Anime World Order Show # 107b – Unico and The Adventures of Catgirl and Count Date Rape

If you thought we were done with this A and B nomenclature thing just because we said we were, THINK AGAIN. We were going to have this after the Otakon 2012 report but things were running long, so here’s where Gerald reviews the Discotek Media releases of The Fantastic Adventures of Unico and Unico in the Island of Magic.

Unico is totally affordable and easy to get these days. Both The Fantastic Adventures of Unico as well as Unico in the Island of Magic will run you about $15.

As perfect supplemental viewing to Unico, Daryl was on the Greatest Movie EVER! podcast to discuss the Most Dangerous film of 2012 aka The Raid: Redemption.

20 thoughts on “Anime World Order Show # 107b – Unico and The Adventures of Catgirl and Count Date Rape

  1. I was one of the people that saw Unico when I was around 5 or 6 when my mom rented the video for me and my younger brother. The movie that left the biggest impression on me was Unico in the Island of Magic. The biggest thing that I remembered was just how much I thought how mean the evil wizard was beating up on Unico and the people as building blocks were really creepy. Clarissa said that the face of Unico is freighting but it never really scared me that much (I remember that I thought Unico looked ugly).

    I did buy both movies and it did surprise me that I was only creeped out and they didn’t scare me like Beast Master did when I first saw it. Thinking back to why it may not have scared me as much was that it as a cartoon. I probably didn’t mistake it for being real or having real people so it didn’t scare me as much. I’m curious to see what other fans thought of when they saw this movie for the first time.

  2. I tried last night to sign up for the giveaway, unfortunately, I couldn’t join because I didn’t have $100 worth of games on my steam account. But rest assured that I am not a troll.

  3. Hey, you can’t just absolve Kawajiri of all that rape and make Kikuchi shoulder everything. He may have taken some things out of D (or so I’ve heard; I haven’t actually read the novel Bloodlust was based on yet), but he added several scenes to Wicked City (there’s only one rape scene in the book, although it is quite graphic) and both of the attempted rapes in Demon City Shinjuku (in the book, the thugs in the subway argue over whether or not to sell Sayaka, but don’t threaten to rape her, and there is no snake lady to go after Mephisto, although their are plenty of people to go after him in later books because he’s supposed to be the most beautiful person that ever lived). Kikuchi novels are generally very weird and vary wildly in both the degree and nature of their sexual content (he’s written so much crazy shit that hasn’t been translated yet).

    [Yoshiaki Kawajiri did not write the script or screenplay for either Demon City Shinjuku or Wicked City. As pertaining to Unico, he mentioned at Sakura-con that his involvement in the second movie was more than just “storyboard” and that he also worked on the “scenario.” Hence my statement. –Daryl]

  4. I see you opened the flood gate for those of us to spill out guts out, guys!

    I suppose for me, my first sighting of Unico was seeing the first film on The Disney Channel, perhaps sometime between 1986 to 1987. I was one of those lucky enough to have grown up with both cable and two VCR’s. My mom didn’t rent the Unico movies at the store, though I’m sure the one near my house had ‘em anyway. It is true tapes weren’t being priced to sell directly to consumers then, and that’s exactly how often these things go for the same high prices in Japan too. I recall looking at old video catalogs my mom would get and stare at this near $100 or more prices for many movies back then. It didn’t really seem to matter to my folks, as often they were getting the same movies either off TV or from those rental tapes they could make copies of personally. It was fun being early adopters and simply have it your way, though video piracy had been around since the very start of consumer-end video recorders to begin with.

