The Royal Tutor Volume 1 opens as Heine Wittgenstein undertakes the education of entitled princes that, barring accident, will never be King, and he discovers that each of these toxic children needs their own antidote. For much of the volume he’s less a teacher, and more of a doctor that diagnoses maladies in, and concocts cure-alls for, their terrible personalities.
While this is where you would expect each of the princes to be a specialist in a particular vice, so as to make Heine’s round-robin tutoring of the princes a kind of allegorical journey, he finds instead that each of these boys is a menagerie of vices, and Heine usually has to fight on several fronts when schooling these kids. For instance, one boy’s apathy conceals low self-esteem, but before peeling back this veil, Heine is man-handled by the prince’s harem, who find the new royal tutor ‘adorbs’ because he so diminutive as to be child-like.
The strength of The Royal Tutor Volume 1 is that it doesn’t rise above a character study of the fascinating Heine Wittgenstein, so much so that the author doesn’t hesitate to mob him with cardstock supporting characters, such as princes that are far too easily reduced to types, in order to demonstrate the repertoire of the eponymous protagonist. And so Heine Wittgenstein becomes not only a personality doctor and a plaything to a prince’s harem, but a mentor, a bully, a polymath, and more. Not only is he captivating to the supporting characters due to his small size, he is captivating to the reader as well due to the multi-faceted nature of his interactions with the wooden, puppet-like, cast.
Aside from the charming protagonist, the other selling point of The Royal Tutor is the comedy, which unfolds in a stately format seldom seen these days outside of Shakespeare performances and certainly rare in manga, with each comedic segment being demarcated by a scene change and different characters summoned from the dramatis personae. The Shakespearean nature of the comedy dovetails well with the protagonist, whose heightened reality, compared to the shadow-like performances of the other characters, gives the reader the sense of an overly cerebral character that feels that he is wasted on a life that is too much a shadow play.
The Royal Tutor was a good read despite the stereotypes that the supporting cast project, primarily due to the intense development of Heine Wittgentstein and the author’s impressive realization of the classical comedic structure. I’m looking forward to volume 2.
The Royal Tutor Volume 1 arrived on May 23rd, 2017, and if you find it sold out, you can follow this hyperlink to the Yen Press page for this volume to fid an online bookseller.
Yen Press sent the review copy.