Dec 16, 2018
Leave it to the Japanese to balance out joy with sorrow, almost comparable to some Greek tragedy (which is only fitting given the origin of the character). Poor little Unico is forever cursed. He has the mysterious power to magically make people happy, yet as soon as he starts to use his powers, he is whisked away to another place and another time, his memories lost.
Set in a town that is terrorized by the fallout of a belching black cloud of death that hangs over it from the nearby factory, Unico is befriended by a bedridden little girl, and
it is up to him to save the day. There is a very heavy-handed environmental message here (really beats you over the head with it), but that is somewhat par for the course for the time.
While today environmentalism is primarily concerned with global warming and carbon emissions, in the Seventies it was more about the growing threat of runaway pollution. This was the age of Three Mile Island, and of acid rain, and of Superfund cleanup sites, and the Cuyahoga River catching fire (yes, it really did). This was the age of the Lorax and speaking for the trees, and the birth of Earth Day, and the EPA, as people started to speak up. Not only in America, but worldwide. And Unico was part of that, with Tezuka and Sanrio helping to spread the message of the dangers of pollution.
Clean, crisp artwork and animation, with an interesting mixture of the cute (Unico and characters) against a depressing background (polluted city). At 25 minutes, it's a short story, and if you like what you see, you can move on to the longer Unico movies after this.
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