The Spring 2018 Manga Guide
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle
What's It About?In a land where demons and humans share a shaky coexistence, the Demon King has kidnapped a human princess. He assumes that he has an easy pawn with which to broker a favorable deal with the humans, and is therefore aghast when he realizes that Princess Syalis, far from being a quivering captive, is really just bored.
Accustomed to much finer accommodations and with nothing to do but sleep, Syalis embarks on a quest to get the key to her cell in order to venture out and create better bedding herself. But if you get a princess a pillow, she's going to want some sheets, and if you get her some sheets, she's going to need a sleep aide…Princess Syalis' reign of terror over the Demon Castle has only just begun.
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is written and illustrated by Kagiji Kumonomata. It will be published by Viz in June and sells for $9.99.
Is It Worth Reading?Rebecca Silverman
We don't always get what we bargain for when setting out to do something. For the Demon King, that means that the princess he stole away in the night is not the quailing, frightened captive he's planning to use as a bargaining chip in his negotiations with the humans. It turns out he really should've paid more attention to the fact that she didn't wake up when he snatched her from her bed, because Princess Syalis really values her sleep – and when she finds the Demon King's accommodations lacking in the cozy bed department, she sets out to fix things herself.
I'm sure a lot of us can relate. Getting a good night's sleep is not only important, it can be strangely difficult to manage, so Syalis' can-do attitude towards acquiring the finest materials and crafting them into perfect pillows and silken sheets is kind of inspiring. On the other hand, she's getting those things by slaying the Demon King's subjects right and left – those sheets are made out of living fabrics and she terrorizes the quilladillo to get the needles she needs for sewing. Then there's the way she manages to kill herself by sleeping on poisonous mushroom caps and has to be revived by the overworked priest, or how she thoroughly emasculates the Red Siberian guard by sleeping on his fluffy chest fur…this girl is a full-on nightmare for her captors, with one of the best chapters being when everyone mistakenly thinks she's trying to seduce them. (Poor Demon King.)
Like Peach Mermaid, Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is written in short chapters, each focusing on one misadventure Syalis has. The style works for the story, because it doesn't let any one mini-quest take too much time and risk getting old, and each time Syalis encounters both new demons and those she's already (inadvertently) tormented. She seems fully oblivious to the fact that she could A) escape or B) might be inconveniencing anyone, which makes the humor work very nicely. The demon designs are a lot of fun as well, ranging from the more generic to the slightly unexpected, like the slimeys, the in-world version of the ubiquitous slimes of RPG fame. There are definitely some standard RPG elements to the story, but they serve more to highlight the humorous elements rather than make this feel like Iteration #7006 of the “RPG World Fantasy” genre. This is one of those concepts that could get old if it goes on for too many volumes, but this first book is very funny, and well worth picking up if you need a laugh.
How many scenarios can one story center around a kidnapped princess who is really tired? Or more importantly, how many do you want to read before you're over it? Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is just as it says; an idea centered around “What was Princess Peach getting up to while she waited for Mario to get his act together?” except in this iteration, Princess Peach is Princess Syalis, whose name is an unintentional homonym for an erectile dysfunction medication. I couldn't get those commercials out of my head while reading this but that's not really anyone's fault.
Princess Syalis is tired but her accommodations in the demon castle are less than stellar. Fortunately for her, she's guarded by teddy bear like monsters and most of the other demons wandering around are low-level chumps. In each chapter she pursues her quest of making her room more comfy by scavenging items and demons themselves to fashion things like pillows and bug nets, forever pursuing the ultimate comfort.
The gimmick is cute but becomes increasingly predictable over time as Syalis discovers she needs some item, leaves her jail cell, comes a cross a demon whose body resembles said item, and then defeats it to create whatever it was she wanted. There's really no character relationships to talk about or plot to mention outside of this one note. A hero named Dawner is supposed to be on his way to rescue the princess but this also doesn't really go anywhere in particular.
I would chalk up this story as “mildly amusing.” The art is really cute and the castle surroundings are rendered in great detail. There's just not a lot going on here otherwise except one joke revisited in slightly different ways over and over again.
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle volume 1 takes what seems like a limited concept and yet manages to replay its core setup over and over with enough innovation to keep readers returning for more. Like Delicious in Dungeon, another fantasy RPG sendup with a singular repetitive concept, Sleepy Princess manages to make each chapter memorable through its humor and ingenuity. Princess Syalis, kidnapped by the Demon King, as many a princess has been in fantasy fiction, isn't the least bit distressed about her situation—all she cares about is how to get a good night's sleep. The extremely lax security allows Syalis to wander the castle at will, messing with traps the Demon King has set for the hero determined to rescue his lost princess—the hero Syalis can barely remember, let alone await anxiously for—all in a quest to make her dungeon cell a more comfortable place for her to enjoy some sweet dreams.
Though Syalis is rather one-note, she's still hilarious, with her deadpan expressions and frequent cluelessness. The demons that act as her guards range from adorable to frightening-but-still-funny, but the (bishonen) Demon King himself doesn't appear often enough in this first volume to make much of an impression, other than that he's nervous in Syalis' presence. Still, it's cute that his nervousness is explained to be the result of not knowing know how to speak to her because she's almost always asleep. The Teddy Demons, mascot-like and relatively simple though they may be, are adorable, and virtually every secondary character, from the Demon Cleric to Alazif, the spirit who embodies a book of spells, makes an impression, albeit not always a lingering one. The demon castle is populated with a bevy of amusing characters, and Syalis doesn't often revisit the same personages during her sleep-inspired adventures, at least so far.
Kumanomata's art veers toward cute and endearing far more often than frightening, but it definitely suits the lighthearted tone of the series. At the same time, the backgrounds are gloomy and relatively detailed, breathing life to a stereotypical demon castle and further driving home the joke that Syalis isn't scared in her surroundings.
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle volume 1 is an amusing manga full of comedy that any fantasy fan can appreciate. While it remains to be seen how long the series can sustain its singular focus, so far, it's managed to remain original and charming from one chapter to the next. Sleepy Princess will appeal to gamers who love RPGs, fantasy fans who can recognize all the common tropes, and comedy lovers alike.
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