This Awesome Anime Is A Medieval Blend Of Sherlock Holmes And House

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“The Apothecary Diaries” excels at telling compelling episodic stories that expand Maomao’s world. There are episodes about a poisoned minister, a courtesan and a customer being poisoned, a concubine getting poisoned via arsenic-based makeup (there is a lot of poisoning on this show!), a bureaucrat falling into a coma due to his pufferfish being tampered with, and much more. The big joy of watching this series is the combination of Maomao’s medieval Sherlock Holmes shtick with the historical setting.

Admittedly, this means most of the solutions to the show’s mysteries are rather obvious if you have even a passing knowledge of biology and poisons (for instance, if you know that arsenic-based makeup is a horrible idea). Maomao is not a superhero and does not possess superhuman intelligence, but she has learned enough at a time when knowledge was limited to a few (more on this later) that she easily solves what appear to be unsolvable enigmas. What a room full of old bureaucrats or ladies-in-waiting may assume is a curse ends up being just a simple illness overblown due to ignorance and superstition.

It helps that Maomao is one of the best anime leads we’ve seen in a while, a sharp and funny character who knows when she’s right and doesn’t just shut up and let others waste time when she has the answers. Plus, having a hero who is utterly and ridiculously exhilarated by poisons is just funny.

Like the best procedurals, “The Apothecary Diaries” still manages to add breadcrumbs throughout the season that slowly build up into a compelling overarching story, dropping hints about life at the palace to tease soapy melodrama involving babies being switched at birth, surprise fathers showing up, and more.

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