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Manga / Unico

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"Love is a song eternally repeated.
All living creatures sing the song of love.
Like a wave breaking on the seashore,
love is always coming, and always passing away..."

Unico is a children's series of manga and anime films based on the character of Unico, a baby unicorn who was born with the very special gift of making all living creatures lighthearted and happy, though in the original manga, he could only use his powers for someone who shows him unconditional kindness. However, the gods are jealous of Unico's powers and send the West Wind to banish him to oblivion. Taking pity on Unico, the West Wind instead transports Unico to various faraway places across time and space, and whenever the gods learn of his whereabouts she takes him away to another land...but Unico rarely ever gets to say goodbye to the friends he has made, and his memories are taken away each time he goes somewhere new. Developed by Osamu Tezuka, the manga consisted of two volumes running from November 1976 to March 1979.


An anime pilot was created but rejected, and two films and a short were completed afterward (in 1981 and 1983 respectively for the films). The movies are The Fantastic Adventures of Unico (1981) and Unico in the Island of Magic (1983), later accompanied by the short Saving Our Fragile Earth.

The story covered the adventures of Unico the unicorn who found himself facing issues such as environmental impact, friendship and teamwork.

Unico has also appeared in the Game Boy Advance game Astro Boy: Omega Factor, and Columns GB: Osamu Tezuka Characters for the Game Boy Color. Astro Boy and Hello Kitty also appear in Unico canon.


The Unico franchise provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In the Fantastic Adventures 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 kept Unico with her Eros would just steal him back for Psyche.
  • An Aesop
  • And I Must Scream: Any of the folks changed into puppets and used to build skyscrapers.
  • Badass Adorable: Unico
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Unico can hold his own in a fight, despite himself.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the films: well, Lord Kuruku is destroyed...but 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.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: This is a Tezuka manga so it is to be expected. A notable example is when one character throws her own speech bubbles on the fire and their letters proceed to pop like corn.
  • Cat Girl: Not played completely straight, but Katy's the kitty to call.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Unico himself.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Katy in her cat form and Beezle have them.
    • And the Sphinx's daughter.
  • Darker and Edgier: Island Of Magic; even the box art has this.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Island Of Magic has Lord Kuruku playing with his toys, while the first has "Katy the Kitty Witch".
  • Downer Ending: The manga: The final chapter ends with the West Wind once again taking Unico away, leaving the Demon of Solitude alone at the end of time and robbing him of the only friend he was ever going to have. There is also no indication that Unico will ever be reunited with, or even remember, Psyche and the cycle of Unico making friends just to be taken from and forgetting them will probably continue indefinitely.
  • The Dragon: Toby in The Island of Magic. Also contains a literal dragon who you will not forget.
  • 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 Freeza's.
  • Friend to All Living Things: So much so that the gods try to banish Unico for making everyone too happy. The girl Cheri on Island also counts.
  • Green Aesop: The short, anyway. The movies don't really count.
  • 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, in The Fantastic Adventures of Unico, to fly through the chest of a 50-story tall demon, killing him instantly.
  • Heroic BSoD: Unico has one after Cheri gets turned into a puppet.
  • Large Ham: Lord Kuruku, in an extremely disturbing sense.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Throughout "Unico in the Island of Magic", Kuruku seems like a playful (if creepy) type of villain. Then he gets pissed.
  • Like a Daughter to Me: Probably how the old woman views Katy as a human.
  • The Musical: Fantastic Adventures.
  • Noble Demon: Beezle's very insistent on honoring his obligations; his dad raised him that way.
  • 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?
  • Samus Is a Girl: Marschka in the manga.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the manga, one of the contestants in the pet contest is a dragon named Gertie the Dinosaur, and its owner is named Winsor McCay.
    • The manga has several references to Pink Lady, a Japanese band that was popular in the 70s and 80s.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Tipi and Mary, and Marschka and Romanov in the manga.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Marschka in the manga dresses like a boy for her job as a thief.
  • The Imp: Beezle.
  • 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: Hate is the only thing keeping Kuruku animate.
  • The Power of Love: Agape to be precise. Unlike in the films where Unico's powers are fueled by friendship, in the manga, he can only use his powers on people who have shown him unconditional kindness.
  • Tsundere: Two cases. Beezle, who literally said he didn't need friends, and 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.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Kuruku, during the climax.


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