Wataru TakagiYosuke EguchiArata FurutaMitsuki Takahata
Napping Princess
Also known as: Hirune Hime the movie: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari
Medium: film
Year: 2017
Writer/director: Kenji Kamiyama
Actor: Arata Furuta, Hideki Takahashi, Mitsuki Takahata, Rie Kugimiya, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Tomoya Maeno, Wataru Takagi, Yosuke Eguchi
Keywords: anime, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 111 minutes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=18871
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 6 March 2019
It's a bit odd. It's about a girl (Kokone Morikawa) who lives out in the sticks in Takamatsu with her unworldly father. He's the kind of mechanic who'll accept payment in food, or else fix your car navigation system without charging you for anything more than your flat tyre. That's half of the film.
The other half is set inside Konoke's dreams, in a realm called Heartland where she's a magician and where the king fights lava monsters with his giant robots.
Sometimes the two realities cross over. Real people can enter Konoke's dreams, if they don't have an alter ego there already. It might also be that dream-Konoke's magical powers can manifest themselves in the real world too, although that's more ambiguous.
After watching this film, I discovered that it was written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama, who also did Eden of the East (underwhelming) and lots of boring Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Fortunately this time he's being warmer and more human. Konoke is a thoroughly likeable teenager and you feel all her relationships, from her cool but apparently dozy dad to her childhood friend. The film draws you in. You feel you understand what it's like to live in Nowhere, Takamatsu and what it's like to have Kokone's friends and family. Even the late mother takes an important and emotionally significant role in the story, despite having died when Kokone was very young.
There's an unusual mix of high-tech and fairy tales. The magical world is a reflection of the real one, with its VR goggles, automated driving software and McGuffin tablet computers. You can cut off Kokone from her father by taking away her mobile phone, because she's got his phone number saved in there and she can't remember it.
Surprising fact: the end credits have a Japanese cover version of the Monkees' Daydream Believer. That was thematically appropriate and quite cool, although unfortunately they gave up and didn't bother when trying to translate "homecoming queen".
Slightly disturbing possibility: Kokone's mum was the heir to an automobile conglomerate and a pioneer in self-driving cars. She died young "in an accident". Could it be that mum got killed by her own research?
This film's a bit different. It's charming and not entirely coherent in how it blends its two realities, although I think it manages to carry it off and the important emotional truths come through. The art and character designs aren't particularly detailed (not even reaching the level of, say, a Kyoto Animation TV series), but it's still fun to watch with cool tech designs, mental dream stunts and a Transformers robo-motorcycle. It's by far my favourite anime by Kenji Kamiyama. It's fresh and down-to-earth, but also a fairy tale that's playfully blurring the line between reality and fantasy.