「魔王城の眠り姫」 (Maoujou no Nemuri Hime)
“Sleeping Princess of the Demon Castle”
For the last episode of Maoujou de Oyasumi, Princess Syalis makes a Christmas Wish to head back to her home at the castle to collect some therapeutic clothes from her dresser. But because that requires her to warp back to the actual castle, it provides some interesting depth as far how Princess Syalis reflects on the time she’s spent at the Demon Castle and what it’s taught her.
The struggle in Episode 10 did wonders to paint a picture of the animosity that humans have for demons and how difficult it’d be to patch up the long-standing grudge between the two. But as Syalis started to see the divide, it made her all the more determined to try to be pivotal in being instrumental towards equality between humans and demons.
For the last moments of the episode, it all comes full circle as we get a touching speech from Syalis where she reflects on her time at the demon castle and strives for a time where she can live in a society where both humans and demons will be able to join together someday soon. It’s all the more poignant when her mother, Queen Aurora, is able to recognize her and actually encourages her to keep it up since she noticed that her daughter has been enjoying herself lately.
Part of me thinks that she has a grasp of the light-hearted nature behind the Demon King’s castle, but it was cute and touching to see her rally behind her daughter when it seemed like so much of Princess Syalis’ depression was due to feeling like she was confined into playing one role all of her life. Seeing her mother approving of her decision to stay at the demon castle must have felt really nice on the inside and helped to validate how she feels about being pressed to take on her role as a princess.
That’s not to say all of this episode was sentimental as it still had its funny moments. It was hilarious to see Syalis’ disguise inside of the armor with Twilight and the Demon Cleric nearly fall apart because she couldn’t contain the embarrassment of having one of her older knights remind her of how embarrassing she was as a kid. Similarly, the body double role for Sakkyun paid off big time in this episode as we got a big hilarious scene where Queen Aurora mistakes Sakkyun for Princess Syalis, and pushes her to make a grand speech in front of a crowd that also thinks she’s Princess Syalis. It’s sad to see it all end, but at the very least, we have a final episode that brought both the laughs and the feels.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve actually reached the end of Maoujou de Oyasumi. I got so accustomed to being inside of the fun crazy world that was built within the Demon King’s castle that I feel like the rug’s been pulled out from under me to look at Episode 12 as the last episode. Needless to say that Maoujou de Oyasumi did more than fulfill its end of the bargain by being one of the most addicting anime of the Fall season for its infectious humor and carefree atmosphere.
By taking the usual princess hostage situation you’ve seen in fantasy stories and transforming it into a fluffy yet witty comedy, it gave the anime free-range to have fun with the narrative. Taking this tone allows them to flip the script on a lot of fantasy story and RPG conventions without feeling like a cynical dig at these tropes as a whole. The goals that Princess Syalis sets for herself to renovate her pad are framed as quests for herself to take on, and her hyperawareness of the Demon Cleric’s revival powers ends up causing her to embrace death quickly enough that she’s a little too willing to fall into traps and pits if it means starting over anew.
What elevates Maoujou de Oyasumi to its highest heights is the show’s sense of humor. It doesn’t need to entirely rely on the existence of other tropes to be hilarious as it creates scenarios that are genuinely funny and rely more on the simple, yet practical set-up to each segment. You could honestly say that most of the segments play out like the kind of joke you would tell a family member or friends at a festive setting like the one when the Demon Council has to come up with reasons why one of their fighters was missing most of his reliable equipment due to their unintentional/intentional meddling. Or when Syalis bumbles her way into finding a genie that could break her out only to use its abilities to get some better sleep. Or when the Demon Council tries to ignore the Princess for as long as they can, but it ends up being unbearably painful to imagine her acting in any other way than being a hellraiser that makes their jobs trickier. Maoujou de Oyasumi went by so quickly, but as I reflect on past episodes, all of these jokes are golden.
Throughout the show, we’re also introduced to radically different versions of the kinds of characters you’d expect to see in a princess hostage situation. The Demon King, Twilight, who would have otherwise been an intimidating fiend, is at an impasse on whether he needs to be concerned about the Princess’s activities when she hasn’t shown interest in escaping. It’s adorable to see how invested he got in making Syalis’ stay as comfortable and entertaining as it could be, going so far as to feeling gloomy and distraught at the possibility of losing the normalcy he felt from letting her wreak havoc across his castle.
I was expecting the Hero Der-whatshisname to be more of a blank slate character but I was pleasantly surprised to see that he ended up being a big, dumb puppy dog who constantly ruins things for both Twilight and Syalis. At this point, Twilight constantly attempts to throw bones his way by leading him to the right direction, but in spite of all of his efforts, the Hero’s party keeps trudging forth further and further away from the castle. One of the main catalysts behind Syalis not wanting to return to Goodereste is the Hero being declared her fiance because of the trauma that came from the Hero being a miserable kid to be around.
It helps that Princess Syalis is an all-around great protagonist that is able to keep her quest for better sleep from getting old by being both an oddball and a menace. She quickly gains the reputation of being a hellraiser purely for how much of a ruckus she causes in the castle and how many times she slays demons and herself just for the opportunity to gather items for her own personal use. Her cunning nature and unscrupulous methods of getting what she wants make her a fun anti-hero of sorts with how she torments the otherwise put-upon demons she has to stay with. At the same time, because she often does things out of her own interests, there is a spontaneous nature to even her most mean-spirited of stunts. She’s the kind of character that would look at the prospect of putting herself in a dangerous or sticky situation and think nothing of it because she already weighed her options and figured that the pros outweigh the cons.
Doga Kobo hit yet another fluffy, relaxing anime out of the part with Maoujou de Oyasumi. With how many chapters are left out there, I’m hoping we can at least get some more material out of those and have some more installments for Princess Syalis’ search for better rest. But until then, time for Maoujou de Oyasumi to enjoy some well-earned rest. Syaaaaaa~