Summary and Spoilers for The Apothecary Diaries! Differences Between the Two Manga Versions and Character Introductions


The plot summary spoilers for the original light novel of The Apothecary Diaries are garnering attention, along with differences between the two manga versions and character introductions. As one of the most talked about series right now, its worldbuilding, terminology, and characters are a hot topic. This article will introduce plot summary spoilers and character spoilers for the original light novel of The Apothecary Diaries, along with terminology, poisons, famous quotes, and online impressions, all with spoilers.

What is The Apothecary Diaries?

The Apothecary Diaries is one of the most talked about series right now, with its unprecedented worldbuilding and expert knowledge for original work fans garnering acclaim. Its unique characters, terminology, and intricately constructed story are also attracting notice, with the original light novel adapted into multiple manga series. Before looking at the plot summary spoilers, let’s briefly go over some basic information and terminology from the hugely popular original work The Apothecary Diaries.

Overview of The Apothecary Diaries Original Novel

The Apothecary Diaries refers to the online light novel written by Natsu Hyuuga, as well as manga and other works based on it. The original web novel, which started serialization on the novel posting site Shōsetsuka ni Narō in October 2011, became a topic of discussion, and has been published in book form under the Ray Books label. In 2017, it started being adapted into manga in two monthly magazines, Monthly Big Gangan and Monthly Sunday GX, with each magazine creating its own comic adaptation based on the original novel.

Terminology in The Apothecary Diaries

Here we will go over some of the terminology that appears in the original The Apothecary Diaries novel. The Apothecary Diaries features numerous technical terms, so getting to know them before looking at the plot spoilers can enhance your enjoyment of the original work and manga adaptations.


The first The Apothecary Diaries term is “Rhee.” Rhee is the name of the country where the protagonist lives, a large nation located in the center of the continent. It consists of several countries and provinces, and is a monarchy centered around the Emperor. Various legends are passed down, but it has been discovered that the bloodline of the kings comes from the west.

The Inner Palace

The second The Apothecary Diaries term is “the Inner Palace.” The Inner Palace refers to the palace where women are gathered for the Emperor, and is a central location in the story. The Emperor’s consorts and the eunuchs who attend to them live there. In addition to living quarters, it contains amenities like an apothecary and infirmary so that those living in the Inner Palace lack nothing.


The third The Apothecary Diaries term is “eunuchs.” Eunuchs are the men within the Inner Palace, who have been castrated and so completely lack reproductive ability. All the men in the Inner Palace are considered eunuchs, and are generally thought to have strong ambition due to lacking sexual desire.

Consorts of the First Rank

The fourth The Apothecary Diaries term is “Consorts of the First Rank.” Consorts of the First Rank refer to consorts who are candidates to become Empress, vastly outstripping regular consorts in power and status. Currently, four elite consorts are named as candidates: Gyokuyo, Rika, Rishu, and Arduo. After that, Rouran replaced Arduo as a top-ranked consort.


The fifth The Apothecary Diaries term is “brothel.” A brothel is a shop housing courtesans who entertain guests, where Nekone worked before being brought to the Inner Palace. It continues appearing frequently after she enters the Inner Palace, playing an important role.

Trainee Courtesan

The sixth The Apothecary Diaries term is “trainee courtesan.” A trainee courtesan is a young girl apprentice who attends to courtesans, learning their skills while supporting their daily life. Trainee courtesans don’t play a major role in the work.

Crown Prince

The seventh The Apothecary Diaries term is “Crown Prince.” The Crown Prince refers to the Emperor’s son, who is elevated as the next candidate for Emperor based on order of birth. He is thus extremely important to the consorts, with various incidents occurring over the Crown Prince.


The eighth The Apothecary Diaries term is “Princess.” A princess is the Emperor’s daughter, an important national figure who may be used for political marriages. She will usually be married off by age 15, often becoming the wife of a retainer.


The ninth The Apothecary Diaries term is “courtesan.” Courtesans are women who please guests with singing, dancing, and other talents, playing an important role in the story. Many men serving the Emperor become infatuated with them, and courtesans often have deep connections with many officials. Viewing them requires huge sums, with some courtesans costing more than an official’s annual salary.

