Slumbering Beauty Volume 1
Creator Yumi Unita is best-known in this country for Bunny Drop, an adorable manga about a single father that turned creepy when he decided to get involved with his adoptive daughter once she grew up. Thus, when Slumbering Beauty was announced, I was concerned about what might be part of this manga. I shouldn’t have worried. I could really get into Slumbering Beauty, because it was weird from the start.
Schoolgirl Yoneko likes to sleep, and she’s really good at it. One day, after she’s supposed to have gotten herself up to go to school, she’s awakened by Nerimu, a “slumber spirit”, who’s surprised she can see him. His job is to “ensure mortals have a restful sleep” — which means not only going to sleep, but waking up at the right time to ensure they don’t overdo. Too many naps get in the way of a good night’s rest.
Nerimu doesn’t get to sleep until all of his charges have woken up properly, which means Yoneko staying in bed is keeping him from getting the rest he needs. When he discovers she’s particularly skilled at patting kids and cats (which are cutely drawn) just right to calm them down, he enlists her to help him as a kind of intern. She’s a loner, known by her classmates only for sleeping, so he provides valuable connection for her.
This is an episodic collection, with different chapters showing us a classmate who stays up all night texting and playing on her phone, another spirit who needs Yoneko’s help, some issues with her family that have driven her to bed as an escape, and a geeky student who is sacrificing sleep for studying.
As a typical American adult, I’m usually feeling less than fully rested, so this kind of fantasy, about the importance of sleep, was a fun respite. Although the events are silly, the message is a good one, one I appreciated being reminded of. Plus, it’s funny, as when Nerimu is grumbling about a particularly difficult case:
It’s almost morning… are that many people still awake? This is right around the time I need to help manga artists and editors sleep!
I also like Unita’s art, which while distinctly manga, is a bit more simplified, with stronger lines than the usual, which gives it a slight indie feel I enjoy. The eye is often drawn to the stark black of Yoneko’s hair, which keeps her foregrounded in the panels.
There is, apparently, another volume planned for end of next year. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)