I first heard about animation director Kenji Kamiyama when I heard about 009 Re:Cyborg. Growing up, one of my favorite anime series was the 2001 adaptation of the original Cyborg 009 manga (penned by Shotaro Ishinomori), so seeing that the series would have new life blown into it made me incredibly excited. Unfortunately, in the swirling torrents of being an adult and having a million things to do, I still haven’t gotten around to watching Kamiyama’s film vision of the series I enjoyed so much. Despite this, though, news of Kamiyama’s upcoming film still has me anticipating some slice-of-life goodness mixed in with some sci-fi on the side, right alongside some beautiful animation from studio Signal.MD.
Not too much is yet known about Hirune Hime: Shiranai Watashi no Monogatari (or “Napping Princess: The Story of The Unknown Me”). The story takes place in 2020 in the Okayama prefecture, right before the Olympics. Protagonist Kokone Morikawa finds herself napping more and more often in the middle of the day. Not only that, but she keeps on having the same dream that she can’t make any sense of. If the trailer is anything to go by, it seems like there’s some sort of government conspiracy that concerns her father, an avid mechanic, and could have something to do with the death/disappearance of her mother. Add onto that giant lava monsters and Baymax-esque motorcycle mechas, and Kotone’s dreams may have much more dire implications than she originally thought–they do relate to the “secrets of her family”, after all.
Although this film may end up falling into the typical film cliche of “lead and secondary character fall in love for reasons that may not actually exist on screen”, there are two things that I’m excited to see on the big screen. First off, from what I’ve seen in the trailer I’m led to believe that Kokone is most likely interested in mechanical engineering or some form of technological craftsmanship herself. Her father appears to work on actual mechas alongside more normal vehicles, and nowhere in the trailer does it ever appear that she’s one of those teenagers who lament what their parent does for a living. Additionally, in one scene her friends are shown with two really high tech VR-looking headsets, which implies to me that the three of them may have worked on building them together. While I admit this may be me jumping the gun a bit, I really do hope to have an animated film showing a girl interested in a hobby/profession typically attributed to men, especially if the climax has her using her technological/mechanical skills to save the day.
Secondly and finally, I’m incredibly here for a film focused first on familial relationships. While it would have been cool to have Kokone’s mom be the one alive, I still appreciate the personal aspect that Kamiyama is instilling into Hirune Hime. He states:
I had been asking myself how a role of animation movies should be, facing and living in such a harsh reality today. One day, someone said, “why don’t you create something that you would like your own daughter to watch?” Then, suddenly, a story of an innocent girl and a father came into my head. Although, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I struggled everyday to make it better and to have a good grip on my daughter’s attention. This is a movie based on ‘a story of a father and his daughter’, who stay close to minimum thought of one individual.
I hope this leads to Kamiyama presenting his viewers with a story exploring the different facets of a father-daughter relationship; one that’s hopefully full of love and the father supporting Kokone to embrace herself and improve herself in ways that may not necessarily fit into typical gender norms.
Hirune Hime opens in Japan on March 18th of next year. If it does well enough there, and gets enough attention from international fans, I hope that there will be some sort of dub created. Until then, I think I’m going to have “Daydream Believer” stuck in my head for a very, very long time.