Napping Princess Movie Review
Date: 2017 August 12th Saturday [18:47]
Posted By: Guest Contributor
Napping Princess hits the UK Cinemas on Wednesday 16th August 2017. You can find a screening near you by visiting NappingPrincessMovie.co.uk. It's being distributed by good folks at Anime Limited. We sent Otaku News contributor James off to a sneak peak of the film.
James is a full-time cynical geek who's probably getting too old for all this. Although he hates to admit it, the reason he's still watching anime after all these years is because some of it is actually pretty good.
Napping Princess quickly opens to a world of fantasy, talking cuddly toys and grand war machines - or is this just the dream of a young girl, Kokone, struggling to stay awake while studying for exams? As the dream-world and reality begin to collide it's soon apparent that the two are even more connected than it first appears. And when Kokone's genius mechanic father is arrested it's clear that this adventure will reveal long-forgotten secrets very close to Kokone.
One of the highlights is a great voice cast, mostly drawn from film and TV stars rather than the usual crowd of anime actors. This seems to have paid off as all the characters are well acted and put in a good performance. There's a range of characters from the daring princess, her companions (human and magical), and a crew of bad guys. They're all scripted intelligently and the good vocal direction ensures everyone is believable in their own way. Mitsuki Takahata does especially well in the lead role of Kokone, portraying a driven and confident young woman fighting to uncover the truth.
The gorgeous backdrops and scenery animation with stunning attention to detail make both worlds lively and magnificent - with a distinct style between the two worlds to help drive home the magic of the dreamworld. The character designs aim mostly for realism, but especially in the "real" world the animation is a little lifeless. It perks up a bit in the dream-world as a nice contrast but this feels like a bit of a lost opportunity to really make the difference really shine.
The plot focuses on the characters and situations without getting bogged down in the sci-fi of the world - which makes the film all the more accessible and an entertaining ride where we can relish in childlike wonder at a world where magic exists and isn't questioned. The storytelling is fairly delicate about leaving the viewer to put together some of the threads of the mystery, making the overall story intelligent and somewhat thought provoking. The depth is a limited though, with some of the crossovers between the real and dream world being a little ham-fisted, so switch-off and enjoy the ride.
There's a small quantity of the now-requisite ropey CGI, but luckily it's confined to areas where it doesn't distract too much or get in the way. The best animation of the film is saved for a set-piece action spectacular towards the end which I won't spoil here.
Musically, the films score sets the tone and enhances the emotion of each scene, but doesn't really go further than that. I'd expected more from a composer (Yoko Shimomura) whose amazing legacy spans twenty-five years of some of the best videogame music produced.
Overall a solid family-friendly film which tells an original story in an inventive and touching way. There are grand moments of wonder, joy and tension which show what the team is capable of but alas I feel that stretched over almost 2 hours it's just a bit too thin. Definitely one to catch at some point, but I won’t be running out to buy the BluRay immediately.
Napping Princess hits the UK Cinemas on Wednesday 16th August 2017. You can find a screening near you by visiting NappingPrincessMovie.co.uk.