Celebrated around the globe for centuries on February 14th is Valentine’s Day. Like other holidays, Valentine’s Day is more commercialized; becoming a holiday for love and romance.
But what’s that got to do with Unico? Well, love and romance are key elements to the stories featured in the original comics. But it’s not all romantic love between two characters. It can be familial and friendship too!
For this post, we wanted to showcase our favorite love related stories in Unico and also some of our favorite illustrations from over the years.
Unico, the Matchmaker?
During Unico’s run in Lyrica Magazine, stories of love and romance were jam-packed in the original manga. Which is no surprise, as they advertised the comic for young girls who read that genre. From the beginning prologue chapter to the last, we see Unico in different situations. The comic shows Unico helping his new friends, and that includes a few with their love life. Some people find happiness in friendship, and others with romance.
Since we’re fans of mythology here at My Unico Fans, we thought we’d look at Venus, Eros, and Psyche first. In the Prologue, Unico is an adoring companion granting Psyche and all those who love him happiness with his magical powers. Venus, goddess of love and beauty, who is jealous of Psyche, sends her son, Eros (the god of love and physical desire), to make Psyche fall in love with someone else. Unfortunately, after hitting Psyche with an arrow, Eros is knocked out of a tree by Unico, and is then struck with several of his own arrows. He falls madly in love with Psyche, but she cannot see him, for he’s invisible.
Again, it’s a typical story of divine jealousy you’d find in mythology, but it’s very relatable even today. Unico is just a baby unicorn, and Psyche is only living her life, bothering no one else. When Venus’s followers turn away from her in favor of Psyche, the goddess’s goal is to make the beautiful mortal woman’s life miserable. Thanks to that jealousy, poor Unico spends the rest of the series making others happy, but never allowed to be happy himself.
Chao and Shimashima
While The Cat on the Broomstick (ほうきにのったネコ) focused on Chao and Unico’s adventure, Chao fell for the Baron’s appearance and demeanor when he first appeared. She is smitten with the idea of the Baron noticing her, but things turn grim rather quickly. The Baron is a horrible man, killing animals because he hates them, and treating Chao like his personal toy. After Unico rouses the forest animals, and they remove the Baron, a young man saves Chao. This young man turns out to be a cat named Shimashima. Together, they return to the old cottage where the older woman lives.
While it’s nice to see these two kitties together, it makes you wonder where their relationship went after Unico left. We’d like to assume they took care of granny while living their best life.
Akuma-kun and Unico
Unico and Solitude (ひとりぼっちのユニコ) differs from the previous stories. This one focuses on the demon child, Akuma, and Unico’s friendship. Unico is desperate for friendship, and the demon has never had a friend. Determined to make friends with Akuma-kun, Unico says he’ll give him whatever he wants in exchange for his friendship. The demon child takes him up on the offer and demands Unico’s horn — the one thing he really shouldn’t give away. After a while, lonely Unico finally agrees and uses his magic to give Akuma his horn for one day.
Akuma-kun has never played with someone before, so he’s a little rougher than Unico would have liked. Even when Unico warns him to stop, the demon doesn’t fully understand. When Unico falls into the ocean, the demon is aloof, not understanding that Unico actually needs help.
When time is up, Akuma-kun keeps his promise and returns the horn, risking his life by entering the ocean to do so. Because of this, Unico can use his magic to rescue the demon and even give him his own horn. Sadly, their friendship is cut short when Zephyrus comes to take Unico away again.
It’s sad to see Akuma-kun calling out for Unico at the end of the comic. He really seemed happy to have a friend, and Unico didn’t even get to say goodbye. The animated film perhaps gave him a better ending, by allowing the demon to live in a better place with other people around.
Unico and his Family
A Hometown Visit (ふるさとをたずねて) has Unico reunited with his family. As a kind gesture, Zephyrus allows Unico to visit his home for a day as a small reprieve before his never-ending journey continues. After the West Wind leaves, a cute unicorn named Corn (the name derived from the word unicorn) introduces herself to Unico because she finds him attractive. She presents a heart-shaped flower of love to Unico, but it falls to the ground. Corn gets another one to give Unico, but the flower falls to the ground again. Frustrated, Corn asks why he allows the flower to drop. Because his memory has been erased, Unico doesn’t know of the flower giving customs she continues to showcase. She wants Unico to accept her love, but Unico is a little leery of what’s going on. Upon running off, Unico spots a family of unicorns. Right away, the two adults recognized Unico as their son.
