, longer canines, and boosters to speed it on its way, the Blade Liger is an ideal close-combat zoid.

The Blade Liger shares two features with the Shield Liger. One is its energy shield. As with the Shield Liger, the Blade Liger can extend fins in its “mane.” These fins, in conjunction with the shield generator, put up an energy shield that protects the front half of the zoid. This shield, unlike the Shield Liger’s, can be made stronger. Despite this, the Blade Liger’s shield can be pierced. It just takes more work to pierce a Blade Liger’s shield than it would to break through a Shield Liger’s shield.

The second feature the Blade Liger shares with the Shield Liger is that it has a cannon between its forelegs, on its chest. But this cannon has two barrels and it fires rounds with a higher yield than the Shield Liger’s triple barrel cannon.

Now, you may be wondering, “Why is this zoid called a Blade Liger?” Before I answer that question, take a look at the video below:

Pretty cool, huh? Those gold blades are what give the Liger its distinctive name and trademark attack. While the Blade Liger is at rest or otherwise engaged, the blades fold up on its back. When the Liger’s pilot tires of playing games, he can end the battle swiftly by firing up the boosters and lowering the blades, which are then charged with energy. Coming against an opposing zoid at its maximum speed, a Blade Liger can literally slice an enemy zoid in two. (There was one episode in Chaotic Century where a pair of raptor-type zoids lost everything above their waistline to a Blade Liger, yet their legs kept on running!)

The Blade Liger’s speed is spectacularly high. It can outrun most land and air zoids. With a very few modifications, it can also keep pace with the two or three of the fastest zoids known to Zi. And the blades, when lowered and pointed forward, can be used to strengthen the Blade Liger’s energy shield. The energy used to charge the blades, combined with the power of an active shield, meshes both energies together. This strengthens the shield and, apparently, the blades as well.

Also, laser rifles can be attached to the backs of the blades. Raised and aimed over the Liger’s head, or “fired from the hip” when the blades are folded forward against the Liger’s sides, the lasers on these blades can be accurately fired at an opposing zoid. On a lightly armored zoid, these laser shots are dangerous and will cause serious damage. Zoids with heavier armor can shrug off the shots, but they better hope the Liger does not keep shooting at the exact same spot. The laser shots are very effective in any battle; they simply take more time to cut through thicker armor than through the “skin” of lighter zoids.

Finally, there are the Blade Liger’s teeth and claws. Those teeth are as deadly as they look, and the claws can at the least scratch the armor on the heavier combat zoids. Lighter armored zoids do not stand a chance against a Blade Liger’s claws.

The Blade Liger has two seats in its cockpit, just like the Shield Liger. The forward seat is for the pilot, the rear seat is for his co-pilot or “RIO” – Radar Intercept Officer. Though the Blade Liger of Chaotic Century is blue, it has been shown in a variety of other colors in subsequent series. New Century Zero featured a red Blade Liger, Zoids: Fuzors showed silver/gray Blade Ligers, and Zoids: Genesis at least mentioned a black Blade Liger. The toys come in several other colors – including white trimmed with pink! (Blah!)

All in all, the Blade Liger is a beautiful zoid. Specially adapted for close-combat fighting, with blinding speed and agility, the Blade Liger is one of the best zoids around. Anyone can pilot a Blade Liger. But it takes a champion to bring out the zoid’s full potential. And in Chaotic Century, that is just what we get!

See you on the battlefield!

The Mithril Guardian