So the indie theater by me is doing an anime night special starting this week through the second to last week of December. Most of the films are either not easily obtainable, overall costly to obtain them all, or unavailable for streaming on legitimate sites such as Funimation or Crunchyroll. I’m glad I checked out what was playing at my indie theater early on, or I would have missed the start of this. The Napping Princess is the first in their lineup, and it does not appear to be available for purchase or streaming anywhere yet, which makes sense since it was just released this year.
The premise for this seemed interesting enough. Every time the main heroine, Kokone Morikawa, goes to sleep, she apparently gets transported to a fantasy universe. The decisions she makes in this dreamworld also has an effect on her in the real world.
**MAJOR SPOILERS from this point. To avoid them, skip down to the next set of red text**
Apparently there was a prequel of sorts streaming before the film’s release, but it unfortunately was only made available on Japan’s Hulu service. Honestly, I can’t help but wonder if it answers a few of the questions I had remaining after watching this movie.
The first loose end: Did Kokone’s parents meet while Kokone’s mother was a child? Or was that just how Kokone’s mother viewed herself in the dreamworld, and therefore happened to appear to Kokone’s father as such?
There does not seem to be a clear answer to this question. On the one hand, it seems like Kokone’s parents met with a large age gap, but then at the very end of the movie, it actually appears that they met under different circumstances than what is shown at the start of the film. The movie seems to leave this a bit open-ended.
Another plot hole: Another mystery that the movie keeps as such (unless this is also addressed in the prequel that only aired in Japan) is the circumstances behind Kokone’s mother’s death. The fact that Kokone’s mother is no longer living is mentioned pretty early on in the film, and the mystery behind her death is definitely a central part of the story, but by the film’s end, I had so many questions revolving around this. How did she die? The movie shows how she dies in the fantasy universe, but it doesn’t show or explain how that paralleled in reality. For example, if a character is traveling in the dreamworld, they end up traveling somehow in the real world as well.
Even more mysteries: Then there are several mysteries with the dreamworld. It is not clear how Kokone’s mother obtained her powers, nor how having those powers resulted in attracting an evil beast that ends up terrorizing the dreamworld.
About that beast, too. What is it? Why was it so hell-bent on destruction? And going along with that, how was Ichiro Watanabe, the main antagonist, able to control it, to a certain degree? The guy appeared to be some sort of sorcerer as well, and had some sort of typewriter that would sometimes shoot out words to power up the creature. It is never explained how he discovered the typewriter and its functions, or how he figured out the way to use it.
As to Watanabe’s motivations, I think the best way to summarize it is corporate greed. In the real world, he works for a car manufacturer, and the company is owned by Kokone’s estranged grandfather, a man who also apparently is well-aware of the dreamworld and participates in it as well as its ruler. Watanbe has his sights set on taking over the dreamworld’s “kingdom,” as well as its real-world equivalent, which is the car manufacturing company. Now that I’m saying it out loud, I guess that sounds kind of goofy, but I don’t think the film really made any of those concepts feel awkward.
**END OF MAJOR SPOILERS**
Other than the aforementioned glaring plot holes, my last real gripe with the film would probably have to be how so much would have just been resolved if Kokone’s father had just been straightforward with her and explained everything from the top at some point. Of course, then again, had he done that, then we really wouldn’t have had much of a story. Still, I think it could have saved points where the heroine would just take some annoying actions as well as make a few frustrating mistakes, which for me caused the film to drag a bit here and there.
Final Thoughts: Overall? I don’t think it was a bad way to kick off the anime night event. I think it’s worth seeing in theaters, despite the mild frustrations one might have from all the various plot holes in the story. Who knows? Maybe they won’t bother you as much as they did me.
As a personal preference, I prefer to watch anime dubbed in theaters and subbed if I’m viewing it privately in my own home. For some reason I find it more difficult to concentrate on reading subtitles at the movies, so I usually try to catch a dubbed showing. Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I was unable to do that this time, and so I am unable to comment on whether or not I found the dubbed voices grating on the ears (as that can often happen with dubbed anything) since I ended up only being available to attend a screening where this was subbed.
I won’t be reviewing the next film featured for anime night, since I have already reviewed Grave of the Fireflies (1988) in the past. If you are curious of the rest of the anime night lineup, however, here it is as follows:
- Pom Poko (1994)
- Memories (1995)
- Neo Tokyo (1987)
- Lily C.A.T. (1987)
- Perfect Blue (1997)
- Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
- Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987)
- Angel’s Egg (1985)
- Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999)
- Sailor Moon S The Movie: Hearts in Ice (1994)
- Spirited Away (2001)
- Akira (1988)
I probably won’t watch all of these, since several of them seem to be either potentially gory or of the horror genre, neither of which I subscribe to, so unfortunately if you are looking for a review for any of those animated films, you will more than likely have to look elsewhere. (Unless I suddenly gain the courage to watch them of course, but highly unlikely.) Anyway, that’s all I have for now! Until next time!