Tag Archives: Higasa akai

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 13

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 13. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

The ongoing troubles at Café Mitter Meyer leave Licht feeling helpless as he witnesses firsthand the hate directed at his master for his Kvel ancestry. Infuriated by the kingdom’s ugly dark side, Licht realizes he has an opportunity many do not: the power to enact change from the highest level of government, the throne itself! With his return, all four brothers are reunited in the palace. They have all been transformed by their experiences apart, and each is more determined than ever to rule for the betterment of Granzreich!

The Review

The first half of Volume 13 is Licht centric. He’s been absent from recent chapters so Akai-sensei’s making it up with an extended arc where he’s the star and the guards Ludwig and Maximillian form the supporting cast. Like most Licht stories, it centers around the café, and like his brothers, Licht hits upon a turning point during their time apart.

A new element introduced at the close of Volume 12 is the existence of ethnic minorities within the kingdom. Volume 13 fleshes out that dynamic further. Kvels appeared to be modeled after the Jewish people, and considering how this world resembles 19th-century Europe, the picture of discrimination it presents isn’t difficult to grasp. It is, however, a shock for the privileged and mostly sheltered Licht.

Unlike the libel incident against Kai, the vandalism against the café is left unresolved. On one hand, it’s frustrating not to reach a resolution. On the other hand, it is a realistic outcome and one that wakes Licht up to the inequity that exists in his country. Thus the youngest prince discovers motivation to embrace the role he was born to, and Akai-sensei leaves the door open for this vandalism incident to reemerge at a later time.

At this point, Heine’s not only won the respect of his four pupils, but he’s leveled them up as candidates for the throne. Thus, the focus turns to the throne’s heir apparent, Eins, who poses with the Royal Tutor on this volume’s cover.

While the younger princes are technically competing with their eldest brother, most of the conflict has arisen between Heine and Count Rosenberg. Rosenberg’s position as Eins’ head steward would lead one to believe his actions are driven out of a desire for personal gain, but an unusually frank conversation between Heine and Rosenberg and a walk down memory lane with Kai reveal that the relationship between the count and Eins is deeper and more complicated. And with Eins acting strangely following his much-anticipated betrothal to a neighboring princess, Akai-sensei’s got me insanely curious as to what his fatal flaw might be.

Extras include bonus manga and illustrations and the first page printed in color.

In Summary

The troubles at Café Mitter Meyer take on an ugly tone. Although Licht is determined to stop the culprit, he eventually realizes that the problem is beyond what an ordinary café worker can handle. Thus, he embraces his princehood and returns to the palace with a new purpose. With that, all four brothers are reunited in time to receive news of their eldest brother’s engagement. Akai-sensei finally reveals more information about Eins and Rosenberg, but those details serve to raise more questions, leaving me eagerly anticipating the next volume.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 12

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 12. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

When Leonhard receives an invitation to the Kingdom of Fosein from Prince Claude, the princes set off on their first big trip together. Will this trip give Leonhard the opportunity to put his new language skills to some good use, or will he sink to his usual aggression?

The Review

Volume 11 closed with a tense moment between Bruno and Count Rosenberg. However, as Akai-sensei’s done previously, rather than escalate matters with the princelings’ most formidable antagonist, the mood quickly reverts to lighter fare. First with a conversation between Kai and Bruno about their experiences away from home, then an absolute deep dive into silliness in a single chapter story about the king’s facial hair.

Next, cute Prince Claude returns to the story in a three-chapter arc that takes place in Fosein. Yes, the Granzreich princes leave the palace again, but this time three of them go together and for leisure rather than work/training. This means there are no lessons, although the trip expands the horizons of the mostly sheltered princelings. Basically, we get lots of fun illustrations of the princes in civilian clothes playing tourist in Fleur, a city styled after Paris.

Although three the Granzreich princes are on this trip, the focus is mainly on Leonhard. In contrast to most Leonhard-centric chapters, this arc demonstrates that the study-averse prince can excel at a subject if sufficiently motivated. It also shows that the honesty of an adorable child can demolish the hotheaded prince’s pride.