Here are the light novel plot summaries for The Apothecary Diaries (spoilers):

Let’s look at the light novel plot summaries for The Apothecary Diaries. Its highly acclaimed storyline has made the light novels immensely popular, with 9 volumes published so far. Covering a wide range of genres including mystery solved through pharmaceutical expertise, fantasy, and romantic comedy, it is often categorized as a type of mystery light novel.

Volume 1 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Let’s look at the volume 1 plot summary spoilers. Nekone (Maomao), who worked as an apothecary at the red-light district, was kidnapped while gathering herbs in the mountains and sold as a servant to the Inner Palace. She obediently worked until her contract period ended, but after unraveling the truth behind a “curse” in the Inner Palace, she caught the attention of the excellent eunuch Jinshi with her pharmaceutical knowledge and began tackling various mysteries.

Volume 2 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Now for the volume 2 plot summary spoilers. Although Nekone (Maomao) had solved many mysteries using pharmaceutical knowledge, she was fired from the Inner Palace and returned to the red-light district. However, finding the Inner Palace life surprisingly comfortable, Nekone (Maomao) chose to be reemployed by Jinshi. This time working as his servant in the Outer Palace, various incidents occurred, and Nekone realized they were connected by a grand conspiracy.

Volume 3 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Here are the volume 3 plot summary spoilers. Nekone (Maomao), who returned to the Inner Palace to handle poisons and the birth after Consort Gyokuyo was discovered pregnant again, felt satisfied at being able to come and go in the Inner Palace like before. Amidst this, faced with an unreasonable demand from a diplomat of a neighboring country, Jinshi decided to consult Nekone on a certain matter, and she was tasked with a major job involving national diplomacy.

Volume 4 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Now for the volume 4 plot summary spoilers. Although Nekone (Maomao) learned Jinshi’s big secret, her lack of interest in people meant she continued solving incidents like ghost uproars as usual. Noticing a pattern in the incomprehensible events occurring so far, she ended up being kidnapped. The culprit was Chisui, a maid obsessed with bugs and someone Nekone was previously on good terms with.

Volume 5 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Here are the volume 5 plot summary spoilers. With Consort Gyokuyo becoming the official wife, Jinshi had to participate in politics as an imperial prince, drastically changing the situation. Although her environment changed, Nekone (Maomao), tasked with running an apothecary at the red-light district, continued using her pharmaceutical knowledge to solve various incidents as always. And the shadow of the entertainer Bainiang (Pinyannian) in disguise begins stirring up major movements.

Volume 6 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Now for the volume 6 plot summary spoilers. Nekone (Maomao) reached the life milestone of being proposed to by Jinshi, but with both considering their positions, there was no progress and the issue was shelved for later. With no change between the two, time passed, but new developments arose with the unlucky Consort Rishu at the story’s center.

Volume 7 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Here are the volume 7 plot summary spoilers. At High Steward Gaoshun’s request, Nekone (Maomao) took a test and attained the post of Medical Officer’s Lady Servant. Surrounded by eccentric colleagues like Yao and Yan Yan, she raised her evaluation by using pharmaceutical knowledge to solve various incidents as always.

Volume 8 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Now for the volume 8 plot summary spoilers. Preoccupied with responding to national crises like a locust infestation and poisoned wine incident in his role at the heart of the state, Jinshi’s relationship with Nekone saw no progress. Amidst this, a Go tournament was held, and Jinshi entered, challenging the master Luohan, who is also Nekone’s father, with the condition that if he wins Luohan will grant him a certain wish.

Volume 9 Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Here are the volume 9 plot summary spoilers. Nekone suffered burns on her abdomen but hid this from those around her. She went to see Jinshi for treatment but through confronting her injury, felt the necessity of studying medicine, which is taboo for ladies-in-waiting to learn. She then began learning from her adoptive father, an excellent medical officer, gaining new knowledge.

