Ah, I see! Yes, I was thinking that he suggested I look into Perl 6. I didn't realize Perl6::Str was actually a Perl 5 module. Thanks for the correction of my assumption there!
This is perhaps veering off-topic, but since you mention "[getting] stuff done" (Perl 5) vs. "[having] fun figuring out how it works and contributing to the [...] effort by fixing and working around bugs and speed problems etc." (Perl 6) -- just how does Perl 6 really compare to Perl 5, then, how ready for production use is it? I keep getting conflicting information; on one hand there's advocates who will tell you that Perl 6 is Right Here to use, Right Now, while on the other you've got chronic naysayers making all sorts of disparaging statements.
I reckon the truth is somewhere in between, but-- where? Performance problems aren't a big deal for me since I really only deal in small scripts; usually it's throw-away ones that only get used once, and if they get reused after all, it's usually only to massage data. Other than inefficiently-written code, speed is rarely an issue, and even inefficient code's often not such a big problem: I'd rather spend 10 seconds waiting for a script to finish if I'm only using it once than to spend 10 minutes optimizing it so it'll run in 1. ;)
Bugs are a more serious matter. Of course they're inevitable in any language, and perl is gonna be no exception no matter whether we're talking about Perl 5 or Perl 6, but just how bug-free are the Perl 6 implentations (I gather there's several, right?) right now?
for the ideal simpler Unicode handling scenario you described, there's no better prospect than Perl 6 but it's not yet ready for most users and use cases.
What I'm taking home from this is "Perl 6 will be great once it works reliably, but it doesn't yet". Does that sound about right?