Beautiful Bones: An Elegy To Those Indeed Trapped by the Past | Review

A spoiler-free review of the 12-episode fall 2015 anime “Beautiful Bones -Sakurako’s Investigation-,” produced by TROYCA, based on the light novel by Shiori Ota.

 – View in browser, not app, for best experience –

Deep in a grove in Asahikawa City, Hokkaido, is the estate of one incredible woman. Due to the greenery blocking the mansion’s front, however, it’s quite easy to pass this place without noticing. That is, unless you are a bored high-schooler looking for something . . . different . . . something out of the ordinary to buy his time. Well folks, average boy Shoutarou Tatewaki meets this incredible ojou-san, but is her mysterious and haunting aura just a facade? I mean, she loves sweets just like any other person and it’s not like she can talk to the dead or anything – She does collect bones for a living, though, and her ability to analyze specimen, alive or dead, is quite impressive . . . But as you know, curiosity is never kind to the cat, for this “Shounen” must now tag along with Sakurako-san, uncovering corpses at every bend in the road! Don’t worry, though:

He doesn’t mind . . . In fact, he might be in with love her.

Beautiful Bones is a mystery anime without a doubt. But there’s an air to each of these episodic moments that doesn’t allow us to get “too deep” into things. Rather, each episode or two is a light mystery always involving a body because these kinds of grim things attract Sakurako-san. The story builds its cases off of familial relationships, be it a husband escaping death, a mother protecting her kids, a grandmother who just needed more time . . . They truly are feel-good mysteries, and once Sakurako and her boy solve them, you can’t help but feel remorse for those unfortunate souls that lost their lives. Because this familial attachment exists, and the victims aren’t random people off the streets, the anime doesn’t necessarily need high-strung thriller drives to pull off a good mystery. Thankfully they are interspersed throughout its run, but honestly, some of them made for rocky pacing at times.

Looking at characters we have our “Shounen” from which the story is told through the eyes of. He’s your average, dutiful citizen, commonly calling the cops before Sakurako-san can steal a treat for her efforts (talk about giving a dog a bone). The anime appears to hold some sort of romantic development based on the poster alone, but not much happens. I view Sakurako and Shoutarou’s relationship as a metaphorical sibling one, anyway. Sakurako, as the over-arching story progresses, seems to have been through tragedy with a kid similar to this boy, and as he slowly accepts her hobby of bone-collecting and knack for finding bodies littered throughout town, she opens up to him bit by bit. All this boy wants to do is figure out what makes his Sakurako-san click, and he’ll continue to be enraptured by her long obsidian hair and haunting gaze so long as she lets him.

Viewers obviously fell in love with the ojou-san. Sakurako-san is definitely unique – Not only as an individual in the story, but interesting compared to all characters I saw in 2015. Firstly, she’s an osteologist, one who studies bones. Clearly she loves what she does, assembling and displaying magnificent structures of deceased creatures she has collected over the years. Adding to her oddities, she also likes blaring screamo rock music when she drives, has a mad passion for sweets (which BTW will make her squeal like a 4th-grader), and she won’t hesitate to whistle at a person’s toes which she consumes as fantastically unusual . . . yeah. A bit rough around the edges, old-fashioned, snarky, deviant, and obsessive, Sakurako is the ojou-san of the decade! She is the Victorique to my curious Kujo ^.^

There is also a clumsy but kind cop, a school friend who holds regret in her heart, a plant fanatic teacher, a grandma who humbly bakes tasty treats, and a cursed family dog. A nice batch of supporting characters, they are. If Sakurako is the skull and Shoutarou is the sphenoid, then this group makes up the hearty backbone.

dessert

Other than “mystery” being listed as its genre, the other factor that made me dive into Beautiful Bones was the entrancing animation done by TROYCA. They did some work on the characters in ALDNOAH.ZERO, which I am personally a fan of. So to see them tackling a project all on their own made me really excited! I specifically loved the critical designs that went into the house: the emerald wallpaper, the old wood texture, the embroidered carpeting, and of course, those beautiful bones. Sakurako’s initiation sequence into a case (cue glove snapping) was also quite enchanting. Just in general, Sakurako anything was to die for.

