Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle seemed like it was going to be very interesting when I posted up the news article detailing the announcement of the manga. Beyond this my friend who helped me design this website, Raven, was interested in the book and was wondering if it would be worth picking up this series or not. Thankfully I was graciously able to obtain a copy for review from the people over at VIZ Media, so I will be able to share my thoughts with you guys and girls!
Reading the synopsis on the back of the book, I immediately figured that it was going to be comical (how could it not be with a name like “Sleepy Princes in the Demon Castle“?), including things like making DIY bedding, and apparently having the princess die repeatedly?! As good as it sounds, the proof is in the pudding. So I am making sure to read and give an honest review over everything Vol. 1 of Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle has to offer!
The story for Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle Vol. 1 is pretty straightforward; the Demon King has captured Princess Aurora Sya Lis Goodereste (Princess Syalis for short) of the Human Nation and is holding her prisoner in his castle, disrupting the harmony that everyone lived in for so long. “Dawner the Hero” from the Unified Human Nation of “Goodereste” is set on a journey to rescue the princess from the Demon King’s evil clutches, all while himself and his nation believe that she is braving unspeaking acts of torment and torture from her captors. While this is the stage the opening pages set, you come to find out the plot the manga followers is entirely different.
The humor comes from the manga following Princess Syalis on her quest for a goodnight’s sleep, much to the dismay of the Demon King, his demonic attendants who see to the castle, and the hero who is actively trying to save her. While being incredibly fatigued since she arrived to the Demon Castle, she begins to essentially troubleshoot why it feels like she can sleep for hours upon hours and still feel extremely tired and lethargic. From crafting new pillows to seeking out new bedding, from stealing items and using parts of demons she encounters that fits her needs… it is quite comical the entire way through.
The way they act out the story seems to be a mix of a role-playing game and random occurrences of savageness from the princess. They have clever ways of fitting in methods to wipe her gains on sleeping back to zero while simultaneously keeping the hero at bay to continue the trend in Vol.1 of this manga. To be honest, everything fits together rather well and essentially reminds me of the”Phineas and Ferb” cartoon in how two different things are occurring simultaneously, yet they find a way to intersect and one affects the other to great effect.
The only problem I can potentially see with this manga is how the actual agenda of the princess could become increasingly trite as the volumes continue to expand; that finding new and inventive ways to lull herself into a peaceful sleep can run stale unless they find a way to keep it new and fresh. I do have some hope as a bit of ecchi comedy towards the end of the book actually caused me to laugh out loud, breaking some of the blandness I begin to feel midway through the book; this tells that mangaka Kagiji Kumanomata’s may have some tricks up his sleeve when it comes to unfolding this story further (it is rated “T for Teen” after all).
Not bad, but also not great either. It had some moments where it was certainly finally and a few times it seemed to drag on, I am hoping we receive something further to spice it up beyond a few RPG references and moments of sadism from our beloved Princess Syalis.
Characters within this book are both hit and miss, being the whole highlight of some chapters while causing you to yawn on others. Despite the story being somewhat “meh” at parts, I think that a big part of that mediocrity came from interactions with non interesting characters versus having a bad idea of what to do next. This book is banking off of the antics of the princess and those she encounters, so having interesting, eccentric, or unusual characters with different mannerisms (that are often conflicting) makes for the best read.
A Demon Cleric able to revive anyone who has died in the castle, Teddy Demons that are adorable and deadly, and the attitude of Great Red Siberian, The Demon King’s Dog who strictly upholds the castle rules are some of the interesting persons you encounter. However, just as you have a myriad of personas who make things interesting with their diverse run-ins with the princess, you have other characters who come off as mundane and uninspired; Ghost Shroud, Poison Apple Men, and even the Forbidden Grimoire Alazif. Though, the biggest problem I had was that the Demon King himself was not nearly appealing enough as a character (which is a shame since he does actually look fairly awesome).
Princess Syalis herself floats in limbo between being naive, a bold trickster, and a dark humored loli. To be honest, I do not really mind when she seems to just kind of be “there” in comparison to when her presence is felt through something she has did which appears to be out of her character due to her appearance, social standing, and previous mannerisms. Her actions are what causes reactions in this book, so everything begins and ends with her essentially. Syalis is designed well enough so that you love her when she gives you a reason and to not think ill of her when she has only the most minimum of efforts to offer, so I believe they have got themselves a winning combination for a main character.
Oh! One other thing I would like to mention is that they happen to also detail every character you run across in the manga with a brief info page. It tells things like their name, a brief synopsis, a random state that is judged by stars based on potency of said skill, and sometimes their favorite food (which all seems to be “steamed monster bird egg custard”…whatever that is).
This book heavily relies on Role-Playing Game references for some of its humor; such as acquiring items and their effects, the entire questline of Dawner the Hero, and how anyone who is killed within the Demon Castle is resurrected after death. Anyone who is a fan of Japanese Role-Playing Games will no doubt have plenty of laughs from how they illustrate typical JRPG elements into some of the panels.
I also want to point out that there are a few other references too, such as a reference to Naruto as one that could be interpreted of Vergil from Devil May Cry‘s quote when he turns Devil Trigger in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 in one of the “change class” drawings that are present outside of each chapter. There seemed to have been one more referencing something else, however, I failed to actually catch that one.
STRENGTHS — Adorable main character, Plenty of Japanese Role-Playing Game references, Some interesting characters, Humor can be incredibly funny.
WEAKNESSES — The Plot in itself can become bland, Some characters are not cool nor interesting, The Demon King is the main antagonist and not interesting enough.
Overall, I am looking forward to Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle Vol. 2 and feel that this book did a solid enough job in its opening volume. However, it is going to have to do a better job with how it handles the storytelling from this point forward. You can only have someone go after the same goal over and over while resetting their progress for so long without it becoming uninteresting. Introducing characters with more humorous interactions would prove to be all that they need, that and to give The Demon King himself a personality worth the wait of seeing him interact with our MC. The characters are literally what make this manga worth reading, so they need to focus upon them heavily in the next volume.
I recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of light-hearted humor, a story that does not take itself too seriously with an adorable main character, yet advise against it for those who is looking for humor within a serious plot line (such as Negima).