The Royal Tutor
Episode 11

by Anne Lauenroth,

How would you rate episode 11 of
Royal Tutor ?

We've now entered anime original ending territory, something I'm generally in favor of given the right circumstances. For anime-only viewers, there's at least a chance of closure, while manga readers get to experience a different interpretation of a story they already love – and can always go back to the original if left dissatisfied with the complementary version. In the case of The Royal Tutor, I count myself in the anime-only category, so there will be no comparison between versions. All I can offer are my thoughts about how well these new revelations fit with what we've previously learned about our cast. And they fit well, at least for the most part.

As far as Heine and Viktor's relationship and shared secrets are concerned, most things make sense. We know now why Heine never attended university, where Viktor's motivation for social reforms comes from at a time when real-life royals would bathe in milk rather than share it with the poor, how our tiny tutor's got his street fighting skills, and why Viktor's so supportive of his sons' endeavors outside the palace bounds.

When the king tells their origin story to the princes, he explicitly does so as their father, not the king. But is this really a distinction he should be making at this point? It seems oddly paradoxical: Viktor worked his pretty butt off to build a world where someone like Heine could rise from illiterate street kid to royal tutor, but neither of them can make it public. Sure, even if it's less crucial in this fictional 19th-century Austrian court than its historical counterpart, appearances are still important to maintain. But it's not like the royal family was new to tabloid scandals, or like Viktor was incapable of realizing their temporary nature – publishers would print their stories anyway, based on facts or not. I have considerable doubts that Heine's motive for leaving is shame over his humble origin or trying to avoid bringing the same upon his king.

Heine's reason for accepting the job in the first place would also be tidier if the first episode hadn't led us astray talking about Heine's "own personal reasons", hinting at something darker than complete devotion. Were we just taunted into thinking he had ulterior motives when he only wanted to pay back God for not letting Viktor die, and Viktor for creating a "dreamland" of unprecedented social security and justice – both prompting him to vow to do "everything" in return? It feels like the first episode was still true to a story we've now diverged from, if only a little bit.

As for Heine taking his leave (not quite without saying a word) immediately upon being found out, it feels to me that ever since Viktor took the bullet for him and subsequently changed his world, Heine has somehow forfeited his old life and replaced it with equal parts guilt and gratitude. Should the show come full circle in its final episode, there's still one more lesson left to be learned, and it's not two apples equaling three, no matter how appealing the idea might be.

But first, Heine turns his own story into a lesson. Under his tutelage, the princes have grown past the point of merely seeking the truth behind assumptions. They now have to use the knowledge gained by looking behind the facade to make their own judgment calls and trust in their ability to do so, like their father did when he reformed his kingdom after encountering its underbelly, and like every ruler has to do in order to bear the responsibility for their actions. And so, as part of his last educational exercise, Heine's inviting his students to judge him.

Unfortunately, there wasn't quite enough time to dwell on each boy's individual reaction to the crisis. Prepared to face a sometimes unpleasant truth by recent experience, Kai is understandably determined to proceed. But after establishing Licht as the most suspicious and cunning one, I would have expected him to be a bit less clueless. Hopefully, there will be more opportunities for each prince to shine next week, when the student-teacher tables will be turned.

There were still a few sweet elements to their investigation and its conclusion. After finding out about Heine's arrest, the princes come together under the same picture they were sitting beneath when their teacher invited them to investigate, except now the color palette's changed to a cold dark blue. Most of all, I liked their reasoning. They know their findings to be true because even as a criminal (who might have tried to assassinate their father), Heine would never put them in any danger. They realize he wanted them to find out, and instead of assuming anything for longer than a second, they immediately want to talk to the man they still believe will always be on their side. Their reaction shows Heine's success on several levels at once with very little dialogue and screentime. But because Heine's already gone, it's Viktor who's responsible for delivering the episode's emotional linchpin.

Once upon a time, Viktor's adolescent longing for adventure turned into something much bigger when he met an even tinier Heine. Being the sheltered kid all royal heirs tend to be, Viktor didn't quite grasp the ramifications of his actions (and the danger they could put other people into), and it took his friendship with a boy from the opposite end of the social hierarchy to transform his curiosity to mingle with plebeians into the honest desire to use his power to change their lives. Consequences catch up in form of a bullet that almost puts an end to adolescent dreams (and ever getting to taste his favorite wine again), but when wounds are healed after an unreasonably long period of time (and length of hair), Viktor has a purpose. The feelings were certainly there when Heine got beaten to a pulp trying to crawl toward his almost dying friend, even if the fact that not one of those guards would try to help their heavily injured prince struck me as rather weird. The one firing the shot might have blame to place to secure his survival, but the rest? No wonder Viktor would rather leave his sons in Heine's care than leave them with the palace guards.

As a big fan of stories coming full circle, I would have loved for Viktor to be the one who taught Heine how to read, true to the show's theme of inspiration being reciprocal in nature, but there's still a good chance of a similar wrap-up next week.

Rating: B-

The Royal Tutor is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Anne is a translator and fiction addict who writes about anime at Floating Words and on Twitter.

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