Author of "Anime Explosion: The What? Why? and Wow! of Japanese Animation", Patrick Drazen wrote up this amazing synopsis of the influnces on Unico before his book was even published! Read and be amazed!
Yes, Dr. Tezuka worked with Christian symbolism in his manga, but his
work in general, and this movie in particular, have more of a Buddhist
Unlike Christianity, which believes in one chance for the soul in life,
Buddhism believes in the possible redemption of the soul, even if it
takes several lifetimes. This is symbolically acted out in "Unico on
In the movie, Kuruku is, in essence, living his second life. He spent his first life as a mistreated toy, improperly handled and uncared-for. This brought about the state of his soul when it was reborn at the end of the earth: a consuming hatred of humankind. He lived only for revenge, to use magic to mistreat people the way he had been mistreated.
But, as any Buddhist knows, war can never lead to peace. Unico could not change Kuruku's evil ways by defeating him in battle, the way some western superhero might. Instead, he offered his love and friendship to
The puppet was taken aback by this offer, because
(a) no one had offered love to him before, and (b) in his heart of heart, that's all he
wanted in the first place--it's all any human being wants. He surrendered to the feeling,
reclaiming his soul even at the cost of his
This leads directly to his third life. Cheri discovers the marionette that was Kuruku, now a harmless piece of wood. The difference this time is that we know that Cheri is kind and compassionate; she embodies the virtues summed up in the Japanese word "yasashii". We have seen this in everything she does, from taking Unico in from the storm to cleaning the Trojan Horse, from hoping that Toby might be rescued from Kuruku's influence to braving the desert alone rather than subject Unico to the hardships. So we know that, with Cheri to care for him, Kuruku will not again become an evil wizard.
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