While I will agree that there aren’t enough strong female heroines in fiction, especially Saturday morning shows, if someone tells you there aren’t any, they’re totally wrong. For example, Jana Of The Jungle is a female version of Tarzan. There was a time when comics had their fair share of “jungle girls” but I couldn’t tell you how much influence they had on this series.
The show follows Jana, lost while on a boat with her father. The series intro says that she is forever searching for her father, but I don’t recall that ever being a plotline. Then again, it’s been years since I’ve seen the show and this was the only episode I came across. However, it’s a good one, and let’s you meet all the main characters and see Jana doing what she does best. In our selected episode, they found a way to do the “evil twin” story. This isn’t the kind of show you expect the evil twin from, and no, it’s not Jana. Just watch…”The Renegade”!
Montaro’s “staff of power” could cause a shake and light show and Jana’s necklace could be a spinning blade long before Xena used the gimmick. (Take that, warrior princess!) Otherwise the show tended to stay towards the real world, unlike a lot of Hanna Barbera’s other action shows, even the more serious ones like Jonny Quest or Valley Of The Dinosaurs.
But while Jana does get help from Ben and Montaro, it’s usually her saving the day. She only needs them for the same reason she needs her animal friends…because we all need a little help sometimes. Jana is as strong as she is beautiful without being a badass butt kicker. While she certainly has elements of the male fantasy about a woman, she also has elements that make her a good role model for young girls and a hero they can look up to. I say it’s a win for everybody!
The show aired alongside the animated Godzilla and someone on Wikipedia claimed that Toho might be a reason there is yet to be a DVD release but I think that’s highly unlikely. The show was released in syndication with no connection to Godzilla, and Hanna Barbera (now Time Warner) has complete rights to Jana and her friends. I would like to see a home video release or at least airings on Boomerang. This was a great adventure show and while the animation doesn’t hold up the writing still does. Could this show be remade? There have been enough versions of Tarzan for me to say yes and with the right people it could be quite good. I recommend this show to pretty much any young (and young at heart) adventure fan, male or female.