Plot: As this is her final year of high school, Kokone should be studying hard and making plans for her future. But instead, she falls asleep in class and explores a world within her dreams, a magical realm known as Heartland. This dream world is vivid and feels so real to Kokone, with incredible detail and depth, not to mention that she is always in the middle of all the action there. In the real world however, her naps land her in trouble with school officials, who think she needs to spend more time exploring her school work, instead of Heartland. Her father is a skilled mechanic, but he chooses to help locals and those in need, rather than sell his services, which has a hand in why he suddenly seems to vanish. Kokone finds herself in possession of his tablet, which for some reason a lot of people want to get their hands on. As she tries to keep it safe and track down her father, can she evade capture and uncover the truth of this mysterious situation? And could Heartland have more meaning than she thinks?
Entertainment Value: Also known as Ancient and the Magic Tablet, Napping Princess is a beautiful movie that tells a competent narrative, though one that might leave some a little confused. This is because one of the main threads is the potential relationship between the real world and Kokone’s dream world, Heartland, which is explored a little, but hinted at a lot. So if you need crystal clear clarification on all the narrative threads, that’s one that remains a little cloudy, which will frustrate some and delight others. I think leaving it somewhat open is interesting, but I know some viewers prefer more concrete answers. I found Napping Princess to be a fun ride, with good character depth and some nice narrative turns, despite a little slowness at times. I do feel it runs long, but not excessively so, by any means. The pace is great outside of a couple stretches, so this never seems dull, just a touch slow at a couple points. Kokone is a great lead and she is a strong character, resisting the damsel in distress stereotype by being her own hero, with some help from her friends. I also appreciated that Morio is more than just a prop sidekick, he is given some solid depth here.
In terms of visuals, Napping Princess is a beautiful, dynamic experience that really is a feast for the eyes. The designs have a simple structure at first blush, but show a lot more detail than is first evident. The characters are well designed and distinct, while the world itself is rich with subtle touches and details, especially when we’re taken into the Heartland realm. I liked all the tech elements and mechanical touches as well, this is just a gorgeous work of animation. The original Japanese soundtrack is well performed, while the English language track is competent, but a few of the voices just aren’t as well chosen. So unless you just hate subtitles, I’d choose the original track, but both are more than solid efforts. Napping Princess has some minor issues, but overall this is a well crafted, beautifully animated adventure that is easily recommended.