Then the trip ends, and the story shifts to Licht out among the commoners. His job has kept him busy, especially with the opening of the second Café Mitter Meyer. It’s an occasion for celebration, but the mood plummets when vandals plague the business. This arc is less about Licht himself and more about the challenges faced by his employer, who turns out to be part of an ethnic minority. The unknown hooligans and their motives have my interest piqued for this arc, and the second café’s newly hired manager Herman offers readers new eye candy.

Extras include bonus manga, afterword, and first page printed in color.

In Summary

Kai and Bruno return from their journeys of self-betterment–just to leave with Leonhard on another trip outside the palace. This time, though, the three are traveling as tourists, and adorable Prince Claude acts as their guide to beautiful Fosein. However, this installment’s not all fluff and fun. Although Licht is enjoying the commoner life, his eyes also open to its rougher side when his place of employment becomes the target of vandals.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 11

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 11. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Some unexpected guests to the royal palace have the princes on their toes! Between acting as gracious hosts and testing their language skills, what additional lessons will the prospective heirs to the throne learn from their visitors?

The Review

The previous volume ended with an intriguing scene of Rosenberg at Prince Eins’ residence. This volume opens with the continuation of that scene. The interplay between Eins and Rosenberg insinuates quite a bit about Eins’ reliance on the count. The Black Prince may have a flawless reputation, but the king’s concerns about his suitability for the throne are grounded in something quite real, judging from the anxiety both Rosenberg and Eins exhibit.

However, Akai-sensei remains coy about the specifics of the eldest prince’s fatal flaw and quickly shifts the focus back on the princes whose failings we are all too familiar with. Much of the early volumes were Heine’s individual and collective lessons for the princes. Now the fruits of that work manifest as Leonhardt entertains Fosein’s Prince Claude; Bruno receives his schoolmate Smerdyekov as a guest in Wienner; and Kai cheers on buddy Elmer in a grueling training exercise. Granted, they still have a ways to go, as evidenced by their dismal knowledge of the fairer sex in “My Ideal Princess!” but clearly their worlds are expanding as they forge and deepen bonds beyond their family circle.

Not that the other royal relatives are absent in this volume. Beatrix drops in on two chapters and cute Adele features largely in the Fosein state visit. The king and granny also make appearances as needed. While the characters do have a tendency to get carried away (as when Leonhardt discovers the true reason behind Prince Claude’s visit), family interactions remain characterized by genuine concern and warmth—with the exception of Eins, who always seems the odd prince out.

The volume concludes with both Kai and Bruno back in Wienner, improved from their time away yet having lost none of their affection for Heine or their kin. Things are looking well for Heine’s students, which casts an even darker shadow on Eins’ hidden struggle.

Extras include bonus manga on the inside cover, bonus story, and first page printed in color.

In Summary

This installment seems dedicated to showing the progress of the more socially awkward princes of the family. Licht has never had trouble in this department, so we have a collection of vignettes of Kai, Bruno, and Leonhardt interacting with members of the family and new friends. Most of it is light-hearted fun, even the state visit from the Fosein royals, but the chapters do demonstrate how Heine has strengthened them as competition for Prince Eins, whose loyal Rosenberg is likely to make a move to counter this development.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 10

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 10. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Three of the princes have left home to study away from the castle and the guidance of Heine, but Leonhard remains, still under the strict observation of the Royal Tutor! Beneath the surface of everyday life lies the fierce will to fight for the right to the throne! With change all about them, now comes the time to grow and learn…

The Review

With his brothers leaving home, Leonhart’s the sole prince left at the palace. As such, he appears in most of Volume 10’s chapters. However, the volume begins with an interesting family gathering in the wake of so many departures: The Queen Mother summons Adele, Leonhart, and Eins for a tea party.

The Queen Mother’s motivation is entirely innocent; she simply wants quality time with her grandchildren. Neither Leonhart nor Eins can deny their grandmother her wish. But neither can they deny their true natures, so the two can’t help but pick at each other’s faults. And because Leonhart is involved, their sniping takes on a distinctly childish tone.

The princes’ bickering is a foregone conclusion, but what is a surprise is a private exchange between Heine and Count Rosenberg, who are also present at the tea party. Up till now, Count Rosenberg has always played the part of a cool-headed conniver. However, when Heine bluntly states that the king deems Eins unfit for the throne, the count responds with uncharacteristic emotion. Although the series’ focus has been on the flaws of the younger princes, this lays the groundwork for scrutiny of Eins’ character, which has previously been assumed perfect.

But Akai-sensei doesn’t delve into that immediately. Instead she shifts the focus back to the other princes. Licht may have left the palace, but he’s still in town, which means Heine remains his tutor. Independent living means Licht requires a different education, and his cooking lesson in “A Lifestyle Lesson” is reminiscent of their overnight stay at the boss’ quarters. Next we get a glimpse of Bruno adjusting to life in Orosz, a Russia-like country, where his greatest challenge is getting along with his academic peer Smerdyakov. Then poor Kai only gets a passing mention before the focus returns to Leonhart at the palace.

The last three chapters have the White Lily prince in three separate situations: a brush with an old tutor at the library, a visit to Licht’s workplace, and a wardrobe quandary with Adele. Although his simple-mindedness is the source of humor for these scenes, it is thankfully not the primary focus. Rather, these chapters show where he’s been and point toward the type of person he now aspires to be. Which is a relief because Leonhart’s stupidity can only carry the plot so far.

Extras include bonus manga on the inside cover and first page printed in color.

In Summary

If you like Leonhart, you’ll like this installment. Although we get updates on the other princes, Leonhart dominates this volume. His academic incompetence continues to be the source of jokes, but this volume focuses less on his stupidity and more on his changing character. And speaking of character, Akai-sensei inserts some very interesting scenes that raises questions about the fatal flaw to Prince Eins’ character.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 9

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 9. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Prince Licht once again finds himself caught between his role as a prince and his desire to have some fun in his life. How will he react when the count offers his assistance?

The Review

Volume 8 ended with what looked to be the beginning of an extended story about Licht. As it turns out, this arc actually involves all our four princelings, plus it continues beyond Volume 9. This is a refreshing change from the episodic pace that the series has fallen into. However, the plot does build on the information and events of those single-chapter stories.

Volume 9 begins with Count Rosenberg once more slithering around Licht. The count definitely has the air of a villain, but his motives for meddling in the affairs of the younger princes as of yet remain unknown. Eldest prince Eins views his brothers with such contempt that it seems unlikely Rosenberg’s acting on his orders. As such, the mystery of the count’s true objective brings an air of intrigue to this volume.

Licht, however, has the sense not to trust the count, especially since he’s already gotten burned before. When changes with Cafe Mitter Meyer inspire the youngest prince to live in town, he’s careful not to accept Rosenberg’s easy deal for a place to stay. Instead, Licht goes so far as to limit his budget to his earnings at the cafe. Much like the time he was forced to spend the night at the cafe, Licht is confronted with the difficulties of life outside the palace as he struggles to form a plan for independence. But Licht has grown as a character and displays newfound fortitude as he seeks his father’s permission to leave.

This, of course, causes an uproar among the other princes. Not surprisingly, the most outspoken is straitlaced Bruno. But just when you’re expecting Bruno to begrudgingly accept Licht’s decision, he goes far and beyond mere acceptance. As a result, Licht’s decision has a kind of domino effect in the palace. Akai-sensei looks like she’s setting the stage for something big, and I eagerly await the next installment.

Extras include bonus manga celebrating the anime adaption and first page printed in color.

In Summary

The manga completely diverges from the anime with Licht choosing to devote himself to Cafe Mitter Meyer rather than compete for the throne. His decision sends shockwaves through the palace, but the resulting repercussions take the princes in a surprising direction. Between lots of character development and hints of someone acting in the shadows, Akai-sensei does an excellent job keeping readers engaged.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 8

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 8. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Kai makes a friend at school and invites him over to the palace for tea. He asks his brothers for help in making conversation, but is that really such a good idea…? Then it’s a battle of wits when Heine joins the princes (and princess!) for a game in the courtyard. After all the time they’ve now spent under his tutelage, can the students finally overcome the master?

The Review

Volume 8 begins with three standalone chapters. The first focuses on Leonhard, and unlike most Leonhard-centric stories, it shows him doing something he’s good at. Instead of the usual class setting, he’s sparring with the palace guards (and winning). Yet even in this situation, the recurring theme of his stupidity still returns, but because Akai-sensei has changed the scenario from the typical Leonhard-struggling-with-math-at-his desk, this variant comes off as fresh and entertaining.

The next chapter centers on Kai, the only prince currently attending school, and on what happens when he invites a classmate to the palace for tea. This is partly a continuation of Kai’s journey to interact with others, but it is also an unprecedented occasion for the family and palace staff (apparently, the princes have never had friends over before). As such, in addition to Kai’s usual challenges to be understood, we have the royal household going comically overboard to welcome his guest.

The third chapter features Adele, and like most chapters involving the little princess, all four brothers and Heine wind up engaged in a charming group activity. In this story, they play a variant of tag with a cute wolf hat. Things get a bit competitive between the tutor and his students, but overall, it’s lighthearted fun.

The latter part of the book is an introduction to an extended Licht-centric arc which starts as carefree as the earlier chapters but gradually darkens to a more serious tone. Having received the King’s permission to continue working at the cafe, Licht is determined to do the best he can—but without his brothers finding out about his job. So, of course, one of them unexpectedly pops in as a customer. However, Akai-sensei’s choice of brother took me completely by surprise and leads to a rather intriguing sibling interaction. At any rate, Licht is forced to do some deep thinking what the rivalry for the throne means to him and how he wants to live his life.

Extras include bonus manga printed on the inside of the cover; three-page bonus about the anime and stage adaption; and the first page printed in color.

In Summary

This volume begins with three fluffy filler chapters that revisit the usual themes of Leonhard’s stupidity, Kai’s struggle to communicate, and the brothers’ affection for their sister. However, Akai-sensei changes things up by highlighting Leonhard’s idiocy in an athletic setting, introducing a new character from Kai’s school, and injecting student-teacher competition into a children’s game. After that, the narrative begins a longer arc that initially doesn’t look serious but then throws a couple of twists that forces the cast’s resident playboy to ponder his future. This arc was not included in the anime, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 7

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 7. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Princes Kai, Bruno, Leonhard, and Licht have been making great strides thanks to an excellent education from Heine, the royal tutor. Even so, with the return of Prince Eins, the eldest of the brothers and heir apparent to the crown, the wall they must climb in the struggle to become the most qualified candidate for the throne looks more colossal than ever. Can the four younger princes stand up to their biggest rival?

The Review

Volume 7 is comprised entirely of material not included in the anime. Chief among them is the introduction of Prince Eins, who, although he was mentioned in the TV series, never actually made an appearance in the show. After teasing readers for several chapters, Akai-sensei finally brings him into the manga in Chapter 36, “Return of the Black Prince.”

And Eins definitely fits the description “Black Prince.” Not only is he dark-haired in contrast to his mostly fair family, he has an intimidating, scowly (though handsome) face and a demeanor to match. In other words, he looks like a villain. Initially, he acts the part, too, with his brusque attitude toward his family. However, when Heine directly confronts Eins with his suspicions about interference with the younger princes, the Black Prince doesn’t draw the story into anything more diabolical. Rather, he scoffs at the idea that his brothers are true competition for the throne and makes his case by pointing out their flaws, which readers are intimately acquainted with.

As such, our introduction to Eins starts with a bang but ultimately doesn’t make much impact. He leaves town after strutting his superiority, and the brothers resolve to make themselves into real competition for kingship, which is something they’ve been working on anyway.

With that, the narrative returns to the brothers’ individual efforts, starting with Leonhard. Unfortunately, his chapter is the same old theme of how stupid he is. Next, the focus shifts to Kai, and Akai-sensei makes an interesting choice in how to present his progress. Rather than show it from the second prince’s point of view, fiancée Beatrix returns to the story, and given how mellow Kai is, Beatrix’s perspective on the situation does make for a livelier story.

The last two chapters go to Licht. Having determined that his one unique advantage is his frequent interactions with commoners, he’s decided to learn as much as he can about regular folk. However, he gets more than he bargains for when a storm forces him and Heine to spend the night with the cafe owner. Licht may mingle with commoners, but he’s definitely got a noble’s sensibilities, and it’s fun to see Heine knocking Licht off his high horse.

Extras include bonus manga printed on the inside of the cover; five-page bonus story; and first page printed in color.

In Summary

The eldest prince Eins finally appears! But despite his “Black Prince” demeanor and looks, he come off more as a snotty older sibling than a villain sabotaging his brothers’ chances. As such, there’s not a whole lot of added drama despite the anticipation Akai-sensei built up. However, those who prefer to laugh at our princelings will be gratified by the fluffy, filler chapters in the book’s second half.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 6

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 6. (For my reviews of other volumes click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Heine and the princes have overcome many a difficulty together, deepening the mutual trust between the teacher and his pupils. But even though Heine has walked closely alongside the princes as they slowly come into their own, the royal tutor himself still remains a mystery to them. When Count Rosenberg claims to know who he really is, could Heine’s secretive past become public knowledge?

The Review

Volume 5 ended with what appeared to be the start of an ominous confrontation between the nefarious-looking Count Rosenberg and Heine. However, in true Royal Tutor fashion, Heine refuses to rise to the count’s baiting and almost immediately dispels his threatening air. As such, we don’t get much more dirt on Rosenberg or Heine, save for a pointed remark about Heine tutoring at a church prior to working at the palace. While it does rekindle interest in Heine’s true identity in Chapter 30, it mainly serves to highlight Leonhard’s childishness when he has a jealous fit at the thought of Heine’s other students.

And that’s it for Volume 6’s intrigue. Next, the mood alternates between endearing and comical as Heine continues to shape the princes into suitable candidates for the throne in four standalone chapters. While Kai’s and Bruno’s stories deal with the topic of school, Heine’s lessons have nothing to do with book learning and deal instead with building their character. Thus, Licht and Bruno learn (separately) to take consideration of others, Kai learns to speak up for what he believes in, and Leonhard accepts a task he’d rather reject. Regarding the Leonhard-centric chapter, Akai-sensei’s finally found a way to poke fun at Leonhard that doesn’t involve academics (for which I am grateful), but even so, he still winds up looking like the family idiot.

The volume wraps up with a final silly chapter in which the four brothers volunteer to clean Heine’s room. It is a task none of them are familiar with, and their team dynamics are already full of quirks so their efforts predictably wind up in chaos. However, their determination to please Heine and the objects they encounter in his room do make the chapter entertaining nonetheless.

Extras include bonus manga printed on the inside of the cover; three-page bonus story; and first page printed in color.

In Summary

This volume begins with what looks like big trouble for Heine and his four students in the form of Count Rosenberg. However, the steward of the eldest prince quickly recedes to the backdrop after throwing around vague remarks, and Volume 6 winds up a series of fluffy, filler chapters. Court Rosenberg does make another appearance at the very end of the book though, and it’s a tantalizing glimpse that makes me hope the next volume will actually shed light on his true agenda.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 5

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 5. (For my reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Prince Licht’s fascination with coffee should come as no surprise given his affinity for his part-time job at the cafe, but when Leonhard suggests the bitter drink should be banned from the kingdom, can Lichie help him develop an appreciation?

The Review

After Bruno’s internal angst regarding his chances for the throne, Akai-sensei opens Volume 5 with lighter fare, a coffee-themed interlude between Heine, Licht, and Leonhard. Leonhard, as usual, plays the part of the immature prince, but this time his childish tastes pose a challenge for Licht, not Heine. Their confrontation has the feel of a comedy duo, and with Heine mostly observing rather than getting directly involved, it’s a nice change of pace from Heine’s usual schooling.

Comedy also comes in the cute variety in the standalone chapter “Adele’s Friend.” The little princess returns to demand a visit to the zoo, and of course, her brothers (plus Heine) accompany her. It has a very similar feel to the group art class of Volume 4, except this time the unique points of the princes’ personalities get highlighted in the context of animals, which range from cute to ferocious to troublesome.

