Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Price: $9.99
Creator: Kagiji Kumanomata
Format: 175 pgs., B&W, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-9747-0018-9
Age Rating: 13+
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is a delightful spoof of fantasy manga that leans a bit too hard on its premise—the princess can’t get a good night’s sleep, so she goes to greater and greater extremes to achieve her goal.  She has been captured by a demon and is being held hostage, but she’s not too worried about that—he’s obviously not going to kill her, or she’d be worthless as a hostage.  A hero has set out to rescue her, but she doesn’t care about that either.  All she wants is to catch some Zzzz’s.

In the first chapter, she persuades the teddy demons who are guarding her to let her brush out their fur to make a pillow, leading to one of the most adorable scenes ever in manga.  And if "teddy demons" seems like an incongruous concept, well, Kumanomata is just getting warmed up.  The palace is filled with bizarre demons and monsters, as well as all kinds of magic, none of which stands a chance against a princess who simply ignores all the rules.

While the setting is delightful, the slapstick humor gets old pretty fast. Kumanomata has wisely divided the story into short chapters, so the book is easy to pick up and put down; reading it in one sitting would be a bit of a slog, but it’s nice to dip into.  The art is very busy and seems a bit cramped, but it’s also filled with lots of fun little details.  The book is peppered with video game style vignettes giving completely additional information about the characters, all done in an irreverent tone.

The obvious audience for this manga is fans of sword-and-dungeon fantasy stories, and indeed, with the popularity of that genre on the rise, spoofs such as this one are popping up more and more (Seven Seas has a new series, Little Devils, about a demon splitting into 12 mischievous children, and Yen Press’s Delicious in Dungeon puts a foodie spin on the whole thing).  The tropes are so common, though, that this would be a good pick for any manga fan who just likes a good laugh.

--Brigid Alverson