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Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle [Review]

When the Demon Kingdom kidnaps the Princess of Goodereste, it’s the demons who get more than they bargained for. Princess Syalis’s reign of terror begins during her first night as a captive in the demon palace. The pillow is rough and lumpy and even noisy. So, using her seamstress skills, she gathers materials for a more comfortable sleep. She goes on to ravage the Demon Kingdom, RPG-style. Each chapter revolves around the princess’s quest to solve a sleeping problem. Rough sheets? Behead a ghost shroud. Need a better mattress? Dismantle a delicate artifact. Syalis doesn’t care if she gets rescued; her kidnapping is a welcome vacation from royal duties and a great opportunity to nap as much as she wants.

The RPG references and in-jokes work surprisingly well within the story, with Syalis equipping herself with protective amulets and HP counters and respawning in the demon clinic every time she dies by misadventure. As for the plot, if the constant quest for a good night’s sleep is a plot, then this book has loads. There are even subplots, including the Demon King’s efforts to make a challenging (but not too challenging) dungeon for questing heroes and the dog-headed demon Red Siberian’s hopeless attempts to lay down the law for Syalis. But how long can a book centered around a single gag last? Surprisingly long. Kumanomata lays the groundwork for an ever-expanding plot and endless complications. There’s still room to explore the world outside the demon castle and the hero trying to rescue Syalis, and the Demon King himself is still underutilized.

The art is solid, but the character designs are a little uneven. The princess is by far the cutest character in the book, although the teddy-bear demons are a close second. Some of the demons are dull looking, but in Kumanomata’s defense, the story requires a huge number of demon designs. The backgrounds are mostly generic castle settings with a splash of hellscape thrown in; it’s a shame there’s no attempt to extend the visual gags by putting the characters in a parody of a video game setting or making the world look like RPG art. A few sly references could have elevated Sleepy Princess into an outstanding satire. But it’s still a funny, weirdly relatable manga perfect for RPG fans and anyone whose life goals include being in pajamas all the time.

publisher: Viz Media
story and art: Kagiji Kumanomata
rating: T

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