There were many elements in the sound department that won me over. One was the voice acting done by Shizuka Itou AKA Sakurako-san. She did a phenomenal job at capturing her snarky yet occasionally sadistic tone I mentioned earlier. I also liked the sound effects that accompanied the little moments: rattling bones in a box, flipping through pages, and that signature glove snap of hers – YES to all! Third was the soundtrack, which unfortunately has so little info about it that all I could find was the song below. I left in the animation sequence version just to get you going! The opening, “Dear Answer” by TRUE also got me in certain ways.

Just watch her go . . . and be amazed by the music! LET IT CAPTURE YOU

One last theme that Beautiful Bones hits up on is regret – “the feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.” Nearly every episode introduces a character holding regret next to guilt. Sakurako, for instance, keeps secrets from the boy regarding a certain tragedy that occurred in the past, which she regrets. Another more obvious case is the teacher, who seeks repentance by _______ ______, in hopes that they would make up for the lives he couldn’t protect. If there’s one thing that this anime taught me, it’s that “Time doesn’t heal all wounds, and if we act in the moment, we can prevent regretting things,” or something to that extent.

Bones are not only the symbol showing that we died, but also that we lived. They solidify and prove our existence. That said, the mysteries that unravel in this series focus more with coping for those that were lost. “How they died” is always the grand question, but Beautiful Bones clings to “Why they died, and what were they thinking before their life was taken?” It is, after all, as its opening statement remarks at the start of each episode:

“A Story Dedicated to Those Trapped by the Past”

Thus, it wasn’t designed to be a hardcore Sherlock mystery series to begin with. All stories have a beginning and an end, life and death, and though this anime might ring or remain flat with you, Beautiful Bones -Sakurako’s Investigation- provides interesting counselling to those indeed trapped by the past, and is more than worth the look if you are still wondering why your grandma wanted you to pick up some ice cream before you came to visit her.

“There are things that have value because they’re pointless, you know.” – Shoutarou Tatewaki

+ Sakurako-san is ojou-san of the YEAR, very peculiar, unique character

+ Capitalized on themes of familial loss, regret, and living life in the moment

+ Very entertaining mystery series

+ CHIC animation, clean look, nice textures, charming character designs

– Yet another light novel adaptation, meaning WE NEED MORE SAKURAKO

– Varied pacing and contrasting slice-of-life with thriller was a bit rough, though still enjoyable

So who else thought that Sakurako-san was BAE AF?? Also, have you given this anime a look yet? If not, check it out on Crunchyroll for FREE if it’s available to you! I am eager to know your thoughts on this mixed-bag mystery anime as well as any thoughts about my review :3 If you’re out and about and stumble across a corpse – Don’t panic! Who you gonna call? Sakurako-san!! Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

 

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17 thoughts on “Beautiful Bones: An Elegy To Those Indeed Trapped by the Past | Review

  1. Nice review. This anime looks promising and the art looks really good. It has a mystery feel but looks appealing. That pie picture looks yummy 😛
    Quick question. It says in the beginning of the review, “view in browser, not app”, do you prefer writing posts on the browser instead of the app version in computers?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, it was quite enjoyable and the art is to die for. And that pie ^.^
      If I have a whole day or two to blog, which is rare, I’ll just click the add post button and type into that. Otherwise, I hang onto a Word document for a week, pending on my schedule, and just copy, paste, publish. What I mean by “view in browser, not app” refers to cases when images show up blurry in the reader and/or are all juggled around with awkward spacing. I usually just use the reader to view posts, but when I come across a large review with pictures (or something with lots of images), I’ll open it up in the web, the way the author of the post intended it to be viewed 😀 It’s a bit of work if the Internet is slow, but well worth the wait, hence *shameless plug here* view my reviews on the web for the best viewing experience!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like pie. Endless pie 😛
        The reason why I asked was because I have the app of WordPress on my laptop and I was wondering if it’s easy to use this or just use the browser. To be honest, I never installed a plugin before XD.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Heh heh.
        There’s an app for laptop? I just use my iPad (lame, I know) to use the reader app. And plugin? Oh lawd, my tech jargon barely reaches beyond computer and tablet . . . Not sure how I even became a blogger, knowing so little and all. I’m just logged into WordPress 24/7, so when I type in my sites address and pull it up, I have an administrative view, meaning that I can edit or add posts via sidebars and overhead/under head bars . . . That probably made no sense XD

