2017 has been a great year for anime on both the big and little screens. We’ve had everything from the US release of Your Name to A Silent Voice and In This Corner of the World. Now, by way of GKIDS distribution, we get our next release called The Napping Princess or, in some places, Ancien and the Magic Tablet. While this is the weakest of the recent releases, it’s not without value. Particularly little kids will be drawn to The Napping Princess and be entertained by it.
The Napping Princess tells two stories at the same time. Half is about a school girl named Kokone who has the most fantastical dreams about a futuristic world. When she is awake, Tokyo is just about to have the Olympics and her father is arrested after getting on the bad side of a mob boss.
The second story involves the futuristic world where a young princess has a magical iPad that she must use to defeat a kaiju-like creature that appears from the sea. There are Transformers-esque robots that fight the kaiju, which reminded me of Pacific Rim a lo,t and naturally many people are after her magic iPad leading to some tense scenes.
Kokone has two friends throughout the film: a stuffed dog that looked more like a cat brought to life, and a motorcycle that transforms into a robot which her Dad gave her. These sidekicks are cute and, especially in the fantasy sequences, kids will really like the action.
Unfortunately ,as an adult, I found The Napping Princess to be dull. Particularly the scenes on Earth felt long, exposition heavy, and uninspired. I was honestly bored. However, when they would get back to the fantasy sequences, it got fun again. I enjoyed seeing kaiju fight robots and I liked following Kokone around the city figuring things out.
The animation by director Kenji Kamiyama is the standout here with beautiful colors and creativity. Even something as simple as watching them eat is visually inventive and pretty. I liked seeing the differences in color and movement between the real and fantasy sequences. Kokone is a strong character that I think young girls will particularly like and the music fit the situations perfectly. It never felt overly-cute or overbearing. It reminded me of watching Pokemon, or anime like that – fun for kids but not as appealing to adults.
I’d recommend The Napping Princess to families with small kids looking for new anime. There is nothing offensive here and they will enjoy it. For adults, I’d say give it a rental but you might find yourself a little bored. There just wasn’t enough originality or new stuff happening to engage adults in those real life segments. It all felt more than a little clichéd, which made it dull.
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden