Yes, I know in some cases these people aren't critisising the character so much as the people who wrote him. But I can't defend all
the people who have developed Simba at The Walt Disney Company because some of them really messed up, so that title will have to do.
Confused Matthew on YouTube and some others criticise that SImba's adult version is completely unrelated to the child version of him. Essentially that his character development was abandoned in the middle of the film. Also, when reviewing "The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar", most seem to label Simba as a racist because he disapproves of Kion's choice of the Guard members who are not lions. (By the way, that would actually be a species...ist and not a racist. But I personally don't think he's either.) Anyway, and they say that that's wrong because SImba should know better having been "raised by a meerkat and a warthog".
I totally disagree on all those matters.
no chance to develop as a person because Timon and Pumbaa kept him from maturing what with their immature Hakuna Matata life philosophy while he also suffered deep depression and guilt through all those years underneath his fake attitude of Hakuna Matata. Hakuna Matata didn't work for him but it also worked just enough on him to keep him from maturing and growing as a person. In my view Simba was executed exactly as someone in his shoes and with his formative-years companions would realistically be like.
His character development was not abandoned at any point. His development kind of stopped at a certain point because it was the realistic thing to do seeing to his life situation.
Even in "The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride", (for which he's also received criticism), his personality actually is exactly what someone with his history would have ended up like. An immature, insecure and traumatised little boy in an adult's body - who is nonetheless desperately trying to pull off the role of a parent, and of a ruler of an entire kingdom. A huge and scary job for someone who never really had a chance to properly mature, had to try and do it pretty much over-night, was blessed with a child before he could get used to even being an adult and a king while he never had been prepared for even adulthood much less for parenthood. And even his kingship training was over before it could truly begin.
I don't understand why so many in "The Lion Guard" reviews make the argument that Simba was "raised by a meerkat and a warthog". They didn't raise
Simba. Raising a child means preparing the child for the next stage of life, for adult life. Teaching him/her skills and morals that are needed in the world of adults. As well as making sure the child stays safe and healthy and disciplined. Whether you do that successfully or fail in it, that's nonetheless what you will be doing when you're actually raising a child.
Can you honestly claim you believe Timon and Pumbaa were able to or even interested in teaching/giving the cub Simba that kind of attention?
They were his friends, friends who didn't serve him well even as friends as they corrupted his mind with their "Hakuna Matata" philosophy, preventing him from becoming the adult he'd needed to become. The whole parenting thing from "The Lion King 1½" was meant to be part of the parody aspect, as not only does it contradict the Hakuna Matata philosophy but also the fact that they indeed referred to him only as a friend in the first film, not as "their boy".
I totally can't see the first movie's Timon and Pumbaa disciplining Simba in any way, telling Simba what he can't or cannot do, or teaching him anything of adult value. Timon would have been up there in that tree with Simba telling Pumbaa how he looks like an ant. And Pumbaa probably hoping he could climb, too. Simba would have just gone drinking or peeing, feeling no need to wake them up for that - I mean, he wasn't a baby. And I'm pretty sure the trio would have been sleeping in the same spot anyway, whether Simba had nightmares or not. At least after their friendship grew.
Yes, Pumbaa was caring and kind of could have taken a paternal role but I'm sure he didn't - because he was just enough dim-witted to be almost completely lead by Timon who mainly thought of SImba as a friend he could use as a protection against possible predators. It was not a family unit, and was barely even a well-functioning unit of bachelor friends.
I'm sure they protected each other to the best of their ability, for whatever individual motives, but that's all. The rest of their daily life surely was Hakuna Matata, reckless and childish fun. As friends. While Simba was running from his past and guilt, but certainly never really succeeded to escape it - evident by the star speculation scene; how easily he was brought down from a good time even years into that life style.
Nobody raised SImba beyond age 10-11 (in human years) which was the point when his father died and he was exiled away from his mother. He lived as a bachelor with two batchelor friends, in a jungle that didn't have other predators to defend anyone against. How could he have possibly found out if different species are good for defending stuff or not?
Leading me to his judgement of Kion's Lion Guard member choices...and no, I'm totally not defending that terrible-as-a-Lion-King-series TV show but just SImba's character as is...He was right. SImba was right! Even though the pilot episode and series try to make it seem like he was wrong. You have to remember that the series is targeted at toddlers and apparently feels the need to abandon all realism.
The Lion Guard's main purpose in Simba's eyes and according to its traditional function is to defend
the Pridelands against enemies. Not to do just any random helping in any random sticky situation. It's ridiculous that Kion's Lion Guard took on that path. They're literally running around the Pridelands almost 24/7 saving baby animals from being stranded on a river and so on. It's as if every other animal in the kingdom was utterly helpless and as if Kion's friends were the only individuals of their respective species who could do the thing they do.
It's very unrealistic and not doing what The Lion Guard was supposed to be doing. Kion's Lion Guard would fail so hard if they were faced with an enemy or a group of enemies of even the average intelligence instead of those dumb-ass hyenas the show throws at them. A tiny bird gets eaten quickly, a hippo is relatively slow and could easily accidentally damage his own team members, a honey-badger who's brave bordering stupidity - especially as a child, is also a risky member. And a frail child cheetah really has only her speed to contribute. Okay, sure, they had their wits too but even that wouldn't realistically be anywhere near as good when they're young children as opposed to an adult's mind.
LIONS are needed to defend
the Pridelands. And they have a large pride of lions there to begin with, and they indeed were the ones to defend the kingdom when Zira and her lionesses attacked in "The Lion King 2". Kion's colourful group of friends isn't even that much needed for what they actually can do well, because as said they're not the only individuals of their species. Kion's Lion Guard is really only an equivalent of a little childhood club rather than a serious defence force. Or at least it would be if it wasn't for that freakin' "Roar of the Elders".
In a realistic execution, Simba would not have allowed Kion to lead the Guard until he'd be at least a mature teen and had time to learn some actual fighting skills. Because any bad guy with any sense in his/her head would attack Kion before he could even open his mouth to attempt the gawddamn magic roar, and would totally own that cub in a fight. In fact, as is, Kion is unlikely to ever learn any fighting skills because the roar is so conveniently serving him whenever he needs it.
And in realistic execution, SImba would not have allowed Kion's choice of the Guard members because they were all young children. Untested and inexperienced in battles and naturally had still much room for mental maturing as well. Nor would he have risked his child's life like that. He even kept saying that Kion can't possibly be ready because he's only a cub.
Simba was looking at it the right way in all the things that matter - but in the end was forced to change his mind because the plot and an unrealistic concept for a little kids' show demanded it.
Simba's characterisation is butchered in "The Lion Guard" but it isn't because of "racism". Most remarkably he was butchered by letting his son lead a defence force at that age even though literally hours earlier he was still behaving immaturely, and by having him do absolutely nothing to save his young daughter from a stampede. It's downright an insult to his character. Because no matter how immature he is himself, he was his father's son. Realistically he would have leapt into that damn stampede without hesitation in attempts to save her, just as his dad did for him. And wouldn't have let a child of his take up a dangerous job. It's not even a question after how he treated Kiara in "The Lion King 2" during which time period that TV show is supposed to happen.
So, in my view and opinion Simba's creators - the creators of "The Lion King" did a great job. The creators of "The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride" did a great job respecting the original creators' work. The creators of "The Lion King 1½" never meant their film to be anything but a parody and possibly a backstory for how Timon and Pumbaa first met so I don't consider that affecting SImba's character or story in any way. The creators of "The Lion Guard" obviously lack any and all understanding, care and respect for both of the films and most of the major characters.