Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Princes

Tuesday's Top 5

There’s something about growing up on a heavy dose of fairy tales and fantasy that leaves me with this ridiculous urge to still fantasise about the prince riding up on his noble steed and sweeping me off my feet, despite the fact that if common-sense hadn’t knocked that notion out of me, Shrek really should have. And yet, I can’t help but feel my heart do a little skip when we’re introduced to an anime prince who looks like they might be the hero I was holding out for.

With so many princes to choose from it was really hard to narrow down this list so I gave myself a few conditions. Firstly, they had to actually be a prince and not just called a prince (so no Prince of the school on this list). Secondly, no duplicates from the same show. Finally, these princes are in the order in which I personally would like them to come and save me from my mundane life. That said, I’d love to know which prince you’re holding out for.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Mare (DameXPrince Anime Caravan)

Number 5: Prince Endymion (Sailor Moon)

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While these days I’m not the biggest fan of Tuxedo Mask and even as a kid I thought he talked too much, there was something undeniably cool every time we got to see Prince Endymion. His costume for one was a thousand times better than the Tuxedo Mask persona and he had an actual sword rather than a rose and cane so actually looked combat ready. The real tragedy of course is the limited screen time this character got in the original series.

Number 4: Ling Yao (Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood)

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Okay, questionable choices aside, Ling Yao is a character who is literally willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. And while at first it might seem like his goals are pretty self-serving, there’s a lot more at stake than it might at first appear. This guy is driven, talented, and willing to go as far as he needs to succeed. What’s not to like?

Number 3: Bruno Von Glanzreich (The Royal Tutor)

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Of the four Princes in the Royal Tutor, Bruno was the one I consistently liked the most, though all of these princes went through some fairly decent character development throughout the course of the series. Bruno may have been awkward and indecisive at times, but deep down he always just wanted to succeed and he worked hard to achieve his goals. I love a hard working yet awkward prince.

Number 2: Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass)

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Did I  just say I liked someone awkward? Apparently not, because I’m now jumping to a guy who is literally overflowing with self-confidence. Between you and me, Lelouch would drive me crazy in real life. I’d probably end up slapping his smug face mid-chess game and then work at demolishing him on the board (okay, I don’t like losing either). And yet, there is something undeniably appealing about someone who will take on an entire empire to settle a personal grudge and who ultimately plots his own death in order to save the world. It’s a weird appeal, but it is appealing.

Number 1: Zen Wisteria (Snow White With the Red Hair)

The prince that I think most of us envisioned as kids. The guy who will ride in to save the day but if he can see the situation is under control he’ll just wait patiently until you are done. Sorting most things through words and paperwork but able to draw a sword and go to town when needed, quite literally the fairy tale prince.

I had so much fun writing this list but I’m really looking forward to seeing which princes my readers like. Please let me know your favourite, or your top 5 anime princes in the comments. And next week I’m going to take on my favourite Princesses.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Surprisingly Good Shows That Came Out in 2017

Tuesday's Top 5

One thing I’d like to make really clear is that this is not my list of best anime from 2017. That will come out in a few weeks time and will also include the results of the reader poll, so for the time being, I’m going to give some of my other top 5’s from 2017. This list, as the title suggests, is all about those shows I literally expected nothing of (other than to maybe be terrible) and then I ended up having a surprisingly good time watching them. I think it is nice sometimes that things can take you by surprise.

On that note though, I’d love it if you would share your list of shows from 2017 that you expected not to like but ended up being at least okay if not outright enjoyable.

Please Note: There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions in this list go to Gamers and Anime-Gataris.

Number 5: In Another World With My Smartphone

Okay, this had to make the list for the simple reason that a show with that bad of a title has no right to actually be semi-decent. Not good. Certainly not a refreshingly brilliant light to shine on all isekai anime based on light novels. This is a typical self-aware comedy, but for the most part I found it kind of amusing and it surprised even me that I was still watching it at the end of the season, and actually kind of open to the idea that maybe more of this story wouldn’t be that bad.

