100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Series Review: Meandering Fluff

What started as an alright modern take on a fairy tale slowly became something that just wasn’t very fun to watch. So what went wrong and what did it do right? Let’s have a look at 100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams.

Review:

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My first impressions of this series were not hugely enthusiastic but there seemed like there was some definite potential in this anime. There’s some strikingly beautiful scenes in those early episodes and the dream aspect is really visualised beautifully making you feel that this world the character inhabit is really something special. Even the idea of the princess finding the princes trapped in rings and setting them free seemed like it could potentially be an interesting enough plot line. And yet, turns out despite the title the only ‘Sleeping Prince’ to be found was Avi in the very first episode and every other Prince is just a guy with some issues so that the heroine can find him, befriend him, and make everything better.

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There’s no hiding the based on a game aspect of this show. Not that how the story is presented here would make a good game, but because this anime suffers from a lot of the usual hang ups of anime based on games. There are so many characters crammed in here. We go from Kingdom to Kingdom meeting prince after prince. Each one appears in the OP so if you are watching for the cute guys, do yourself a favour and just watch the OP over and over and you’ll pretty much get your fill. However if you want any of these characters to be fleshed out and explored beyond guy with issues, make friends, issues solved, then you are probably going to be disappointed. Even Avi, the first Prince to show up gets very little actual characterisation and even at the end of the series I still don’t know why he’s following the princess around rather than returning to his own kingdom.

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Kihel is the notable exception. A prince, he thinks, met by Avi and the Princess soon after they’ve met, Kihel has some great big gaps in his memories and this is the one story line that gets some ongoing development and the resolution of it makes up the climax of the season. You would think then that at least this story would be satisfying, but honestly I still don’t know what was going on there or how things sorted themselves out or why Kihel didn’t die but I guess none of that really matters.

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And realistically, they could have gotten away with the story being as lacklustre as it was provided the characters were compelling or they’d kept up with some gorgeous visuals and relaxing music. Yet the quality of the visuals dropped noticeably as the series progressed and none of the characters hung around long enough to become compelling. Some episodes introduced three or more princes at once and they’d be there for less than two episodes before we’d move on again.

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 9

I’m not going to bother to point out the protagonist has zero personality or purpose besides occasionally saying a prayer and giving everyone else power. Again, this is clearly because of the based on a game idea but to not even give her a name outside of Princess is just awkward during every introduction in the anime and the fact that she never questions why she is here or whether or not she could go home but just kind of follows along with whatever makes her one of the least appealing of these kinds of protagonists that I’ve had the displeasure of meeting in the last couple of years of watching anime.

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Honestly though, this anime isn’t dreadful. It really isn’t. It just is substance-less and has nothing really to compel you to keep watching. It just is. Events happen and characters react and we just keep travelling along. Ultimately I’d describe this anime best by saying it is just meandering fluff that may or may not grab your fancy depending on how bored you were at the time and how much else is on your watch list. There are some good moments along the way and I still like the premise of the show, but to be honest not enough was done with it to really make it something I could recommend.

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100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 12: And Somehow This Resolved

Last week I said the only way this could be resolved in a way that would make sense would be the characters waking up from a dream. Well the characters didn’t wake up and this ending does not make sense other than the power of friendship, prayers and dreams. Now why on earth did I expect anything more?

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams

As the final episode rushes to a conclusion we kind of know that Setiq wants to bring Yuan back though why he believes stealing dreams is the way to achieve this, or why Kihel’s dream in particular would work, is never adequately explained. Nor is the butterfly guy ever anything more than a cackling annoyance who once it becomes clear Setiq’s plan is a bust simply starts breaking the place apart until the Princess’ prayer illuminates him out of existence.