It’s a joyous reunion for the family, but Corn is sad to learn Unico is her younger brother. Thankfully, they both agree to become friends and spend time together instead. While the unicorn family is eating, the replicorns show up and harass Unico’s siblings. When they try to ride off on the little unicorns, Unico is there to the rescue. After he saves them, the sun sets, and Unico knows the West Wind will arrive soon to take him away. He must say goodbye, but he’s only able to tell his older sister. While it was only a day, Corn deeply cared about Unico, and his departure made her incredibly sad.
It’s bittersweet to see Unico happy to rest by his mother’s side and to see the rest of his family. Knowing he’ll forget all of them when the West Wind carries him off is quite disheartening.
Chiko and The Factory
Not all stories involve romance. Some illustrate the negative effects of obsession with what we think is love, especially when that love is unrequited. In the Black Rain and White Feathers (黒い雨と白い羽) chapter, the nearby factory sees the young Chiko one day and falls in love with her. The love is toxic, as the factory becomes more obsessive, and wants to marry the young girl. When Chiko’s grandfather refuses to give the sentient factory what it wants, the factory grows upset and covers the town with pollution.
This pollution makes Chiko ill, and her grandfather keeps her inside for her safety. While Unico and the rat Garappachi end up as the heroes of this story, the overall message is something people can relate to. Perhaps we’ve fallen for someone who doesn’t love us back. These feelings will fade with time when the realization that that person will never love you back finally sets in. It’s never healthy to sit there and obsess. Having feelings for someone isn’t wrong, but the factory’s actions are a no-no.
Only after kidnapping Chiko and her health rapidly declining does the factory realize she will never love it back. The factory would rather see Chiko alive and healthy instead of forcing her to love it. After Unico is able to revive the young girl with the white feather, the factory agrees to leave Chiko alone. The pollution clears and everyone can rejoice and live happily ever after.
Another aspect of this story to enjoy is the love between Chiko and her grandfather, who will protect her no matter what. If you’re a fan of Osamu Tezuka’s other works, you’ll probably recognize the grandfather as Dr. Ochanomizu who is often a father figure for Atom (Astro Boy), and many others.
Valentine’s Day Extras!
We’ve mentioned this in other posts and pages on the website, but the Osamu Tezuka calendars have one of a kind artwork you’re not able to find elsewhere. As you can see, Akuma, Chao, Piro, Puck, and Unico are all together in one image along with other Tezuka characters.
For the mobile game, Eshigami no Kizuna (絵師神の絆), they gave Chao a White Day version of her outfit. White Day is a holiday celebrated in Japan a month after Valentine’s Day on March 14, where men give reciprocal gifts after receiving chocolates and other presents on Valentine’s Day.
They used this illustration for part one of Unico and Solitude (ひとりぼっちのユニコ) published in the January 1978 issue of Lyrica Magazine.
While it’s not Valentine’s related per se, the hearts and letter with a heart are a delightful addition to this post. We do not see this image often, so we definitely wanted to share it with our readers.
This illustration was done by Motoko Kohashi for the March 1978 issue of Lyrica Magazine. A fan possibly sent the chocolate in February as a Valentine’s Day present, but we are unsure. Either way, it was a kind gift for Tezuka-sensei.
Text: A cute Unico chocolate was delivered to Tezuka-sensei by a fan. Sadly, poor Unico was gobbled up by Yamakawa-san.
Tezuka: “Ya-Ya-Yamakawa-san, are you going to eat that cute Unico?”
Yamakawa: “It looks really delicious Senseiiii.”
Tezuka made this illustration while working on the First Grader version of Unico. Similar to the black-and-white image above, Unico has a small letter in his mouth, but this time a heart on his horn. He looks like a messenger of love.
That’s it for now! We hope you have a wonderful holiday and check back for any news and posts we may have! Thank you again!