The Summer 2021 Preview Guide
Drug Store in Another World - The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist
How would you rate episode 1 of
Drug Store in Another World - The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist ?
What is this?
Frustrated with his dead-end job and life, Reiji suddenly realized one day that he was transported to an alternate world. The skill he picks up there is the skill of making medicine. He is disappointed not to have a combat skill, but the potions he makes become popular overnight, and he opens a drugstore with the money he accumulated. And so, Reiji enjoys a slow life made possible with his skill, catering to clients who come to his store.
Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist is based on Kennoji and Matsuuni's light novel series and streams on Crunchyroll on Wednesdays.
How was the first episode?
Before anything else, I want to be clear slice-of-life stories are almost always not for me, doubly so when they are the “slow life” variety. However, I do enjoy isekai fantasies, especially those that like to twist the formula in some way I haven't seen before. Unfortunately, the twist of “running a drug store and living a life with zero conflict” left me bored to tears.
The series starts by skipping over the interesting bits, like how Reiji came to this world, met the ghost Mina, and established his shop. Instead, we're introduced to what I can only assume is his titular cheat skill: his medicine doesn't taste like garbage—which, while not being super impressive, does seem to guarantee him a lot of repeat business.
The main plot of the episode revolves around a young noble, Zeral, and his violently insecure girlfriend Faris. Now, honestly, there is a lot of potential in this setup that sent my imagination spinning. Would Reiji act as a mediator for the two, ensuring a healthy breakup? Or would he instead help Zeral escape his obviously toxic relationship through guile and planning? Or perhaps he'd act as a therapist, starting the long process of helping Faris come to terms with her fear of abandonment?
...Of course, none of that happened. He just gave her some tea that helped her sleep at night which cured her instantly. It wasn't that she had major mental issues that needed to be worked on seriously, it was just that she was a little sleep-deprived (which is a sentiment with sexist implications when you realize it's basically saying that women are just a few bad night's sleep away from becoming bat-shit crazy).
Frankly, this scene told me all I need to know about this anime—i.e., that there is nothing for me in it. This is going to be an anime where conflicts are superficial or played for laughs and are solved through minimal effort. And I get it: that's the appeal of slow-life “healing” anime. You get to escape into a world where life is simple and problems are easily solved with nothing in the way of lasting ramifications. But honestly, I can't tell you whether this is a good slow-life anime or a bad one because in my eyes, it is simply boring.
The first episode Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist isn't interested in explaining itself. It's kind of like the opposite of an exposition dump, where instead of overexplaining relevant information they explain very little, including stuff that seems like it would be really important to know.
Here's what I could get from the episode: Reiji was a “corporate drone,” to quote the subtitles, until he got isekai'd in some way or another. Now he runs a pharmacy in the other world and is really good at it. His assistants are Noella, a werewolf he found mostly dead by the side of the road who now mostly takes the appearance of a small child in a crop top and bloomers; and a ghost named Mina, who likes woolen underpants. Everyone is very nice and pleasant.
How did he get isekai'd? What makes him a cheat? How did he end up running a drugstore? Why are there little fairies hanging around? None of this is explained, or even really foreshadowed in the first episode. It's just three little vignettes about Reiji being super good at making things in a way that no one else in this world is, while Noella cavorts around and Mina takes care of the shop. The world is pretty much identical to every other pseudo-European game-based isekai series of the last decade.
My extremely cursory research tells me that this was not the case in the novels, which start out more how you'd expect. Instead, the anime staff chose for some reason to kick off the series with some random vignettes pulled from the middle of the series. It's a strange choice, and I'm not sure exactly why they went this route because it's not like there was anything special or interesting about these chapters. In fact, there's nothing interesting about them. It's very iyashikei, but even iyashikei needs to have something to set it apart - interesting characters, or nice scenery, or anything and this had nothing.
The show's aesthetic is okay but not especially interesting as well; it reminded me a bit of Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear from a few seasons ago. It's mostly marked by lots of soft colors, dark brown linework, and flat-ish backgrounds. The character designs are on the angular side, but neither particularly concerned with being on-model nor having much squash or stretch them. The visuals aren't quite as dull and uninspired as the writing, but they're close.