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Why Kihel isn’t put to sleep by Setiq’s attempt to steal his dream, or why the other townspeople just wake up at the end of the episode is all just kind of plot convenience and explained away by saying it was the prayer, but they’ve never explained how that works either so you might as well tell me it is because we ran out of episodes. And really that’s the problem underlying this entire series. We still don’t know anything about anything. Who the Princess was before she was summoned, what the dream eaters actually are, how any of their powers work, and why despite them reminding us this episode that the Princess is supposed to be waking up sleeping princes the only prince who was asleep was Avi in episode 1. Every other prince is just kind of emotionally stunted rather than sleeping.

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Still, if you just want a ramble with a range of guys and the occasional confrontation that is solved through the power of love and prayer than there is a chance you’ll really enjoy this. It works for what it is but there’s so much more it could have been. It is at best sitting on average and most of the time slightly below in terms of story, characters, or anything else.

I will get to a full review of this anime soon but in the meantime I’d love to know your thoughts.

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100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 11: Confusing Villain Motivations – Check

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams

I’m almost hoping that this series ends with the characters waking up and realising the whole thing was all just a dream because that’s about the only way this is going to make actual sense. Then again, I guess I wasn’t expecting all that much from a villain who sits around for 90% of the series doing nothing but watching because to be honest you have to really question how motivated they are to do anything at all.

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Any compelling story line that may have existed as Kihel went to find Setiq to figure out what happened in the past and maybe save his kingdom more or less got shot in the foot when Setiq just decides its time, for reasons unknown, and essentially sends the road straight to our group of travellers bringing them to Kihel’s forgotten Kingdom. It isn’t exactly a satisfying or particularly interesting way for a quest destination to be reached given it just kind of happens with no real triggering event to justify it, but this is more or less par for the course in 100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Switched Off Audiences.

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With one episode to go, it is abundantly clear that the majority of characters we’ve met will get no further anything. Also clear that by the time this story wraps up Kihel’s plot and we figure out what is happening in Atlas, that will be it. The unnamed Princess is unlikely to suddenly get some kind of backstory or point and has essentially been a spectator and Avi is entirely superfluous to anything at this point in time given his Kingdom has never come into sight at all.

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I’m actually interested in Setiq’s deal, I’m just not convinced that I’ll be overly impressed with how this anime chooses to execute it. It is all kind of a shame because the initial premise was actually kind of promising and mostly this show has meandered along and now we’re finally at the end but I don’t really feel like we’ve gotten anywhere. Oh well.

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100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 10: The Cat and Kihel

The Cheshire Cat continues to run away from Avi, Kihel and Navi while dragging his ‘Alice’ along (not that she’s Alice but whatever). In the process, Avi and Navi get held up by some talking trees due to an inability to make anyone laugh so Kihel goes ahead which just further cements the idea that he’s going to be about the only character getting any actual story here. For 100 Sleeping Princes, this show has so far only had one sleeping prince and seems only interested in telling one story.

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I’m going to skip to the end of the episode, because it is about the only part of any significance. The black butterfly guy gives Kihel a push and so Kihel borrows the time watch to recover his lost memories. It isn’t entirely successful but we get enough of it (as do the Princess and Avi) that the direction for the final pretty much set in stone. We kind of know what happened between Setiq and Kihel though we still don’t know why or what happened to Kihel after that and before he met up with the Princess and Avi.

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The rest of this episode is mostly just the cat taking Alice various places and dialogues between characters that really fail to be engaging. We get another fight against some dream eaters but they seem less a threat than ever and more just a distractor or a reason for Kihel to be facing black butterfly guy alone.

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Pretty much motives for the main cast remain murky or unexplored. The other princes encountered in this particular story were uninspired and served little to no purpose. The resolution of the stolen watch was at best bland. So all and all this anime that started out as an okay fairy tale romp has mostly just become a chore. Now I still actually want to know what is going on with Kihel so I will finish it up but there’s not a lot of fun to be had at the moment with this show.

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100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 9: What If Wonderland Were A Modern City?

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams - Kihel

The concept is raised as the Princess and the two Princes find their way into a modern city-scape but we very quickly abandon this line of questioning as the characters find themselves onto a rooftop garden and from there it is all pretty standard antics for an episode focusing on Alice in Wonderland style tropes.

