Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle
Episodes 1-3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle ?

O, gentle viewer, weep for the sad tale of Princess Syalis! Stolen from her home and cruelly-imprisoned in the castle of the dreadful demon lord Twilight…the poor girl just can't get any sleep! Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, based on the manga of the same name by Kagiji Kumanomata, is a parody of all things fairy tale, RPG, and the basic idea of the damsel in distress. While the base premise is that Demon King Twilight has kidnapped the human princess of the nation of Goodereste, Syalis, and is waiting for the Hero Dawner to come and rescue her from his clutches, the reality is that he's completely lost control of his hostage, who frankly seems unaware that she's been kidnapped and hasn't just moved to a new castle.

When you get right down to it, Syalis is much more a damsel causing distress than she is in need of saving. Mostly that's because she really, really likes sleeping, but since she's moved in with the demons, it's been harder and harder to get the rest she craves because they've been so crass as to put her in a cell with garbage sheets and a cheap-ass pillow. Plus there's no sunlight in the demon realm so she doesn't wake up naturally, there are bugs because her cell doesn't have screens in the windows, and no one seems willing to press her pressure points to help her fall asleep. So really, what's a girl to do but take care of these things by herself?

The demons would probably answer that question with, “Anything but what she's doing,” and it'd be hard to blame them. Over the course of these first three episodes, Syalis goes on a veritable rampage of terror, at least as far as her captors are concerned. In a few cases, this should be taken literally: in her quest for sheets, the princess goes around slaughtering ghost shrouds, a living cloth demon. (Think a diaphanous Rollo Cloth from GeGeGe no Kitaro.) Mostly, though, she just keeps everyone in the demon castle completely off-balance, to the point where poor Twilight starts wondering if maybe he kidnapped the wrong princess.

At this point, that's really about all that's going on for the plot, although as a manga reader I can assure you that not only does this stay funny, it also develops more of a linear plotline later on. There are, however, some hints as to where things might be headed. For one, Twilight is very keen on making sure that Dawner and his party have everything they need to eventually storm the castle and rescue the princess, so he's obviously working towards some goal rather than just snatching a girl for kicks. That Syalis keeps screwing his plans up is stressful for him not just because she really ought to just be sitting in her tower like a good little Rapunzel knock-off, but also because if she keeps this up, Dawner will never have the gear he needs to rescue her and Twilight will never get rid of her. Meanwhile, she's saying things that give all of the guys really wrong ideas – “I want you to touch me in my bedroom,” “Your fingers are just right,” and other similarly loaded phrases in her husky whispery voice. To say that Twilight and the Demon Cleric are set in a tailspin over that one might be understating the matter…a plot thread which isn't going away any time soon. (We also learn that the Demon Cleric is old, which is another thing to pay attention to, as is the passing mention of custard.)

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle so far is a little bit like watching a group of adults freak out over the toddler they're supposed to be babysitting. None of them know what Syalis is going to do next, but they're pretty sure she shouldn't be doing whatever she's doing, and the second they think it's safe to turn their backs, she's off again. She's a princess who subverts all of the tropes, even the ones designed to subvert the passive princess narratives – she's active and has agency, she's not looking for a prince or princess charming, and she doesn't really care that she's been kidnapped in the first place. (Of course, if I had teddy demons around, I might not care so much either.) It is a lot of the same formula at this point, but it is consistently goofy and that's working for it. If it continues to build on its characters and their relationships like the manga does, we should be in for a good start to each week, even if poor Twilight kidnapped the wrong kind of princess.


Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is currently streaming on Funimation.

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