Number 4: Princess Principal

This show I actually really enjoyed. It isn’t just an okay show that wasn’t as bad as it might have been, it is a genuinely good show. So why is it on the list? Because when I looked at the art for this anime before it aired I dismissed it as another group of moe girls  in some school club that may or may not have spying involved. Instead what I got was a fairly thrilling and fun story with some competent characterisation that genuinely made me look forward to each new episode. Meanwhile, it also had one of the better opening themes of the year.

Number 3: The Royal Tutor

I definitely did not go into this one expecting very much but then the titular tutor, Heine, totally won me over. His straight man approach to everything and his interactions with each of the Princes were genuinely fun to watch and I liked that his background remained fairly enigmatic until the end. Even then, there’s definitely more to the story but we were given enough. Most of the Princes also weren’t as annoying as they originally could have been and all managed to become more than just one note joke characters as they each went through a fairly reasonable character arc throughout the series.

Number 2: Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Yeah, I read that title and could almost feel the ey-roll starting already. Then the first episode happened and I realised that even this well and truly overdone story of misunderstandings and romance could actually be interesting enough when the characters are actually fairly relatable. Possibly it is the older age of the characters in this story to a lot of other anime with similar ideas in it, but I found Morioka a fantastic character to follow and I genuinely wanted her to get a happy ending. That isn’t to say the show is all that good. It’s just significantly better than what you might expect from it. It also has a pretty fantastic opening theme which seems to go a long way to buying some good will from your audience so more shows should actually try and remember that.

Number 1: Spiritpact

Please watch the first episode of this show. Realise how incredibly bad this series might have been. That first episode is an outright train wreck and needs to be scrapped and started over. Episodes 2 and 3 aren’t a huge amount better but start to show promise. By the end of this series it is amazing how far the characters and story have come and really this ended up being a show I genuinely looked forward to watching. I’d have done a rewatch but sitting through that first episode again scares me. Still, for ten episodes this show packs in more development for its characters and for the storyline than some shows manage in 24 and once you get over the initial episodes, the pacing settles really well.

And there you go, my top 5 surprisingly good shows from 2017. Next week I’ll tackle my top 5 disappointments (shows I went in wanting to be good and then found I was left high and dry).  Please feel free to share your thoughts on shows that you thought were going to be dreadful but then surprised you in the comments below.


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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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Spring 2017 Week 10

We’re getting close to the end for some of these shows and I’d love to know which ending you are most looking forward to. For me, I’m actually just kind of sad that I’m going to have to wait on some of the endings because I may or may not get to see them while travelling. That said, the ending will make or break a few of these in terms of where they end up in my final list for the season so let’s hope they end well. Please share your thoughts on the season in the comments.

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Must Watch

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 9)

I suggested that this show needed to be in a higher category last week (not that I have one) and after episode 9 I firmly believe this anime really is in a category of its own. The enjoyment is different from something like My Hero Academia and Natsume Yuujinchou. It is telling a story and there are characters (and these are both very good), but it is the ideas behind the story and the characters that make it utterly compelling.

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 24)

Another rapid fire series of clashes and we’re heading for the final of the tournament next week. Probably just as well, as they’ve probably milked as much development out of these match ups as possible and while its been amazing I’m glad they aren’t stretching the friendship. Even as the tournament wraps up though this show presents a new conflict incoming so at least we won’t be left at a loose end once the tournament ends. My Hero Academia showing it is keenly aware of the short attention span of most of us these days and is happy to keep us entertained.

Natsume Yuujinchou 6 (Episode 9)

Natsume did not get any worse, it’s just My Hero Academia has been getting stronger and stronger and Natsume is more of a consistent and relaxing joy. Comparing the two shows is insane given how vastly different they are in tone and style and yet I’d have to admit that right now I am definitely more eagerly anticipating the next episode of My Hero Academia, even while I’m convinced that long term Natsume will be the show I come back to more often for re-watching. This week’s episode was back to Natsume episodic formula and it worked well.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 9)

Seems my wish for more Benten and Nidaime will be answered with where this seems to be heading. Episode 9 was fantastic and we see a lot of the story lines starting to converge in a fairly intriguing manner which may or may not explode next week depending on how they choose to handle this current situation. All and all, I’m hooked and can’t wait for the next episode.