Drug Store in Another World is the fourth isekai but the first iyashikei of the season. If you're really looking for a chill good time, to be honest I'd recommend dipping into your backlog instead of this.
Everyone wants something a little different from an iyashikei show. For me, if I'm going to watch something for the sake of a relaxing, low-stakes chill session, the most important factor is atmosphere. I want a world or even just a single location that feels rich and fully realized enough that I can imagine taking a long and cozy nap or wiling away the hours reading a book in it. I also want characters who, if not particularly deep, feel like real people who you'd want to spend some time with. And if we're going for a magic angle, some whimsy or charm can go a long way in getting me in the mood to just vibe with an anime for half an hour. Unfortunately, Drug Store in Another World does precisely none of that.
For one, this show's world and characters are about as bland as they come. The character designs the most generic as I've seen in quite a while, all rendered with flat direction and flatter storyboarding. There's even some noticeable animation shortcuts that, while not bad enough to be embarrassing, are hard to ignore once you notice them. Like the way characters' mouths stop closing when they speak faster than a relaxed conversation, or how the werewolf girl's transformation is a stock purple smoke effect that covers up when they stop drawing the dog and start drawing the girl. None of it is bad, exactly, but it's visually mediocre in just about every regard, and made much of this premiere slough off my brain the moment credits rolled.
Not helping is our main character, who is such a nonentity you could forget he's technically also an isekai protagonist. There's so little to Reiji's personality or the world around him that if you missed the mention of him being a “former corporate drone” at the start of the episode you'd never guess this wasn't just a really boring traditional fantasy series, with the sole exception of Reiji muttering about “normies” when he sees a guy with a girlfriend. So our hero has a personality for all of 5 seconds and it's him being a bitter nerd, awesome. Then there's his werewolf pet/daughter, a combo that's only made more uncomfortable by the apparent fact that Reiji won't buy her a dress that covers her bloomers. There's also a ghost(?) who lives in the drug store but has yet to do anything but mistakenly(??) ask Reiji to buy her some wool underwear in what I assume was meant as a gag but doesn't actually have a punchline.
Then we have the central conceit, which is a good one on paper. As the local uber-talented apothecary, Reiji encounters different customers or clients who he helps out through some kind of potion or concoction. That's a versatile premise that could shine with some good episodic writing, but the only example we get this episode is genuinely dire. A rich guy's girlfriend literally tries to murder him over a jealous delusion that he's cheating on her, and he thinks she's been possessed, but it turns out she just needed to drink some calming tea and get a good night's sleep! Haha, women sure are crazy, amirite fellas? It's such a tired cliché I wouldn't bother mentioning it except that it's also the single strongest bit of characterization anyone in the premiere gets. The girl spends nearly all her screentime screeching like a dying cat in a way that's meant to be funny but just feels irritating once it hits the three minute mark. It's a terrible personality that makes this premiere actively worse, but it's also about the only thing I'll remember about it.
So yeah, chalk this one up as a bust. Even in a weak and sparse season like we seem to have here, there are plenty of better options for isekai adventures and chill slice-of-life comedy. I'm more likely to watch just about any other show this season before I try another second of this one.
Something is lost in the adaptation of Kennoji's light novel. I think at least part of it may be “continuity.” Rather than beginning by animating the opening chapters of the book, Drugstore in Another World opts to pick up the story after Reiji is already established in his new world, with his own store, Noela, and Mina by his side. While this does give the group more of a family feel, it also takes away the whole “in another world” piece by glossing over the fact that Reiji was walking home one day when he suddenly realized he wasn't in Japan anymore, as well as how he got the house with Mina as an added bonus in the first place. These aren't terrible omissions, I'll grant you, but they do change the basic tenor of the story in ways that don't entirely work.
