Kusuriya no Hitorigoto (English title: The Pharmacist's Monologue) is a series of light novels by Natsu Hyuuga. It originally started as a web novel in 2011, but its first volume was picked up by Ray Books in 2012 and subsequently published by Hero Bunkoban. There are two manga adaptions; the former (Kusuriya no Hitorigoto) by Nekokurage in Big Gangan, and the latter (Kusuriya no Hitorigoto: Maomao no Koukyuu Nazotoki Techou) by Michi Kuratasano in Sunday Gene-X. A Historical Fantasy, it is set in a Chinese inspired land.
The series follows Maomao, a cynical pharmacist who worked in the red-light district before being kidnapped and forced into the imperial harem. Wanting to lead a quiet life, Maomao initially hides her capabilities until the death of the crown prince and illness of the consorts forces her hand. Though she attempted to act discreetly, she is caught by the beautiful eunuch, Jinshi. He enlists her as a food-taster and frequently consults her on herbology and mysterious deaths in the court. Despite her wish to live quietly and concoct medicines, Maomao is constantly thrown into a detective role due to the political machinations of the court.
Neither the light novels or manga are licensed.
Kusuriya no Hitorigoto contains examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Inverted. Jinshi, the most beautiful man in the setting, falls for Maomao, a plain maidservant. Maomao refuses to acknowledge this.
- Abusive Parents: Maomao has a nightmare of when her mother sliced a piece of a young Maomao's pinky while restraining her. Not exactly 'Mother of the Year' material. Thankfully, her father(s) love her and treat her well.
- All Men Are Rapists: Due to the historical nature of the setting, this attitude is commonplace. Maomao notes there are those in the red-light district starved for sex and sexually assault women. Even Maomao, who is described as 'chicken-boned', experienced an attempted rape which upset Jinshi. Due to this, Maomao deliberately uglifies herself with fake freckles.
- Arranged Marriage: With the story being set in the court, arranged marriages are common. When Jinshi is later revealed as crown prince, a gathering full of young eligible women is thrown for potential mates. He, of course, announces his interest in the Ra daughter, Maomao.
- Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Maomao to Jinshi, in one instance. After Jinshi forcefully comes on to Maomao, she is surprised by his hesitance after she returned his kiss in self-defence. In her words, "Oh, are you already done?"
- Aroused by Their Voice: Maomao notes Jinshi's 'voice of honey' could melt any woman. Well, except her, apparently.
- Attractiveness Discrimination: Something Maomao is all too aware of. While she is often treated as irrelevant, people bend over backwards for Jinshi just for a smile. Thankfully for her, thats the way she likes it.
- Benevolent Boss: Despite his teasing and flirtations, Maomao notes that Jinshi's actually a pretty swell boss. He bought her into his service to avoid her becoming a courtesan (though to be fair, it was because he laid her off she was in that situation in the first place) and gave her a personal room. He also later upgraded it, to boot! To thank him, she attempted a smile taught to her by her sisters, which ended up with Jinshi banging his head on a column. Despite it being a When She Smiles moment, Maomao surmises that her smile was so atrocious and vows not to do it again.
- Bishounen: Hm? I wonder who this could this be? Spoiler: it's Jinshi. Obviously. He's so hot everybody wants a piece of him. Well, except Maomao, who is literally the only one he wants attention from. Poor guy.
- Death Glare: Both Maomao and Jinshi are shown to have quite the scary death glares. Showdown!
- Did Not Die That Way: Ahduo's child. It is revealed that Ahduo's child died from poison in honey, which Fonmin unwittingly fed to the baby. But is that all there is to it?
- Eureka Moment: Multiple times, as the story is a mystery series. When Maomao suspected the imperial babies of being swapped. This would mean that the crown prince was still alive. She ditched that idea after discovering that Jinshi is the crown prince. Because no way that pervert eunuch is the next emperor of the country, right? Hahaha...ha.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The setting is pretty much just China, with a few tweaks.
- Finger-Licking Poison: A staple in this world. Maomao off to the rescue!
- First Love: Rakan, for Fenshen. She was one of the few whose face he could see. It's likely one of the reasons he's so attached to Maomao.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Jinshi, on multiple occasions. Gaoshun frequently is victim to Jinshis green-eyed glare. And when Maomao came back with Rihaku? He was pissed.
- Grudging "Thank You": Maomao, to Jinshi. He becomes quite pleased with himself, to the irritation of Maomao.
- Hot Consort: Gyokuyou, Rifa and Ahduo respectively. Riishus a bit too young for that.
- How Dad Met Mom: How Rakan met Fenshen. A whole chapter is dedicated to their meeting and relationship.
- I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: Inverted, as Maomao neither appreciates or returns Jinshis affection. Her self-deprecation is not based on a lack of self-worth, but rather, a realistic evaluation of herself as a potential mate, which is not conventionally attractive.
- Idle Rich: What Maomao thought Jinshi was, seeing as he often stopped by just to tease her. Later averted, when she starts to work for him as his maid and realises that he is actually really busy and works his ass off. Still, it doesn't answer how a eunuch can be swimming in so much gold...
- It Runs in the Family: Maomao's adoptive father says 'the Inner Palace, eh? I guess it's fate.' Others comment on Maomao's eccentric nature and cunning resembling her biological father, Rakan.
- Love Potion: Jinshi requests Maomao to concoct an aphrodisiac, which she does. Well, it turns out quite effective, as seen by the three maids being all hot and bothered. Curious, Jinshi tries it out too and ends up kissing Maomao on her neck before smoothly exiting the scene. Smoooooth.
- Pair the Smart Ones: Downplayed. While both Jinshi and Maomao are intelligent, they're more sharp and perceptive than book smart.
- Parental Substitute: Ruomen, for Maomao, as she was a bastard child between a nobleman and abusive prostitute.
- Reluctant Ruler: Jinshi wants to avoid becoming emperor at all costs, which is why he hopes for one of the consorts to bear an heir. The issue is that he is the emperors oldest son, so technically he will always be first in line. He doesnt know this, however, and its not clear what is planned for him.
- Rejection Affection: Poor Jinshi. How has he not given up yet?
- Resigned to the Call: Maomao is all too aware of her low status to refuse. So when the Emperor asks her to cure Rifa, or whenever Jinshi calls her up as a detective, she accepts with resignation.
- Royally Screwed Up: Specifically, the previous emperor. The previous emperor was a pedophile because he was literally afraid of adult women. This was caused by his overbearing mother, who frightened him both as a child and adult. But the current emperor had to be born somehow, meaning the Empress Dowager was a child when she gave birth. So, yuck.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Maomao. The first time Jinshi barely recognises her. He gets better.
- Standard Royal Court: Nobles, servants, consorts, eunuchs...The whole she-bang.
- Switched at Birth: Jinshi and the imperial brother. Meaning, it was the imperial brother who died from the poisoning, not the crown prince. And Jinshi doesn't know this. So when he inevitably discovers that his father is his grandfather, his mother is his grandmother and his brother is his father...well, it'll be a very awkward family dinner.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: Because of his illness, Kounen did not notice the copious amount of salt poured into his drink and subsequently died.
- Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Rakan and Maomao.
- What Does She See in Him?: Other women seethe in jealousy and are bewildered by Jinshi's attraction to Maomao. Maomao doesn't get it either.
- Will They or Won't They?: Jinshi and Maomao.