Hey all! It's your newly renovated blog owner Sakaki here with yet another Shounen Sunday review! Once again the gracious people at VIZ media have given me a free copy of a manga currently in Sunday to talk about and talk I shall! Sleepy Princess/Maoujo recently got green lit for an anime, so I felt this would be a perfect time to cash in on--er, spread the message! Hahah, yeah, that.
You might be wondering why I'm starting with volume two rather than the first, and the reason for that is I've actually been on a podcast to review volume one with the fine people at allcomic.com. I don't think I could really say more about the first volume that wasn't covered there, so I'm just gonna hop right to it. You can check out the podcast here! Now with that out of the way, let's get sleepy.
As with Komi's review (which you can read here) I have purchased the Japanese version of volume two. The same rules apply too --I won't be comparing translations other than to explain little quirks and gags. With the covers I have to admit I like the English version moreso than the Japanese one. The border on the covers of the Japanese version always bugged me, and I like that Viz did away with it and came up with a logo that matches the font of the Japanese original while being significantly more eye catching.
Those who have been following along with this blog know the premise for this manga, but for the newcomers --Sleepy princess's title is the premise. It takes the "Princess being kidnapped by the demon king" trope and adds a unique spin --the Princess has been kidnapped but the hero is taking a while to rescue her. So what's she to do while she waits? Get some shut-eye of course! The humor of the series comes from the monsters being at a complete loss in handling their captive that at times seems more monstrous than them.
As an aside, I like that Viz indicates the chapters as nights in the table of contents. The chapters are known as nights in Japanese too, but the table of contents page as featured above just goes with "contents". Good on Viz for adding that little bit of flair.
As far as Sunday series go, Kumanomata has got the pacing down pat --the volume is mostly one off stories where the princess is displeased (or misunderstands her status as a hostage and not a guest) and her efforts to change things to her benefit much to the chagrin of her captives. The first chapter of which is her efforts to create a sho--er, bathing vessel that is more to her liking.
For that she'll need to gather resources. The first being hot water, which means barging into monster public bath....and their reactions are priceless. Again, they seem much more human than monster like which almost makes you feel sorry for them. I really like the direction Viz's translation took here in being much more direct --the Japanese is a little more vague and I'd have probably stuck with that in a translation if I had done it, but the translation adding in "I'm so embarrassed" and "Hide all sorts of parts!" really adds to the humor.
The next thing is to get a bathtub, and for that a noble Rocket Turtle (lighting the fuse on it's tail causes it to explode) gave up it's life. Although Kumanomata doesn't focus on it too much (at least not now...) I find it interesting that the Princess often comments to herself how confining her old life used to be and how she wouldn't be allowed to do what she wants there. Even in recent volumes there hasn't been too much information on her home life outside of a quip here and there so it does have me curious. Before that --a moment of silence for the Rocket Turtle.
The encyclopedia entries for the beasts in this series are also a source of good humor. The Japanese version mentions the Rocket Turtle's "problems just slightly before" specifically but the joke is funny either way, if not sad for the Turtle. (Listen I was really attached to that guy for the two pages I knew him.) Glad to read the monsters at least were able to get the Turtle together again.
And now a bit of a multi-layered joke --The word for Seasame Seeds in Japanese is "Goma". In the original, the princess named her new buddy met in the second chapter "Goma-ch" with the rest being cut off. The reason for this is there is a seal character with the same name starring in a series named "Shonen Ashibe Go! Go! Goma-chan" who looks very similar to the critter pictured here. Close call Kumanomata, wouldn't want the anime to get swarmed with legal complaints before it even starts airing! Understandably Goma-chan isn't nearly as well known here so the translation had to work around the joke.
This is Goma-chan for the curious.
The summer heat ends up being a bain for the princess (and by extension her captors) and as she looks for ways to beat the heat, she just continues to stir up trouble. This comes from a chapter where she's looking to make a water bed and after realizing that any liquid will do tears through the castle draining everything she can. This series and it's humor is so multi-layered while coming off as deceptivly simple. The monsters think that she's drunk (when she's more just desperate), and has gotten her hands on a liquor that heightens the battle readiness of the person who drinks it. It's named after Jackie (yes that one) but clearly has Bruce Lee in the imagery. Let that sink in for a minute.
But the main source of (dark) humor is the princess is downright diabolical in her efforts and means to have a good time. Standing in her way is a sure means of getting hurt! Makes you wonder who the true captives are, really.
Though in another chapter where the princess has shrunken due to her own hubris (and magical items) they get some revenge by cuddling her to sleep. It's a crowning moment of awesome and "awwsome".
Kumanomata's strength is that they have a pretty good idea of what our expectations are and how to subvert them. The chapter where the above screenshots come from introduces Harpy who's very interested in human culture and wants a human friend. You'd think that this would be the beginning of a fast friendship between the girls, but the princess basically ignores her until the end of the chapter where she realizes down pillows are amazing to sleep on and she thus invites her to a pajama party --except they're not allowed to talk to or look at each other. I suppose the Princess's actions aren't that surprising, but the direction the punchline goes is hilariously off kilter. Who would have thought that this is the conclusion Harpy comes to (even if she isn't wrong.) The Demon King also being somewhat blase about this as he tries to keep up only adds to the humor.
The lettering and translation are on point too, I should add. While many publishers choose to translate sound effects via liner notes or on the sides of panels, (and I don't blame them.) Viz goes the extra mile and looks darn good doing it. Not only that but the localization choices are great too.
"Nightbear" is probably my favorite thing to come out of the translation this volume. It's a cute and cuddly name that could be terrifying if one didn't see what the Nightbear looks like. Plus I'm a sucker for rhyming (even simple ones like this) so it works on different levels for me.
Unfortunately, Shougakukan doesn't include cover flap art in their digital releases. Viz does however, so we do get a look at Kumanomata's comments and what would be under the flaps and cover of the manga if you bought it physically. It's a nice little touch that I wish Shougakukan would include since a lot of of artists draw little extras underneath the covers for the fans. They're still getting the hang of digital releases, but Shueisha does include this in their releases so there's no reason why they shouldn't as well.
That's my talkback on Sleepy Princess/Maoujo volume two! Special thanks to Viz media for giving me a free volume to talk about, Tetsuichiro Miyaki for the great translation, and Annette Roman as well as Susan Daigle-Leach for the adaption and lettering respectively! Your hard work on bringing more Sunday series is appreciated!!
And on a parting note, this is it. This is the manga. Until the next update, have a good Sunday, everyone!