Worth the Binge | ‘The Apothecary Diaries’ achieves greatness

Worth the Binge | ‘The Apothecary Diaries’ achieves greatness
Worth the Binge | ‘The Apothecary Diaries’ achieves greatness

Worth the Binge | ‘The Apothecary Diaries’ achieves greatness

The Apothecary Diaries has shown to be a powerful anime adaptation during its amazing first season. Accompanying Undead Unluck, it is among the few shows from the previous year to be renewed for a full run of 24 episodes. Every episode of the anime is a dinner. The Apothecary Diaries, in contrast to some other series, which have become bogged down with flashbacks and filler (see, once again, Undead Unluck), makes every moment intriguing, character-driven, and insightful into the larger world these individuals live in. The animation, which was produced by OLM, is excellent; it has rich historical surroundings as well as colorful landscapes that pop. The series tells heartfelt stories with confidence and patience, putting endearing characters at the center of deep and intricate narrative.

Spoiler warning for most recent episode

Massive worldbuilding goes into The Apothecary Diaries (Kusuriya no Hitorigoto), a manga series based on the Japanese light novel series authored by Natsu Hyūga and drawn by Touko Shino. As the season draws to a close, the series hits full speed with the latest episode, “Chance or Something More.” A change in their relationship is evident when Maomao (Aoi Yūki) puts herself in danger to save Jinshi (Takahiro Sakurai). The secrets surrounding his position inside the palace still elude us, and the tension is increased now that we know Lakan is Maomao’s biological father. Nevertheless, despite all the concerns posed, the story never feels like it has to pick up speed. Regardless of the outcome, the show’s restraint and authenticity instead serve to enhance the narrative as we get completely engrossed in their continuous struggles.

What It’s All About

The Pharmacist Diaries centers on a teenage pharmacist named Maomao and is set in a fictitious nation modeled after Imperial China. She is friends with the courtesans in the area and works in the red-light district with her adoptive father when we first meet her. She is abducted and sold as a servant to the Imperial Palace in the first episode, and she is desperate to hide and keep her head down. She advances in the ranks to unravel the mystery of the ailments befalling the emperor’s children because of her natural curiosity.

As Maomao continues to solve mysteries for the royal court, the program takes an episodic, case-of-the-week format for a portion of the run. She gains further knowledge about the unpredictability of the royal court and the disparity of power from working with Jinshi, a powerful eunuch (the only man permitted in the back palace). The world opens up more and more to her as she meets the emperor’s concubines, numerous servants, and officials.

Worth the Binge | ‘The Apothecary Diaries’ achieves greatness

But when the show delves into the narrative and thematic underpinnings, such as Jinshi’s role as a eunuch in conflict with his participation in noble deeds, it excels. The contrast between the rich and the destitute in the palace was also beautifully and poignantly shown in Episodes 17 and 18. Compared to the luxury of the back palace, Maomao was well familiar with the miseries of the red-light district. Characters are forced to consider their role in society and their ability—or lack thereof—to make any kind of change, and these revelations and little but significant changes pave the way for some of the most pivotal scenes.

Better character development is also made possible by these thematic foundations. Jinshi starts off as a bit of a naive idiot, taken in by Maomao’s total contempt for him even though most men and women find him attractive. But when we become aware of how much of a front he is putting on to uphold social control, the peaks beyond his façade provide a stronger emotional draw. Similar to this, Maomao’s battle in Episode 18 is far more intense as, up until now, she has been distant, arid, and uninterested in getting excited about anything other than herbs and poisons. Even with her expertise, she is still young, as seen by her little crack.

It’s not a question — it’s worth the binge

Worth the Binge | ‘The Apothecary Diaries’ achieves greatness

The Apothecary Diaries is worth binge-watching for a tonne of reasons, particularly as the season’s conclusion draws near. Because of their differences, the characters—Maomao and Jinshi in particular—are incredibly endearing. Usually, Maomao just tolerates Jinshi, awestruck by his beauty but hardly appreciative. The animators’ obvious excitement in sketching her is evident in their exaggerated responses and chibi-style effects. 

The show focuses on her aloof demeanor till something piques her interest, even though she is frequently portrayed in those chibi moments with cat ears and eyes. Every character has an individual design created by Yukiko Nakatani. The fact that each costume design tells a story—from courtesans dressed to attract men to concubine robes that reflect their distinctive personalities—highlights this even more. 

The lavishly visual series is directed by Norihiro Naganuma and assistant directed by Akinori Fudesaka. This is apparent in key locations inside the palace walls as well as in the elaborate architecture that is on the show and is detailed with the use of lighting, the previously mentioned landscapes, and color contrasts. Warm purples and powerful, vivid oranges combine to produce uncommon palettes that are bold and deliciously one-of-a-kind. Although there isn’t a single aspect that sets this anime apart from others, the whole image is rather individualist.

Worth the Binge | ‘The Apothecary Diaries’ achieves greatness

The series is given more vitality with the music created by Satoru Kōsaki, Kevin Penkin, and Alisa Okehazama. The use of classical instruments creates a majestic and eerie impression. The entire series contributes to making it one of the greatest and most reliable anime releases of the previous year.

Final Thoughts 

The stories in The Apothecary Diaries are skillfully and intriguingly woven as we get to know the people and their motivations more. Through reciprocal and separate stories, their lives are inextricably interwoven, as Maomao and Jinshi continue to grow into more robust, more realized persons. The adept handling of genres is evident in the way it strikes a balance between serious drama, suspense, and hilarious moments. The Apothecary Diaries is an incredible highlight with amazing animation and an engrossing plot, and it keeps getting better.

Crunchyroll now has The Apothecary Diaries available for viewing.

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