Here is a character relationship chart and character list for The Apothecary Diaries (spoilers):

So far we have looked at the plot summary spoilers for The Apothecary Diaries. Now let’s go through the character relationship chart and character list for The Apothecary Diaries with spoilers. While its plot has earned acclaim, the characters are also praised. The relationships between the characters are an important factor in The Apothecary Diaries, with the human drama unfolding in the Inner Palace also being a highlight.


The first character in The Apothecary Diaries relationship chart is “Nekone (Maomao)”. She is the protagonist, 17 years old and 153cm tall when first introduced. Her plain face with moles and spots is actually just makeup used in the red-light district to look unattractive, as her real face is quite beautiful, which could be dangerous there. In the Inner Palace she had no chance to remove the makeup and continues wearing it.


The second character is “Jinshi”. He is the other protagonist, holding important mysteries in the story. His post is as a eunuch managing the Inner Palace, but he seems to wield more power. Known for great beauty, he is described as having a “beauty surpassing women.”


The third character is “Gaoshun”. Jinshi’s military officer, he serves as an advisor. At 36, he is from a family that protects royalty, and is childhood friends with Emperor Arduo. He loves cats and highly evaluates Nekone’s skills.

Consort Gyokuyo

The fourth character is “Consort Gyokuyo”. Living in Jade Palace, she is the favored consort of the Emperor, holding the rank of Noble Consort. With red hair and jade green eyes, the 19-year-old is loved by the Emperor for her beauty, personality, and lifestyle. She often utilizes Nekone, who saved her child’s life.


The fifth character is “Hongniang”. The 30-year-old head maid serving Consort Gyokuyo. She knows Nekone was feigning incompetence and is depicted as an understanding veteran. She strictly controls Jade Palace as a frightening head maid.

Consort Rika


The sixth character is “Consort Rika”. Living in Crystal Palace, the 23-year-old consort is called the Wise Consort. Loved by the Emperor for her feminine grace and large breasts, Nekone highly praises her suitability as Wise Consort, and they have a good relationship.

Consort Rishu


The seventh character is “Consort Rishu”. The 14-year-old consort living in Diamond Palace holds the rank of Virtuous Consort. Formerly favored by the late Emperor, after his death she entered the Inner Palace again as consort to the current Emperor. Seen as ignorant due to her innocence about male-female relations.

Consort Arduo

The eighth character is “Consort Arduo”. The previous occupant of Pomegranate Palace, she holds the rank of Cultured Consort at 35. She became a consort in the Crown Prince era, birthing a son who sadly died due to certain circumstances known only to Nekone.


The ninth character is “Fengming”. Head maid to Consort Arduo from her Crown Prince era. Her well-meaning actions unintentionally caused the death of Consort Arduo’s son, and she tried to cover it up by targeting Consort Rishu, exposed by Nekone.

Consort Rouran

The tenth character is “Consort Rouran”. Replacing Consort Arduo in Pomegranate Palace, the 17-year-old rose to Cultured Consort. Deemed intelligent and meek by Nekone. She mysteriously impresses as a different person each time with makeup and clothing.


The eleventh character is “Xiaolan”. A 14-year-old low-ranked maid brought to the Inner Palace with Nekone. One of Nekone’s few regular friends there. Her friendly character makes her informed on Inner Palace gossip and intel useful to Nekone.



The twelfth character is “Yuyuan”. The Inner Palace medical officer, initially branded a quack by Nekone. A rotund eunuch with a goatee, he was wary of Nekone but they became colleague-like over time. His skills are poor but Nekone acknowledges his good nature.


The thirteenth character is “Meimei”. The top courtesan ofGreen House, called the courtesan who can earn a month’s silver in one night. One of the three top courtesans, she is like an older sister to Nekone and younger sister to Nekone’s mother Fengxian, still caring for Fengxian. Short-tempered but kindhearted.


The fourteenth character is “Bailing”. The eldest of the Green House three top courtesans. Privately still waiting for a “prince on a white horse” despite her open love life. Strongly lustful, preferring burly men. She acted as Nekone’s surrogate parent for a time, so they have a deep bond.