On the other hand, if you're looking for low-stakes slice-of-fantasy-life, this may end up delivering. The vibe that Noela, Reiji, and Mina have is very charming, and Noela is earning her pay as the mascot of the series already – she's adorable and plays the role of the good dog nicely, doing her best for the man she deems her “master” is what so far is a distinctly non-creepy sense. Mina's a bit more boilerplate at this point, mostly because we've missed out on her backstory or how her state as a ghost functions. This may come up later, but right now about all that separates her from the living is the wispy bit of hair that turns transparent and her ability to float. Since her ghostliness is kind of important, I'm not thrilled with this change.
The more pertinent problem for people who aren't indulging in a bit of adaptation snobbery is the storyline that the second section of the episode follows. The first, with a local grocer wanting to carry Reiji's tasty new potions (I do like how the fact that old potions taste like garbage is implied, unlike in the novel), is fine, albeit a little dull. The second, however, features a young man named Zeral and his fanatically jealous girlfriend Feris. Zeral lets it slip early on that she's “not sleeping much,” so we know what the root problem is that Reiji's magic meds will fix, but the bigger issue is how Feris is portrayed. She the stereotypical screaming jealous woman, unhinged and utterly under the power of what appear to be her own emotions. She's like some sort of Victorian textbook's entry on “hysteria,” and while Reiji basically diagnoses her with the much more real “anxiety” and “sleep deprivation,” the manic, raving insanity of her depiction is neither funny (as it clearly aims to be) nor helpful for people who may suffer from those two aforementioned real ailments. At best Zeral is trapped in an abusive relationship; at worst it's a dated image of the jealous woman trope.
Visually, Noela is the highlight here – she's cute and her tail animation is the most fluid thing in the episode. Otherwise this is another one of those very pastel shows, with inexplicable fairies thrown in as narrators and visual reminders that this is supposed to be sweet, and there's really very little that stands out. This is just okay, and mostly it reminds me that I wish it was Kennoji's other title, Hazure Skill, that got the anime series.
I had scour the likes of Wikipedia, MAL, and our own ANN Encyclopedia once I finished the premiere of Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist, because that obnoxiously long title left me with some questions that the show itself really didn't answer. As it turns out, this really is a story about your usual corporate husk that gets transported from Japan to a fantasy world to live a fantastical life surrounded by anime girls, and the whole gimmick is that he uses his knowledge of modern medicine to “cheat” his way to success as an alchemist/apothecary. It's a thin twist on an already tired setup, though what's even more interesting is that Drug Store's premiere doesn't include any of that information, for reasons I can't possibly fathom.
Hell, after we learn that his shop is staffed by a loli wolf-girl named Noela and a ghost named Flueret, the show doesn't bother to address their presence in this world as well. Are underaged werewolves and ghosts that still feel the need to go panty shopping just, like, a thing in this universe? And how can this Kirio guy make any use of his pharmaceutical knowledge when he's working with flora and fauna that categorically do not exist on Earth? I can't decide whether the anime's decision to ignore all of these potentially pertinent details is borne out of sheer laziness, or a tacit admission that none of those finer storytelling points actually matter, since the appeal of the show is seemingly limited to watching Kirio and his gaggle of girls faff about and get into random shenanigans that somehow connect to potion brewing.
The problem is that the show isn't simply isn't very funny, or interesting, and the slice-of-life episodes are so formless that they don't even serve very well for people who just want cute stuff to happen on screen for twenty-or-so minutes. The voice cast is game at least, and the only somewhat amusing bit of this entire premiere comes from when Kirio and Noela run into an incredibly furious woman named Feris, who I would swear is voiced Hina Kino, given how absurd her guttural shrieks begin to sound after a while.
If Drug Store in Another World isn't even going to bother with isekai cliches in the first place, then I don't see any reason for this show to be an isekai at all, other than the fact that the “in another world” part of the title is apparently guaranteed to boost sales figures by a few points. Either way, I don't really see the point. There are better isekai anime, better slice-of-life shows, and better waifu screensavers out there, so you won't be needing a prescription of Drug Store in Another World, regardless of the fix you're looking for.
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