Returning to home video this week by way of Discotek Media (Fist of the North Star) are the two anime feature presentations about Tezuka's little unicorn: The Fantastic Adventures of Unico (1981) and Unico in the Island of Magic (1983). Unico is a humble creature who enjoys making friends and helping misguided individuals recognize the error of their ways (and make a few friends along the way). Both anime films were co-directed by Tezuka himself, originally produced and distributed, locally (Japan) and abroad, by Sanrio.
In the first movie, Unico encounters a mischievous devil character and an egocentric kitty cat. Both individuals are rather busy looking out for themselves, but Unico manages to bring out the best in them. Unico even goes so far as to turn the kitten into a human, her longest and deepest desire.
However, as the story continues, a fiendish local baron takes an interest in the newly transformed girl, and so plots her kidnapping.
Taking a decidedly more dramatic turn, The Fantastic Adventures of Unico thus culminates in a raucous and fiery battle between a devilish and gruesome man and a powerful little unicorn. The ninety-minute production was written and co-directed by Masaki Tsuji, a prolific screenplay artist of the time. Discotek Media is releasing the title with both English and Japanese language tracks.
Unico in the Island of Magic ($19.95) is a slightly more complicated offering of the Unico cannon. The anime film begins as one might expect any Unico journey, as the benevolent West Wind drops the cute creature into the forest of yet another new land. The forest in which Unico finds himself is a peculiar place. The appearance of grumpy characters is nothing new; however, once a couple of injudicious wizards appear and start turning innocents into living puppets, the film really gets going.
In the film, Unico comes to know a family (particularly a young girl), who seem knowledgeable of the events of the surrounding forest. But when it turns out that one of the magicians conducting the malevolent acts is also the family's long lost son, it's up to Unico to save the day. Ultimately, the magical unicorn must try to convince the bad guys that there is more to life than hatred -- and more to live than the sorrow of others (or oneself, for that matter).
Amid the chaos, Unico is both successful and unsuccessful, rendering a curious life lesson for all. Unico in the Island of Magic, also a ninety-minute project, was co-directed by Moribi Murano and storyboarded by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Discotek Media is releasing the title with both English and Japanese language tracks.
Recent Tezuka Comics News:
"Digital Manga Gains Fan Support for Tezuka Originals" at AnimationInsider.net (02/2012)