What’s it about? In the fantasy town of Kalta, Reiji runs a pharmacy where he sells potions, elixirs, and remedies with the help of a wolf who is sometimes a girl and the ghost who haunts the building.
For a show with “slow life” in the title, I was expecting a premiere with much more chill. A slice-of-life vibe, maybe, lingering on the day-to-day details of running a shop in a fantasy world and the ins and outs of herbology and alchemy. Drug Store in Another World is, instead, a high-energy slapstick comedy. It moves lightning fast, introducing its characters via name cards and narration rather than any kind of organic exposition, then flinging the viewer into the zany shenanigans that make up the episode’s series of interconnected skits.
It doesn’t even explain, or show, how Reiji was transported from his life as a “corporate drone” to this fantasy world, but breezes over this in a manner of seconds. Which, well, maybe that’s fair enough. This is entering a market already saturated with reincarnation isekai. Perhaps it’s sensible to assume that your audience knows the drill.
Reiji is… fine. He falls into the category of protagonist where I really don’t have anything bad to say about him, and I certainly prefer him to the kind of cocky sleazebag that can, sometimes, end up on the pedestal in these fantasy shows. He’s bland but in an inoffensive way, and you can see why wolf-girl Noela and friendly ghost Mina are happy to work with him. An elderly neighbor might refer to him as “a nice young man.” His niceness and goodness becomes a little grating when it transpires that he’s the nicest and goodest and smartest fellow in the whole town (nay, the whole world?) and his herb-y prowess is what everyone needs to solve their problems.
Much of the episode’s middle section is devoted to a gag about someone’s girlfriend being jealous, possessive, and like totally ker-ay-zee. The scene of her yelling, crying, and contorting herself as though she’s possessed, is the most expressive and energetic piece of animation in this whole premiere. The boyfriend just can’t figure out what to do, and can’t break up with her because she’s ker-ay-zee and you know how these women are, right?
It’s a joke that goes on way too long and relies on exhausting stereotypes, and the whole debacle is ultimately solved not by this guy communicating with his girlfriend but by Reiji graciously stepping in. Reiji brews an anti-anxiety tea that calms her down and returns her to her cuter, more acceptable self. Day saved!
The framing of this whole event does take the time to mock the dithering boyfriend, but the butt of the joke is clearly the antics of this highly-strung woman—who, once again, got no say in any of this, since she was busy screaming like the damned and then petting Noela’s fluffy tail while The Menfolk discussed her situation behind her back.
Reiji, like many an isekai-guy before him, knows what’s best for everyone and can solve everyone’s problems if only you come and ask—and he’s such a nice guy, he’ll ask for barely anything in return. The overtones certainly aren’t anywhere near as colonial and patronising as something like Realist Hero, but there’s still something uncomfortable about the narrative of a super cool and competent newcomer magically bringing peace, technology, and general salvation to another place.
And even without taking that into account, it’s sort of just boring. All the conflict Reiji experiences in this episode is external, with him bobbing along on a tide of other people’s mistakes and issues and never really actively contributing to anything that could be called a plot. If the ending credits are anything to go by, the closest thing to problems this potion-brewing genius is going to have is that there are too many cute girls who think he’s really cool.
I don’t have too much to comment in regarding Noela and Mina, at this stage anyway. Noela is pretty infantile, which is irritating but mostly okay given that the camera doesn’t leer on her. Still, even if there’s no overt fan service, it’s hard to shake the instinct to cringe when the poster girl for the show is a roly-poly puppy girl in flouncy bloomers who goes around calling the audience self-insert character “Master.” I could give them the benefit of the doubt that she’s sincerely intended to be an adorable, almost daughter-like character, but… well.
Overall, Drug Store in Another World comes out the gate profoundly silly, casually sexist in an old-school standup comedy sort of way, and failing to distinguish itself from the crowd of other low-key isekai power fantasies. My condolences to everyone who, like me, was interested to see what this show might teach them about medicinal herbs.