The fifteenth character is “Nühua”. The youngest of the three top Green House courtesans, but highly intellectual, evenly matched with military officers and officials. Called gifted enough to pass the imperial examination. Surprisingly man-hating despite being a top courtesan.

Old Hag

The sixteenth character is “Old Hag”. The old woman running Green House. Skilled but will do anything for money. She tried to make Nekone a courtesan but failed, still scolding Nekone over it. Originally a top courtesan herself, even becoming legendary abroad.



The seventeenth character is “Luohan”. A doctor at the red-light district and Nekone’s adoptive father. An extremely skilled physician who previously served as a medical officer in the Inner Palace. Her teacher in pharmaceuticals, with vastly more knowledge than Nekone.



The eighteenth character is “Fengxian”. A former Green House courtesan and Nekone’s mother. Highly intelligent for a courtesan, abnormally skilled at go and chess. Skilled enough to beat Luohan at go. They were attracted to each other but misfortunes like Fengxian contracting syphilis made her bedridden and isolated.

The Emperor

The nineteenth character is “The Emperor”. A robust man with a fine beard. Jinshi’s older brother, 34 years old. Highly capable as emperor with an extremely decent personality by Nekone’s assessment. As a breast man, most of his consorts are busty. Nekone sees him as a lecherous old man, but he only had Arduo as consort in his Crown Prince days, unwilling to relinquish her even now in old age.

Li Bai

The twentieth character is “Li Bai”. A young military officer with a trained physique. A bit brainless but upright with a masculine aura. Becomes acquainted with Nekone by chance, seen by her as a nice guy and promising executive candidate.


The twenty-first character is “Masen”. A 19-year-old military officer, he is Jinshi’s foster brother. Later revealed as a childhood friend of Jinshi’s. Like Gaoshun, he struggles with Jinshi’s whims but is a skilled military officer despite his short temper.


The twenty-second character is “Luohan”. A sly-eyed, bespectacled strategist with the rank of general. Seen as eccentric for his odd behavior and quick thinking, but revealed as Nekone’s father. Highly skilled at go, sparking a go boom.


The twenty-third character is “Cuiling”. 19 years old, one head taller than Nekone. Praised by Nekone for her frame and features but not very skilled at makeup. Later revealed as Chisui’s half-sister, assigned to spy.

Here is a comparison of the two different manga versions of The Apothecary Diaries (spoilers):

As we’ve seen from the highly-praised plot summary spoilers, in 2017 two manga adaptations of the hit original light novel The Apothecary Diaries launched in the monthly magazines Monthly Big Gangan and Monthly Sunday GX. Though based on the original work, the two manga versions have differences, puzzling original novel fans.

As seen in the detailed plot summaries, the storylines and character settings in both manga closely follow the original novel spoilers. However, to fans’ surprise, both adaptations have garnered popularity and sold well.

The main differences between the two versions are:

Art Style

The Monthly Big Gangan version has more realistic character designs and backgrounds resembling medieval Europe, while the Monthly Sunday GX version has more stylized, anime-like artwork. The Big Gangan version is thus darker and more mature, suited to older audiences.


The story progression also differs. The Big Gangan manga condenses events and progresses the story faster. In contrast, the Sunday GX manga expands on scenes and adds original episodes, proceeding at a more leisurely pace.


As their magazines are targeted to different audiences, the fanservice content also varies. Big Gangan has more explicit nudity and gore. Sunday GX focuses more on teasing sexuality and comedy.


The manga also shift their focus. Big Gangan centers on political intrigue. Sunday GX emphasizes interpersonal relationships and daily life at the Inner Palace.

So in summary, the more mature Big Gangan version speeds through the intricate plot, while the Sunday GX version slowly expands on character interactions with lighter fanservice. But both are popular for providing different ways to enjoy The Apothecary Diaries.

Here is an overview of poisons and medicines appearing in The Apothecary Diaries:

Poisons are a Key Element

Poisons play a major role in The Apothecary Diaries, with mysteries centering on herbal and food-based toxins. The meticulous depiction of specialized knowledge, scientific grounding, and historical backgrounds of poisons and medicines contributes to the acclaimed worldbuilding.

