Supervision by Charles Jones; Story by Robert Givens; Animation by Philip Monroe; Musical Direction by Carl W. Stalling. A Merrie Melody released on October 7, 1939.
It’s Inki’s first day on the job, so we can expect a few flubs. Example: despite what the title clearly states, he’s throwing his spear at any and all animals. (Although, in seriousness, if a giraffe chooses to bend down to eat, it’s asking for death.) Being early in his short career, Inki also looks a bit different than we’d later know him. He’s got large lashes, and a shiny black nose. Making it understandable that I used to think he was female, and you thought he was a deer.
The kid finds some tracks that surely lead to some big, dangerous game, so Inki takes cover behind a tree. And the ‘dangerous’ part comes true when we see what comes from the direction of those tracks: the world’s REAL most deadliest game, the Minah Bird. (You can identify him by his flashing wings.) He clearly didn’t make those tracks, he just killed whatever did for intruding on his territory. (If it was lucky, it wasn’t made to suffer. No promises with this bird, though.)
Inki makes another rookie mistake, he decides to tackle this creature. He follows it, waiting for the perfect moment to use his spear. It either never comes, or he squanders it, as the bird hops into a hole. Now, you should never, never, never ever, never, never, ever put your hand into any hole this bird hopes into, if you value said hand and think there will even be a remote chance that you will use it again. Inki is lucky today, just pulling out a sleeping skunk. Perhaps the bird is giving him one break for being so new at this.
Inki decides to hunt tortoises, as there is less danger involved. But after following the reptile into a log, he finds himself back in the company of the destroyer bird. Having not gotten the hint that he should really flee while he still has eight toes, he throws his spear. Bridging a gap that the bird had no problem jumping into, because even gravity knows better than to try and kill him. Hence the bird’s ability to hop vertically up a tree. Inki climbs up after him, and ends up with the bird on his head. Said bird tries to bite his nose off for daring to let his scalp touch the bird’s talons. (Well, would you like to tell me what the bird is doing?)
While trying to squish it or something, Inki only manages to knock himself back to the ground. He’s managed to escape painful death twice now, so he should really leave the mynah bird hunting to the professionals. (Current members in that profession: -1,000,000,000.) But hark, sounds! (In a jungle? No way.) Sounds like some kind of game is coming close. Inki just needs to listen to find out what he’s up against. It’s the very thing the title said he should have been hunting all along: a lion.
The lion is much closer than Inki’s hearing suggests, and the beast has to physically tap the boy to make his presence known. Inki immediately knows he is over his head now, and bolts without even looking at the cat directly. (Good. He’s learning.) He also knows the basic rule of lion survival: hiding in a hollow tree stump works! They are not one to question why a stump has an eye, or what those horrible screechy, scratchy noises are. (I guess there the sounds of Inki trying to creep away?) But he forgot that this trick only works if you stand still. Even lions know that stumps don’t stroll.
With the lion totally aware, Inki has no choice but to accept his fate. But just then, things are made either worse or better by the appearance of who else was in the stump, good old, terrifying old, the Minah bird. The lion isn’t aware that he should flee while the fleeing’s good; animals can’t learn from mistakes that will kill them. It pounces, and a terrific tussle takes place off-screen. When the bird is done proving who the king of the jungle is, the lion is roughed up, tussed up, and ready for slaughter, but the bird feels he has made his point.
Instead, he lets Inki know that he saved the kid from the lion’s digestive system, and kicks him for bothering him in the first place. It’s here where you learn the twist that I just made up: Inki had found a genie, and wished to survive an encounter with this bird, three times. He probably thought that would mean he’d kill it each time, but you know what pricks genies are.
Favorite Part: When Inki is hiding from the lion behind a tree, the lion taps him on the shoulder. Inki figures out who’s poking him by squeezing the lion’s retractable claw out. Nice subtle teaching!
Personal Rating: 3