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Anime / The Fantastic Adventures of Unico

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"The little fellow named Unico, as cute as cute can be."
"An innocent boy was Unico so happy and so care free."
"With heaven, life as sweet as nature could have planned."
"What strange gift do you hold in your hand?"
"Is it true? That where ever you may go?"
"Oh Unico."
"Across the land the fighting will cease, and night will turn to day."
"All tears will simply disappear, and the world will say."
"We love you, Oh Unico."
"We love you."
— First song from the movie introducing the viewers to Unico.

The Fantastic Adventures of Unico is a 1981 animated feature film based on the Unico manga by Osamu Tezuka. The film was produced by Sanrio and Tezuka Productions with animation by Madhouse.

The film begins with the birth of Unico; a baby unicorn with the very special gift of making all living creatures lighthearted and happy. But the gods become jealous of Unico's ability and task the West Wind with banishing him to oblivion. However, the West Wind takes pity on Unico and instead swears to keep him safe from the gods' wrath. She tries to hide him anywhere she can, moving him to a different place every time the gods get too close to finding him again. Thus begin Unico's adventures, helping the people he meets on his travels and doing whatever he can for them before the West Wind returns to spirit him away once more.

The film was dubbed into English and frequently shown on the Disney Channel during The '80s. It's now available in a bilingual DVD release from Discotek Media, the first time the original Japanese version has been commercially available in the U.S.

