Turning stereotypes on their heads and flipping scripts aren’t an uncommon thing in media. Still, it’s always a delight when done well, and Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle does exactly that. It offers its own take on the idea of a princess being captured by a demon king by focusing on how she might adapt once she’s in her new “home.” The ensuing anime is delightful, even once you have an idea of where it is going, because of how it’s handled.
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, as you might expect, kicks off with an abduction. Demon King Twilight comes to Goodereste and steals the beloved Princess Syalis, with her childhood friend/fiance/professional hero Dawner pledging to save her. But once the excitement is done, the focus shifts to the princess’ “struggle.” Which is that she has absolutely nothing to do in the castle except sleep. When she’s not kidnapped, her days involve packed schedules that give her no time to rest, which means its something of a challenge for her to sit still. So, her “quest” is to be as comfortable as possible.
Which means she constantly comes up with “tasks” that ensure every nap will be a restful one. In the case of the first episode, she deduces that having better bedding would give her the quality sleep she deserves. She considers killing the adorable teddy demons to get the fluff needed for a softer pillow. (Don’t worry; she only brushes them instead.) But a better pillow isn’t enough! She needs better sheets. Which means taking giant scissors and decapitating a type of ghostly shroud. (She doesn’t need their face and hands, after all.)
It’s a constant series of escalating incidents. The demons and monsters snore, but she learns sleeping in a coffin blocks out the noise. The room isn’t airtight, so she has to cut into another ghostly shroud to make a mosquito net for her bed. Given her determination and the tools available to her, she comes across as increasingly dangerous and menacing. She’s more threatening than the “evil” around her.
Speaking of which, the “evil” demons, ghosts, and monsters constantly come across as good people trying to do their jobs. Yes, they’re the bad guys, but they’re trying to get by. The Demon King himself is dedicated to playing by the rules and seems to genuinely care about his underlings. It even results in people like the Demon Cleric falling into a parental role, reviving and lecturing the princess constantly in the hopes she’ll “value her life” and not “jump in headfirst.”
It’s especially great seeing how these not-really-bad-at-all people interpret all of her actions. The Demon King’s minions initially see her “quests” as potential escape attempts… but she’s always content to go back to her prison and sleep after achieving a goal. The Demon King intends to speak to her about her activities, but she looks too peaceful when she is asleep. There are even times when people leap to conclusions and assume she’s trying to assist Dawner, when really she’s selfishly considering what might make her more comfortable. Which can result in her accidentally and unintentionally killing herself. (For example, she exposed herself to a Thunder Dragon in the hopes the electric shocks would relieve muscle knots, and it killed her instead.)
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is a surprisingly joyful, considering it involves a captured princess and a demon king. It’s great to see how Syalis never realizes how troublesome she can be in the pursuit of her self-serving goals. (Or how hazardous the endeavors could be to her own health.) Seeing ferocious monsters as folks trying to get by is always fun. Plus, finding out how the Demon King and his minions start to see her, and vice versa, makes the show worth watching.