        Liked by 2 people

      • I use my laptop or if I want to visit others by commenting and liking, I use my handy dandy phone with the app. I usually use my laptop when dealing with reviews, news, or TGIF posts. The big projects if you want to call it.

        Like

  2. I remember trying this and agreeing that, from the off, the pacing doesn’t suit the mood and characters well enough, which in turn didn’t give me the room to gel with the lead as much as I needed to.

    I might give it another try someday, but I wasn’t sold the first time; the first episode lacked subtlety, overstating a relationship dynamic I’d gotten a grasp of the first time it was emphasised, leading to me being already tired of it by the time the credits rolled. Still, perhaps I simply wasn’t in the mood myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, you are partially correct. Pacing, as it is the case these days, isn’t Beautiful Bones’ strongest suit, and the relationship between the leads is hard to grasp at first. The last episode, 12, hammers in the history as to what brought the two together. It’s an awkward spot to put something so essential, but it oddly wraps around nicely. If you ever do give it a second chance, which I recommend like with most things, I hope it gives you a better impression. Thanks for checking out my thoughts, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant review Taku :D. Yeah Shizuka Itou did an amazing job on voicing Sakurako; her sharp, snarky tongue is quite distinct. Even though I haven’t quite finished it (could have done ages ago, but just dragging it out :P) the pacing can be problematic – since most are episodic. Funny thing is, most mystery shows actually have episodic fillers in between the main arc. As you said this is a light mystery. So the mysteries aren’t too heavy. And they gave enough time for the cast to get some screen time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thanks Rocco! I know, isn’t she remarkable? And yeah, that’s what I thought about most mystery anime: They kinda have to be episodic otherwise you can’t have multiple cases . . . Unless you spend the entire series on one case . . . See Rokka no Yusha. When writing this review, I thought that light ought to be added in front of mystery, considering that despite it being in the mystery genre, there is obviously a moving dynamic between the characters. I like to think it was decently done, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Firstly, the Hyouka resemblance is the first thing that stood out about this series, for me anyway. I also loved the fact that the bond between the two MCs – for once – wasn’t romantic in nature. And the familial themes and those about life and death as you said are IMO very rare in anime in general, let alone one with a ‘mystery’ tag. Sakurako’s overarching mystery became less significant to me as the eps passed, even as it sort of remained unresolved at the end, because the focus has shifted in any case (could be interpreted to be good or bad, but I am more on the pleased side than anything.)

    Great review yet again Takuto! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! The Hyouka is strong with this one ^.^
      I enjoyed the way the two characters made up for the other’s flaws, piggy-backing on each other whenever necessary and not in a romantic way. And I was actually going to mention more about Sakurako’s underlying schemes, but like you mentioned, they kinda burned out and became more of a backstory thing than a focal point, so I dismissed it (well, enjoyed it for what it was, at least).
      Ooh, yet again?! Hah! You talk as if I’ve been posting constantly XD Nah, thank you very much!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha yeah, though the mysteries were still kind of intriguing, my lasting impression of this series is all the other themes they focus on. It’s actually quite therapeutic in a way ^^ I was also surprised to find that I liked Sakurako’s character, when i didn’t used to like her type. XD
        Haha, I think you are more constant than me on the reviews. I for one haven’t written one in a few months at least xD you’re welcome! 😀

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