As is my normal complaint, I know that there are a ton more anime movies out there, but for whatever reason, rarely do they get to our sunny shores and then, then make themselves nearly impossible to get, short of some Fathom Event (where you can pay $12.50 or $15 or $20 to see their offering). So, whenever one does seem to get uncovered, I will watch it and let the chips fall where they may, as was the case for “Napping Princess: The Story of the Unknown Me” (“Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari”).
What makes this movie initially hard to digest is that there are two divergent, yet concurring timelines. The main action occurs in a slightly future Japan (They establish it as 2020. But nary a hoverboard in sight. Not even in Japan) with the other place that of Heartland, a fantasy realm with far-too-ordinary problems, such as a massive traffic jam to the point of permanent gridlock. In this second realm, the king’s daughter, Princess Ancien, possesses a magic tablet that can bring to life, more times than not, her stuffed bear named Joy and a sidecar motorcycle named Heart (and all three of them can be seen up there).
Alas and alackaday, Heartland is under attack by the Colossus, a gigantic monster of molten metal. The king has built robots to defend against this beast, but with courtly machinations, there is always a coup afoot and with attention split in two direction, nothing cohesive gets achieved.
Now, let us return to the everyday, boring life of Kokone Morikawa (who, oddly enough, looks like Ancien. Or is it the opposite?) Konone is getting ready to go to college, uncertain of her actual future. She lives with her father (Mom is dead, having died in a car accident, but little is said of that). What is odd is that there is a stuffed bear toy, a cracked tablet, a sidecar motorcycle and Dad wears a jacket identical to the ‘savior’ in Kokone’s dreams, a man named Peach.
Things take an ominous turn when, a mere three days before the Tokyo Summer Olympics is to start, Dad gets arrested, accused of stealing some important computer files from Shijima Motors for a self-driving car. And the person who is leading the arrest, Watanabe, bears a striking resemblance to the mastermind of the Heartland coup, Bewan. You see, every time Konone sleeps, she dreams of this odd land, but is somehow able to manifest change in that land, which helps with what is going on in this land. So, both Konone and Ancien are working towards the same goal: save their land from mindless destruction.
Once you are able to square up the dreamland approach to things, the movie is a pretty tense cat-and-mouse drama, as Konone has to figure out a way to speak to the Chairman of Shijima Motors and learn about the Great Secret that had been kept from both of them.
Overall, the movie is about 85% effective. The last 20 or so minutes, things go off the rails in the real world, as though they felt a need to rush to the conclusion and things got a bit too fantastic in the execution of things. And the actual end, when everyone gets rescued, well, I think “Rush Hour” pulled it off a bit better. Where things really work is the fantasy world. Heartland is a truly miserable place, with so many rules and requirement that it is ripe for anarchy and social uprising. Also the living motorcycle and the sentient plush toy seem completely plausible in this land.
It’s just that things got a bit too contrived, even for a fantasy like this and that damaged a lot of the good will the movie had built up (the actual place it goes off is when Konone gets on the train and her good friend, Morio, covers her escape). Still, I would suggest you see it. The scenery is marvelous and the city design for Heartland is quite appealing. Even in the ‘normal’ world, there is a good feel for the landscape and a sense of danger lurking off the edges.
[REVIEWER’S NOTE: I wrote this well before the ‘fun’ events of 2020, so the less said about THAT year, the better]
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (The dreamworld comes off very well)
Plot 7 (Not fully realized)
Pacing 7 (Ending is a bit too fantastic)
Effectiveness 8 (Good use of balance between the two worlds)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 2 ½ stars
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Gridlock again?