February 22, 2024

With the anime industry churning out new shows every other month, it so happens that some gems get hidden away in the chaos. So, to ensure that our readers don’t miss out on some great storylines, we present two of the sweetest and most entertaining animes to keep company on your weekend blues: A Sign of Affection and The Apothecary Diaries.

Unlike the usual Shojo genre, these animes represent differently abled, the role of women in ancient times poignantly, and with undertones of romance. Without further ado, let’s delve into what makes these shows so special.

A Sign of Affection focuses on Yuki Itose, a college student who has been deaf since birth. But despite her disability, Yuki is keen on seeing the world, and experiencing different cultures. Then there is Itsuomi Nagi, her senior, who helps her on the train when a stranger asks Yuki for directions. Since then, the two form a bond, with Itsuomi, a backpack traveller, finding Yuki adorable and ‘interesting’ as he has never met a person with hearing loss.

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In the first two episodes, the anime uses visual cues and sounds to differentiate between Yuki’s world and that of others. Whenever she speaks to Itsuomi, the colours of her world shift, sometimes like a burst of emotions, other times more subtle. With Oushi Ashioki, her childhood friend, her surroundings are distant and colourless, and Yuki often stares at the ground often. Moreover, Oushi, the only person who can communicate with her with sign language, uses it to be sarcastic with her. Even the backdrop music is different” Oushi’s being warm, but Itsuomi’s is darker.

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Shojo genre rarely portrays a differently abled protagonist, with A Silent Voice being the only anime that comes to mind. In that regard, A Sign of Affection is a fresh breath of air, as it depicts Yuki’s struggles in the most honest and accurate ways. For instance, she finding hard to approach her friends at college. She is too cautious, which also highlights her background, having studied in a special school for the differently abled. As people around her changed, so did her behaviour. But despite it all, she meets a boy, ready to meet her halfway, making her journey easier.

In contrast, we have The Apothecary Diaries, which takes inspiration from Imperial China. The show is based in the fictional country of Li, where Maomao, the daughter of a local doctor, is kidnapped and sold off as a service at the Rear Place. Due to her keen knowledge of herbs and illness, Maomao is quickly spotted by Jinshi—an overseer of the palace—who needs her aid to solve mysteries and crime. Interestingly, The Apothecary Diaries carries undertones of a ‘whodunit’ novel, making the Shojo anime even more memorable.

Maomao is a confident, intelligent teenager, whose only interest lies in studying poisons. She has a ‘no bullshit’ era around her and is dismissive of Jinshi’s advances in the most hilarious ways. In addition to being an Apothecary, Maomao teaches sex education to the Emporer’s concubines, as she has been raised in red light with four high-class courtesans. Despite the situation, Maomao takes everything into her stride, making the anime even more fun. There are no action fight scenes, with more use of political plots and mysteries, working in the show’s favour.

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With both shows, one is transported into a world of comfort, and entertainment, with a beacon of hope. While fights and complex storylines are fun, A Sign of Affection and The Apothecary Diaries slow things down for us, ensuring we saviur all the flavours it presents. Now, what are you waiting for? Go catch the latest episodes of Maomao’s shenanigans and Yuki’s love for Itsuomi.

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