Parallel World Pharmacy

Spoiler Alert!

“Yakutani-sensei?”

Hmm? Ah, you almost fell asleep…

At your office door, your assistant Matsumoto is standing next to a man in a suit.

“You will have a university seminar tomorrow morning and a general conference with the research department in the afternoon after that. The day after, you will have a degree inspection meeting and an award ceremony for young Samaritans. I made reservations for next month’s international conference…”

Ugh, looks like another busy month!

“Are you alright, sensei? You pulled an all-nighter yesterday as well.”

Two men come into the office.

“Sorry to bother you, sensei, but could you please have a look at our thesis?”

You tell Matsumoto, “Could you please show our guest around a bit first? This might take a while.”

You wearily look at the clock on your desk. Is it midnight already?

As you stand up, your head spins…

Ugh, the fatigue’s getting to you.

Your eyes briefly fall on the photo of you and your little sister from over 20 years ago.

At the age of 6, your little sister died from a brain tumor. Why did she have to die? There was no cure?! Nonsense! If only there was a medicine that worked! If there isn’t one, I’ll make it myself!

Since then, you’ve dedicated yourself to research and have found cures for illnesses once thought incurable. No one should have to lose their family as you did!

Maybe a nap on the couch wouldn’t be so bad. You haven’t taken a break since starting this new medicine project anyway.

Your eyelids feel like lead weights as you lie down…

You slowly open your eyes again…huh?

Where are you? What kind of bed is this?

“Master Farma! Are you finally up?”

Who…?

You sit up quickly and see a young girl in a maid’s uniform next to you.

Your head spins again.

“No, master! You were struck by lightning, so please relax!”

Lightning? What’s going on? This isn’t your office! You’d better get back to the lab…

“Is something wrong, Master Farma?”

“Farma…are you talking to me?”

The maid picks up a mirror from the nightstand and holds it up to your face…a boy with blond hair and blue eyes?!

Parallel World Pharmacy (異世界薬局, Isekai Yakkyoku) is a light novel series and manga written by Liz Takayama (高山 聖, Takayama Sei).

Professor Kanji Yakutani is a top researcher in the international medical community recognized for his dedication and breakthroughs in pharmacology. As a child, he was forced to watch his younger sister suffer from a brain tumor for 2 years before she died. Since then, Kanji had dedicated himself to medical research. Unfortunately, he dies from a heart attack as a result of stress from overwork and, ironically, his own lack of concern for his own health.

On another world, Kanji is reborn in the San Fleuve Empire as Farma de Medicis, the 10-year old son of the chief Imperial court physician, Archduke Bruno de Medicis. Over the next few weeks, he learns about the existence of magic (known here as the divine arts), the underdeveloped state of medicine within the Empire and his own mysterious, yet powerful, ability to create or destroy any substance.

The pharmacy’s grand opening

After this, Farma learns from his father that the Empire’s ruler, Elizabeth II, was dying of tuberculosis. With his modern-day medical knowledge, the boy saves the Empress’ life and is rewarded with recognition as a court physician. Realizing that he could save many lives with his knowledge, Farma opens a pharmacy with the Empress’ consent and stocks it with modern-day medicines. Because the new medicines are far more reliable and efficient than the traditional cures of the Empire, the pharmacy’s reputation soon grows quickly. To encourage business, he also makes ladies’ cosmetics.  Farma later opens several dispensaries in order to keep up with the growing demand. When the Black Death (bubonic plague) threatens the San Fleuve Empire, he quickly drafts plans for a quarantine and produces large quantities of antibiotics.

Despite his selfless intentions, Farma finds himself opposed by the long-standing Apothecary Guild, whose business had been dropping since the pharmacy’s opening. Old superstitions about medicine are still prevalent within the San Fleuve Empire and there’s talk within the Imperial court of those who wished to hoard Farma’s talents for their own gain…

Left to right: Empress Elizabeth II, Lotte, Cedric (pharmacy bookkeeper), Ellen, Farma, Robert (Farma’s father), Blanche (Farma’s younger sister)

Main Characters

Farma de Medicis, the 10-year old second son of the aristocratic de Medicis family, court physician and pharmacy owner. Dedicated, friendly and humble, Farma’s only goal is to use his modern-day medical knowledge to improve health and medicine throughout his new world. In his previous life, he was Kanji Yakutani (薬谷 完治, Yakutani Kanji), a 31-year old associate professor of pharmacology.

