Unico, one of Osamu Tezuka’s characters from the 70s, is being reimagined in both Japanese and English by artists Gurihiru (SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN and ULTRAMAN: ANOTHER GENE) and novelist Samuel Sattin (co-writer of CRUNCHYROLL’S ESSENTIAL ANIME). A 162 page manga titled UNICO: AWAKENING (ユニコ: 目覚めのおはなし) is being Kickstarted, with the project now live – and already about a quarter funded.
Unico is a cute little unicorn who brings positivity to those he visits; his adventures were originally published from 1974-76 in Lilica, a girl’s manga published by Sanrio. This version will be based on the “The Cat on the Broomstick” storyline from the original. We’ll let the Pr take over from here:
Osamu Tezuka’s UNICO is the charming story of a young unicorn who enrages the Greek Gods when he inspires humans with his hope and positivity. The Gods punish Unico by banishing him across space and time, until he forgets all he once was. Unico remains constantly on the move, transported from era to era, where he must escape the Gods again and again, only to have his memory erased anew. The only thing saving Unico from oblivion is the mysterious Spirit of the West Wind, who feels sorry for Unico and tries her best to protect him.
In this re-imagining, Unico befriends a stray cat named Chloe, and the two new friends aid an old woman who Chloe mistakes for a witch. When Chloe realizes Unico can do actual magic, she begs him to turn her into a human for a few moments of each day. Unico agrees – so long as Chloe doesn’t lose touch with her feline identity. When a dangerous man and the Goddess Venus set out to destroy Unico, the Spirit of the West Wind must search the ends of the universe for a way to end Unico’s eternal cycle of suffering.
Although he was one of the greatest and most influential cartoonists of all times, some of Tezuka’s admittedly lofty themes don’t quite hold up to modern sensibilities. Reimagining this unicorn character with a modern take is a smart idea for publishing Octas Inc., a licensing company run by Crunchyroll founder Vince Shortino. The creator of Astroboy, Tezuka was a workaholic who rarely slept; he died at the age of 60, leaving behind an incredibly prolific body of work. He actually thought the character design of the unicorn was “too cute,” although it was heavily licensed when it first came out.
“Unico has the power to make a person happy when they are loved,” said Gurihiru. “I would like to share with others the kindness and strength of Unico, which will never change even as the times change.”
“It is our hope that, in modern times where the world can sometimes seem bleak, we can offer a tale of resilience in homage to the God of Manga’s original messaging of social welfare and eco-consciousness,” said Sattin.
The crowdfunding campaign will include many extras including rare 16 x 24 collectible prints by
Akira Himekawa (THE LEGEND OF ZELDA),
Junko Mizuno (RAVINA THE WITCH),
Soo Lee (ASH & THORN),
Katie Longua (ROK)
Peach Momoko (DEMON DAYS) who will be contributing a total of 3 different prints to this campaign,
Kamome Shirahama (WITCH HAT ATELIER),
tokitotokoro (FOR A GOOD MAN),
Academy Award Nominated Animator Tomm Moore (WOLFWALKERS).
In addition, fans can collect UNICO: AWAKENING ARTIFACTS, a series of limited edition collectibles created by acclaimed American cartoonists, including:
A UNICO Picture book by Madeline Copp;
A 4” X 6” fashion lookbook of Chloe the Cat by Rye Hickman (MOTH & WHISPER);
A Felted Unico and Chloe postcard by Amber Padilla (THE SECRET GARDEN ON 81ST STREET);
A Temperance Tarot card by Julia Reck;
A 5” X 7” mini-comic by Steenz (HEART IN THE CITY)
Octas Inc. is also offering an array of exclusive rewards including a t-shirt featuring Junko Mizuno’s Unico design and original Gurihiru shikishi drawings.