Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle – 01 (First Impressions) – Comfort At All Costs

In an effort to claim the Human kingdom of Goodereste as his dominion, the Twilight Demon Lord takes Princess Syalis hostage. But rather than despair in her unadorned cell, all Syalis really wants to do is get a good night’s sleep!

We follow her increasingly creative efforts to make that happen through the gradual improvement of her sleeping conditions. That’s it…that’s the show! There isn’t the slightest effort to make either her captivity or its political ramifications remotely serious, and that’s just fine! Syalis has her priorities, and they begin and end with her nightly comfort, The End.

Her efforts are laid out as individual “quests”, four of which make up this first episode, starting with a new pillow. At first she considers whether to kill the demon teddies who serve her meals, but she instead simply brushes them of their excess fluff.

Syalis proves wonderfully resourceful and industrious when it comes to locating the materials and tools with which to create said pillow, which makes you wonder whether she wouldn’t be in captivity and the Demon Lord wouldn’t be a threat if she used her powers for things other than improving her bedding!

With her pillow quest completed, she proceeds to have a wonderful night of peaceful sleep, which is very much the opposite of what her host wants. At the conclusion of each of her quests, the Demon Lord stops by her cell to talk, only to find her sleeping so soundly even he dare not disturb her, and holds off their chat to a tomorrow that never comes.

The Demon Lord isn’t the only softie in this giant, lightning-wreathed, otherwise intimidating-looking castle. His guards, servants, and members of his own court are either two Cokes short of a six-pack or simply too bewildered by the princess’ unexpected okayness with her captivity to do anything.

Syalis’ next two quests have her exchanging her crown for a sorcerers’ scissors in order to make a “soft crown” she can sleep in without it marring her forehead, and then stabbing and (re?)killing a “Ghost Shroud” she deems the softest and most luxurious bedsheet.

The latter quest is an exhaustive castle-wide cloak-snipping rampage that none of her captors can stop or even slow down! It’s also aided by the fact her meal teddies are always ready and willing to give her the key to her cell in exchange for a good brushing.

Her final quest of the week involves finding a more overall comfortable bed, away from the din of the various monsters and demons snoring in her cell block. This leads her to literally stumbling upon a wind shield that suspends her on a soft cushion of air…which happens to be a shield the Demon Lord absolutely needs in order to maintain his military advantage.

In order to take the smaller wind-producing piece of the shield with her, she smashes the shield to bits with a passing “diamond guard” she tosses into a pillowcase to make a blackjack. I don’t know why a princess knows about mob weapons, but I don’t care; it’s hilarious, as is the way she jumbles together the useless remains of the shield and tosses it into a chest.

With a potentially ideal air-bed in her possession, Syalis searches the castle and grounds for the best place to set it up. In the process she is spotted by guards, then trips on a slippery demon, falls into the magma moat…and dies. This happens hilariously quickly and casually.

No sooner does she realize she’s dead doe she wake up in the demon chapel beneath the castle, run by the Demon Cleric. She also wakes up in a coffin, and proceeds to use the Cleric’s goat horns to sand smooth, then lines with the ghost shroud and her new pillow.

Her new bed thus perfected, Syalis closes herself into the coffin, away from the noises of her cellmates, and passes into a deep slumber, none the worse for wear after her death-by-magma and rapid resurrection. Of course, that’s when the Demon Lord arrives at her cell to talk, only to have to postpone it for another time, because he’s not one to interrupt a princess’ sleep!

Nimble, imaginative, and filled with lovely stylized fantasy imagery, Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is a lot of fun, anchored by the always-charming vocal talents of Minase Inori and a supporting cast of colorful supporting voices.

I love how the Demon Lord and his minions are basically a bunch of big ol’ softies who can do nothing against Syalis’ easy, breezy charm. She basically dares them to wake her up and throw her in a dungeon, but that ain’t happening…and even if it did, she’d probably make the most of it!

Finally, there’s also a Hero and his party out there trying to rescue the princess, unaware that she doesn’t need to be rescued. She doesn’t even remember the guy’s name, and trying to remember would be a waste of time better spent improving her bedding.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

Golden Kamuy – 25 (S3 E01) – Russian Beef Bonanza

Golden Kamuy picks right up where it left off, with a healed Sujimoto sailing north to Sakhalin, accompanied by Lt. Koito, Sgt. Tsukishima, Private Tanigaki, and Cikapasi (who stowed away). In the Japanese town of Otomari (now Korsakov), Koito samples the hurep, a local lingonberry wine, and they learn that a little Ainu girl was there before them.

From there the team heads north into the forest where the girl headed, but the Ainu girl they meet is not Asirpa, but a similarly capable-beyond-her-years Enonoka, who fell of her grandfather’s dogsled. Its here where the soldiers have their first brush with a wolverine, an animal even more feared than bears, and which indeed is in the process of attacking a bear when it turns on them.

After wounding Koito, the others shoot at the nimble wolverine but hit nothing but air. Thankfully, Enonoka’s gramps Henke returns and gets them all out of there on his dogsled. The snow that arrives a month earlier, combined with beasts more dangerous than bears, indicates that Sakhalin is going to be even less hospitable than Hokkaido.

After a quick check-in on HIjitaka’s crew, who are headed to Kushiro on a new lead on the gold, Sugimoto & Co. arrive in Enonoka’s village, and we learn how Sakhalin Ainu have adapted to the harsher conditions by having separate summer and winter domiciles. Koito’s wound is treated with bear fat, and Enonoka tells Sugimoto that Asirpa visited them earlier (her “Hinna!” reaction to the salted hurep being a dead giveaway).

After hiring Henke’s dogs, the group sleds to a Russian town to the north, hoping Asirpa and Kiroranke’s trail heats up. But upon entering a tavern they only encounter unhelpful and lippy drunks. Sugimoto has no patience for this, and slugs the biggest, toughest mofo in the bar, while asking Tsukishima (the only one of them who speaks Russian) to translate the elaborate way he’s going to fuck them all up if he doesnt get his way.

When a distraught Enonoka reports that their lead sled dog (who is like family to her) has been kidnapped, Sugimoto & Co. learn that the tavern owner had money on the guy Sugimoto slugged in the next stenka, and that Sugimoto will have to replace him if he wants the dog back. That night the Japanese boys experience a stenka (Russian for “wall”) for the first time, and it’s a veritable testosterone factory—which is right up their alley!

Eager to teach the towering Russian fighters that they’re no slouches, all four soldiers enter the match and defeat their opponents convincingly (even Kaito is jacked as shit). This has the intended consequence of attracting the interest of another tattooed ex-prisoner, who only fights in matches he deems worthy of his skills.

Desperate to reunite with Asirpa, Sugimoto has been wrangled into a wonderfully over-the-top Russian beef-mashin’ factory. It would seem they’ll get the lead sled dog back with this first victory, but he’ll probably have to entertain the tattooed guy even more before he gives him any information.

In any case, Golden Kamuy returns in fine form, delivering its wonderfully unique blend of treasure-hunting, frontier survivalism, cultural education, supercharged masculinity, and slapstick comedy.