Distributor GKIDS brings director Kenji Kamiyama’s latest film “Napping Princess: The Story of the Unknown Me” (localized as “Ancien and the Magic Tablet) to the United States for a limited time for anime fans to enjoy throughout the month of September.

Viewers enter the world of the Heartland, a realm of mechanical wonder that harnesses magical power through computer coding. The old king keeps his daughter, Ancien away from the public and his army due to her ability to manipulate their technology. A mysterious monster threatens the kingdom, but it is up to her to get her magic tablet back and be the hero. Sadly, the adventure halts because Kokone Morikawa wakes up. Known for her bad habit of sleeping during the day, Kokone is an energetic girl who lives with her father Momotaro, the small town’s mechanic. As the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics draws close (July 24th, 2020) so does the start the end of the current school term. Kokone should be concentrating on her upcoming entrance exams especially since she aims for a Tokyo university, but the plans are on hold when authorities take her father in custody. Things get fishy when after retrieving his tablet from her mother’s grave, a group of men in suits stop by the house. With the help of her old childhood friend Morio, she flees with her tablet and beloved stuffed animal Joy. Little do the duo know that as more trouble grows, so does the blurring of the difference between reality and fantasy.

“Napping Princess” hits many anime and film genres such as drama, sci-fi and fantasy. Director Kamiyama knows how to work with this balance after working on hit series “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” and “Eden of the East”. While still having a large incorporation of technology, the high fantasy twist gives the film a unique flair. For those that are fans of Ghibli, it feels like the older movie “Castle in the Sky” mixed with their game “Ni no Kuni”. It has a childlike wonder and playfulness even throughout the heavy and serious moments. Both the audience and Kokone progress through the mystery regarding her father nearly at the same pace and at times might have synchronized reactions at certain scenes. It is important to stay until the very end of the film for Kamiyama makes good use of the whole film duration.

It seems fitting that GKIDS releases “Napping Princess” as the summer season draws to a close. Like how limited time students have to enjoy their break, so are the chances to check out this movie in theaters. It is available through a very small selection of venues, so visit GKIDS’s site to see where it is showing. Do note that some theaters may have it under the alternative title “Ancien and the Magic Tablet. Interested fans can also check out Yen Press’s digital publication of the manga adaptation.

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