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The Apothecary Diaries Episode #04 Anime Review

3 min read
Ignorance rears its head once again and someone has to be there to knock some sense into the ladies in waiting.
The Apothecary Diaries Episode #04

Slay Queen.

What They Say:
Maomao lived a peaceful life with her apothecary father. Until one day, she’s sold as a lowly servant to the emperor’s palace. But she wasn’t meant for a compliant life among royalty. So when imperial heirs fall ill, she decides to step in and find a cure! This catches the eye of Jinshi, a handsome palace official who promotes her. Now, she’s making a name for herself solving medical mysteries!
E4 – The Threat

The Review
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Oooooh baby! I had worried that after the initial episodes the animation would take a downturn but here we are, episode 4, and they bring in the fluid action director. Action? In my palace intrigue anime? Whatever for?

Maomao is tasked directly by the Emperor to treat Consort Lihua, whose condition continues to decline. With all of the lead face powder confiscated and destroyed she should have been recovering. Maomao wonders if the woman refuses to eat out of grief or if another ailment is presenting itself.

Even though she has been directed to see to Lihua’s condition, the ladies in waiting attending her refuse to allow Maomao to cook and feed their lady. The attendants loom over the short Maomao and boot her out of the room multiple times. Time is growing short and Maomao fears she won’t be able to administer to the woman until it’s too late. Jinshi eventually sees the situation and comes to her rescue, his mere presence causing the women to back down and Maomao is finally able to see what the cause of the illness is.

The animation in this episode is loose and fluid. Every shot is full of movement, even if that movement is Maomao gesturing at which ingredients she wants to use or waving goodbye to a friend. That movement is employed for the impactful moment of the episode where the small, unobtrusive Maomao lays down the law in no uncertain terms. This might be the most satisfying takedown I’ve seen in a show in a long time. 

Worked to the bone seeing to the recovery of Lihua, Mao feels a sense of relief that her head isn’t on the chopping block. The cold, distant Lihua is shown to be a woman who holds herself as a noble lady but is wracked with grief over the loss of her son and the stress of her precarious position in court. When she returns to health and Mao is dismissed back to her usual duties serving the other concubine, they have reached a place of trust and kindness. 

Mao’s parting advice to the consort left me howling.

In Summary:
What a pitch-perfect episode. The situation that brought Maomao’s skills forward has a lingering effect on the inner court. Ignorance rears its head once again and someone has to be there to knock some sense into the ladies in waiting. Duty is intertwined with doing what is right, and bodies and hearts are slow to mend. The animation takes a very different approach in this episode than in the three previous ones, more fluid and sketchy, making a quiet episode quite lively. Good stuff.

Episode Grade: A

Streamed by: Crunchyroll