Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation

Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation

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Shoutarou Tatewaki, a high schooler living in Asahikawa City, Hokkaido, meets Sakurako Kujou, a bone-loving ojou-san who has an ability to analyse bone specimens. Because of meeting her, he finds himself drawn into various cases involving mysterious cases of death.

I knew I was going to love this anime as soon as the opening sequence started. It has a very catchy song (Dear Answer, by TRUE), is dramatic, mysterious and promises something entirely different from some of the other shows I’ve started watching.

The biggest focus from the get-go is clearly Sakurako. She initially appears as an eccentric, enigmatic person that dislikes other people and spends a lot of time indulging in her curious hobby and honing her abilities. She has already revealed herself to be complex and obsessed with bones and determining their story. There is something almost Sherlock Holmes-esque about her given her ability to critically assess and determine factual information on a death such by observation, much to the local police’s annoyance. And Shoutarou clearly plays a bit of a Watson character, apologising for Sakurako’s behaviour and reacting incredulously at some of the things she does. Their partnership also reminds me quite a bit of Kazuya and Victorique from Gosick.

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The concept is an original one – Sakurako has talents that enable her to separate truth from lies just from the careful inspection of dead bodies or bones. She is able to deduce, without touching, that a double-suicide is actually a double-homicide in disguise, why a mother would have her young child wandering alone at night and why an old woman, now a full-time carer for her husband, wouldn’t have thrown herself off a cliff, as everyone would believe. It comes to a point where the police have no choice but to acknowledge Sakurako’s talents and bring her in as a reluctant consultant (encouraged by Shoutarou) to help out on mysterious cases.

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On top of this, I’m actually learning things about the human body and assessing the condition of bones. I’ve learned more about the bones within the skull in a 20-minute anime episode than I did in a years worth of GCSE Science lessons (such as the sphenoid, or ‘butterfly bone’ and its apparent fragility), how to tell their age and an overview of the various stages of decomposition. It’s a mildly morbid theme that I didn’t expect myself to be grabbed by, but it’s done in such a gothic/fantastical way that it’s oddly interesting.

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On a similar topic, the art and animation is also impressive, establishing its own style from the very beginning. The outside scenery and the inside of Sakurako’s house, in particular, are incredibly detailed and intricate. You can tell that an effort is being made to use the background to help create a sort of tableau, especially after Sakurako pulls on her gloves and gets serious. When this happens, we see a fascinating cut scene that I found myself replaying a few times just to take in all the detail. It’s a special moment within the anime that highlights how unique Sakurako’s ‘power’ is. It essentially puts a magical spin on a realistic talent.

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Despite the amount of time this anime spends on examining skeletons and dead bodies, not everything always bend on a bleak or depressing note. At times, Sakurako is (almost unintentionally) restoring faith to the deceased’s relatives. The look of relief on a young girls face, after she realises that, although her grandmother died accidentally, the situation wasn’t how the police decided, and she didn’t take her own life because she was struggling with caring for her husband.

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Shoutarou and Sakurako also seem to have an unusual relationship. Sakurako behaves distantly to Shoutarou, seemingly uninterested in anything that he does, and simply calls him “boy”. Shoutarou himself looks like he doesn’t quite understand why he still sticks around with Sakurako, but informs people that, although it looks like she is minding him, he’s the only that’s actually looking after her.

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Overall, this is a good and mature show with undertones of educational reference when dealing with bones or crimes. The character development and story so far have been impressive.Even though this show will deal regularly with death and mystery, it explores the deeper meaning of life itself with concern and respect. Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation is off to a very strong start.