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Usually Entertaining

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 11)

Attack on Titan is only still this high in the list because of how much I enjoyed the first half of this season. This second half belongs in the ‘Okay, I Guess’ section and this last episode doesn’t even make it that high with a lot of issues in both narrative and delivery. On balance, I’m thinking I’m going to end up feeling much the same about season 2 of Attack on Titan as I did about season 1. Wow, there’s some great visuals and emotions and some scenes are done superb, and wow, this story gets derailed pretty quick and they don’t know how to do pacing or characterisation.

The Royal Tutor (Episode 9)

I was less sold on this episode but this series has still be fairly entertaining on the whole. It wasn’t as though this episode was bad, more it just felt a little bit like they were purposefully delaying any kind of serious dive into Heine’s past. Possibly the events in this episode are more significant than that but it really felt kind of like a throw-away villain for the sake of having one more episode.

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Okay, I Guess

Sagrada Reset (Episode 10)

Much like Kado I’m starting to think this show needs its own category but it wouldn’t be above must watch. This one would be more out to the side of the list in a pile of shows where I have no actual opinion about whether they are good or bad until they finish because they might still go somewhere but meanwhile I’m hopelessly frustrated by it. Sagrada Reset, the show to watch if you like things that go around in circles and offer analogies in place of explanations.

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 10)

Another two stories and another two hearts… well I won’t say they’ve been healed but they’ve certainly been changed by the events that have befallen their owners. Moguro continues to dish out some interesting consequences to the deserving and undeserving alike and this story continues to be a bit of an oddity but kind of enjoyable for it.

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 9)

Grimoire of Zero is probably going to end up on my list for a show that wasted a lot of its potential. There are good moments and the world itself is fascinating but the story just doesn’t know what it wants to do and there’s too many ideas that just get shafted. I would like this show to be better than it is but while pretty it has rarely been above ordinary in terms of character or plot and unfortunately I’d rather watch something inconsistent than something I find kind of dull with occasional moments of entertainment.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 11)

I’m no wiser as to what this show’s end goal is going to be, but this episode spends a great deal of time trying to make us care about Lyria and the bond between her and Gran, so maybe that’s actually important. As always, this show is watchable, pretty enough, stuff happens, but I’m not overly invested.

WorldEnd (Episode 9)

WorldEnd started so much higher on this list and now it seems to be in free-fall. the inconsistencies, the wasted time in each episode, the scattered focus, it is all starting to wear on me as a viewer so that even the moments that should hit the mark are starting to miss more often than not. I’m gradually losing my care factor about any of the characters in  this show and that is definitely not something that the show can afford given the story has been a meandering mess with a lack of clear direction.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 10)

What little goodwill this show had gained in the mid-season is rapidly fading as we’re regressing to cheap comedy and stereotypical character reactions. That’s not to say it still couldn’t work, but this episode was completely unappealing to me after two fairly ordinary episodes.

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They Made This

The Silver Guardian (Episode 11)

Not regretting the decision to move this down to this category. Episode 11 is just as much of a mess as the last four episodes have now been. That’s almost half a season of mess and if you count the first episode as well, we’ve had more mess than decent content and that is never a good sign for a series. To be honest I don’t even care anymore whether Suigin ever finds Riku Rei.

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Tried and Dropped

Alice & Zoroku (Episode 6)

Sword Oratoria (Episode 5)

Tsukigakirei (Episode 2)

Eromanga Sensei (Episode 2)

Armed Girls Machiavellism (Episode 2)

Sakura Quest (Episode 1)

Love Tyrant (Episode 1)

Clockwork Planet (Episode 1)

Which ending are you most looking forward to?


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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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