Unico the Unicorn has the amazing power to make anyone he meets happy. Whether it's because of his personality or the powers of his horn, no one knows. However, the gods become jealous of Unico, thinking that only gods should be able to decide or let people be happy or not. Unico is banished to the Hill of Oblivion, and the West Wind is ordered to take him there. She can't stand giving this fate to an innocent like Unico, so Unico's adventures begin, as the West Wind takes him from one place and time to the next, in a neverending journey to escape the wrath of the gods. In this adventure, Unico meets Beezel a devil child and then Katy (Chao), a cat who wants to be a witch! Can he become friends with them?
I decided to watch this movie on a whim, expecting nothing of it, and I was pleasantly surprised, particularly by the first 30 minutes of the film. After the absolutely adorable opening song, Unico is sent away to a wasteland. The lonely, cold atmosphere really got to me, and seeing Unico, the beacon of happiness and hope, pull through and turn the selfish, temperamental devil Akuma into a charmingly awkward friend was really inspirational.
Sadly, the rest of the movie is much more average and not well-constructed. The second character Unico meets on his journeys is Chao the cat, a far
less charming friend than Akuma. She stays a boring ditz the whole movie, not really learning much from Unico.
The villain, while totally fearsome and creepy (mostly due to excellent visual design), really detracts from what the film could have been. He has no depth and is defeated without any emotional fanfare. While his battle with Unico might be visually grandiose, there is nothing of substance here.
I really did enjoy the bittersweet ending, though. Unico’s curse, bringing happiness to all, but never being able to stay with his friends, is tragic but meaningful to me. The plot and pacing are really unfocused for most of the film, leading to plenty of interesting themes…that are completely underutilized.
Still, I really admire how atmospheric and interesting the visuals are in Unico. The sheer scale of important figures like the West Wind, the Night Wind and the villain is immediately apparent with their distinct designs that look great animated. Unico is literally the most adorable character on the planet. The whole package oozes creativity.
I should also mention that while this is technically a children’s film, I wouldn’t recommend it for really young ones. There’s plenty of violence and dark atmosphere, a very imposing big bad, not to mention subtle rapey undertones.
Unico has a lot of problems, but its heart and creativity push it into the 7/10 territory for me. On a bad day, maybe 6/10. I recommend it to anyone who’s a sucker for this power of friendship type of stuff and wants to see some fun art and animation. There are much worse things you can spend your time on.
Being a fan of Osamu Tezuka’s works, watching Unico was almost a must for me. This movie was not terrible by any means, but I wasn’t stunned like I thought I would be. I like the overall premise of Unico, that he’s supposed to be banished away for making others happy (despite not being able to control this power), it sets up for some interesting stories and bittersweet twists. The beginning was good, Beezle was a likeable character and his development was great. Chao was likeable as well, but sadly didn’t get much if the development as Beezle did, despite having a bigger role in
the movie than him.
The biggest issue I have is the villain, who we barely get to know about or learn his motives, so the climax was kind of boring because I had no reason to root for Unico and Chao to win, because I didn’t even know what the villain was trying to accomplish or do to Chao in the first place (other than making her drunk and acting a little suggestive). He only comes off as menacing due to his design and dialogue, and that is all the audience gets to draw from.
However, I love the visuals in this movie and the animation is great for a movie made in 1981. The soundtrack was really nice as well and probably one of the best features of this movie. Although there is issues with this movie, I have to give it a pass, it is a movie targeted at children and of course it’s not going to be a deep masterful piece of art. I recommend this if you just want something pleasant (for the most part) and not extremely thought provoking. There is still hope for Unico, I heard the other movie is much better than this one and I plan on watching it soon.