Osamu Tezuka’s Unico Returns With New Manga Via Kickstarter

A small, adorable unicorn floats amid a shattered picture framed by two goddesses and a cat on a broom.

Picture, Tezuka Productions/Artwork by Gurihiru

This unicorn could look cute—and he actually is—however do not let his whimsy idiot you. Unico was created by Osamu Tezukathe legendary “god of manga” and creator of Astro Boy, who gave this lovely unicorn an edge that captivated Japanese readers of the ’70s—in addition to creator Samuel Sattin. Now Sattin, working with the artist workforce Gurihiru and with the blessing of Tezuka Productions, has theunched a Kickstarter to deliver Unico to a brand new era. It’s totally uncommon that Japanese firms enable Western creators entry to their work like this, so we needed to discuss to Sattin to search out out precisely how Unico: Awakening happened—and why this obscure little unicorn is coming again to the highlight.

Rob Bricken, io9: He is one in every of Tezuka’s extra obscure characters, so proper off the bat: Why Unico?

Samuel Sattin: All of it comes again to my real love of Osamu Tezuka and his work. During the last decade, I’ve gone out of my strategy to learn no matter I should buy of [Tezukas works] and I simply ended up falling in love with the tone of Unico, in that it is this extremely super-hyper-cute character that is additionally blended with the story of utter tragedy and hopelessness. And it goes into the character of magnificence and love as being form of a double-edged sword.

And what I actually love about it’s that even when making an attempt to create one thing extremely lovely in collaboration with [Hello Kitty makers] Sanrio, Tezuka’s moodiness and want to be complicated and significant, and his capacity to create unbelievable artwork got here by. I feel he is simply an necessary character that fashionable readers can profit from studying.

io9: At first look, you’d in all probability assume Unico is mainly a My Little Pony. However I had no thought his again story was so melancholy till I noticed your Kickstarter web page.

Sattin: Yeah, this character that has the distinctive capacity to unfold love and kindness all through the world attracts the wrath of the goddess of affection and wonder, who has Unico’s thoughts wiped and banishes him by time and area! It is a very tragic story, proper?

Image for article titled The Adorable, Tragic Tale of Osamu Tezuka's Unico Lives Again

Picture, Tezuka Productions/Artwork by Gurihiru

io9: Effectively, what is the story of Unico: Awakening, Is it a brand new journey?

Sattin: Principally, Unico: Awakening is a reimagining. The unique manga was serialized within the mid-’70s and it was damaged up into chapters the place Unico would undergo a distinct time interval earlier than he needed to get picked up by the West Wind and brought by time and area and have his reminiscence erased.

We’re basing Awakening on a chapter that a few the Unico movies additionally drew on, “The Cat on the Broomstick.” It is a story basically [of] Unico assembly this deserted cat who does not wish to be a cat anymore. She desires to be human, so Unico begins to grant her the flexibility to take action for small quantities of time each single day, although he is frightened that being a human is form of extra of a burden than it is price. In the end, she finally ends up attracting the attention of a sadistic hunter who’s killing off the animals of the forest and that is the bottom of the story.

What we’re doing with Unico: Awakening is we’re opening up issues a bit of bit extra, by giving a number of the characters bigger roles. The West Wind, for instance, has a a lot bigger position as she tries to journey by the universe to discover a treatment for Unico’s curse.

io9: How did this mission come about? It is uncommon that Japanese manufacturing firms enable Western variations of their materials.

Sattin: My pal Deb Aoki, who runs the podcast Mangaspaining and is everywhere in the manga scene, launched me to a former president of Crunchyroll Japan. He used to work at Tezuka Productions and instructed me that they are all the time in search of new concepts, and so they had been trying to do one thing with Unico, I used to be like, wow, I might like to attempt to pitch them an thought for that, to do a reimagining. He stated go forward and do it and so I did. To my immense shock, they accepted it.

Image for article titled The Adorable, Tragic Tale of Osamu Tezuka's Unico Lives Again

Picture, Tezuka Productions/Artwork by Gurihiru

io9: Was the collaboration a tough course of?

Sattin: It is virtually unbelievable once I say this to myself [but] it has been great, and I feel it attracts again to some issues. Initially, I used to be not occupied with making an attempt to power a completely Westernized imaginative and prescient on one in every of Tezuka’s characters. One of many issues that I like about Tezuka is that he was so supportive of collaboration, and he checked out comics as a type of worldwide language. And I wished to take one in every of Tezuka’s unbelievable works and attempt to homage it and attempt to work with Japan and with the workforce on it to guarantee that we create one thing that is genuinely collaborative.

So they have been actually useful. Actually, after we ended up bringing [the art team] Gurihiru, Tezuka Productions instructed them to do the identical factor from an artwork perspective—that the principle factor to remember is that we wish to be sure that we’re homaging Tezuka, however that does not imply that you would be able to’t have your personal outlook and personal design and make your personal Unico, That is truly why they agreed to do the mission, as a result of at first, they weren’t going to do it.

io9: Is the e book going to be printed in Japan?

Sattin: Sure. We’re doing each English and Japanese Kickstarters. That is one thing that we wish to attraction to each Japanese and Western audiences and that is one of many the explanation why we’re publishing each translated variations and in addition why our Kickstarter efforts have been so energetic in Japan as nicely.

io9: Effectively, that is very cool. How briskly did you attain your Kickstarter objective? I do know you’ve got greater than doubled it at this level.

Sattin: I feel it was reached throughout the first 24 hours. Whereas I used to be—nicely, I used to be hiding in a gap. Being vomitous. That is my first Kickstarter and I used to be extremely, personally, simply petrified of the entire thing as a result of I did not know the way it was going to finish up, so I did not even have a look at it the primary day. I feel it acquired funded at like at 3:30 within the morning or one thing.

I wish to say each single little bit of help that we get for the Kickstarter, almost each greenback goes in the direction of paying the people who labored on the mission, together with the entire artists and all of the translators and the entire individuals who had been concerned to attempt to make this come collectively. In order that’s for the people who find themselves like, “Effectively, like they reached their objective.” I completely perceive that, however nonetheless, each bit helps everyone who labored on this.

You possibly can study extra about Unico: Awakening right here, and its kickstarter can be accepting pledges till June 2. This interview has been edited for size and readability.

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