Image source: TVアニメ「王室教師ハイネ」公式 on Twitter

Watching The Royal Tutor reminded me of the mentors who changed my life.

Heine Wittgenstein is summoned by King Victor von Glanzrich to tutor his four youngest sons. Heine quickly learns that the four princes have unique personalities that forced the previous royal tutors from their position. But, through his quick wit, Heine is able to inspire the princes to take part in his lessons.

It’s really hard to find a teacher who inspires you to enthusiastically learn a subject. It’s even harder to find a person to call your mentor. Seeing Heine instruct the four princes—Kai, Bruno, Leonhard, and Licht—in the series reminded me how important it is to find a mentor and learn all you can from them. Then it had me thinking of the two people I truly feel are my mentors.

Heine is in a unique position in the series because he’s not only acting as the four princes’ tutor, but also as a role model for them. In fact, we really don’t see Heine teach so much as guide the four characters into becoming better people. For instance, Heine has shown Bruno that, while his intelligence is phenomenal, there are subject matters he can improve on and even look at from a different perspective. It’s not an outright lesson, but more or less advice on how Bruno can improve himself and his work. By having Heine impart those lessons through conversations rather than in a classroom shows that he is less a tutor and more of a mentor. And that’s one of the best tricks The Royal Tutor does. It shows us that a true mentor isn’t a person who just teaches us lessons from a textbook, but also drastically changes our outlook on life.

Thus, when watching the series, I was reminded of the two people who drastically changed my own life. They were a professor from my college days and the department head at the manga publishing company I worked at, respectively. Both of these people taught me very different things, but what I learned from them shaped me in the same way Heine shapes the princes in the series. My professor, for example, worked with me on Japanese to English translation projects. While the coursework was difficult, it was the conversations we had with each other that helped shape my opinions on translation and language over all. And these conversations were never a tutor speaking down to his student; it was as if we were equals.

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Heine is the exact same way with each of the princes. He treats them as equals and not people who should be spoken down to. What this does is inspire the four princes to open up to him. This was true with Bruno from the example above, but also with Leonhard. Consider, Leonhard is a character who doesn’t enjoy learning and has gone as far as making other royal tutors leave their position. In one small flashback, we even see why this is so. Leonhard was constantly berated and spoken down to. Yet, Heine treats Leonhard as an equal when he’s instructing him. Because of that, despite Leonhard’s hatred of learning, he opens up to Heine. This is what a good mentor does and one reason why the series has me looking back at my time with my translation professor.

But, even if Heine treats the princes as equals, there’s still a line that separates them as student and teacher. And that’s one other important aspect of a mentor: instructing their mentee. Again, this isn’t just lessons from a textbook, but information we can use to better our knowledge in a subject. While my translation professor was fantastic in shaping my translation—and by proxy my language—skills, it was my former boss who really shaped how I approach stories. He did this by showing me the ins and outs of working with manga authors to develop a series. It wasn’t an every day kind of thing, just a quick lesson here or there and he was always available to answer any question I had about the manga development process. And what I learned from him was invaluable and helps me write about anime today.

Image source: TVアニメ「王室教師ハイネ」公式 on Twitter

This is where Heine really reminds me of my mentors. He is a master of the light touch. He does occasionally sit down for lessons, as is the case in the fifth episode when Heine is teaching Leonhard. But, for the most part, Heine allows the princes to better themselves by offering his advice more so than specifically defining what they need to do or learn. In essence, Heine is never overbearing and doesn’t try to control the princes. That is what makes him a great mentor and reminds me of my former boss.

You’ll be lucky if you can find one person to call your mentor, let alone two or more. I’m really lucky to have had two great mentors. And The Royal Tutor elicits memories of my time with them. I hope the series reminds you of your mentors as well.

The Royal Tutor is streaming on Crunchyroll and FUNimation.

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