Home The Apothecary Diaries Episode 22 - Maomao Strikes Back

The Apothecary Diaries Episode 22 - Maomao Strikes Back

At first glance, The Apothecary Diaries episode 22 seems a bit slow. Still, if you’ve watched this far enough, you’re probably already familiar with how the story is always up to something, and given that it is almost the finale– the stage is just being set. Despite this change of pace, the parts of the episode actually transitioned seamlessly from one scene to another, highlighting even the most intricate details and colors of the scenes. It’s always so nice to see the anime’s pretty visuals, from the character close-ups to its beautiful landscapes. Among everything added to the plot, however, there is one that stands out – we discover that Lakan cannot recognize faces, and although he is nicknamed an eccentric, his standing in court is not to be trifled with. The question now is, why? 

The episode begins by introducing Jinshi’s stress over Lakan’s odd request to have blue roses at the Garden Party. At wit’s end, he seeks advice from the apothecary who now lives inside the rear palace. Maomao figures there’s only one man who can ask such an impossible task, and because she’s also annoyed by her biological father’s antics, Maomao decides to take on the challenge.

The rest of the episode is about her going above and beyond to grow the roses. It is interesting to see at first, especially with the cute Xiaolan by her side, but it later becomes hard to watch because of the apothecary’s apparent exhaustion. From her heavy eyebags, her weight loss, her wound opening again and again, and the simple frame when she’s crouched asleep beside the fireplace. 

That said, it makes her success all the more relieving. Jinshi presents a vase of multi-colored roses, albeit partially bloomed. The audience, including the Emperor himself, is awe-stricken by the display. Jinshi also grabs a bit of the spotlight here as his inner monologue dictates how the politics in court are full of schemes to be wary of.

As the one protecting the Emperor’s “garden,” Jinshi says that lust is easy to exploit, and envy is manageable, but the most troubling one is when he can’t figure out what the other person could be thinking of. We’re presented with the suspicion that Shishou, the father of the newest concubine, Loulan, may be up to something that can affect the balance of the court.

However, Jinshi also mentions something else – that is, Lakan poses a bigger threat than anyone else. This at least gives us an answer as to why Jinshi can’t refuse his requests. 

Before the episode ends, we find Jinshi visiting the apothecary who has just woken up from an outdoor nap. The trick behind the blue roses is finally revealed– soaking the stem with dye. It’s witty and creative, but this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this though; Gosick (2011) had a similar mystery, so it makes me happy to encounter it again. (Funnily enough, Victorique was also voiced by Aoi Yuki.) 

I do wish that her efforts were more celebrated, but knowing that she is looked after by the Jade Pavilion girls and Gaoshun, not to mention Jinshi, is good enough for me. It is implied too that Lakan was aware of this trick, which explains his annoyance towards Jinshi’s success. Besides, the resemblance in Lakan and Maomao’s knowledge is undeniable, so what’s unexpected right now is Maomao striking back. With blue roses and red nails, Maomao’s stage is finally set and all she needs now is to confront her father. 

The Apothecary Diaries Episode 22 Wrap-up 

The Apothecary Diaries episode 22 is filled with so many interesting things. There are only two episodes left in the season now, so it suffices to say that the episode was simply setting up the stage for the climax. In fact, the main takeaway of the episode is Lakan’s standing in the court, and although it isn’t answered directly (as all things are, in this anime), it might be Maomao’s history with him that might finally clue us into what power this eccentric military strategist holds in court. 

Lakan’s face blindness

It’s also interesting to discover that Lakan has Prosopagnosia, also called face blindness. This is a condition where the person has difficulty recognizing people’s faces, and in this case, save for Maomao, Lakan sees people as Go pieces. It’s not random pawns though; he can identify a person’s role (like Gaoshun as a bishop piece, Jinshi as an advisor) which strongly explains the genius behind his military strategies.

“I just need to know where to place the pieces. The right pieces in the right places. It’s quite easy. Even if I were completely useless, as long as I placed others in the right places, the work would get down on its own.” This also explains why Lakan has been throwing all these odd cases at Jinshi and why he was there to back Maomao in episode 19. This man knows things. Overall, the episode adds more layers to his character, somewhat making him not as “plain evil” as we first thought.

Lakan only recognizes his daughter

Another thing that makes this episode interesting to watch is seeing Maomao do great things – from caring for the roses to making a fashion trend. She’s both gentle and cunning in the way she does things. (For example, her friendship with Xiaolan and the Jade Pavilion, and on the other hand, the cruel red nails to annoy Lakan’s blindness or memories.)

The way the episode delicately focuses on these scenes, thoughtfully and powerfully translating the story in them and evoking such emotions, is really one of my favorite things about The Apothecary Diaries. I also just found out that Kyuuto Kitada, the anime’s plants animation director, is largely the reason why the flowers are so beautifully portrayed. Hats off to the author, directors, and musicians as well. After seeing the next episode’s previews (and as a light novel reader too), I’m so excited for what’s to come next!

If you enjoyed episode 22 (and love Maomao), vote for it on our weekly polls!
The Apothecary Diaries is streaming on Netflix and Crunchyroll.
© Natsu Hyuga/Imagika Foss/”The Apothecary Diaries” Production Committee

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