Other Names: Yuniko, Único, Roháček, 유니코 (Yuniko), یونیکو (Awenakew), ยูนิโก้ (Yūnikô), Юнико (Uniko)
Species: Unicorn, mythical creature
First Appeared: Unico appears in the Prologue chapter of the November 1976 issue of Sanrio’s Lyrica Magazine, but Osamu Tezuka first drew Unico in June 1976 during his stop in Los Angeles, California.
Unico (ユニコ Yuniko) is the main protagonist of the Unico series. He is a young unicorn with unique magical powers and the ability to make those around him happy when he is truly loved.
Japanese Voice: Hiroya Oka (1979); Katsue Miwa (1981 and 1983); Akiko Yajima (2000); Rumiko Tezuka (2005); Nana Mizuki (2010); Ai Furihata (2020) Haruna Kawai (2021)
Czech Voice: Jana Altmannová
English Voice: Barbara Goodson
German Voice: Manja Doering
Hungarian Voice: Kútvölgyi Erzsébet
Italian Voice: Melina Martello (1986 dub); Irene Giuliano (2022 dub)
Korean Voice: Youngsun Eun
Slovak Voice: Emília Tomanová
Spanish Voice: Matilde Vilariño (1984 dub); Rosa Romay (2010 dub)
In most renditions, Unico has a light gray or light blue body color, pinkish mane, white tail, and brown eyes. In the anime, Unico has a white body, a red/pink mane, and blue or green eyes.
Despite being bullied and treated terribly through his travels, Unico remains positive and hopeful. He dislikes being alone and wants to be happy and loved by others. Unico tries his best to help those in need.
- Unico can use magic and bring people happiness when they show affection towards him. He also uses his magic to help others who are trying to do the right thing.
- Unico can change his size, getting as small as an insect, or as large as a blimp.
- He can fly in all forms by making his wings appear.
- Transforms into his adult form.
- Unico’s horn can also grow in length and can be used for multiple purposes.
Timeline of Appearances
|1976 – 1979
|In the Lyrica manga version, Unico makes his first appearance. He is the baby unicorn companion of Psyche, a beautiful young woman. The goddess Venus is jealous of Psyche, and when she learns about Unico, she believes that no mortal should have a unicorn’s love. Venus sends her son, Eros, to make Psyche fall in love with Ganomoth the Beggar. Unico protects Psyche, but the young mortal woman and Eros end up falling in love.
During a pet contest, Venus has Papillon capture Unico and bring him to the goddess. Venus then calls upon Zephyrus, Spirit of the West Wind, and orders her to take Unico far away so that no one will find him. The West Wind took pity on Unico while traveling through time. After passing the Hill of Forgetfulness, she leaves Unico in an unknown time and place.
Each time Unico uses his abilities, the West Wind takes Unico away, making him forget everyone and all events that have transpired.
|Unico appears in the background panel of the Black Jack chapter titled “Hot Night” (あついな夜) in the May 5, 1977 issue of Weekly Shonen Champion magazine.
|1977 – 1978
|The stories in the Gift Books are like the Lyrica version, where Zephyrus leaves Unico at a spot and he meets new people and ultimately helps them. While all the stories are standalone, Unico meets up with Chao again.
|When the pilot episode was played for the Tezuka Fan Club back in 1979, it told a similar story to the original manga where Unico was taken away from Psyche. The pilot is based on the Black Cloud and White Feather chapter, where Unico must save a young girl from the pollution coming from a nearby factory.
|1980 – 1984
| In the First Grader manga version, a young boy named Esuo finds Unico while sitting outside. He rescues Unico and the two become friends. The two have comical adventures with their other friends, and Unico often uses his magic to help Esuo, but it often backfires.
|In the first theatrical movie, Unico is spreading happiness and healing throughout the lands, which angers the gods. They order the West Wind to take Unico away to the ends of the Earth. The West Wind takes Unico from his family and leaves him on the Island of Solitude. After helping a young devil, West Wind takes Unico to another location. Unico will meet the black and white cat named Chao and helps makes her dreams come true. But evil lurks within the forest, and soon, Unico must fight the Baron in his giant demon state to save everyone.
|In the June 12, 1981 issue of Weekly Shonen Champion magazine, Unico appears in the 11th chapter of Rainbow Parakeet (七色いんこ) titled “Peter Pan” where Unico appears on Mariko’s shirt in several panels.
|In the December 1981 issue of Shougaku Ninensei (Second Grader) magazine, Unico appears in a chapter of Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) titled “Showdown on Mt. Fuji” (富士山の決闘). In this comic, Dr. Fooler creates a giant unicorn robot inspired by Unico.
|In the second theatrical movie, the West Wind drops Unico off at a new place. Much like the first movie, Unico has a difficult time making friends and is bullied and chased by a trio of wild cats. A kind family finds Unico, and their daughter Cherry loves the little unicorn almost instantly. When Kukurukku turns the humans into living dolls, Unico and the others must save the day.
|They released an OVA series titled Lion Books (ライオンブックス) from 1983 to 1993. The stories are based on SF short comics Osamu Tezuka made over the years. While Unico does not appear in any of the stories, he appears in the intro. When the book opens up, Unico is sleeping but wakes up and runs through the forest and flies into the air.
|In the seventh episode of the Black Jack OVA, “Black and White” (白い正義, Shiroi Seigi), Unico appears as a theme park ride.
|In the Saving our Fragile Earth special, West Wind is flying in the sky with Unico in her arms. An orb falls from above, knocking Unico into the sea below. A young tree boy named Tsubasa appears and rescues Unico. After learning that humans have used up all the Earth’s resources and that no other children are being born, Tsubasa and Unico head out to save the world.