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams - Cheshire Cat

I’ve mentioned before that episodes and stories based on Alice in Wonderland are very hit and miss, and a lot of the issue is they rely on you just accepting weird stuff is going to happen because ‘wonderland’. This episode of 100 Sleeping Princes isn’t an exception. While the idea of a wonderland in a world of mostly pre-industrialised countries being a city full of skyscrapers most definitely could have potentially been interesting, nothing was done with this in the end and other than Avi getting some coughs and the momentary fun of watching him freak out in the elevator, this somewhat unique setting was horrendously underutilised before it got scrapped by a time reversing watch reverted the city to a forest.

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 9
That’s what they all say.

Similarly, the characters we meet in this place are all caricatures of Alice in Wonderland characters and in the brief screen time they get they don’t do much to break the mould or make themselves in any way memorable. About the only point of interest is the black butterfly is in wonderland and joins that party for tea dropping a few hints about Setiq before disappearing again.

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And that’s where this feels like filler. We’ve more or less established that Kihel’s story is the only one this anime actually cares about. We’ve never addressed who the Princess is or what she was doing before she appeared in this world. She doesn’t even ask if there’s a way to go back. She’s just kind of existing for us to follow along with. Avi, despite initially suggesting he was going to return to his kingdom, has just strapped in for the ride. He has no actual story of his own that we’re aware of (and barely any personality). So Kihel’s story and finding Setiq has more or less become the only goal and other than a few minor titbits, this episode contributes nothing toward that.

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100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 8: It’s All About Kihel

We seem to be closing in on the mysteries around Kihel’s missing memories. What I can’t figure out is whether this is going to be resolved next week or whether this is actually going to be an arc that takes us to the end of the series. Either way, it doesn’t seem like the anime is interested in dealing with its premise with the Princess appearing from another world as she doesn’t seem even vaguely concerned about that.

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As an episode, this one was pretty dull with the main characters spending the entirety sitting beside a lake and talking or sleeping. However it did fill in a substantial amount about Kihel’s background and set up a fairly compelling oncoming confrontation and we finally got a bit more insight into Setiq so it isn’t as though this time was wasted. They could have found a better way to integrate this into some kind of story, but I guess 100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams has long since proven it isn’t really all that sophisticated in how it rolls out its plot.

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 8

This episode does its job in that it leaves the audience feeling like they are getting closer to something while leaving us with a huge number of questions which will make us watch on. What it doesn’t really do is deliver any of this in an engaging way, unless talking and flash backs are your thing. And that’s literally all there is to this episode so I’ll just leave it here.

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100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 7: This Was Not A Well Thought Out Plan

If we forget for a moment that other than Avi none of these princes are sleeping and that the dream eaters no seem to be some sort of controlled minions, I still have to ask what the villain actually thought was going to happen this week. That was one terribly planned out kidnapping.

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While the general fairy tale nature of this story continues to be one of its more positive traits, everything else is kind of just doing what it does. The butterfly finally took form this week mostly to taunt the characters but giving the villain a voice in the action actually made it worse. Whether he was mocking the Princess or teasing the Princes, he came off like a silly child and as soon as Frost showed up he bailed. About the only noteworthy part of this character’s appearance is that he was clearly controlling the dream eaters which just makes you wonder what they actually are anyway.

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams Episode 7

This part two does quite a reasonable job of dealing with the three brothers and we see Frost and Graysia kind of come to an understanding of sorts, but it is at the expense of anything of note happening to our main cast. you could argue that Graysia was only kidnapped because of the Princess, but if we just remove the Princess, Avi and Kihel from the story, we could more or less run the same plot with Graysia getting trapped and Frost having to search for him and ultimately save him. It is never a good sign when the main cast can be utterly removed from events without altering them in any way of note.

However, this story came to a close and the trio have headed off again so I guess we’ll meet yet another kingdom and Prince next week.

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