When I was scoping out the Spring 2017 Anime line-up, The Royal Tutor didn’t really hit my radar. From the synopsis and the preview graphics that had been released, I honestly thought it was going to be a very cheesy show with some strong boy-love vibes. As a person who doesn’t usually go for the boy-love genre, I wasn’t interested in it at all. But something about it, and I have no fricking clue what, told me to at least watch the first episode so I could confirm my feelings. I’m really glad that I listened to that tiny, not-so-weird-at-all-little-voice-in-my-head because this series ended up being surprisingly decent.
The story revolves around a short, highly intelligent man named Heine, who has been given the post of Royal Tutor to four princes. The princes have been adamantly anti-tutor & studies, so the Royal Tutor position has been a very difficult one to fill and keep filled. We get to spend 12-episodes watching all of the theatrics that ensue as Heine tries to shanghai some education into these four delinquent teens.
As I mentioned in my First Impressions post for the series, when I began it I got a very strong Ouran High School Host Club aura from it. You’ve got four boys who very quickly get unique names via our Heine-sensei, and they each have a relatively tropey persona. Initially, this made me very hesitant in watching the second episode. No offence towards Ouran, but this trope is so fucking overdone that I didn’t want to deal with another show that revolved around it. Luckily, my fascination with the mysterious tutor outweighed my frustration and I continued onwards.
My expectations for the show started to grow, but didn’t really turn into anything fantastic as I watched. Mid-way through the season when we still hadn’t learned anything about the Royal Tutor’s past, I began to feel highly sceptical about the writing. I knew that we were running out of episodes and time for a good, fluid explanation of how a teacher could also be so skilled in combat as to equal a highly-seasoned warrior. There were some very vague hints, but not much else to go on. I also found there to be a slight imbalance on the attention given to each of the four boys, where a couple of them received a lot more screen time than the others. These two aspects actually filled me with a bit of anxiously negative anticipation. I’ve seen it many times before. A show starts off wonderfully, but then it overreaches and falls terribly short in its execution. Luckily, that didn’t really happen with The Royal Tutor.
While it’s far from being a glorious masterpiece, it has a decent number of facets that make it quite an enjoyable anime series. The first are the characters themselves. We get to learn about each one of the boys and why they are so vehemently against tutors and education. The reasons aren’t superficial. They are laced with insecurities and bad experiences. Occasionally a reason for one son will seem minor in comparison to another, but it just adds an empathetic dimension to their personas that makes you want to root for their success. I like that these boys aren’t perfect. Their flaws make them that much more engaging.
The tutor himself is someone who reminded me of Onizuka from the anime series GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka. He is a man who took the time to understand the underlying issues that kids have in order to better tackle them with a fitting solution. Heine and Onizuka knew that kids aren’t going to respond to a one-size-fits-all solution. Each kid is different with unique issues and problems. To help said kids, you really have to be willing to get to know them and distinguish them as individuals in a way most people don’t want to deal with.
Remember how I mentioned earlier I was worried about the imbalance of screen-time for the boys? It turns out that some of the boys needed the extra attention because their problems needed that extra support. It also played very well towards plot progression because the imbalance was created to fit the unique issues and insecurities that each of the sons were going through. For example, one of the kids is a very shy and timid person with a fearsome outwardly appearance. He wasn’t shown nearly as much as I had hoped (he became my favourite character because I could relate to him like you wouldn’t believe) because of this demeanour. It wouldn’t have made sense for him to be sprouting up all over the place, unlike the youngest brother who’s a social whore.
The themes in the show were also a bit comforting. Most of it had to deal with accepting yourself for who you are, even if other’s can’t accept you. It was dealt with in a positive way that doesn’t negatively portray awkward social skills, or fetishise issues involving a lower intelligence, etc. etc. I like that the changes that the boys make are gradual instead of just being an instant fix as soon as they comprehend the lessons they’re learning. There’s also a bit of focus on not judging anyone by their appearance or initial mannerisms because there’s a huge chance that you will be wrong about them, friendships come in all shapes and sizes, and soft things will always be cute.
All of these elements made for a pleasant watching experience, however, it does have its faults. The humour, while being kooky and a light-hearted means at softening tough topics, is really predictable at times and felt cheesy and out-dated. The story in its entirety is of average quality and can make you feel pretty indifferent about whether you’re having a good time or not. Although I do like the characters, nothing within the The Royal Tutor truly made me anticipate the next episode with impatient, passionate glee. I felt so apathetic about having to wait a week for new content, or when the content finally did arrive I’d watch everything else before really getting to this. The only thing that I was super fricking curious about was Heine’s past, which was a small bit of a let-down because the morsels of clues left in the wake of one episode to the next made it sound like Heine would have a really badass history. Instead the truth was disappointing and anticlimactic.
The animation itself is pretty much typical; nothing extraordinary or breath-taking. It’s clean and seemingly well-developed. I found the outdoors scenery to be more pleasant than the interiors. There are a lot more details that go into creating the environment and atmospheres amidst nature than within buildings. We see this with the mansion, or palace, as it just felt like an atypical reproduction of a European mansion that seems quite standard in anime with such structures. Within a local café in town, we get a similar situation. The café does look to be quite large and it is nicely presented, but it doesn’t encapsulate the same sort of attention to details that the natural atmospheres do.
Mid-way through the series, we do get a whisper of a small plot that’s being hatched to affect who will inherit the throne if and when the king passes on. This is something that felt extremely out of place to me for multiple reasons. Firstly, it randomly just pops up at the finale of an episode or two and then isn’t brought up again until a few episodes later. Secondly, when it is brought up, it’s only for a couple of minutes; not nearly enough to make any sort of impact. It makes one last appearance during the final episodes, and it honestly felt like the only reason it was tossed into the series to begin with was to add some tension and intrigue to the plot.
Overall, The Royal Tutor is a good, fun average anime to check out. The cast is engaging and you can’t help but feel for them in certain situations. The story is very chill and simple, as is the animation and music. But if you’re in the mood for something that’s going to blow your mind, or totally make your jaw drop, then this anime is not for you.
6 tortes outta 10!