The Royal Tutor Volume 3 showcases exactly how a comedy-drama blend should read.

The Royal Tutor Volume 3Title: The Royal Tutor (Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine)
Genre: Comedy, Historical
Publisher: Square-Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Creator: Higasa Akai
Serialized in: GFantasy
Translation: Amanda Haley
Original Release Date: September 19, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press

When I started The Royal Tutor Volume 3, I thought I would finally see the mysterious eldest prince.

Nope, the handsomely-dressed familiar stranger was Kai’s (female) fiancee.

Hah! Even I can still be faked out now and again. Good job, Akai!

My enjoyment of this not-quite-a-harem series just continued from there. After seeing Beatrix’s attempts to get closer to her betrothed, we also check in on the brothers’ little sister who discovers she will someday have to leave the country to get married. Meanwhile, Leonhard still gets frustrated with studying. All three stories are charming with Heine trying to teach his pupils a lesson in his own unique way (or, in the case of the first chapter, shows him spending time with the princes on his day off).

But the real highlight is Licht’s arc. The residential playboy and happy-go-lucky youngest prince turns out to be more hardworking than I expected, and readers also get so see his more sensitive side.

While I do like a good harem or reverse harem series, what makes Licht’s story especially good is twofold. First, he is taking initiative on his own. And when the protagonist does discover his secret, the whole episode then doesn’t focus on showing how the two of them are getting closer. Instead, the incident ends up drawing father and son closer together. Parents are often absent in fiction, and if they are around, it tends to be for comedic or dramatic purposes. Here, though, we see King Viktor trying to understand his son, and also Licht discovers just how talented his father is. This is the type of parental relationship we need to see more often, and even Heine didn’t understand the king’s goal at first. (Nice to know even Heine can be taken aback.)

The manga also hints at a darker struggle for the throne besides a bunch of quirky princes preparing to back up their eldest brother. Licht’s pastime is revealed before Heine can prepare the king for the news, and the man still plans on interfering in the princes’ lives. Author Akai has already hinted at mysteries in the world of Granzreich with Heine’s background and his connection with the king, but I believe this is the first time at an outside threat. So while Heine’s struggles to handle the princes aren’t as much of an issue anymore, the series still has plenty of room for conflict. I look forward to seeing where Akai goes with this.

Meanwhile, the series still looks as shoujo-y as ever. Whether it’s Princess Adele’s beautiful gowns or Viktor looking drool-worthy in a tux, Akai’s art has a very clean, relaxed feeling to it. Even better, Heine’s chibi form isn’t as out-of-place as previous volumes. I often felt Akai overplayed the “Heine is short” joke, so I’m glad Heine isn’t appearing as a short-stack in every panel like in the previous volumes. His super-deformed form works when he’s drooling over sweets or collapsing from a fever but less so in everyday conversations. Otherwise, Amanda Haley’s dialogue keeps the German influences without trying to completely redo the script. I’m usually a fan of honorifics, but this is one series where I’m glad they didn’t include them.

The Royal Tutor Volume 3 is exactly how a comedy-drama blend should read. While Heine makes a great teacher, perhaps Akai should also instruct some of her contemporaries on how to blend humor with great characterization.