This week's episode of Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle makes a good case for why you shouldn't stigmatize or sexualize perfectly innocent items of clothing. Think about it: had Queen Goodereste not told Sya that she should be ashamed of showing off her cute woolly undies and that a princess must never say the word “underwear,” at least a third of this week's horrors at the Demon Castle could have been avoided! Syalis could have just told everyone what she was doing, maybe they would have been confused or a little embarrassed, and she could have gotten back to the business of creatively destroying the castle and their sanity. But instead she scrawls dangerous-looking art, makes threatening gestures, and produces unearthly sounds in her attempts to keep from revealing her activities which, in all honesty, are probably the least problematic of anything she's done in pursuit of her own comfort.
Let that be a lesson to you, parents of the world. If you teach kids to be ashamed of their underwear, they'll cause mass panic in a castle full of allegedly evil beings. Or something.
Anyway, underwear aside, this is one of the most fun episodes so far in terms of visuals. Even without Syalis' terrible attempts at secretly telling people what she was up to, the underwear sequence is great as the demons build to higher and higher levels of panic, but the real scene-stealer is the princess-based weapon that Dr. Gearbolt comes up with to guide the hero on his way. (I have to wonder if that's the way the demons see the princess…) It's a fabulous combination of creepy and absurd, like the princess crossed with a snake and two pairs of scissors. I'm not entirely certain what it's supposed to do for the hero (make him think she's gone demon?), but truly Gearbolt has outdone himself. Another good visual are the police moles that Dawner and his unfortunate party run into, mostly in terms of sheer absurdity (are they eating the doughnuts, or are the doughnuts part of their faces?) and wordplay. That the moles are also too tough for Dawner probably says something about him.
And what it says is, “he's kind of a lousy hero.” It seems that part of the reason Dawner hasn't taken the princess off Twilight's hands is that he can't find the Demon Castle – in fact, he may not be able to find his way out of a paper bag open on two ends with a map and a compass. True, it doesn't help that Syalis keeps destroying the tools the demons have prepared to help him, but that doesn't explain everything going on. Granted, that may be part of the joke of translating his name (Akatsuki) as Dawner, since it sounds like Donner, as in the infamous Donner Party. On one hand, it's a running gag with a few of the other names in the series – Twilight and his dad Midnight, for example – but using that English translation adds a whole new dimension to his ineptitude.
As wonderful as Syalis attempting to help Twilight fall asleep via creepy Teddy Demon song and dance, I do think that the first segment, where Syalis gleefully destroys items as the demons decide to use them to help get Dawner on the right track, is the best. It plays into the sort of humor many of us first experienced watching Looney Tunes or Scooby-Doo and it does it well – no sooner does someone mention a fountain guarded by a bubble soldier than Syalis has defiled it with her dirty comforter and killed the bubble soldier to use as soap. It's almost as if she's being guided by the demons' words, cheerily following them in order to best wash her blanket, as if to assert that she won't be so easily gotten rid of. There are no forces of nature that can compare with Aurora Syalis Goodereste, that's for sure. She's far more evil than any of the demons could ever hope to be, and that begs another question:
Did her kingdom deliberately send out the worst hero they had so that they wouldn't have to take her back?
Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle is currently streaming on Funimation.