Following a successful effort to raise funds to publish "God of Manga" Osamu Tezuka's dark, mature audience work Barbara, Digital Manga Publishing has gone to the other end of the spectrum with a new Kickstarter for the release of the Astro Boy creator's Sanrio collaboration, Unico.
In 1976, "God of Manga" Osamu Tezuka developed the character Unico for shoujo anthology Ririka, published by character goods makers Sanrio, of Hello Kitty fame. Sanrio would then feature this character in productions during the 1977 to 1985 period in which the company attempted to make anime movies for an international audience. The anime adaptation has recently been released by Discotek media.
DMP aims to raise $20,500 (they're already almost at $5,000 less than a day in) to publish the manga in a single, full color volume. They explain:
Dozens of volumes of manga by Osamu Tezuka have now come to American shores, many to great acclaim. The vast majority of them have been stories written for adults. Yet many of Tezuka's most famous characters in Japan appear in manga meant for children. We think it's unfortunate that so few of Tezuka's manga for kids are in print in English, so we set out to publish "Tezuka manga to read with your kids."
The obvious choice was Unico.
Unico is a little unicorn who possesses the magical power to help those who love him. His story begins in the Greece of mythology, with Tezuka's take on the story of Psyche. In his version, Unico brings great happiness to the mortal Psyche, who in return cares for him and loves him. But the goddess Venus is jealous of Psyche, tricking her and ordering Zephyrus, the West Wind, to kidnap and banish the unicorn to someplace far away after wiping his memory. Before Unico can spend too long in one place, Zephyrus returns to carry him away again.
Unico: "Hey, why is Venus so mean to me?"
Zephyrus: "Because Venus is the goddess of beauty, and it is a cruel thing to be beautiful."
Unico's adventures take him to the Wild West, medieval times and more, and along the way he meets kids, animals and supernatural creatures, discovering who his true friends are and transforming their lives.
Think Quantum Leap meets classic Disney, with a dose of Tezuka's unique, humane spiritual sensibility.
Tezuka originally drew Unico for Lyrica, a glossy magazine published by Sanrio, the company that owns Hello Kitty. That magazine was in full color, which means Unico is one of the few Tezuka manga to be created in color from the beginning. Publishing manga in color is difficult and incredibly expensive, so almost all of the editions of the Unico manga in Japan are in black and white. In fact, the color edition has been out of print in Japan for years.