Zira’s Design in The Lion Guard
There is something I noticed about Zira’s appearance in the show. Something that felt… off. At first I thought it was just her eyes. They were slightly rounder and less narrow. Making her look more inline with the rest of the characters in the series. And less “I’m going to eat your children” crazy. After doing a little image diving, I have made a startling discovery!
You see it, right? Or rather, you don’t see something on Lion Guard Zira. That’s right. The stripe on her head is gone! It isn’t for just one scene or anything like that. Zira is missing her stripe during the whole episode! I am flabbergasted I didn’t catch that sooner! It is such a distinctive marking too!
The question here is why did they remove the stripe? Only could say that it is because it’ll be easier to animate, but Fuli will have something to tell you about markings and animation. Besides, this show is animated on Toon Boom and they animate using the models they have made. So they either omitted the stripe marking on purpose or they just forgot all about it when redesigning her for the show. I would say it can be either one of these except…
Rafiki’s drawings all include the stripe she had from the movie! There is no mistake about that! All depictions of her during this scene has that marking. That third pic even shows off her fuzzy chin and nicked ear! So what happened? How can Zira in the show be stripeless but painting Zira gets to keep her’s? Did they intend to put her trademark stripe on but changed at the last minute? Was there miscommunication between the people animating the wall drawing and the rest of the staff? Who can say for sure.
It is definitely a weird choice the show runners decided on. Really messes with the continuity on the visual side of things. Maybe if people were to point this out to them enough, they will correct this omission when season 2 rolls around. Or they will stick to this look for the rest of the series. It’ll be easier than adding in such a small thing like a stripe going down her skull and back.
One last thing I want to cover is her ears. Aside from how movie Zira’s ears are a bit more unkempt, show Zira has an especially large amounst of brown fur along the fold of her ears. I would have chalked this up as something added to her design buuuuuuuut LK2 Zira had this too. It just wasn’t as pronounced. I can safely say that this has more to do with the tv show’s general designs for the lion species than any major design change like her striped marking.
Other altercations between the movie and show versions of Zira is the eyes. As you may notice, the pupil size is different. LK2 Zira has smaller pupils. Making her look more intense. More on edge and ready to pounce you at any given moment you let your guard down. The kind of eyes that will haunt you in your dreams. Meanwhile, Lion Guard Zira’s eyes are fuller. Making her looking less crazed, and more calm and collected. A small difference that leads to a huge change to her character.
Zira is a bit more manipulative in the tv series than she was in the movie. Not to say that she wasn’t before. It was her plan to have Kovu infiltrate Simba’s ranks by having her kids start the fire that Kovu saved Kiara from. But lets just say that she doesn’t have a very trusting face. So filling up those pupils really helps sell the idea that she is somebody who can convince you join her side without fearing that she will eat your children. Disney needs those children to watch this show and buy the toys afterall. So Zira’s murderous personality has to take a backseat while her more Scar-like attributes take over.
So overall, less crazy makes her kid-friendly enough for preschool television and less stripes make her… um… more bald? In an aesthetic sort of way.