I’ll admit that Oushitsu Kyoushi Heine was one of those anime I was expecting to drop out of disinterest. The premise of a tutor teaching four princes sounded neat but Bridge is a mid-tier studio in my opinion and the staff and cast was full of a lot of fresh talent so it was hard to really be excited over any names attached to the project. However, when I gave the show a fair shot, I discovered that I actually quite liked it.
Much of the show’s success owes to the strength of the characters. My biggest fear was that the four princes would be a bunch of stereotypes and while they are introduced in such a manner, the series very quickly characterizes them beyond those tropes. Leonhard acts spoiled but that attitude stems from his anxiety and fear of disappointing others. Licht is a ladies man (at age 14…) but he’s also perceptive and open-minded. Bruno is smart but he lacks the flexibility that a ruler needs. Kai is a loner but that’s mainly because his issues in speaking (and smiling) has made it difficult for people to see his kind heart. While this play on expectations and stereotyping isn’t mind-blowing it works really well given Heine‘s framing of the princes receiving an education. We see all of the strengths and weaknesses these four princes possess and how Heine helps them really grow as individuals. The series does a good job balancing screen time and character development for all four princes and honestly, I’m hard pressed as to who is my favorite in the bunch.
As for Heine himself, he doesn’t really grow as a character but then again, this show was hardly about him (despite being the titular tutor). Really the show is about the princes realizing the value in having a great teacher regardless of their own background. It’s silly how good Heine is at everything (and I’ll admit that anime kind of just justifies it as “he studied A LOT“) but I just love how blunt and supportive he is throughout the show. And even with his talent, he’s still a pretty modest and reserved person. He just fulfills the mentor role perfectly.
I’m also surprised by how much Heine and princes got me to laugh. Even though the joke about Heine looking super young begins and ends there, it still works on occasion thanks to how deadpan Heine looks and how deep his voice is. And I thought I’d get tired of Bruno constantly calling Heine “Master” or how unrealistically unintelligent Leonhard is at times but even those jokes still cracked me up. And when the show needed to be serious, it got serious appropriately such as when Heine needs to really encourage his four students or when the princes insist that Heine still teach them during the finale.
The only huge complaint I have with the story and characters is perhaps the decision to include a villain. Honestly, I could do without Ernst Rosenberg, the steward of eldest prince Eins. I’ll admit that the show was very subtle about Ernst’s actions and motivation but he just felt more superfluous than truly sinister. Maybe the manga gives Ernst something more to do but this anime (which by the way, has an original ending) kind of just keeps him like he is some vestigial member of the cast. I would’ve preferred King Viktor or even Prince Eins (who sadly only appears in the finale for a brief cameo) to be the “antagonist”.
I definitely would recommend giving Heine a shot. I’ll admit that the premise, while neat, hardly sounds exciting on paper but with solid characterization and amusing antics, the show executes its premise very well.