The Royal Tutor Series Review: I’m Certain This Was Listed as a Comedy

Overview:

Heine Wittgenstein has been called to tutor four of the royal princes with the task of training them to be future kings (the implications of potentially five candidates clamouring for the throne are hinted at but never dealt with). On arrival, Heine has his hands full winning over the four princes who aren’t exactly welcoming a new tutor with open arms.

I reviewed this show week to week so if you are interested in my individual episode thoughts, click here.

Review:

Going in to this review, I should probably admit I only even tried the first episode of this show because it seemed like the kind of thing I could quickly learn to dislike, drop and move on from. Then the first episode, while it didn’t totally defy my expectations, certainly made me rethink my position. While most of my joy from the early episodes comes from watching the stoic Heine interact with the fairly over the top Princes, I soon became quite attached to most of the cast and as the show continued I really found myself looking forward to each new episode. As a result, this anime became one of the most pleasantly surprising views I’ve had in awhile.

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However, just because it wasn’t a stupid comedy filled with empty headed pretty boys swanning about a palace doesn’t mean it was actually going to be good. I know that other reviewers actually ended up not liking the direction this anime took because while the comedy is clearly apparent in early episodes, this anime transitions from a comedy with some more dramatic moments to a drama that occasionally remembers to throw some comedy in. Given my preferences in viewing, this fit me perfectly and I found myself enjoying the show more and more as the season went on, except for the final episode but I’ll get back to that later.

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What I think worked with the transitioning tone is that it seemed to match where the Prince’s were in their character journeys. At the start the Princes were quite immature in their views and actions and the comedy was pretty fast and frequent. Then there was some growth and the comedy started tapering off a little to be replaced with more serious conversations about the future and what the Princes actually wanted from their future. Finally, the story looks at the Princes taking independent action and at that point the comedy pretty much gets tossed out the window (though there are still some moments that will make you smile as the Princes ‘investigate’). Because the tone always seemed to match the events in the story, I didn’t feel that this was a jarring change but rather a more organic one and it meant that the series didn’t feel like it lacked cohesion or like it was suddenly taking an unexpected turn.

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Of the cast, Heine is definitely the stand out. As the characters around him change in response to his presence, he is the absolute rock. His personality is set from the get go and he faces each situation in an expected and determined manner. This works because Heine is rarely at the forefront of the action or the solution to the issues. He offers a word of advice or encouragement, teaches a lesson when needed, and generally watches over his charges so that they don’t go too far out on a limb. One of my favourite moments was the flashback to childhood Heine as his personality was still pretty much identical. However, after a certain incident, we see younger Heine in one moment of actual vulnerability and it really makes you wonder how much he is hiding beneath that deadpan face of his.

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The four princes, Licht and Leo initially irritated me, Bruno started out arrogant, went through a weird overly servile phase before finally finding himself (and if one of these four ever becomes King and not the elder brother, please let it be Bruno). Kai remained fairly enigmatic for a large part of the opening due to his laconic nature so I couldn’t really make a judgement on him until well into the season, but like all the others, Kai goes through some excellent growth and by the end the four of them work together fairly effectively and all demonstrate some great characteristics.

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As this is a story about Kings and succession, there is of course a darker side to the story and in this case it is essentially the efforts of someone to remove Heine from the role of royal tutor (apparently he’s a bit too good at training future kings). There’s also the eldest Prince who we don’t see at all until the end of the show who one would suspect is actually the one who is going to be King one day. The conspiracy is basic enough given it really only gets a handful of episodes focussed on it, but it does keep things moving after we’ve gone through the initial teaching the Princes phase.

So, onto the final episode so spoilers below though I’ve tried to keep it fairly generic.

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The final episode is just cheesy. I didn’t much like it on first watch. It wraps up the story well enough and the Princes supposedly get to show off their new and improved ability to deal with things in a Kingly manner, but basically the writing fails them. If you are going to have four Princes deliver and impassioned speech then it really needed to have a bit more affect as what it ended up sounding like were four spoilt children whining because someone took their toy away and making grandiose statements and half-hearted arguments in a desperate plea to get it back. If the show was trying for a dramatic final moment and wanted to hit us with the emotions, it kind of missed its mark for me.

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Despite that, I really did enjoy watching The Royal Tutor during the Spring season. It isn’t the most memorable show and I doubt I’ll revisit it, but it was most definitely pleasant viewing for the season and you could certainly do worse.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 12

Review:

I’m pretty happy with how this has resolved and feel a nice sense of completion here. Certainly there’s more story to be told but I’m really pretty happy here and now and don’t have much desire to watch on should there ever be a sequel. That’s mostly because the issue of the Royal Tutor is finalised and the other issues were never of all that much importance but rather served as the backdrop to what turned out to be a pretty reasonable series (though more on that when I get around to a whole series review of this show).

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This final episode shows us the culmination of the Prince’s growth and how when they combine their powers they can save the world… oh wait, that wasn’t right. By combining their individual strengths and working cooperatively they can convince a bunch of Lords to choose their candidate to be the royal tutor?

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As much as I enjoyed this, I wasn’t overly impressed with their impassioned speeches this episode. I kind of felt that after two days preparation they’d have had something a bit more polished prepared rather than just storm the council and spout platitudes, but its a minor nitpick in what has been a pretty enjoyable ride.

