The unicode fixer strips the u from u'hi' and converts the unicode type
to str. The first won't work for Python 2 and instead we replace the u
prefix with the sixu function borrowed from the six compatibility
package. That function calls the unicode constructor with the
'unicode_escape' encoder so that the many tests using escaped unicode
characters like u'\u0900' will be handled correctly. That makes the
sixu function a bit different from the asunicode function currently in
numpy.compat and also provides a target that can be converted back to
the u prefix when support for Python 3.2 is dropped. Python 3.3
reintroduced the u prefix for compatibility.
The unicode fixer also replaces 'unicode' with 'str' as 'unicode' is no
longer a builtin in Python 3. For code compatibility, 'unicode' is
defined either as 'str' or 'unicode' in numpy.compat so that checks like
if isinstance(x, unicode):
will work properly for all python versions.