Not everyone does well with a cookie-cutter education system; some learn better with a more creative approach. Heine Wittgenstein of THE ROYAL TUTOR does just that when he tutors the four younger princes of Glanzreich.

Leo, Bruno, Licht, and Kai surround Heine, who sits in a chair with a book open on his lap.
The royal tutor and the princes, from left to right: Leo, Bruno, Licht, Heine, and Kai. | Image: Crunchyroll

Five princes compete to prove their worth as potential rulers of Glanzreich, a fictional country that draws inspiration from Austria. The city’s architecture resembles that of pre-WWI Austria, and the Glanzreich palace itself is nearly identical to Vienna’s palace, Hofburg. Even the food shows traces of Austrian inspiration—sachertorte cake, a famous Austrian dessert, is one Glanzreich prince’s favorite food!

As the eldest, Eins von Glanzreich is the crown prince by birthright, but his father has doubts about his capability. While Eins is away from the palace, the king employs Heine Wittgenstein to shape one the four youngest princes into a better candidate for the throne. As the new royal tutor to Eins’s four unruly brothers, Heine has his work cut out for him. Kai, Bruno, Leo, and Licht von Glanzreich have chased away countless tutors with their bad attitudes and reluctance to learn, but Heine isn’t like the other tutors. Instead of turning tail and running away, Heine meets with each prince individually and convinces them to hear him out for one group lecture. This first lesson is all it takes for him to win the respect and admiration of the four brothers. Their relationships blossom and the princes and royal tutor learn from their lessons together.

The Royal Tutor

Because of his height, or lack thereof, people often mistake the red-headed Heine for a child. On his first day on the job at Glanzreich palace, the soldiers turned him away thinking he was a lost kid. Appearances can be deceiving in THE ROYAL TUTOR—a lesson that’s a central part of the show’s core message.

Two palace guards patronize the short Heine and forbid him entry, thinking he's a child.
Because of his height, the palace guards think Heine is the royal tutor’s son. Honestly, I can relate. | Image: Crunchyroll

Despite his looks, Heine is a serious and learned teacher who imparts valuable life lessons on his four new students. Heine’s past is a mystery to them and though he lacks the same credentials as past royal tutors, the four princes quickly learn just how qualified he is to mentor them.

The Princes of Glanzreich

Bruno was the most skeptical of Heine in the beginning due to his lack of a formal education. He challenges the tutor to a number of matches, but to Bruno’s shock, Heine wins each one with ease. As a result, Bruno’s attitude flips and the young prince sticks on Heine like glue.

The other princes are not as easily won over as Bruno. Licht, the youngest of the five princes, is a charming romantic and hardly cares about studying; he spends much of his time sneaking out of the palace to flirt with women and shop. Licht likes to seem lazy and flippant, but he is actually rather perceptive and hardworking. Unbeknownst to his brothers, Licht actually works as a waiter at a café instead of gallivanting around town (although there’s still plenty of philandering).

Chibi forms of Kai and Heine. Kai compares Heine's soft hands to the dog's paws.
“Funi, funi.” The unseen side of Kai that loves soft things. | Image: Crunchyroll

Kai, the second oldest prince, has sharp eyes and difficulty speaking. His glaring face and deep voice chase others away. Rumors of a violent incident at the military academy make the situation even worse. However, Kai’s true personality is nothing like the gossip; he’s actually a sweet boy with a heart of gold.

Finally, Leonhard (Leo for short), the fourth prince, is the most difficult prince for Heine to convince due to his hatred of tutors. He acts cold at first, but he’s actually rather childish with a love for sweets and sports and hates studying with a passion.

Even a Royal Tutor Can Learn from Their Students

It’s easy to see from the four princes and even Heine himself that appearances are deceiving. The princes chalk Heine up as nothing more than another tutor there to waste their time. Yet he manages to convince each of them to give him a chance; with that chance, he develops such strong bonds that the princes never want him to leave.

Heine himself learns this same lesson from the princes. Before arriving at his new job, he spoke to the townsfolk and collected data on each prince. The information paints Kai as a cruel, violent thug and Leo as a snobbish youth. After talking with them both, Heine quickly realizes his mistake. Kai isn’t a thug; because of his sharp eyes and difficulty articulating, people often misinterpret his actions as intimidating. Leo is seen as vain, but he’s actually rather self-conscious and also has trouble communicating with others. Leo beats himself up over the tiniest things and even keeps a diary of all the mistakes he makes on a daily basis.

The royal tutor reads aloud entries from Leo's journal by a window. The subtitles read,
Heine finds Leo’s journal of regrets. | Image: Crunchyroll

When Heine realizes that all of his data was just idle gossip, he tosses the papers away and vows to start off fresh. His students do the same once they realize that Heine is different from the other tutors in both skill and compassion.

Princely Education

So what makes Heine stand out from all the other royal tutors? Other than his interesting horse-riding technique, Heine shows understanding for the princes. He realizes their differences and adapts his lessons to suit their needs. Heine understands that Bruno doesn’t want to waste time on things that aren’t a challenge, so he becomes that challenge. He shows Bruno that he still has much to learn after beating him in every test the prince throws at him. He even finds mistakes in Bruno’s work that no one else finds. Heine teaches Bruno to think from different perspectives, shaping him into a well-rounded prince.