Full series review coming soonish.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 11

Review:

For a show I only grudgingly tried and at first kind of tolerated as the humour was either hit or miss, I’ve actually grown to really enjoy this particular anime mid-week. The second half of the show has definitely focused more on the drama than the comedy aspects and for me that is actually really quite refreshing, but the comedy has never been too intrusive or annoying in this show.

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This episode finally reveals the truth about Heine. We first hear about it mostly second hand as the Prince’s investigate the criminal in the palace rumour (at Heine’s request) and it is really great to see all four of them working together and playing to their strengths. Given the show has taken the time to develop each of these characters, watching them interact without Heine’s guidance and seeing how far they’d come over the course of the series was genuinely heartwarming.

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The second half of the episode we hear the story from the mouth of the King all leading up to the climax which the audience has just been waiting for. It isn’t as though we didn’t know what would happen when Heine’s past was revealed as the show has certainly outright stated it more than once.

Overall, this was a delightful episode of a show that has been surprisingly charming and engaging. It isn’t going to make my must watch list any time soon, but I think it will find a place among shows I rewatch when after something a little lighter.  Though, it still has to finish well.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 10

Review:

Not a lot happens this episode because we initially get the conversation that reveals Rosenberg probably knows who Heine is (or was) and just kind of leaves things hanging and then we watch the Princes fool around as they try to first figure out Heine’s secret and then get super sappy and try to thank him for teaching them.

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Of course, hanging over the whole episode is the knowledge that Heine is probably preparing to leave the Princes behind so all of his actions take on a kind of ominous appearance even when they are pretty ordinary. Every word he says to the Princes seems like a thinly veiled farewell so the audience is just kind of left waiting for a scene that doesn’t arrive.

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Though the last few moments certainly seem to indicate that isn’t going to last and that they won’t stretch things out too much longer. Still, the cleaning scene did have me wondering for a moment what anime I was watching.

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Seriously?

All and all I am in two minds about this. I’m pretty sure if I was binge watching this series I wouldn’t mind this lull and build up but when watching week to week this episode mostly just made me wonder when we were going to get somewhere.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 9

Review:

It must have been the week for tepid episodes. Outside of my must watch shows, most of the others delivered watchable but fairly ordinary content and The Royal Tutor, which has been pleasantly entertaining thus far, wasn’t an exception. Arguably, the moves by those against the Princes got more overt with a smear campaign being run in the paper uncovering a dark past (that is of course grossly exaggerated) and this adds some actual tension into a series that has so far been mostly light hearted.

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But with a villain of the week who isn’t overly compelling and the greater mystery of Heine himself still untouched but hinted at, honestly this episode felt like a little bit of filler. One thing I will praise it for is the action sequence at the end. This show has so far mostly not had these sorts of sequences with the horse chase earlier in the series probably being the most action we’ve really seen. While the fight can’t compare to the action usually seen in action shows, it was certainly enjoyable enough.

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Of course the ending leaves us hanging with yet another reference to Heine’s still undisclosed past. Hopefully that means we’re getting closer to that being revealed because in all honesty, they’ve built it up to the point where it can’t possibly be worth the wait.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 8

Review:

Prince Kai finally gets another episode focus as he asks Heine for advice about how to improve on his communication and not on how to properly wear a jacket. What is it with anime prince’s not being able to wear jackets?

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I wondered with this set-up how they were going to keep this episode moving given Kai’s basic laconic nature doesn’t exactly make him compelling viewing and you can only listen to slow jokes about things being fluffy for so long before you have to wonder if they are trying to lull you off to sleep. They came up with two solutions to that problem. The first was that the three other brothers spend a lot of time in this episode compared to their focus episodes where the brothers may have made an appearance but didn’t get a lot of dialogue. The second was a plot line involving the Princess Adele.

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That said, it wasn’t like they forgot Kai and he did make some progress by the end of the episode. Still, it wasn’t quite as interesting as some of the other episodes mostly because Kai just does not have much presence as a character and even though this was technically his episode, he kept disappearing into the background behind some of the other events and chatter.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 6

Review:

This episode did two things really well and kind of improved my overall view of the show. Firstly, we turned our attention to one of the other Princes, specifically Licht, for the first time since the introductions during the first two episodes. While Licht has certainly made his presence felt, this was really the first time we spent any kind of time with him and saw more than just the persona he wanted us to see.

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The second thing I really liked about this episode was it continued to give the King a presence in the show and continued to hint at the relationship between the King and Heine though it didn’t just drown us in exposition nor has it revealed its hand just yet.

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I could add a third point but I’m not sure if this is going to ultimately be a positive or not, but we did finally get a hint of an actual antagonist in this story who might make things interesting if we go for some political intrigue. Of course, that would entirely depend on what the motives of this character are and how they go about their plans as to whether this is a good thing or not.

I must admit, after 6 episodes, this show has actually grown on me which is unusual for a show full of comedy as normally I get progressively more bored by the characters’ antics. Possibly it is because the comedy focus of this is definitely giving way to a character focus and it is kind of doing a pretty good job of that.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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