Writer: Kenji Kamiyama
Cast: Mitsuki Takahata, Yosuke Eguchi
Running time: 110 mins
What’s the story: A high school girl bound for university relies on her dreams to make sense of the real world when her father is arrested.
What’s the verdict: Ambitiously running two parallel plotlines, one in the real world, one in dreamland, Kenji Kamiyama’s Napping Princess could be considered tween-Inception.
In 2020, days before the Tokyo Olympics, Kokone (Takahata), a plucky high-schooler, dreams herself as Ancien. Ancien is the princess of a largely mechanised fantasy realm, threatened by a Godzilla type monster emerging from the nearby sea.
When Kokone’s father (Eguchi) is arrested by a huge corporation ruled by Kokone’s maternal grandfather, she vows to uncover why. Might the wild tales in her slumber provide clues?
Brimming with ideas, Napping Princess makes room for teeny angst, corporate greed, family feuds, personal growth, monster movie set-pieces and driverless cars…
While its ambition cannot be faulted, the dual plotlines do not converge with complete success. A sneaking suspicion remains that Napping Princess is the product of two projects forced together to get a movie made.
That it has also gone by the alternate title Anicen and the Magic Tablet suggests distributors have approached pitching the film from various angles.
But, Kamiyama, a veteran of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series, can deliver beautiful, detailed animated lands. And like one of its inspirations, The Wizard of Oz, there’s fun in matching dream characters to their real world counterparts.
Fun, colourful and with fireworks and imagination enough to become a neat anime entry point for ages tweens and under.