Disney successfully weaved together several of Rudyard Kipling's original jungle stories into a fun-filled adventure for children and adults. Well-received and quite memorable, The Jungle Book is full of unforgettable characters and timeless songs, although it was unable to reach the level of emotion and passion that would later be perfected with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
Bagheera the panther finds an abandoned man cub in a basket and, against his better judgment, delivers it to some fellow wolves to raise as their own. The human child, Mowgli, grows to be a favorite amongst the jungle creatures. But with the news of the return of Shere Kahn, the human-loathing tiger, Bagheera and the others decide it's best if Mowgli is returned to a human village. The boy doesn't want to go, and runs off for adventures with Baloo the bear and King Louie the orangutan before realizing that the jungle really is no place for a human.
The characters are very well-crafted and their designs are flawless. In fact, three of the characters were so popular that they were drafted into their own spin-off TV show, Tailspin. Baloo the bear, King Louie of the apes and Shere Kahn the Tiger became more personified versions of themselves in Tailspin, which was also a huge success. The character designs in The Jungle Book paved the way as templates for future Disney characters including many of those in 1994's The Lion King. Other notable aspects of the inspired animation include the voice casting of Kaa the snake, by Winnie the Pooh's Sterling Holloway, and Colonel Hathi, leader of the marching military-like elephants is voiced by Pat O'Malley.