Manga Spotlight: Unico

On a recent trip to the library, I was surprised to find a copy of Digital Manga’s release of Unico sitting on the shelf. I decided to check it out and read it, since it’s a title by Osamu Tezuka and I’ve been wanting to read more of his work besides Astro Boy.

Written by: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Sanrio
English Publisher: Digital Manga
Release Date: March 26, 2009

The front cover shows the picture of an adorable little unicorn, who of course is Unico, the main protagonist of the series. The cover gives the impression that the story is going to be extremely kid-friendly and perhaps saccharine. But it turns out that some of the stories in this volume can get a little on the dark side at times. Unico encounters some interesting characters, and the series has stories that ultimately include elements of topics like prejudice.

Unfortunately, with the way the overarching premise for Unico is set up, the reader hardly gets to see the resolution for the individual stories contained within the volume. Since Unico is always whisked away before most of the stories can reach a climax and he loses his memory, the reader deals not only with not seeing what ultimately happens to many of the characters that Unico meets, but also has each chapter “reset to zero” and having Unico starting all over again. If this happened once or twice, that would be one thing. But when each chapter ends with Unico being taken somewhere else and losing his memory, it can become a little annoying after a while. And to add to that frustration, the story of Unico ultimately has a non-ending to it.

Ultimately, Unico is an interesting character, and the individual stories contained within the series are interesting, but the execution for the overarching premise and the non-ending for the story weaken the series to some degree. While I don’t regret reading Unico, it’s a manga that I’ll likely not be in a hurry to read again.

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