The Apothecary Diaries

Alt title: Kusuriya no Hitorigoto

TV (24 eps)
2023 - 2024
Fall 2023
4.613 out of 5 from 7,656 votes
Rank #2
The Apothecary Diaries

In the East is a land ruled by an emperor, whose consorts and serving women live in a sprawling complex known as the hougong, the rear palace. Maomao, an unassuming girl raised in an unassuming town by her apothecary father, never imagined the rear palace would have anything to do with her—until she was kidnapped and sold into service there.

Source: J-Novel Club

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I think The Apothecary Diaries has become my new favorite anime. I really, really enjoyed this one. The story is very compelling, everything revealing more about the world of ancient China and underlying mysteries to it. I also really liked the main characters. Maomao is such a strong female lead that makes everything about the anime even better. I highly recommend this anime, I genuinely enjoyed everything about it. The Apothecary Diaries takes place in a world that's full of mystery, especially within the palace. Within this time period, a lot of women are only regarded for their body. Yet Maomao defies that standard, even going to the point of covering her face with freckles so she isn't just known for her looks. Instead she works hard and helps people within the palace, whether that be medically, solving mysteries or doing random tasks. Even just aside from all she accomplishes, her personality is also very likable. She's intelligent, witty and pretty funny. She can be really serious or also be really caring. It's also fun watching her be obsessed with poisons. It really shows that her worth is beyond much more than her apperance and Maomao is a competent person. I love the way the anime shows her thought process and interactions with others. Maomao has become one of my favorite anime characters. The story has an underlying mystery throughout the entire thing. Maomao solves a lot of these mysteries, but since these mysteries are all tied to each other, things are slowly revealed and make more and more sense over time. It kept me engaged and wanting to figure out more of what was going to happen and what this whole mystery is. I even picked up the manga because I became so curious, and I really wasn't disappointed. The story is fantastic. With everything being slowly shown, the world of ancient China is shown, which includes how a lot of things worked back then along with the different medicines, which can be interesting to watch. Many different characters are shown, giving the anime a wide cast of characters. With all these traits combined, it really makes for an interesting setting and mystery. It keeps the viewer, well at least me, trying to figure out what's going on. I have to talk about Jinshi and Maomao, because while this may not be a romance, I really like their dynamic. Maomao doesn't fall for Jinshi's charms, showing that she doesn't just find his worth in his apperance, but she likes him for who he is, and he's the same way, he values her. I like how the anime shows Jinshi caring about Maomao and how sincere he seems. While he has his funny moments, he also has his really sweet and caring moments towards Maomao and she cares for him too. Both of them even going as far as saving each other. They have their really funny moments and they also have their sweet moments. The animation is gorgeous, the characters designs look really unique and good and the backgrounds are really pretty. Everything had fluid movement and I found no issue with the animation the entire time while watching. When things turn dark, the animation is able to match that, and it's also able to match the story when it's more light-hearted. The sound was done really well too, especially the music. Both openings and endings are really pretty and visual stunning, and with the OSTs that were played during important parts during episodes (especially Maomao's dancing scene) were really pretty sounding. I also liked both sub and dub in terms of voice acting. The Apothecary Diaries wasn't just my favorite anime in terms of Fall 2023 anime, but also one of my favorite animes I've ever seen. I really recommend it, it's such an enjoyable watch, from the characters, world and mystery.


I've got to go against the grain here. I understand this is an incredibly popular series but personally, I don't see how it could be considered incredible let alone one of the all time greats. The story feels incredibly driven by coincidence. At 21 episodes in we don't even have an idea of who the emperor is, who the antagonist is, what Maomao wants in life (or anyone else), and the whole show just coasts along as a result. At this point we know that someone is out to kill someone for some reason and the only thing we know is who they want to kill which makes it hard to cheer for someone to beat this nebulous thing working in the background. The characters, except for god tier Maomao, are incredibly incompetent, and Maomao herself has many irksome qualities ranging from complete apathy to her circumstances almost all the time to complete social obliviousness. You can't tell me that she has lived in a brothel her whole life and yet doesn't understand when she accidentally speaks in inuendo, you can't tell me that being kidnapped wouldn't traumatize her at all, yet she has almost no emotion other than perfect smirkiness. All the other characters can't do anything right, the worst offender being the palace doctor who cringes at corpses and doesn't understand how to properly keep his own stock of goods safe. How did he even get a job in the first place? The animation is full of pretty colors as is typical of today's anime fare but that doesn't make it anything special. Honestly, it seems tailored to the clipping of gifs because if people use Maomao's animal reactions as gifs they get free marketing. There are some good points of this anime but no one seems to be talking about all the problems. All of that said, the show is fun. Some of the humor hits pretty well, the concept for the show feels decently original and it isn't a power insert isekai, and the character interactions, when they are competent, are entertaining. Overall I think the show is overrated but it isn't bad.

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