Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Apothecarius Argentum, vol. 5

The story: Since he received preferential treatment, Argent's being given a hard time by the local apothecary guild and is challenged to a pharmaceutical duel of sorts by Soda's former master. Later, Garna, who once poisoned Princess Primula, has been forgiven because of his help in curing Navara of its endemic disease. He has returned to his role as head chef and his presence allows Argent to leave the princess's side in order to find a cure for his own basilisk nature. While Argent and Soda explore the lands beyond Beazol's borders, just how will Princess Primula fare without them?

Reaction: This is mostly a transitional volume and shows everyone moving on to the next steps of their lives -- Argent hopes to cure himself while Primula must learn how to rule. There are entertaining moments sprinkled throughout and a strong moral at one point, courtesy of Garna's past. Overall, this is a nice enough volume, but it only hints at the conspiracy that's slowly playing itself out in Beazol and other nearby nations.

Deep thoughts: Like characters of their own, many drugs and poisons exist in the world of Apothecarius Argentum. This volume features opiates made from poppy seeds. Opiates are highly addictive and include opium, morphine and codeine. The cautionary tale of addiction and the subsequent death it causes is used as an example of how quickly a country can be turned upside down when its people are no longer positively contributing to society.

Artwork: The art remains relatively unchanged from prior volumes. As expected, characters are well designed and the flashbacks are done nicely. The highlight of this volume, though, is the details. From an embellished tiara to panels filled with food, Tomomi Yamashita puts just a "little more" into the artwork here, and it's appreciated.

The verdict: If only... After all the progress in Argent's and Primula's relationship, this volume was inconclusive in regards to romance. There's also just a hint at the bigger political plot, without further clues. While I may not have been fully satisfied, it certainly makes me want to read the next volume immediately. Apothecarius Argentum is available in the U.S. from CMX.

Review copy provided by CMX.

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