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Kusuriya no Hitorigoto (The Apothecary Diaries) – 24 (Season Finale)

I admit the list isn’t a long one, but Kusuriya no Hitorigoto is certainly near the top for light novel adaptations I’ve liked in recent years.  Most of the LNs that really clicked for me are much older, from a time when the term meant something quite different, and recent examples are few and far between.  It serves as a useful reminder for me that there’s quality to be found in the medium, and not to dismiss it entirely and out of hand.  The problem is that so few adapted LNs stray from the formula and traits which weigh most LNs down.

The Apothecary Diaries certainly does, though.  What flaws it has aren’t the typical LN-specific ones, and it does an awful lot of things very well.  In the end I liked it better than Sousou no Frieren – it’s natural to compare as both are two-cour Fall 2023 shows which wound up being the biggest commercial hits of that six-month period – and that’s certainly an upset given my personal history.  Credit where it’s due – this is a really good adaptation of what’s clearly a good source material.

I would also say that Lakan’s story ended up being the most interesting of the series, and it’s certainly a good one to end on for that reason.  I’m fascinated by the amount of bad assumptions made about Lakan by new viewers.  I never thought he was an evil person, for example, or – as most seemed to assume – that he’d raped Fengxian or otherwise abused her in some way.  He just always struck me as a basically decent guy made arrogant by dealing with people less smart than him, and possessed of a somewhat sadistic sense of humor (not unlike a certain apothecary).

I also noticed that after last week’s episode, almost everyone seemed convinced Maomao was trying to get Lakan to buy out Meimei.  And frankly, it baffles me that one could think it was anything other than what it was – a wager to get him to buy out Fengxian.  How could the “withered rose” possibly have referred to anything else? Maomao may in the back of her mind have been thinking he might choose Meimei and she’d be fine with it, but that clearly was not her goal.

I thought the denouement with Fengxian and Lakan was really well done. Honestly, the guy with prosopagnosia sees the face of the beautiful girl he fell in love with, not the fading and blotched invalid in the final stages of illness?  That’s poetic, no less.  This whole affair is a tragedy, but not of Lakan’s making.  If anything It’s a shame Maomao didn’t act on this sooner, so the two of them could have had a little more time together to play Go.  Clearly, this withered rose is no less beautiful to Lakan.

Xiaomao’s view of her father is complicated.  Yes, she’s grateful that he “landed that shot” (ROFL).  And she admits both that her mother became pregnant and carried her to term because she wanted to – if anything she tricked Lakan (presumably hoping to lower her price so she could be bought out by him).  Yet she still dislikes (at least it’s not hate) him.  And at the heart of it, it’s because they’re too much alike.  Lakan is smart enough to thrive based on instinct, which makes the more industrious (she learned that from her stepfather, clearly)  Xiaomao envious. I genuinely hope she and her natural father have a real relationship before this story is said and done.

Maomao’s dance on the rooftop as a traditional sendoff for Fengxian was another quite lovely scene.  One could almost say it was a sentimental action, from someone we don’t typically see as a sentimental person.  Of course it draws the attention of Jinshi, whose surprise arrival nearly causes a disaster.  As is the wound on her leg reopens (that’s happened so many times now I wonder if it’s foreshadowing something), and she’s about to stitch it up herself on the spot before Jinshi intervenes.

Obviously the prospect of romance between Xiaomao and Jinshi has been teased pretty hard, and it’s an elephant in the room going forward.  He’s grown on me some after a very rough start, though I still don’t really see much romantic chemistry there.  Frankly she seems completely disinterested in romance and that may just be her nature.  The stuff involving Jinshi’s bloodline and his connection to the succession is of more interest to me as a future plot point than a potential relationship with Maomao.

All this is relevant, of course, because of course we’re getting a second (and eventual third, no doubt) season.  That we would was never in doubt, but there were no games here – it was confirmed after the end credits.  I’d tag along just to heat Aoi Yuuki’s tour de force performance, but Kusuriya no Hitorigoto has a lot going for it besides that.  It’s a case where the hype leading into a potential kaijuu series was pretty much deserved, and that’s almost as rare as a light novel in my year-end top 20 (or maybe even 10).

The post Kusuriya no Hitorigoto (The Apothecary Diaries) – 24 (Season Finale) appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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