Despite the Disney like fairy tale narrative being spun here, episode 4 kind of shows us the darker side of the dream land with pirates, mermaids, death at sea, and a past that seems determined to resurface.
No surprise that I started getting a little concerned as soon as I realised they were about to get on a ship because it seemed very likely our nameless heroine would get swept overboard at some point. Fortunately this anime has so far shown that danger is fairly swiftly overcome so I wasn’t too worried about an actual drowning. The closest we really get to it this episode is a reference to the flowers around the ship being there in memory of those who have died at sea. It’s about as tame as a fairy tale can get while still claiming a slightly darker edge.
Kihel’s story continues to develop and while the whole amnesia with flashes of memory thing has been done to death, in the context of this show it kind of works. What works less well is that fact that other than Avi, none of the other Princes appear to actually be trapped inside rings so I’m not entirely sure why the Princess is needed at all here or why that was a thing in the first place. The rings were super important for all of one episode and now they aren’t even mentioned. It kind of breaks the overall world building going on here.
That said the Princes we meet this week are an interesting group, whether human or not. Plus we ended on a fairly dramatic cliff-hanger once again so we’ll get to spend more time with them next week and hopefully have a bit of fun.
They have gone to a lot of effort to not name the heroine though. At one point she was asked point blank who she was and before she could speak Navi jumped in and said she was the Princess of wherever. After that, all the characters she met just happily called her Princess and seemed to forget even caring what her name was. Despite the fact that almost all the other characters are Princes of somewhere but still have a name. It’s a little bit weird, though kind of shows the source loud and clear.
There’s a definite trend in some stories to strive against making anyone a real villain and providing them essentially get out of jail free cards for being a jerk. Three episodes in and 100 Sleeping Princes definitely seems to be taking this path.
Apparently this anime is absolutely against the idea of anyone actually being responsible for doing bad things. The Queen isn’t spending the kingdom’s money and starving the people because she’s a selfish-cow, she’s possessed by a dream-eater. She wouldn’t actually curse the older prince so that her son could become the ruler or try to kill him, she’s just possessed. So while the dream eaters are apparently evil without a single redeeming feature, they just need to get cut down, all the humans are apparently inherently good and all evil is caused by possession.
I’d mock this show more for it accept that this is something I’ve come to expect from a range of anime over the years. I wouldn’t mind this particular trait so much accept that it is either all or nothing. They never let some characters just be horrible people who whether they were possessed or not are going to do bad things. As a result, there’s very little tension because we’ve already got a formula. Bad things happen, identify who is possessed by a dream eater, princes run around waving shiny sticks (okay, swords) and then the princess does her little prayer and the dream eater emerges to be instantly cut down by the princes.
Maybe this anime will be the one to shake things up and won’t go down this strictly formulaic path, but right now I’m thinking this is about all it has on offer. There’s certainly a minor plot line being clumsily laid out in final scenes involving one of the party members, but I’m not all that inclined to be interested. Still, the fairy tale feel and the general lack of stress watching this causes might see it through the season so I probably won’t be dropping this one but nor would I recommend it from its first three episodes.
There’s something kind of fun about reliving a fairy tale even if it isn’t exactly thrilling. 100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams is more of less what happens when you blend an otome game with a book of childhood fairy tales.
Our heroine has no name and is only referred to at the Princess. She’s been summoned from another world (clearly ours) to awaken the sleeping princes. The only twist on this generic set up is apparently she was originally from the Kingdom of Dreams and was banished and they’ve simply brought her back. That would be a neat twist if she had any memory of it, but she does not and so we just have a fairly clueless girl getting dragged into a fantasy setting where she simply prays so that the Princes in the party can have a power up to defeat the dream eaters. Honestly, the heroine annoyed me to no end in this and the basic set up more or less assures us that she will do nothing of note throughout the series other than become the damsel in distress and occasionally show signs of grim determination to encourage those who follow her.
The two ‘princes’ we meet in the first episode are a nice contrasting pair, though repeated dialogue is already wearing thin and we’re only two episodes in. We could definitely play a drinking game that every time Kiel says ‘probably’ we should take a drink and every-time Avi threatens to stab him we should take a drink and by the mid-way point of episode two I’m pretty sure even the most hardened drinkers might be falling off their chairs. The prince/princes introduced in episode 2 seem kind of interesting and I guess we’ll find out what’s going on with them in the next episode but given the title, I’m guessing we’re going to end up meeting a lot of guys as the story goes on (and why does every kingdom have a prince but there’s only one princess).
Navi, the ‘butler’ is also already a little on the annoying side and his repeated joke is to speak and surprise the other characters so that they exclaim that the stuffed animal spoke so that he can deny being a stuffed animal. Hilarious.
The visuals go from being breathtakingly beautiful when they focus a lot of attention on a particular scene (such as the Princess using her magic) to being truly ugly when they seem to have taken a short cut with the animation. Characters running and sometimes talking look particularly hideous at times and some backgrounds are less complete than others.
Despite all of that, if you enjoyed basic fairy tales as a kid, this is pretty much like walking through an extended fairy tale. Honestly, you could pick it apart really easily or you can just settle back and enjoy the ride. While the quality isn’t great, it isn’t unwatchable and I was kind of in the mood for it so despite all my complaints above I’m going to keep watching for a bit.
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