I can’t begin to explain how much I enjoy theatrical anime movies, as everything tends to come together perfectly from the detailed artwork and animation, to bringing some unique stories to the big screen. Shout Factory is obviously aware of this awesome trend as they released one of Japan’s latest with Napping Princess. Fans of films by Studio Ghibli and the late but always great Satoshi Kon will find plenty to love here before nap time.
Taking place in the year 2020 and not long before the Tokyo Olympics, the story focuses on the Morikawa family, mainly the daughter named Kokone Morikawa. She loves napping whenever she can, as it allows her to slip away into a dream-world called Heartland where she experiences it through the eyes of Princess Ancien. Her father the king rules over the land that’s filled with future vehicles and giant robots, and Ancien also has the ability to bring inanimate things to life, such as the case with her stuffed animal buddy named Joy. Ancien’s life closely mimics Kokone’s as her father is the head of a top automotive company and is working on some top-secret projects he won’t even tell her about. Things take a turn for the worst when her father is arrested and soon come looking for her as well. She realizes she needs the help of her childhood friend Morio, the princess, and finding a way to make sense of the strange dreams she’s been having lately that hold clues to saving both her dad and everything she holds dear.
Needless to say I had a good time with Napping Princess, thanks to Kokone being a very likable heroine while also having a great backup cast of characters at her side. Much like Studio Ghibli films and some of the more fantasy-like works of Satoshi Kon (Paprika springs to mind), the film is filled with awesome views of futuristic technology while combining classic elements of fantasy that mesh well together. Watching this lovely piece in high definition was a treat in itself, as the detailed visuals and audio (which contains both English and Japanese dialogue) come through perfectly. There’s also some pretty neat special features to take a look at once you’re done in the dream world. There’s an interview with director/writer Kenji Kamiyama where he discusses some of what went into making the movie and bringing it to glorious life, there’s also footage from the Japanese premiere of the film, “Okayama Scenery” that goes into some of the beautiful locations in the film, some cool interviews with the cast, a TV special about the movie, trailers, TV Spots and more.
Napping Princess is a great fantasy anime that I highly recommend for fans of Studio Ghibli, Satoshi Kon, and just fun movies in general. A cool and very likable lead character that’s surrounded by even cooler friends, awesome looking visuals and animation, and an equally awesome story about family, friendships, and fantasy make for a great time for all that you’ll need to take nap from after experiencing this thrill ride.