|“||Kopa: Do you have a name?
Asante: Yes! Even hyenas are that sophisticated!
When a disobedient Kopa wanders into the Elephant Graveyard, he witnesses Asante struggling to escape a snake. The front half of Asante's body is stuck under the ground, making it impossible for her to defend herself. As the snake attempts to strangle her, she cries out for help. Kopa intervenes and flips the snake away, allowing Asante the chance to wriggle out of the hole.
Upon seeing each other face-to-face, the two recognize each other as lifelong enemies. Despite this, Kopa introduces himself to the hyena, and Asante does the same. She then thanks him for saving her from the snake. Kopa tells her that snakes do not scare him, and Asante admits that poisonous snakes scare her. She explains to Kopa that she had been hunting for snake eggs when the constrictor had caught her in the act. Kopa, impressed with Asante's knowledge, claims to understand all that she is talking about. Asante asks Kopa if he lives in the Pride Lands, and he confirms this. Asante admits that her kind is not allowed to go there, since hyenas and lions are enemies. She thanks Kopa again, and the two part ways.
After returning home, Kopa thinks much about his new friend. He even admits his troubles to his mother, who tries to explain to her son that hyenas and lions are enemies, though she also compliments him for putting aside their differences in order to save Asante.
Many days later, Kopa is on a walk across the savanna when he runs into Asante again. The hyena invites him to play, and the lion cub eagerly accepts. Asante suggests they throw bones, but Kopa is disgusted. Seeing her friend cringe, Asante laughs and suggests they hunt crickets. As the two play together, Kopa spots a line of ants crawling across the ground. He points them out to Asante and tells her to sit and wait. The hyena is confused but obediently sits down and waits.
Presently, a gecko approaches and eats up the line of ants. Kopa explains to his friend that no one can change the course of nature. Snakes and geckos can never be friends and neither can geckos and ants. At Kopa's words, Asante takes the gecko and shoves him aside. She then proclaims to Kopa that she has just changed the course of nature, for she is now a friend of the ants. Kopa asks if it's possible for hyenas and lions to be friends, and Asante points out that they are friends. The two then run off together, happily playing among the savanna grass.
Kopa and Asante meet each other more often after this. They play together and tell each other their secrets. Kopa tells his friend about a tree which gives shade all day long, and Asante tells Kopa about a den with a great echo. Despite their growing friendship, neither dares introduce the other to his or her family.
One day, Asante tries to convince Kopa to come to the Shadowland with her, but Kopa is hesitant to disobey his parents again. Asante finally convinces him to come by telling him that there is a great river there which they can throw stones into. Upon entering the unknown land, Kopa forgets his fears and trots happily alongside his hyena friend. No sooner are they in Asante's land when they spot a dark cloud steadily approaching them. At first, Kopa thinks it's a swarm of locusts, but Asante instantly knows the true identity of the cloud.
She exclaims to Kopa that a storm is coming. The cub is confused, but Asante points out to him that she can hear thunder. Kopa has never seen a storm before in his life, but Asante knows the dangers of rain and lightning. As the storm begins to bear down on the cubs, Asante yells at Kopa to run. Eventually, the lion gives in and races after his panicked friend. The weather changes drastically, and the storm moves in overhead. As rain begins to pelt the cubs from all directions, the river swells and starts to grow bigger and bigger. Soon, the ground gives way, and Kopa falls into the river. The lion cub yells to Asante for help, but the young hyena runs off into the rain without him.
Unbeknown to Kopa, Asante hastens to her friend, an old crocodile named Kroko, and begs him to save Kopa's life. After hearing her story, Kroko agrees to help the young lion cub, whom he safely delivers to shore, where Asante rushes to his side, begging him to wake up. Kopa is relieved to see Asante still with him, and the hyena explains to him that she had merely gone for help. Kopa thanks her, and Asante accepts his gratitude. She then asks him if he can move all right. Kopa admits that he is exhausted, and Asante resolves to guide him home.
Together, the hyena and the lion journey across the savanna until they've nearly reached Pride Rock. It's been a long time since a hyena was brave enough to go so far, and even Asante feels uncomfortable. Kopa is desperate for her to meet his parents, for he knows that if he doesn't destroy the old hostility today, there won't be another chance. Despite his enthusiasm, Asante stops before they can reach the pride and tells Kopa that they are even, as both have saved the other's life at some point. She then tells him that they don't belong together, which is why they must part ways.
Kopa begrudgingly admits to this and dejectedly makes his way back toward Pride Rock. As he's walking, Asante suddenly catches up to him and tells him that she's changed her mind. She then asks him if he still wants her to meet his parents, and Kopa eagerly agrees. Asante admits that she is a bit afraid of them and asks Kopa if they really are friends. Kopa assures her that they are and then challenges her to a race. Asante teases him about his slowness, and the two friends take off across the savanna.
Because of Asante's friendship with Kopa, the other hyenas dare to venture farther into the Pride Lands. One of the hyenas, Fisi, even goes so far as to arrange a fight between Simba and a cheetah named Kesho.
Personality and traits
Asante is everything a typical hyena isn't: good-natured, kind in spirit, and exceptionally smart. Also unlike the other members of her species, she is not close-minded to the idea of befriending a lion. Although she is suspicious of the species in general, which is only natural considering her heritage, she is quick to trust even the prince of her enemies and takes little regard for her own alleged subordinate stature.
Even around her more superior friends, Asante is sarcastic and spunky, unaffected by caste. She is not too deep the thinker and rather views life from a very open-minded perspective. Instead of questioning if hyenas and lions can be friends, she is quick to accept that such a friendship is possible and therefore without sin. This is most likely due to her other interspecies friendships, such as her close relationship with a crocodile.
In more serious situations, Asante is known to show bravery and maturity beyond her years. Even in everyday life, she displays a high level of understanding, as she is able to keep a secret of great magnitude from her fellow hyenas for a fairly long time. Though she sometimes struggles to communicate clearly, as Kopa believed her to have abandoned him when she really went to fetch help, she is considerably persistent and willing to tackle daunting problems. When faced with a tough choice, she is prone to at first turn away, but when given the chance to reconsider, she usually overcomes her fears and takes the challenge.
- Asante is voiced by Hanna Reisch.
- Asante's name means "thank you" in Swahili.
- Asante has a fear of poisonous snakes.
- Asante's character and role mirror those of Jasiri, a spunky female hyena who befriends Kion, Simba and Nala's son, in The Lion Guard.
- Online Swahili - English Dictionary. African Languages. Retrieved on September 1, 2020.
- The Lion King – Friends For Life. Retrieved on September 2, 2020.
- Revealed in "Never Judge a Hyena by its Spots" from Disney Junior's The Lion Guard. No. 1, Season 1. Written by Kevin Hopps, John Loy, and Ford Riley, and directed by Howy Parkins. Originally aired January 15, 2016.