Kai wants to make friends with the palace servants, but his face always scares them away. With Heine’s help, Kai slowly learns how to articulate better. When an old bully from military school turns up to taunt Kai about his “violent” past, Heine learns that Kai lashed out at him because he was protecting Bruno from being bullied. He helps Kai to work things out with the bully and although the bully isn’t apologetic, Kai has a weight lifted off his shoulders and can start fresh.

Licht is caught red-handed at his secret job by Heine, who realizes how devoted the prince is to the cafe. It’s a whole other side to Licht that most people wouldn’t see if they only saw him in the palace and around town. Licht gets to know each customer well so he can serve them in a way that fits their personality best. When Heine sees these skills he offers to teach Licht more about anthropology and the humanities, choosing to nurture the academic abilities Licht is already strong in, rather than the ones he does poorly in.

Runaway Prince

Finally, we have Leo. Leo wins many awards for horse-racing and other athletics and uses those skills to run away from tutors at full speed. Unsurprisingly, he bolts when Heine tries to corner him when he receives a bad test grade. Heine catches up to the skittish prince while standing on horseback (no, that’s not a typo) and convinces him to come home and try learning again. Heine tells Leo that he might not have perfect scores like Bruno, but the fact that he can self-reflect and understand his own limits means that he’s a compassionate person—a vital personality trait for a future king!

The Royal Tutor chases after Prince Leo while standing on horseback.
When your legs are too short for the stirrups, so you stand on the horse instead. | Image: Crunchyroll

Due to his previous experiences with abusive teachers, Leo has a hard time trusting them. As a result, Leo is far behind his brothers and has had little opportunity to actually learn. But Heine turns that around with Leo’s love for sachertorte cake. He orders the cake and asks Leo how many slices there would be left if they all ate one. This time, Leo answers correctly! By redirecting his attention to something he loves (the cake), Heine shows Leo that he can learn.

Heine’s Unique Brand of Teaching

Heine displays a genuine care for each prince. He devotes himself to each of their studies, knowing full well that each brother has a different learning curve. What’s most important about Heine’s specific brand of teaching is how he gets to know his students first. Even though he gathered data (gossip) on them beforehand, Heine learns from his mistake. He gets to know each prince personally and uses his experience to devise a different approach for each of them.

His lessons are rarely the standard lecture you would find in an American classroom. When he does lecture them, Heine uses creative methods to teach (such as the sachertorte), but most of his lessons occur outside the classroom. Heine stresses that the princes must be well-rounded in all subjects, not just strict textbook learning, so he takes them out into the village and gives them firsthand experience with living a commoner’s life. Somehow, Heine manages to turn every experience they have together into valuable life lessons for the princes.

Why Heine’s Brand of Teaching is Important

As the royal tutor, Heine ensures that his students grow not only academically, but also as people. With Heine’s help, each prince learns about their strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly, their own goals. He helps each of them to work through their own traumas and inspires them to better themselves as candidates for the throne.

Why America Needs More Heroes Like Vash the Stampede

While chasing a student back into the classroom on horseback is a little extreme, the American education system can learn a lot from Heine’s example. There’s a huge stigma around making mistakes in American education. The pressure to get A’s on every assignment can have the potentiality to stunt creativity. When students like Leo become absorbed in their own failures, they can’t see how beneficial those mistakes can be. Instead of pressuring students to get top marks, American teachers should teach to their students’ learning styles like Heine. Students focusing on getting high marks sometimes have a difficult time thinking beyond the books; teaching in a way that caters to different learning styles improves student learning and Heine does exactly that.

In the American education system, students like Leo who need a little extra help are often left behind. If teachers devote more time to understanding each student, they could mold their lectures into something more digestible for them. This is difficult with larger classrooms; however, the attitude itself is still something to learn from. Many teachers lecture in the same way for every student, but not every student will always understand the lesson. That doesn’t mean they can’t learn; students like Leo simply need to approach the problem differently.

Lessons from a Royal Tutor

Heine switches tracks once he realizes that Leo does much better with the sachertorte to distract him. This is a vital first step in changing education methods, but it’s more than that. Even after Heine uses the sachertorte to teach Leo basic math, his scores only improve by 14 points. It’s not until Leo realizes that his self-doubt prevents him from learning to his full ability that he really improves. Heine tells Leo that it’s okay to do poorly; he even encourages the low score, saying that now Leo truly understands exactly how much he doesn’t understand. Once a person knows how much they don’t know, it’s much easier for them to learn. Yay, Socrates!

Heine tells Leo that he can grow from a bad test in this screencap of THE ROYAL TUTOR.
“You can’t learn from a perfect score. But with a 15, you can grow 85 points.” | Image: Crunchyroll

There are many lessons to learn from THE ROYAL TUTOR. First, appearances can be deceiving, so it’s best to learn more about a person before jumping to conclusions. This lesson goes hand in hand with Heine’s philosophy on academics. Heine learns from his students before prescribing a curriculum and creates an environment that accommodates their learning styles. Finally, through the bonds he forges with the four princes, Heine boosts their self-confidence and helps them grow both academically and as people.

THE ROYAL TUTOR shows a spectrum of learning styles that are important to consider. Not everyone understands something when it’s taught the same way, but shifting perspective makes a huge difference. Heine understands this and applies it to his teaching; his excellent abilities and adaptability are what make him such a great teacher. With such a deep understanding of his students, American teachers could really take a leaf out of Heine’s (lesson)book!

Featured image courtesy of Funimation.

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