    Cable TV’s early beginnings is as much of what you have said it was, basically it was like the new kid on the block who had yet to prove him or herself against the Big Guys in the entertainment field, and neither side wanted to play ball with each other. This took nearly two decades before the assimilation happened and cable was as mainstream, even more so than the Big 3 that dominated TV from the start. Those days in the 80’s were interesting, unusual and quite unbelievable times when channels pretty much had to dig out of the bottom of the barrel and look overseas for things to show that might not have had a viable outlet through terrestrial broadcast television (the “Free” option people use to have before media companies got greedy). Good examples of this might include everything on Nickelodeon (except Inspector Gadget, I was seeing that locally before Nick picked it up). Stuff like Belle & Sebastian, Danger Mouse, Mysterious Cities of Gold, and the specials/movies on “Special Delivery” where a thing to behold back then. That is what made cable TV so special in the 80’s when you knew it wasn’t going to be anything like on regular television. The Disney Channel was no exception either with the type of unique foreign movies they often played a lot, it wasn’t all tweenie-focused slop we see today, but you had classics from the Janus Film library often showing up like “The Red Balloon”. Many animated features of a non-Disney bent included such offerings as Katy, the Caterpillar (Mexico/Spain), the first three Asterix movies (France/Belgium), The Dragon That Wasn’t (or was he?) (The Netherlands), Jack & The Beanstalk (Japan), Dot & The Kangaroo (Australia) as well as Unico.

    I hate to admit that all I ever saw back as a kid was the first film, but it was enough to put me out for a few days before I shook that “you can’t be happy all the time” pessimism out of my head. It’s certainly a good lesson to teach kids surely. I didn’t see the second film until much later as an adult, but I can tell I probably would’ve still been in that headspace contemplating a castle made of presumably dead people!

    The reason for why the pilot is so well animated is due to it having been an in-house production Sanrio, and used the same staff that have also worked on Ringing Bell and The Sea Prince & The Fire Child. I think it was directed by Masami Hata, who did those aforementioned films. I did enjoy the connection Gerald made between a scene in the second Unico film to one from Kawajiri’s later film “Lensman.” The only thing both films do have in common, besides having him as director, is also being family-accessible as well (at least movies I wouldn’t mind showing a kid to shut ‘em up).

    HBO also played the Unico films, though I never had HBO in the 80’s (my cable company didn’t offer them until the late 80’s looking at records I found). I missed out on HBO, though at least some of those films were shown on more than one channel back then, much as home video proved to be another venue for such forgotten or barely remembered works. The 1980’s were a good time to nurture both cable and home video into the empire it would become in the decades that followed.

    One quirk about watching the Unico films again is wonder why didn’t they think to dub the ending themes for both films? It’s not a biggie, but the way they bothered coming up with English lyrics for the one or two songs during the first film, you would think they would’ve also done the end themes too, but I guess it was either a budget issue or simply not caring, so we end up with instrumentals anyway (Sea Prince & The Fire Child also went that way too, though Ringing Bell did bother to do all the song moments). Of course this was still long before even using the Japanese original vocals was of an interest to some people and when Streamline Pictures included them in some of their movies anyway.

    P.S. Heathcliff didn’t rip off Garfield as the comic strip came out a good five years before the other, though both do involve an orange cat anyway. Though I don’t recall Heathcliff being that lazy.

    • You have got to love Reagan/Bush (The Elder) era cable. You also have to give it up for the terrestrial independent stations that were not affiliated with any network (before they were bought out by the movie studios). They had to air foreign programming because they needed to fill the schedule with something good and cheap.

      I guess they could take more chances back then because it was nothing but kids and teenagers watching this stuff right? These shows were supposed to be something that introduced the real content: commercials.

      Now they fill up that time with blocks of paid programming. Oh, well. With word-of-mouth and the Internet (AWO is doing both), it’s up to us, the viewers, to find and watch.

      • I suppose, though I also miss the days when it all ended around midnight too. No infomercials or playing the same thing overnight as they do nowadays.

      • Some stations shut down at midnight (even HBO did in the early days). What I actually miss is the National Anthem playing when the station(s) signed off for the night.

        They also played the National Anthem when the station came back on the air!