|Unico appears in the animation titled Osamu Tezuka’s Last Mystery of the 20th Century (手塚治虫が消えた？！20世紀最後の怪事件) toward the end of the film. He’s seen in the background with Tezuka’s other characters when they all appear to greet him. The animation originally aired on December 5, 2000 on ABC as a year-end special during the TV station’s 50th anniversary.
|Astro Boy: Omega Factor (鉄腕アトム -アトムハートの秘密- Tetsuwan Atom – Secret of Atom’s Heart) was released for the GameBoy Advanced in Japan and featured several of Tezuka’s other characters. Unico helps Atom be able to talk to Dr. Tenma.
|Unico appears in the Dr. Pinoko’s Forest Adventure short. Pinoko and Largo head out into the forest to return Black Jack’s medical bag. While in the forest, Pinoko ends up helping several animals in need. After helping a dragon, it leads Pinoko to where Unico is. Pinoko rescues Unico, but the ice below their feet gives way. Unico tells Pinoko to let go of him so they could all climb up, but Pinoko refuses. Because of Pinoko’s feelings, Unico transforms and rescues them.
|When episode 53 “Locker’s Cradle” (ロッカーのゆりかご, Rokkaa no Yurikago) of the Black Jack tv series aired on December 19th, Pinoko is searching for a Christmas present for Black Jack. While in a store, she finds a Unico mug to give him.
|To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Avex and the 80th birthday of Osamu Tezuka, a short animation titled Ravex in Tezuka World was made using the music from the band, Ravex. They featured the music from Ravex’s Trax album, which included a DVD with the short in some of the CD releases. While Unico doesn’t play a key role in this short, he appears dancing alongside Leo/Kimba while Ravex is performing.
|On August 1, 2010, the Unico manga aired as a movie comic version on Bee TV. Updated every Wednesday, there were 20 episodes, each running around six minutes long. You could only purchase the Unico manga in black and white, but the Bee TV version provided the comic with full color, voice actors, sound effects, and minor animations.
|Unico appears as a children’s ride in the first chapter of Young Black Jack, which ran in Akita Shoten’s Young Champion magazine.
|Unico became an official mascot for the Japanese Beach Volleyball Federation. Tezuka Productions were already involved with JBV, launching both Ryujin Nippon and Hinotori (Phoenix) Nippon initiatives. They chose Unico to represent beach volleyball itself because they can use him to inspire both boys and girls, creating a unisex atmosphere.
|The card-battle-type mobile game by Mobage called Great Brawl!! Tezuka All-Stars (大乱闘!!手塚オールスターズ) featured the most Tezuka characters of any game for its time. It’s no surprised that Unico and few of his friends (example: Akuma-kun) were included. The premise of the game is to build a powerful team and restore peace to the Tezuka World.
|Katherine Brannock, whose art was included in the Cartoon Network’s 20th Birthday Book, said her favorite cartoon as a child was The Fantastic Adventures of Unico and Unico in the Island of Magic.
|The University of Minnesota Press released volume 8 of Mechademia “Tezuka’s Manga Life” which analyzed Tezuka’s approach to life, as well as his effect on other manga artists. Several authors and artists contributed to the academic book, with Moyoco Anno having a short comic featuring Unico as a high school girl dealing with another group of girls.
|An exhibit ran from July to October featuring several Tezuka characters in collaboration with Otomate, a well-known company that develops otome games. Several illustrations and merchandise were released, and the items with Unico featured him on top of Kai’s head (from the game Snow Bound Land).
|On June 22, 2016, Wednesday Campanella (水曜日のカンパネラ) released their album “Uma” which featured a song inspired by Osamu Tezuka’s Unico called “Unico”. They released a music video the following year, which was filmed in Singapore’s “Laneway Festival.”
|LINE released Unico stamps for its app, featuring over 40 designs. Akuma-kun, Chao, and a few other characters were included in the set. They later released a second set.
|The adorable dress-up mobile game, Pokecolo (ポケコロ) collaborated with Osamu Tezuka World to bring items for your avatar. Unico and Chao appear in the game, along with other Tezuka characters. For completing a specific quest, you were rewarded with a cute Unico plush in game.
|Nagata Kabi published the 15th entry of My Solo Exchange Diary (一人交換日記) on her Pixiv account and it featured Unico and Akuma-kun and how much she related to the characters.
|On May 14, 2018, Unico appeared in the webcomic Manly Guys Doing Manly Things.
|On October 3, 2019, the first episode of the series Go! Go! Atom (also known as Go Astro Boy Go!) aired. In the series, Dr. Ochanomizu’s granddaughter, Suzu, has gadgets featuring Unico on them.
|Tezuka Productions and the mobile game, Eshigami no Kizuna (絵師神の絆) collaborated with their game, turning several Tezuka characters into beautiful females. Unico features a cute design along with the other characters like Atom, Black Jack, Melmo, etc. The game closed on September 30,2022.
|Tezuka Productions and Kemono Friends collaborated to bring Unico and Hinotori (Phoenix) to the mobile game Kemono Friends 3. They depicted both characters as having human-like appearances with animal ears, horn, tails, etc.
|Tezuka Productions and Nouen collaborated to bring several Tezuka characters, including Unico, to the Japanese mobile/browser game, Nouen Hokkoriina (農園ホッコリーナ／Farm Hokkorina). The game allows you to grow your own farm and take care of it. There are always special events, so you can collect unique items for your farm.