Featured Poisons

Prominent poisons include aconitine, strychnine, and mercury. Aconitine from monkshood causes arrhythmia. Strychnine induces convulsions. Mercury poisons the nervous system.

Real Medicines

Real-world medicines like ephedrine, medieval antiseptics, and Ayurvedic treatments are also showcased. Their historical origins and efficacy are explored.

Fictional Medicines

Fictional medicines play an important part as well. Examples include Dongling Pills that cure all poisons and Jiuqutan that reverses aging. Their origins and effects drive major plot developments.

Poison as Murder Weapon

The poisons serve as murder weapons, with culprits exploiting their properties. The mystery comes from deducing the poison from the victim’s symptoms and available materials.

Poison as Subplot

Poisons also feature heavily in subplots. For example, a subplot follows a poisoning epidemic and investigation into the contaminated well water causing it.

In summary, the extensive integration of poisons, real and fictional, demonstrates the author’s medical expertise while providing strong foundations for the intrigue-filled narrative. This unique poison-centric approach sets The Apothecary Diaries apart.

Here are some of the key poisons and medicines appearing in The Apothecary Diaries:


The first poison is “lead.” It appears in the first mystery, mixed into face powder and gradually weakening users through lead poisoning. Adding lead to white powder was done to whiten skin more before the toxicity was known.


The second is “chocolate.” In the story it’s emphasized as an aphrodisiac. Chocolate is generally said to stimulate pleasure chemicals, so it was used expecting this effect. But tolerance builds quickly, diminishing effects with repeated use.

Rhododendron Leaves

The third is “rhododendron leaves.” Known to be toxic, accidentally ingesting causes nausea and breathing difficulty. They appear as an example of poisonous plants growing in the Inner Palace.

Tobacco Leaves

The fourth is “tobacco leaves.” Tobacco is known as an accessible poison. Eating even a small amount can be immediately fatal, making it a highly hazardous poison warranting caution today too. Especially risky for children, as one cigarette contains a lethal dose for infants.

Cow Bezoar

The fifth is “cow bezoar.” A gallstone from cattle, it is considered the highest grade Chinese medicine, found in only one of a thousand cows. As the finest medicine, Jinshi offering it to Nekone delighted her immensely.

Azalea Honey

The sixth is “azalea honey.” While toxic, the low doses used mean it doesn’t kill.

Korean Morning Glory

The seventh is “Korean morning glory,” also called mandala flower. Very toxic, it was historically used as an anesthetic. In the story, it is used expecting to induce a deathlike state.

Here is a collection of famous quotes and lines from The Apothecary Diaries (spoilers):

Quote 1: “Should I make it so you can’t tell your father…”

“Should I make it so you can’t tell your father…”

A quote by protagonist Nekone, intended as a joke in her own way, but taken as a real threat by the Inner Palace women. Her retort to a haughty maid, it led to Nekone being seen as very dangerous at Crystal Palace thereafter.

Quote 2: “Gaoshun, please lick it…”

“Gaoshun, please lick it…”

A Nekone quote when Jinshi jokingly tried to make her lick honey. Aimed at Gaoshun for watching and not stopping it, the rarely angry Nekone impressed fans.

Quote 3: “Can you tell just by looking at my body too!?”

“Can you tell just by looking at my body too!?”

A Jinshi quote triggered when Nekone introduced Li Bai to courtesan Bailing, and Li Bai said he wanted to patronize her. Catching Nekone examining Li Bai’s body to judge if he was Bailing’s type, the lecturing Jinshi uncharacteristically reacted saying this quote. Their comedic misunderstanding also impressed fans.

Summary of The Apothecary Diaries Plot Spoilers

In this article, I introduced spoilers for the original novel’s plot, characters, terminology, poisons, quotes, and online impressions. As a hugely popular work, the plot and character spoilers have garnered attention from fans. Please refer to these original novel spoilers to enjoy The Apothecary Diaries.

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