        However, there used to be a UHF station (Denver CO) that stayed up all night playing old silent movies (Charlie Chapman, Buster Keaton etc) and ancient black & white cartoons from the 20’s.

        When I went to SDCC a couple of years ago, and the cartoons I watched on that forgotten station long ago were playing at the Cartoon Art Museum booth.

        It brought back memories.

      • I see this template is limiting the post replies here, but to add to that RedMaigo, the feeling is mutual there. I grew up in that era too and recall having to stay up past my bedtime to watch Rocky & Bullwinkle on a UHF station Saturday nights!

  5. Oh, I almost forgot:

    I saw both Unico movies on VHS as a child (I found them on a shelf in my local video store). I was very young at the time, so the only parts I really remember are the part with the little demon that everyone seems to hate and the terrifying wizard parts from the second film. I’d almost forgotten about them until I saw the Unico cameo in the GBA Tetsuwan Atom game.

  6. Because I did not think about this until now, it’s interesting you thought the dubbing of the Galaxy Express 999 movies was bad as I thought they were OK at least (they were using the Ocean Group guys that time), but certainly nothing like the “Roger Corman” version from a decade before. What was lame was SciFi’s editing of the first film to fit it into an allotted time frame. It was pretty dumb, yet hypocritical when they had no probs in showing Akira nearly uncut and stretching that out to almost 3 hours with some random short like this to fill up the extra time…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfbyaO3Dulk

    It also would be nice to see Sanrio making films again, they started at least five years ago with this one called “Mouse Story: George and Gerald’s Adventure” but not sure if anything new has showed up since then.

  7. I remember my aunt and older cousins had a even-then beat up VHS tape of Unico. I must have been around four or five years old when I watched it. The tape only had the cat girl and “Count date rape” one on it though. I remember crying and being really disturbed that Unico had his memory wiped every time. Yet, I always wanted to watch it whenever I was over.

    I hope Netflix has that one. I’d love to watch it again.

  8. You may recall this, but as part of the process of Kubo losing his girlfriend in Otaku no Video, he attempts to invite her to go see Unico with him.

  9. Although I don’t think it was mentioned before, Unico began as a manga published in a girl’s magazine Sanrio published called “Lyrica”. What made the magazine rather special was being full color over most others that were black & white at the time. The serialization began in November, 1976 and ended March, 1979. Sanrio initially reprinted the manga themselves in graphic novel format for a number of years but I think lately the rights to the Unico manga are with Tezuka Productions today. Sanrio still shares co-ownership to the movies I think. By the way, the kitty-turned-girl Chao was in the manga too, her story with “Count Date Rape” would be adapted for the first movie.
    http://tezukainenglish.com/bm/series/series_u/series-unico/series-unico-manga/index.shtml

  10. Great review! I thought the two Unico movies were pretty good when I saw them a couple of months ago. This review made me check out the pilot and was incredibly surprised by it.
    IMO, out of the 3 animated Unico titles, Black Cloud, White Feather is easily my favourite. Love the music in it and has a sense of Ghibli-ness to it.

    Do you guys plan on reviewing Rose of Versailles down the line? I would love to see a segment on a show as incredible and timeless as that one.

  11. Catching up on older shows when I listened to this episode today, and it sure bring back memories from watching it on the Disney channel as I saw both movies during the 80’s and maybe saw one of the 2 from my brother’s recorded copy on VHS every once in a while.

    I remember not having any issues with the character design, especially for Unico, though I do see it a little strange now. The 2nd half of the 1st movie is what I still remember clearly with how dark it was as a kid, especially after showing what the Count really was, though I don’t ever remember the movies mentioning Unico’s memories being erased each time since I believe he remembered the devil boy when they meet again. It also had elements that reminded me of Snow White and the animation was of high quality.

    Did the manga ever give an ending to Unico’s story of being chased by the gods, or was it left open for more stories but never done? Thanks for this podcast episode. It was very informative.

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