Sleepy Princess in Demon Castle is the Perfect Quarantine Comedy

Ah, 2020. The year of quarantine. A dumpster fire previously unmatched, which feels like I’m challenging 2021. While being stuck indoors is a comparative privilege, given how many workers still had to go to customer-facing jobs during an ongoing plague, that doesn’t make it any less of an agonizing experience. And so perhaps that’s why a comedy about a captured princess trying to find things to do to stave off boredom with increasingly elaborate crafts and redecorating schemes feels like the perfect bow on 2020.

The setup is as barebones as it gets: Princess Syalis has been captured by the Demon King, and is currently being held hostage. But while her kingdom is desperately trying to rescue her, she’s mainly concerned with trying to get a good night’s sleep. Her first mission? Get a decent pillow and softer sheets, even if it means cutting up some local demons to do it. Fortunately, death is cheap with a demon cleric in the basement, and it isn’t long before demons and princess become an odd sort of family.

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Sleepy Princess in Demon Castle

While it might be simple, it’s elegantly so, thanks in no small part to the director-series composer team of Mitsue Yamazaki and Yoshiko Nakamura. The duo previously came together for the beloved cult classic Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, and they’re in fine form here. Each sketch has the loose trappings of an RPG-style quest, with occasional menu options, text descriptors, and a narrator who drops in to frame the scene, but its light touch keeps it from feeling similar to the overbearing slew of MMORPG fantasy series currently on the market. And though you might start out wondering how the story could possibly sustain itself for twelve episodes, let alone the seventeen volumes of source manga, those worries melt away under the smartly-built expanding cast and sharp comedic timing. Syalis might be the instigator of most of the hijinks, but this series also knows how important changing up interactions is to an ensemble comedy.

Whether it’s a walking disaster of a hero that the princess can’t stand (and who has no clue this is the case) or a harrowing journey into town to follow the sweet allure of a Fantasy Television infomercial, the writing excels at staying fresh while going at its own pace. Wrapped in a bright, purple-hued color palette and with squishy character designs perfect for slapstick, this is a series best made for savoring, where the flourishes on the core joke and oddball family dynamics can really shine. If you want a series that will ease you into the new year like a soft, fluffy comforter, this one comes highly recommended.

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