The newest manga on Crunchyroll, The Apothecary Diaries, has released four episodes as of now, and it’s much different than the usual genre tropes that we’re used to. Set in ancient China, the story follows a young apothecary worker named Maomao, who finds herself working in the emperor’s palace after a turn of events. Using her skills with herbs and drugs, she solves multiple cases and prepares potions, as is required of her. Here’s a recap of the first two episodes of Crunchyroll’s The Apothecary Diaries.
What Happens To Maomao?
The first time we meet Maomao, she’s heading towards a pleasure house in China with some herbs she’s procured, and her elderly father warns her about the kidnappers around. At the pleasure house, she’s doted upon by the courtesans, and the manager lady even offers her a position to join training, but she quickly leaves. On her way home, she’s distracted by a field full of herbs, and being an apothecary, she’s very pleased to find so many materials. However, she’s surrounded by three sinister-looking men, and before she knows it, Maomao is kidnapped.
Where Is Maomao Employed?
Rather emotionally mature and level-headed, Maomao doesn’t have a problem adjusting to the palace where she’s brought, and she’s tasked with being a serving woman to the several concubines of the emperor. She makes a friend named Xiaolang and learns about a so-called ‘curse’ that makes the concubines and their children sick. Maomao also notices a stunningly handsome man amidst the thousands of eunuchs who are allowed to attend the concubines and learns that the other maids and serving girls are enamored by his devilishly handsome looks.
Why Is Maomao Suddenly Promoted?
One day, there’s a commotion in the courtyard, and she finds one concubine named Lihua slapping another named Gyokuyou. Apparently, both of their children have fallen sick, along with themselves. Lihua blames her rival for being jealous of her son, while Gyokuyou retorts by saying her daughter is sick as well. Listening to the symptoms, Maomao deduces there’s no curse, but a poison is at work, and she leaves a note on the concubine’s windowsill at night. Lihua, the haughty concubine, disposes of it without taking so much as a second glance, and within a month, her son dies from poisoning. The stunningly handsome man named Jinshi calls the serving girls, including Maomao, to his office and writes something on a scroll describing her features. She’s apprehended as the one who’d tried to warn the concubines of the poison, and by a massive stroke of luck, she is promoted to Gyokyou’s personal maidservants.
What’s The New Job Entrusted To Maomao?
The second episode opens with a group of soldiers suddenly falling ill in an army camp and the head of the village being apprehended for poisoning them. Meanwhile, Maomao finds out she’s been given a rather dangerous task: she’s to be the food tester for the concubine. Additionally, she feels rather uncomfortable every time Jinshi approaches her, and the more time she spends in his presence, the more she starts feeling icky because of him. However, she has no difficulty understanding the details and flavors of every food and drink, and she also adds that she’s built up a resistance to most kinds of poison, so it seems this job is perfect for her.
What Had Happened To The Soldiers?
Jinshi calls Maomao to the courtroom and asks her to find out the ingredients in a box of baozi buns. Without even having to taste them, she declares that they’re laced with something aphrodisiac and that whoever sent those to Jinshi might drop by for him later that night. The manager of the palace is reddened in the ears, but he quickly covers that up by switching focus to other important matters at hand. He explains to Maomao how the soldiers had fallen sick after eating food cooked by the villagers and asks for her take on the situation. She explains that since the soldiers were outside, there’s a chance they burned some wood or sniffed some flowers, which have rather dangerous properties. For example, the rhododendron flowers, found in abundance near the palace, have properties that cause nausea and breathing difficulties, the same problems the soldiers encountered. Maomao deduced that the soldiers weren’t poisoned, but they’d only been unlucky enough to cook in the vicinity of some rather toxic plants.
Why Is Maomao Allowed Into The Palace Apothecary?
Impressed by Maomao’s immense knowledge of herbs, poisons, and apothecaries, Jinshi makes a strange request to her. He asks her to make an aphrodisiac, and she’s given complete access to the doctor’s ingredient storage. Seeing how Maomao might need more cacao, Jinshi does everything in his power to offer everything the storage has to make sure she’s completely satisfied. There’s also a strange infatuation that Jinshi develops towards this young girl, which seems to intensify the more she rejects his advances. However, Maomao does manage to prepare the necessary aphrodisiac and prepares chocolate with the remaining cacao. She ends up losing track of time after setting the prepped materials to cool while collecting herbs.
Whom Does The Maid Servant Spot On The Walls?
When Maomao returns, she finds the other attending girls of Gyokuyou on the verge of passing out after tasting the delicacies of chocolate. Maomao hands the aphrodisiac to Jinshi, and before leaving, he brings his face near Maomao’s neck and whispers something. This seriously creeps her out, but she doesn’t have a choice but to complain about it. In the evening, while out on a stroll, a maid servant spots a woman on top of the palace walls and is terrified when that strange person looks at her. It’s not revealed who that woman is, but in all probability, that’s Lihua, the other concubine. It’d been rumored that Lihua had lost a lot of weight after being poisoned, and the woman that the maid saw was severely bony and sickly. So, it’s possible that Lihua might’ve been on top of the walls, but the question is, what was she doing there so late at night?
What’s Next For Maomao?
Suddenly promoted to lady-in-waiting for one of the most favorite concubines of the emperor, Maomao was experiencing immense fortune when she received an added stroke of luck. With the ability to taste for poisons without any side effects on herself, she was granted the keys to the palatial apothecary, and now she’d have free reign to create and experiment with drugs as she felt. With multiple issues cropping up, there’s a high chance that Maomao’s skills with poison detection will be needed soon enough, and she’ll have to use her skills to cook some new drugs as well. Until then, she needs to dodge Jinshi’s advances and keep doing her thing.