A sign of the Goddess of Medicine’s favor

Upon his rebirth as Farma, he was granted several powerful abilities by the new world’s Goddess of Medicine, symbolized by intricate patterns on his upper arms. His divine art was changed from water to non-attribute, allowing him to create, control or destroy any substance as long as he knows its exact molecular makeup. Farma usually uses this to create ingredients for his medicines and experiments, but he could also perform astounding feats of magic, such as destroying a large amount of sea water or controlling fire and ice. He also has a magical sight that allows him to diagnose a person’s ailments and work out suitable treatments for such, if there are any. Because he is now a semi-divine being, Farma doesn’t cast a shadow and he can actually gain energy from prayers to the Goddess of Medicine.

Farma’s magical sight

Later in the story, he becomes the owner of a magical crystal staff that enhances his abilities, allows him to fly and creates an invisible area of sanctuary that evil spirits cannot enter. This staff is a powerful divine artifact that usually cannot be held by mortal hands.

Eleanor “Ellen” Bonnefoix, a 16-year old physician, aristocrat and disciple of Farma’s father, Bruno. Intelligent and kind, she is also skilled in the divine art of water, able to use spells such as Lance de L’eau (Water Spear). Before Farma’s “rebirth”, Ellen had been tutoring him in medicine and magic. She was the first to witness the boy’s new divine art, which was far more powerful than before thanks to the blessing of the Goddess of Medicine. Although frightened by this at first, Ellen learns to trust Farma again and later joins him in running his pharmacy.  She wears glasses to compensate for nearsightedness, but she sometimes drops them when surprised.

Charlotte “Lotte” Sorel, a 9-year old maid of the de Medicis family. Energetic and innocent, she is responsible for caring for Farma. Lotte has served the de Medicis family since the age of four, following in the footsteps of her mother Catherine, who also serves the de Medicis family as a maid. After Farma opens his pharmacy, Lotte helps out in serving the customers and managing the business. She later discovers a talent for painting and is eventually taken in as an apprentice court painter by the Empress.

Personal Thoughts

When we feel nothing is wrong with our bodies, it’s all too easy to take our health for granted.

For as long as there have been living beings, there have been diseases that cause us to weaken, sicken and die. While there is now a general awareness of how we can take care of our health (i.e. washing our bodies, keeping our homes clean), we have not seen the uphill battle science had to take in order for us to have this awareness. Centuries of dedication, suffering, experiments, observations and conquering superstitions by scientists have allowed this. Farma’s modern-day medical knowledge is nothing short of miraculous in a world where people still believe that evil spirits cause diseases and centuries-old herbal remedies are the norm.

Medique, a pharmacy store for the sale of ladies’ cosmetics

This story gives examples of conditions and diseases that people suffered due to lack of knowledge about health. A noblewoman wanted paler skin, so she turned to bloodletting, causing her to weaken from blood loss. To deal with this, Farma provides her with modern-day foundation and blush since medieval-era cosmetics contain mercury or lead, both of which could poison the human body. A duke is found suffering from blue skin (argyria) due to having eaten pills covered in silver leaf for years. Traditional apothecaries use silver to make the pills last longer and look more beautiful, but the silver deposit in a body darkens when exposed to sunlight, which results in skin discoloration. Farma uses his divine art to eliminate the silver and silver sulphide in the duke’s body, restoring his skin to normal.

Like many other isekai stories, knowledge from the modern era is transplanted into a less advanced setting, showing us how wondrous our knowledge is compared to back then.

Moral

Our lives depend on our bodies, so do not take health and medicine for granted.

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