Unico Pilot: White Wings and Black Clouds

4/1979 Pilot film 26 minutes Sanrio/assistance from Tezuka Productions
"Key animator" (with Akabori Mikiharu, Yamamoto Shigeru)
Original Work/Supervisor: Tezuka Osamu
Executive Producer: Tsuji Shintarô
Planning: Tsugawa Hiroshi
Director: Hirata Toshio
Art: Abe Yukio
Music: Takekawa Yukihige, Mickey Yoshino
Animators: Handa Teruo, Takahashi Haruo, Taga Shinmi, Ônishi Tomoko, Miyamoto Sadao
Backgrounds: Ishikawa Yamako, Kaneko Masumi, Yoshida Yôko, Kadono Mariko, Noya Kenji
This short film was the first in the Unico series. It was followed by the two full-length films which are available in the US under the titles The Fantastic Adventures of Unico and Unico on the Magic Island. The pilot was originally produced for the theater, but was shelved for some reason without being released theatrically, and had to wait for an entire decade to see the light of day. It was released on video in 1989. Despite being a pilot, the film was made with the utmost craftsmanship, and as a result has a much higher reputation than the two full-length films among anime fans in Japan, due to its taut storytelling, excellent soundtrack, and careful and stylish animation. The pilot retains all its lustre twenty years on, while the same can hardly be said for the other two Unico films. The story tells of Unico, the little unicorn who is said to bring happiness to humans, but who is cursed to be carried away by the west wind to a different time and place every time he starts to make humans happy, and the sick little girl he meets one day after he wanders into a town ruined by a huge factory which spews pollution and death to everything around it. A very important element of continuity links this pilot with the next film Hata was involved in, The Legend of Sirius: of the three key animators, Hata would go on to direct the film, and the other two would go on to be the animation directors. Hence this pilot was in a real sense in fact a pilot for Sirius, the film the creative staff of the pilot worked on immediately after the pilot, and which is stylistically a continuation of the pilot. It also happens to be every bit as great a film. Note: "Key Animator" is written in katakana in Japanese.
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