Unicos first movie.
Unico is a manga and anime character by Osamu Tezuka. Unico is a baby unicorn with red hair, and has the magical power to grant wishes and happiness to anyone who finds him. His friends in the various manga and anime incarnations of his story include Beezil, a bratty blue devil; Chao (or "Katy" in the English anime), a mischievous cat; and a warm-hearted human girl named Cheri.
Unico's way of bringing joy to others gets him into trouble with the gods, who believe that happiness should only be obtained by years of sacrifice and hard labor and not by meeting a little unicorn. The gods send the West Wind to banish Unico to the Hill of Oblivion, but the West Wind takes pity on Unico and declines to follow the gods' commands. The gods are furious when they learn of the West Wind's defiance, and send the Night Wind to capture Unico. To protect Unico from the gods and the Night Wind, the West Wind must continually transport the little unicorn from place to place. Whenever the gods discover Unico's whereabouts, the West Wind appears to spirit him away once again, often without getting to say goodbye to any of the friends he has made - and without any memory of those friends, as Unico's memory is wiped clean each time.
Unico appeared in several comic strips by Tezuka, with an ecological message. Tezuka's original manga was serialized in Sanrio's "Ririka" (Lyrica) magazine from 1976 to 1979, and was re-published by Shogakukan in 1984 in a learning magazine for children.
In 1979, the same year the manga ended, Unico made his animated debut in Kuroi Kumo Shiroi Hane (Black Cloud, White Feather), an ecologically-themed pilot film (for a proposed TV anime series) which was soon released directly to video. Unico meets meets a young girl named Chiko who is ill because of the pollution from a nearby factory, and becomes determined to cure her by destroying the factory.
Although the TV series was not picked up, Unico soon made it to the silver screen in two feature-length anime films produced by Sanrio and Tezuka Productions, with animation production by Madhouse studios. Unico's first movie, titled The Fantastic Adventures of Unico in English and simply Unico in Japan, was released in Japan on March 14, 1981. This film, directed by Tezuka, written by Masaki Tsuji, and with animation direction by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, presents the back story of Unico's banishment and his subsequent travels, as well as his friendships with Beezle (to whom he grants his own horn) and Chao/Katy (to whom he grants the wish of becoming a human girl).
Moribi Murano directed the second movie, titled MahÃ´ no Shima e (To the Magic Island) in Japanese and Unico in the Island of Magic in English, which was released on July 16, 1983. In this film, Unico meets a kind-hearted young girl named Cheri (also spelled "Cherry"). Cheri's older brother, Toby (in Japanese, "Torubi"), is working for the evil Lord Kuruku, who plans to turn all humans into zombie-like beings called "Living Puppets" to be his slaves; Toby's job is to change people into Living Puppets and then lure the Living Puppets to Kuruku's island castle. After Cheri's parents and neighbors all get turned into Living Puppets, she and Unico team up to stop Kuruku.
Seeking advice from the Trojan Horse, Unico and Cheri learn that Kuruku is a puppet who was was mistreated by his owners and discarded. He washed up at the edge of the world - where all unwanted "junk" ends up eventually - and was brought to life with the power of sunlight, determined to take revenge on the human race. With help from Marusu, the Sphinx's daughter, Unico - who realizes that Kuruku is really just a lonely, friendless creature - is able to break Kuruku's spell, but since Kuruku's hate was the only thing that kept him alive, Kuruku reverts to puppet form. Cheri keeps the puppet Kuruku as a toy and resolves to take good care of him. Soon afterward, the West Wind finds Unico and spirits him away once again.
Unico had one more anime appearance afterward, in a short film called Saving Our Fragile Earth made for showing at the Tezuka Osamu Animation Theatre at Tezuka Osamu World in Kyoto. This short, like the original pilot, had an ecological theme: Unico and Tsubasa, a talking tree boy, are distressed by the fact that the planet Earth has become polluted and drained of resources to the point of being uninhabitable. With help from the Sphinx and the "Time Fairy" (Astro Boy), the two travel back into the past to try to prevent humans from taking the wrong path and spare the Earth from ecological devastation. Famed voice actress Akiko Yajima (the voice of Relena Darlian in Gundam Wing) provided the voice of Unico in this film. (In the movie versions, Unico was voiced by Katsue Miwa, and in the pilot film, the voice of Unico was Hiroya Oka.)
Unico has a loyal fan following in the English-speaking world as well as in Japan, and this is largely due to the 1981 and 1983 theatrical features, which were dubbed into English by Harmony Gold and received Stateside exposure through VHS release in the mid-1980s and airings on The Disney Channel. However, the English versions of both movies are extremely hard to find today due to the fact that the VHS releases are out of print and that no American company has picked up the rights to re-release the films. The rights to all Unico manga and anime transferred from Sanrio to Tezuka Productions after Tezuka's death in 1989; unlike Sanrio, Tezuka Productions has no American distribution arm, which has put both Unico movies in limbo as far as official release in the United States is concerned. The 1979 Unico pilot film is nearly impossible to find in North America, since it was never distributed outside Japan.
Unico also made an appearance in the Game Boy Advance game Astro Boy: Omega Factor, where he gives Astro Boy the ability to have a warm and tender talk with Dr. Tenma, his father. Unico also appears in the Astro Boy manga in a comic book. In the story, he was Dr.Foola's inspiration for a new robot: a mechanical unicorn.
The Unico films (pilot, Fantastic Adventures, and Island of Magic) were done with Sanrio, so Hello Kitty makes cameo appearances in the films.