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Anime / Unico in the Island of Magic

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Unico in the Island of Magic is a 1983 animated feature film based on the Unico manga by Osamu Tezuka. The film is the second to be based on the character (the first being The Fantastic Adventures of Unico) and, like its predecessor, was created by Sanrio and Tezuka Productions with animation by Madhouse.

In this film, Unico meets a kind-hearted young girl named Cheri whose older brother, Toby, is working for the evil Lord Kuruku. Kuruku, a very powerful demonic entity, plans to turn all living creatures, animals and people alike, into unusual zombie-like beings called "Living Puppets" to be his slaves. It's up to Unico and Cheri to stop Kuruku and save everyone from his wicked magic.

Like The Fantastic Adventures of Unico, the film was dubbed into English and shown on the Disney Channel during the eighties.


This is also the final time Osamu Tezuka was involved with the Unico series before passing away in February 1989. The 2000 animated short 'Saving Our Fragile Earth: Unico Special Chapter would mark the first animated project starring the protagonist without Tezuka.

Unico in the Island of Magic provides examples of the following tropes:

  • And I Must Scream: Any of the folks changed into puppets and used to build skyscrapers.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The living beings transformed into puppets or toys can be this, but it's only in response to Toby's flute, which he uses to lead the puppets Pied Piper-style on and off the ship to Nightmare Island, or to Kuruku's commands in the case of the toys. Otherwise, they're And I Must Scream. The Trojan Horse at the end of the world is sentient and can speak. Lord Kuruku is this trope gone horribly wrong.
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  • Badass Adorable: Once again, Unico. Watch out when he transforms into his giant form.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Unico can kick some ass, despite himself.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end, just like last time, everyone is happy and the evil is vanquished, but the West Wind returns and Unico must go. Meanwhile, the now-transformed-back-into-a-toy Kuruku gets a second chance, this time under the care of Cheri.
  • 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.
  • Collapsing Lair: In the climax and denouement, Nightmare Island's castle becomes this when Lord Kukuru's spells that turned everyone else into puppets break with his demise. Because the castle was primarily made of these puppets, there's next to nothing left of it when the dust settles — just an island full of people and animals.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Unico himself.
  • Cute Little Fangs: The Sphinx's daughter has a pair.
  • Darker and Edgier: Definitely when compared to the original source material. Even the box art has this.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Happens when Lord Kuruku plays with his toys.
  • The Dragon: Toby. Also contains a literal dragon who you will not forget.
  • Dub Name Change: Minor changes are Cherry to Cheri and Torubi to Toby. Also Kukuruku to Kuruku.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While Toby is loyal to Lord Kukuru and willing to carry out his bidding, he really doesn't want to harm his own family and in particular does whatever he can to protect Cheri. He ultimately takes a bolt of magic meant for her and is transformed into a puppet.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Kuruku is polite enough when he's in a good mood, but he is a cruel being at heart and won't hesitate to make you a part of his castle. His mannerisms are very much like Frieza's.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Unico himself and Cheri both count.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Cheri and Toby too after his Heel–Face Turn.
  • 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.
  • Heroic BSoD: Unico has one after Cheri gets turned into a puppet.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Lord Kukuru's lair is on Nightmare Island. Amusingly, the Spinx's kid's reaction to the name is "That sounds like my kind of place!"
  • Large Ham: Lord Kuruku, in an extremely disturbing sense.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: At first, Kuruku seems like a playful (if creepy) type of villain. Then he gets pissed.
  • No Ontological Inertia: In the denouement, Lord Kukuru's demise means the spells that bound living beings into puppet forms are broken at once.
  • Power Floats: Kuruku prefers to float in an energy bubble and as such never touches the ground.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Kuruku, so very much.
  • Riddling Sphinx: Unico meets one who takes him to feed to her son Piro after he fails to answer her riddles. When she's killed, he promises to watch over her son for her.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Unico. The films were made with Sanrio; what else did you expect?
  • Talking The Villain To Death: Unico manages this by first sympathizing with Lord Kuruku's Dark and Troubled Past, then offering to be his friend and saying that not all people are bad.
    Unico: Kuruku! What's happening?
    Kuruku: My hatred was the only thing that kept me alive. You've taken it from me - I have nothing left. But for the first time in my life - I can hardly say it - I feel good!
  • Take That!: Toby's appearance and motivations poke fun at stereotypical Japanese juvenile delinquents.
  • The Stoic: Toby.
  • 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? It also kills Kuruku, as mentioned above.
  • The Power of Hate: It turns out that hate is the only thing keeping Kuruku animate.
  • The Power of the Sun: Figures into the backstory. Lord Kuruku was a mistreated, ultimately abandoned marionette who washed up on the shore of the end of the world, in the one spot where sunlight ever shines down. After 200-300 years of absorbing the light, he became animate...but "born" with a grudge against all humanity. The Trojan Horse explains that sunlight has many mysterious powers. Also counts as Light Is Not Good.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Kuruku has one during the climax. In fact, it's fatal.
  • Voice of the Legion: Kuruku has one.
  • Winged Unicorn: Unico himself is capable of becoming one.


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