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Kusuriya no Hitorigoto – 11

I think it’s pretty obvious that this is no murder of the week subplot, but the canon mystery of Kusuriya no Hitorigoto.  It’s the MacGuffin of this part of the series at the very least.  And it’s an interesting one, no question about it.  We have had some of our questions answered here, but by no means all of them.  If Kusuriya chooses a traditional two-cour “mini-finale”, I expect we’ll get some sort of resolution next week that will leave the biggest questions for later in the series (and based on sales, these two cours are only the beginning as far as the anime is concerned).

I thought I had this puzzle more or less figured out, but my theory is wrong on at least one part – we’re one baby short.  I figured the two infants were swapped (that did happen, almost surely).  But my guess was that one of them was actually the Emperor’s son (with Ah-duo) and grew up as his brother, and that the other was his actual brother and was falsely declared dead but grew up to be Jinshi.  If Maomao’s “fanciful” theory (which I suspect she actually believes to be true) is correct, I was right about the first part but wrong about the second.  But that leaves a glaring question – why does Jinshi look so much like Ah-Duo?  And why is he so distraught that she’s leaving the Rear Palace?

That’s not by any means the only remaining mystery of course.  It does appear that Luomen (still undetermined whether he’s Maomao’s real pops) was the fall guy for the death of one of the babies.  The implication could be drawn that Maomao being kidnapped and taken to the Rear Palace is no coincidence, then – though that’s still inference at this point.  Her having a seeming connection with Fengming circumstantially supports that hypothesis.  But the limbs start getting pretty thin when you make this many assumptions, so it’s wait and see time for all that.

Fengming is certainly a crucial figure in all this.  She’s fiercely loyal to Ah-Duo, a trait seemingly engendered in many by that woman.  She inadvertently caused the death of the baby Ah-Duo was caring for by giving him honey (and a poison nectar may be involved too).  Her endless grief over this could mean that she didn’t know about the switch, or simply that Ah-Duo came to love this baby as her own and Fengming is distraught over causing her mistress such sadness.  She took pains to cover up her involvement but that was brought into peril when Lishu arrived and started talking about her own near-death honey incident.

I think Fengming being that worried about this particular threat is a bit of a stretch, but I could certainly see Lishu’s threat to Ah-Duo’s status worrying her.  The ironic part of all this is that Ah-Duo and Lishu developed a close relationship – a woman who lost her child (twice) and a child ripped from her parents’ arms.  This probably irked Fengming too.  One servant already committed suicide (remember that unresolved case?) to try and deflect suspicion from Ah-Duo, and now it falls on Fengming to take the fall – after Maomao makes it clear that she’s puzzled out most of what happened.

Maomao was smart enough at least to try and protect herself with a “stab-proof vest” when she confronted Fengming, but that was a very risky move.  What stands out to me about this interaction is that once again, we see that The Apothecary Diaries – and Maomao – have a very consequentialist moral compass.  Maomao is quick to appoint herself judge and jury – she’ll fudge the facts and cover up whatever she decides is best based on her perceived proper outcome.  As a result crimes often go unpunished in this series.  That’s obviously not the case here – Fengming was executed for her attempt on Lishu’s life, but Maomao unilaterally decided to let her cover up her role in the baby’s (whichever one it was) passing.

That’s an interesting sort of heroine, to be sure.  One can convincingly argue she was right in this case – Fengming was dangerous and needed to be neutralized, and nothing would be gained by revealing what was a totally involuntary tragedy with the baby except tarnishing her relationship with Ah-Duo.  But is Maomao – smart but very young – always going to make the right call?  She’s rather arrogant about this to be honest, but again, that’s interesting.  As is Ah-Duo, obviously a strong and caring women much loved by everyone from the Emperor on-down.  But a concubine who can’t have children is a luxury an Emperor can’t afford, and it was bound to come to this sooner or later.

As for Jinshi, he has a lot of ground to make up for after that honey-licking ugliness but he’s obviously an important figure in the fabric of the story.  Ah-Duo drinking him under the table and then going off and drinking with Maomao is very amusing, but Jinshi as a morose drunk is more pathetic than anything.  More than anyone else his true identity and true place in the tangle of relationships in the Rear Palace remain a puzzle.

The post Kusuriya no Hitorigoto – 11 appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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