The Fantastic Adventures of Unico provides examples of the following tropes:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: When he feels truly loved by his friends, Unico can transform into a winged stallion in order to save the day.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole/Adaptation Explanation Extrication: No reason is given as to why the gods can't just keep Unico for themselves. In the original manga, it is explained that if Venus did keep Unico with her, Eros would just steal him back for Psyche.
  • Adaptational Abomination: The Baron in the manga was a cruel hunter. In the movie, his true form is a giant horrifying demon that vomits bats.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The second Italian dub from 2022 gained a new theme song performed by Santo Verduci (who voiced Akuma/Beezle in the redub) called "Le fantastiche avventure di Unico". The new theme was given a digital release for Contactoons' 6th Album, on October 24th, 2022, dedicated to other cartoon theme songs performed by Verduci.
  • Alcohol Hic: Katy, both after tasting one of the berries in the baron's forest and after drinking the drugged wine he gives her.
  • Alternate Animal Affection: In one scene, Unico licks Beezle as a gesture of gratitude. He does the same thing to a monkey in an attempt to revive it later on in the film.
  • Animated Musical: The songs were dubbed in English with the original melodies.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Baron. He is a demon, after all.
  • Badass Adorable: Unico. Watch out when he transforms into his giant form.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Baron de Ghost enchants the animals of the forest to attack each other for no real reason than For the Evulz. Justified as he's a demon, and not of the cute, potentially redeemable sort Beezle is.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Unico can kick some ass despite himself.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end everyone is happy and the evil is vanquished, but the West Wind returns and Unico must go.
  • Blessed with Suck: Unico is born with the power to make all those around him happy - pretty awesome ability, right? Not if you have a panel of Gods who feel that they're the only ones should have it, and subsequently want you banished from existence for daring to infringe on them.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Beezle initially. Justified because he's alone on the island, and is a very young demon who's about the age of a kindergartner.
  • The Cameo: Hello Kitty appears in passing in the "Katy, the Little Witch Cat" musical number. No, really!
  • Cat Girl: Not played completely straight, but Katy's the kitty to call.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Pretty much everything important to the climax is set up during Unico's encounter with Beezle before the midpoint of the film:
    • Unico nearly drowns after lending Beezle his horn for the day. When Beezle actually finds him to return it, he's drifting unconscious in the ocean, (because of Beezle's careless and thoughtless actions) but the moment Beezle reattaches his horn he's revived as his powers return. In the climax, Unico's horn is broken and he's apparently killed. He is revived when Beezle removes the horn Unico gifted him earlier, and sets it in place of the broken horn.
    • And, of course, the horn itself: Unico gives Beezle a horn of his own as a farewell gift when the West Wind returns to spirit him away from his island once the Gods discover his whereabouts. It's this horn that Beezle uses to revive him after he's killed fighting the Demon at the end.
    • Unico transforms into his adult self for the first time after Beezle returns his horn at sea, allowing him to rescue them both from drowning. He explains to Beezle afterwards he can only do this for someone who loves him. After his horn is restored and he's revived during the final battle, Beezle's and Katy's love for him allows him to transform, which gives him the power to destroy the Big Bad.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Unico himself.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Katy, in her cat form, and Beezle both have them.
  • Date Rape: What the baron seems to want to do to Katy. Luckily, Unico stops him.
  • Death by Adaptation: The Baron in the manga is subdued by a crowd and stated to be homeless. In the movie he is skewered and destroyed by Unico.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Happens during Katy's song.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The gods try to exile Unico to the Hill of Oblivion just because they're jealous of his ability to make people happy.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: After Unico kills Baron de Ghost, the earth splits open and he's dragged into the magma before it closes up behind him, implying he's been dragged back to Hell.
  • Dub Name Change: Akuma-kun to Beezle, Chao to Katy, and Danshaku to Baron de Ghost.
  • Friend to All Living Things: So much so that the gods try to banish Unico for making everyone too happy.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Averted. It's quite clear that the Baron is making human!Katy drink either wine or sherry, either of which is alcoholic. It makes Katy quite drunk, also justified because she was a cat until not too long ago and likely never had it before, so she didn't know to be careful with it.
  • Genre Blind: Katy believes she's almost in a magical-girl fantasy with her dreams of becoming a witch. She's more a Damsel in Distress for a dark fantasy than anything else.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: When he feels loved by those around him, Unico is able to turn into a full-grown unicorn, complete with the ability to fly. This allows him to fly through the chest of a fifty-story-tall demon, killing him instantly.
  • Heel Realization:
    • Beezle undergoes one earlier when he realizes that, while he is a demon, he's come to care about Unico and uses a loophole to save him.
    • Katy goes through one after Unico returns her to her cat form to prove that he was the one who transformed her into a girl after she takes advantage of the Old Woman and becomes an Ungrateful Bitch once she has her wish granted. When she demands he change her back again, Unico confesses he can only use his powers for people he likes. This makes her realize she's lost Unico's friendship, and that she needs to be better.
  • Hell on Earth: Baron de Ghost attempts to do this to the entire valley...out of spite.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: A melĂ©e example in the climax, when the demon, wielding an immense axe, manages to cut off just Unico's horn.
  • Jerkass:
    • Beezle initially tries to drive Unico away when they first meet, first by scaring him with his father's statue, and then by just plain telling him to leave. He demands Unico's horn in exchange for his friendship, and his idea of "playing" is to ride Unico like a horse, while whipping him with his tail even after Unico makes it clear he doesn't like it. And it's entirely because of Beezle that Unico falls into the ocean and nearly drowns in the first place. How much of this behavior is because he's a demon, and how much is because he's just a dick, isn't entirely clear. He gets better after some character development, however.
    • Katy becomes one after Unico first transforms her into a girl. Despite promising to help out the Old Woman around her house, she soon bores of it and decides to goof off instead now that she has her wish granted.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While the movie has some dark moments earlier, once Baron de Ghost appears, it takes a much darker direction and he has absolutely no comical traits.
  • Limit Break: Unico's powers in general can only work if he loves someone, though the type of love doesn't matter. He flat out says he can't turn Katy back into a human after she's alienated him for this exact reason. His winged unicorn form can only be activated if his friends show him love to a self-sacrificing degree during desperate situations.
  • Morphic Resonance: Katy's human form keeps her ribbon and has two tufts of black hair that look like cat ears.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Baron de Ghost.
  • Noble Demon: Beezle's very insistent on honoring his obligations; his dad raised him that way.
  • No Ending: The West Wind comes back, takes Unico off somewhere else to prevent the gods from finding him and also to prevent the Night Wind from whisking him away to oblivion.
  • Obviously Evil: Baron de Ghost, so much it's mindboggling Katy would agree to go to his party (though she's firmly been established as ditzy and genre blind by this point — she hasn't even been human that long, after all). Thank goodness Unico goes after her!
  • Oh, Crap!: Beezle has one when he senses Baron de Ghost is an extremely powerful demon.
  • One-Winged Angel: After Unico knocks Baron de Ghost off the castle, resulting in him being impaled, he transforms into his true form: a gigantic demon many times larger than the castle itself.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Baron. He's a literal demon with a penchant for Date Rape.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Unico. The films were made with Sanrio; what else did you expect?
  • Say My Name: Holy crap. Both movies feature this and Big Word Shout. You can't go five minutes without hearing UNIICCCCCCCCCOOOO! or some other screaming.
  • Super Mode: Unico's Winged Unicorn form, which he can only access via the Power of Love.
  • The Imp: Beezle.
  • The Power of Friendship: Literally, Unico can do all sorts of things, but only for those he considers his friends. It also gives Unico the power to change into a giant, flying unicorn capable of drilling a supersonic hole through a fifty-story-high demon. Yeah. Not so harmless now, is he?
  • Significant Green Eyed Red Head: Unico himself if his reddish-pink hair counts.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The baron slips some kind of drug into Katy's wine.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Katy, after she gets her wish to become human.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Also Katy after she realizes how horrible she acted to the Old Woman and Unico and makes a serious effort to do better.
  • Tsundere: Two cases. Beezle, who literally said he didn't need friends, was overjoyed to see Unico. Katy, who was very harsh to Unico and warmed up to him during his fight with The Lord of Darkness.
  • Weakened by the Light:
    • The Night Wind can't enter daylight, for obvious reasons.
    • The light Unico emits in his adult form weakens and blinds Baron de Ghost, leaving him vulnerable for Unico to fly straight through his body and kill him off.
  • Winged Humanoid: The gods look more like angels than a traditional pantheon. This is in contrast to the manga, where they're very clearly the Greek Pantheon.
  • Winged Unicorn: That would be Unico, who is capable of transforming into one when he feels loved by those around him.
  • Women Are Wiser: The vain, stupid gods vs. the kind, compassionate West Wind, who are all female.
    • Averted with Katy, who's quite the ditz.