Director: Kenji Kamiyama
Cast: Mitsuki Takahata, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tomoya Maeno, Rie Kugimiya, Arata Furuta, Hideki Takahashi, Yōsuke Eguchi
Runtime: 1 hr 52 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 1 June 2017
Synopsis: Kokone Morikawa lives with her father in Okayama Prefecture. She's a typical high school senior with no special talents except one: she can fall asleep anytime, anywhere. Recently she's been having a series of strange dreams. Her father Momotaro, a gruff man of few words, doesn't seem to pay much attention to his daughter; he spends most of his time repairing and modifying cars. The year is 2020, three days before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics. Without warning, Momotaro is arrested and taken to far-off Tokyo for questioning. He's a misfit, but Kokone can't believe that he would really do anything bad. With help from college student and childhood friend Morio, Kokone is determined to make her way to Tokyo and free her father, as well as unravel the mystery of her dreams. Along the way, she discovers that those dreams are the key to facing her challenges in the real world. Kokone uses her only talent-napping-to embark on a mysterious journey that straddles dreams and reality. And waiting for her at the end of her adventure is a small but precious truth...
Also known as Ancien and the Magical Tablet, Napping Princess is an adventure tale that brilliantly blends reality and dreams into one satisfying story.
Kokone Morikawa from Okayama Prefecture like any other ordinary teenagers out there yearn to further her studies in big city Tokyo. The happy-go-lucky Kokone has no special talents except the ability to fall asleep anytime, anywhere. In her dreams, she is transformed to Princess Ancien, a cursed princess who is trapped in a glass dome because of her special powers. At the same time, her Heartland Kingdom is threatened by a Colossus monster. The King’s only hope is to deploy gigantic robots to fight against Colossus not realizing his daughter with her magical tablet is the only solution to save his kingdom.
In reality, Kokone’s mechanic father, Momotaro is somehow arrested by the police on her mum’s death anniversary. Following that, a mysterious bearded guy and his henchmen is out looking for her father’s broken tablet. Left alone to defend for herself, Kokone enlists the help of her best friend, Morio to assist her to uncover the truth behind her dad’s arrest and the mystery behind the tablet.
For beginners and those who prefer a straightforward movie,Napping Princess can be a frustrating and rewarding watch at the same time. It often swings back and forth between fantasy and reality that it might take a while before you are fully immersed in the story. In the fantasy realm, Ancien and her talking soft toy, Joy is paired up with Peach, a gung-ho pirate who is bent on saving the Kingdom with the Princess while in reality Kokone and Morio is going on a journey to Tokyo in her dad’s trusty old bike to confront the Chairman of Shijima Motor Corporation (who is probably related to Kokone). Before long you realized the two stories are actually connected, transiting into something epic and emotional.
Although teen audiences might find the character of Kokone pretty relatable and the younger audiences memsmerized by Evangelion-liked mechas and Baymax’s half brother Heart, the adults will be fascinated by all the sublime social messages director writer Kenji Kamiyama (Eden of the East, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) has included here. The Heartland Kingdom, which strived to make a mark on the automobile industry, sounds familiar. The reality side of the story is set three days before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and sort of hint the ambitious side of the country. The anime also flesh out the importance of family which make it a recommended watch for everyone in the household.
However, Napping Princess is not without its flaws. Kokone’s deceased mother deserved more flashback and the main villain happens to be a stock character without much of a backstory. The biggest have to go to the climactic showdown. The visuals are overstuffed and draining that a wiser option is to go for a more grounded, less flashy ending. “Dream” seems to be the preferred tool to tell a story given the huge success of Your Name though the latter handle it much better than Napping Princess. Still, this original Japanese anime (not based on any existing novel or comic series) charmed with its imaginativeness and gorgeous animation.
(Not quite a knockout but wonderful enough to be on the list of must-watch anime)
Review by Linus Tee