Napping Princess tells the story of Kokone Morikawa, a strong willed girl navigating between dreams and reality days before the 2020 summer Olympics. The film’s setting, Shimotsui in Okayama prefecture, subtly weaves itself into the narrative while also providing eye-pleasing backgrounds. Although rooted in a real location, Napping Princess moves between two worlds, Kokone’s dream world which revolves around cars, robotic machines, a colossal monster, and a princess with a magic tablet that brings inanimate objects to life and her daily life as a high school student. The transition between Kokone’s dreams to reality scenes are animated seamlessly without confusion, allowing the audience to follow the story without hindrance. Kamiyama executes two worlds perfectly and uses the dream world to illuminate Kokone’s family life.
The only hole in the story occurs during film’s climax. Lacking the clarity of previous scenes, this climax leaves the audience questioning what Kokone is doing in real life. Even so, this small flaw does not prevent the story from appealing to the audience’s emotions.
In addition to the story and setting, protagonist Kokone Morikawa drives the film. She comes off as not book smart, which is a typical character trait of schoolgirl protagonists, yet she is also competent and adventurous. Quick on her feet, she isn’t afraid to do what it takes to save her father. Luckily, her character development does not hinge on a romantic narrative arc. Though Kamiyama did set up Kokone’s childhood friend to be a possible love interest, he does not dwell on it and instead centers the story on family, familial love, and healing.
Napping Princess is a fantastic film that anime fans will no doubt enjoy. Kamiyama skillfully writes a story that utilizes its setting and coherently uses two worlds to tell the story of Kokone Morikawa and her family’s secrets.
Napping Princess: 4 out of 5 hearts.
Seattle’s International Film Festival screened Kenji Kamiyama’s animated film Napping Princess to a sold out theater full of anime fans on May 31, 2017. Currently, the film is slated to screen in the UK this summer.