The rest of the volume is devoted to a past incident involving Bruno and Kai with the focus mainly on Kai. While the story has a 19th-century setting, our characters often display modern sensitivities, and the princes’ normal garb look a lot like Japanese school uniforms. In keeping with this bridging of past and present, Akai-sensei delivers a situation at a military academy that looks a lot like modern high school bullying. Because this arc centers on Kai, much is made about the contrast between his scary looks and his actual gentle nature, but on top of that, we get to see the circumstances that actually would push Kai to violence.

Unfortunately, Heine gets turned into a deus ex machina for the arc’s resolution. While the conclusion is a bit too tidy for belief, it does increase the aura of mystery surrounding the diminutive tutor. It also drives Count Rosenberg, the steward of the eldest prince, to confront Heine, and I anticipate an increasing amount of court intrigue to come.

Extras include bonus manga printed on the inside of the cover; six-page bonus story; and first page printed in color.

In Summary

Kai fans will have a lot to enjoy in this installment. Not only do we get a glimpse into his brief stint in a military academy, we also see how Heine’s influence has shaped him and Kai’s particular take on conflict resolution. And though the eldest prince has yet to show his face, his meddling in his brothers’ affairs is becoming increasingly apparent, and I look forward to him finally making an appearance.

First published at The Fandom Post.

 

Manga Review: The Royal Tutor Vol. 4

Rich, handsome young men, each with his own distinct personality…this type of bishounen cast is a staple in shojo manga. And if you like yours with a generous helping of chibi humor, you should definitely check out Higasa Akai’s The Royal Tutor. Read on for my review of Volume 4. (For reviews of other volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Heine’s efforts to shape the princelings into worthy successors to the throne continue, but it seems that Bruno in particular is struggling with a bit of a crisis of conscience when it comes to his future. Can he live up to Heine’s standards to remain his “apprentice”? More importantly, does he have the courage to carve out his own path?

The Review

As with Volume 3, half the material in Volume 4 was not incorporated into the TV series. Most of the non-animated chapters are at the beginning of the book and comprise, for the most part, humorous fluff that poke fun at the princes’ quirks. The volume opens with a group art lesson in which the princes must paint a portrait of little sister Adele. What results is a cute, light-hearted chapter that displays our cast’s idiosyncrasies on canvas.

The remainder of the book has Heine dealing with the princes in ones and twos as it often does. Chapter 20 “A Troubled Prince!?” is a brief Leonhard-centric arc which, like most chapters about the fourth prince, is a display of his dismal academics. Unfortunately, this iteration doesn’t vary much from previous ones so I found the gags stale. However, the next chapter, which features Licht, is much more intriguing. Cafe fans will get to enjoy the youngest prince in his waiter uniform while he attempts to pry into Heine’s private life.

As we enter the material included in the anime, the narrative takes a more serious tone. Heine’s job is to groom the princes as worthy candidates for the throne, but we’ve never seen the brothers treat each other as rivals. This changes with Chapter 22. Although the set up is somewhat different than the TV series, it similarly introduces Bruno’s hidden insecurities and sets the stage well for the two Bruno-centric chapters that follow. Thus far, Bruno has alternated between a rigid academic and a gushing Heine fanboy. In this arc, we see the circumstances that led to his strict lifestyle as well as a glimpse of his sense of self-worth. Of all the princes, Bruno is the one most firmly grounded in reality, and to watch him agonize over the options for his future goes a long way in fleshing out his character.

Extras include “Character Profiles” printed on the inside of the cover; one page “intermission” manga; first page printed in color; and translation notes.

In Summary

Volume 4 delivers a nice balance of comedy and drama. We first get three fun standalone chapters that feature the brothers’ affection toward their cute sister, Leonhard’s stupidity, and Licht’s acute sense of perception. The focus then shifts to the line of succession, and more specifically, the person Prince Bruno considers his chief rival for the throne. Not only do these chapters shape Bruno into a more well-rounded character, they also heighten the sense that someone is out to sabotage the four brothers’ chances to become king.

First published at The Fandom Post.