Wait, a pharmacy isekai anime that has some actual plot?!
The first anime like that I encountered completely failed to pass my one-episode rule. The second had a contrived plot in which the pharmacy was ultimately irrelevant. This is the third one I’ve encountered, and I was rather surprised when I realized that there was, indeed, a real plot to the story, and one in which the pharmacy had some relevance. Mind you, this one has issues of its own, mostly involving the world-building, but we’ll get to those in a moment.
Parallel World Pharmacy follows the soul of a driven, dedicated doctor as his soul leaves this world and is sent into another one, possessing the body of a young boy in a Medieval European sort of empire. The boy, Farma, got struck by lightning and died, leaving the vessel open for the new Farma to move in. Now being raised in an affluent family of pharmaceutists, as they’re called, Farma possesses an immense wealth of magical power and ability, with which he is able to diagnose any ailment and create medicines for them, using knowledge from his previous life. It becomes quickly apparent that his soul was sent there by the family’s godly patron, called the Panactheos, not only through his unique abilities and great power, but also as his actions and contributions to their medical knowledge soon have vast repercussions throughout the empire and the world.
And all Farma really wants to do is open a pharmacy of his own, to help heal as many people as possible and alleviate suffering. It’s a noble desire, born of a loss suffered in his previous life, but apparently his new patron deity has a bit more in mind for him, namely stopping some other, more nefarious entity in its tracks.
Pausing on that note, I have to admit I was a little put off by the whole idea of a god killing a child and shoving another soul within his body to do its work. I still am, actually. It might have been a bit more benevolent if, say, the doctor’s soul had become a companion within the boy’s mind instead, allowing for an entirely different dynamic. That said, when I take into account that there is clearly another force at work, one which is bringing suffering and death to people very quickly, I have to wonder if the more benevolent deity simply had to take drastic action immediately and could not be kinder about it. Either way, though, it was this sudden showdown with an evil force that suddenly shook me, realizing that everything up until this point might have been tedious and a bit awkward, but it was meant to set the stage.
Farma’s abilities enable him to command a tremendous amount of elemental magic, in addition to an ability to create raw materials from nothing or render them into nothing, topped off with a mystical eye that lets him see and accurately diagnose any sort of malady. It’s a perfect combination for one with his medical knowledge, and it leaves him quite overpowered, practically a god among mortals. All of these turn out to be vital in his sudden confrontation with the villain of the story, but it is his kindness and caring which win him the many friends he needs at the moment of crisis.
He is kind to a tutor who became overwhelmed and fearful in the face of his power, he saves the empress from a fatal illness, he saves his little sister from drowning, he provides useful treats for sailors to combat scurvy among them, he cares for a young girl with all the professionalism he had in his previous life, and he saves the life of an inquisitor who mistook Farma for some kind of demon. Thus, he gains helpers, assistants, protectors, allies, coworkers, colleagues, and more, all of which play their pivotal role in the face of an enemy’s nefarious attack: an unleashing of the Black Death upon their people.
Thus does Farma come face to face with a true evil, a man who perverted the selfless medicine of the pharmaceutists and turned it towards the inflicting of suffering instead of the alleviating of such, striving to kill instead of save, and on a massive scale. We see him for exactly one episode, but between his wicked works, his deranged mentality, his love of pain and death, and how he hurts the most innocent members of the entire cast, it’s safe to say that one episode was enough for me to absolutely hate this man, this Camus de Sade, who had become an evil spirit of pestilence and plague. He may have stood absolutely zero chance against such an overpowered foe as Farma, but this time it simply felt right, that such a degenerate devil of a man and all his works should be undone so quickly and easily by the true servant of a divine being.
And everything tedious, which set up every aspect of what Farma needed to lead the fight against the Black Death and to undo de Sade himself, took the patience I needed to endure some relatively dull episodes, and rewarded it with a most satisfying victory.
Mind you, there are still some world-building issues in the background. In particular, it is established that Farma alone has the skills to make many of his medications, especially in a Medieval world that very much lacks any industrial technology. Thus, this begs the question of how Farma is able to keep his large pharmacy properly supplied, and, even more, how he is able to supply the partner shops that open up as part of his guild. I mean… how?
The other world-building detail that kept bugging me was the entire dynamic between the nobles and the commoners. Specifically, with what I know of history, the notion of this Medieval Empire wherein the commoners actually became wealthy on their own without the nobles. That was not exactly a common thing back then. The rich people were the nobles who had the financial means to fund their various business ventures. They were the big business elite. Now, I can understand nobility being based on one’s divine arts – aka, having magic – but the notion of that commoners owned wealthy businesses while nobles just sat on their butts, in a society based on our own real history, just strains credulity a little too much for me.
If one can set those issues aside, though, then Parallel World Pharmacy remains a simple, somewhat tedious story of a human being who wants to help his fellows being blessed with the opportunity to do so at a pivotal moment in history. He may well become a legend among the people for his kindness, compassion, and his tireless effort to heal people. Which is something of a welcome departure from every hero being overpowered only in ways which destroy and are meant to kill demons but which can hardly save anyone at all. It’s a very wholesome, uplifting sort of anime, though not always exciting.
Rating: 8 stars out of 10.