It all comes down to this! After multiple crazy battles, the 2017 Crunchyroll of the Dice has been narrowed down to two surprising series: Beautiful Bones and Interviews With Monster Girls. Both shows took very different routes to get here, with Beautiful Bones forcing two draws and sudden death victories, first over Nyanko days, then over Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid. Meanwhile, Interviews With Monster Girls recorded comfortable wins over White Album and Flip Flappers. Between cat girls and dragons, Beautiful Bones has proven itself a monster slayer, which may bode well in the final. On the other hand though, Interviews With Monster Girls has improved its score in each round, while its foe has thus far failed to get the job done outside a sudden death scenario.
But, when all is said and done, who will win? After the excellent third place play-off between Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid and Flip Flappers, I’m hoping for an equally as enjoyable experience here. So, let’s get this show on the road!
We open up with Shotaro trying to guess what animal a skeleton belongs to. He correctly recognises it as a squirrel, but gets the wrong country of origin. He ponders how used he’s gotten to seeing bones everywhere. Sakurako asks him if he’s finished with his exams – he has – and mentions that she has to run an errand in Touma the next day. She invites him along, of course, which can only mean one thig is coming: the discovery of something nasty. Anyway, Shotaro is upset that Sakurako still refers to him as ‘boy’, which she brushes off as being accurate as he’s still a minor. He brings up her shouting a name at him in the last episode, and she feigns ignorance. Talk of watermelons being in season in Touma convinces Shotaro to go along, and … and we cut to the opening credits.
I still really like how the opening video hints at there being a bigger story going on here, though the song is probably a little more upbeat than the series feels. Back with our intrepid pair, they’re trekking through a cave. Shotaro thinks about how Sakurako dislikes human interaction and probably doesn’t even view him as a friend. He’s frustrated that she doesn’t count on him enough. The two reach an opening and Sakurako perks up a bit, stating that sunlight increases the metabolism of human cells. They go for a walk through the woods. It’s a game trail, meaning that they not only may find animals, but their remains. As they walk, Shotaro begins to think about the name that Sakurako yelled at him again, and tries to figure out who the name may belong to. He starts to question it, leading to an amusing misunderstanding about needing the toilet, but is interrupted by someone screaming about finding human bones.
Sakurako is very excited. She talks about how, when a body is left exposed, flies get drawn to the smell and lay eggs. When the larvae hatches, it eats, and grows at a quick rate. These maggots then attract other predators, leading to the body becoming a ‘paradise of life’. Shotaro is less impressed and wants to call the police. In a wonderful moment, Sakurako tells him that his left lung must be bigger than average – it’s normally smaller to accommodate the heart, but he completely lacks empathy for her. Biology humour for the win! The police turn up and aren’t happy to have them being involved again. Cue Sakurako’s rubber glove and fancy animation scene, and it’s time for some sleuthing!
From the clothing, the person must have died in the spring or fall, with residual snow meaning it was most likely Autumn. The body is partially mummified, meaning saponification took place during the winter, then dehydration as the seasons marched on. Therefore, missing persons last Autumn and before are the order of the day. The teeth indicate the person was elderly, and the fracture in the neck makes a fall from the nearby cliff likely. Suffocation was the cause of death though: the fracture would have severed the nerve and prevented autonomous breathing. The police start to whisper to each other while Sakurako rambles on about how fortunate they are that the animals didn’t take the bones. The lead investigator asks Sakurako for more details, and his face makes it clear that he’s just trying to get her away from the body. Sakurako is undeterred however, and starts to talk about how to ascertain the corpse’s sex.
Back at Sakurako’s place, we learn that she’s sulking after being scolded. She’s loved bones since she was little, so they send her off on a spiral. Shotaro takes some ice-cold watermelon to Sakurako, but she’s unresponsive. He finds a photo of Sakurako as a girl, standing with young boy. She tells him that the boy is her dead younger brother, Soutarou, which explains the name she yelled last time. It turns out that she’s not sulking, but was working on assembling an animal skeleton.
The next day, Shotaro and his class are leaving for the Summer holidays. Kougami comes to visit and the two teens go off to eat cake and drink tea. Kougami says that her Grandma loved the cake here too. She thanks Shotaro and we find out that the bones he and Sakurako found belonged to Kougami’s Grandma! She just got up and left one day and disappeared. It sounds like suicide to the police, but Kougami doesn’t want to believe it. Later, Sakurako is begrudgingly taken away from assembling a monkey skeleton to visit Kougami. She’s quiet, but Kougami believes that she’s kind. Kougami starts to ask if the two are dating, and Shotaro says no, it’s more like a ‘guardian’ relationship (he’s Sakurako’s guardian). While Kougami got the dating impression from them, I personally don’t. I think that Kougami may like Shotaro, and I do think that Shotaro is intrigued by Sakurako, but I think that Sakurako more likely views him as a brother.
Sakurako compliments a painting that was done by Kougami’s Grandpa before his health failed and dementia set in. Kougami is beginning to realise how tough her Grandma must have had it, and is beginning to think that suicide may not only be likely, but entirely her fault for putting her Grandma in such a difficult position. The girl breaks down into tears, and Sakurako tries to comfort her by explaining why tears are bad for your health. It works, somehow. Anyway, Kougami gives Sakurako the hose painting she liked, and asks a favour: tell her where and how her Grandma died.
The three start walking through the woods, discussing how tough caregiving is. They come to the clearing where the body was found, and Kougami comments that it’s lonely. Sakurako explains that it’s not; it’s sunny, and it has a good view. Kougami says that she must have left in the middle of the night and can’t understand why she’d walk all this way in the dark. Sakurako says that she didn’t suffer long before death, and Kougami asks if that would be why her Grandma jumped from the cliff. Sakurako says that the old lady didn’t choose this place to be her grave. The fall isn’t high enough to kill most people and there are plenty of places around that would guarantee her death. She did fall, but it was an accident. As to why she was there, Sakurako says that Kougami should climb up and find out. Kougami does so but neither she nor Shotaro can figure it out. Sakurako explains that the view is from one of her Grandpa’s paintings. The Grandma came to see the sunrise just like her husband did. The sun helps create serotonin, the happy hormone, and calms and lightens the heart. She came here to cheer up and rally herself; she came here to live, not to die.
There’s a potentially significant moment when Kougami says that her Grandma mentioned that the sun was the source of her energy, and Sakurako turns away. I wonder if that relates to Soutarou? The end credits are chilled out, as always, and feature some really picturesque sense of bones, trees and water.
That was a really good episode. We got some progress with the Shotaro/Soutarou bit, had a story about death with an uplifting ending, and it all breezed by. Really well done!
Interviews With Monster Girls
We jump straight into the opening credits this time around, and that’s no bad thing. The opening to this series is really bouncy in a way that fits the feel of the show, and is full of some great little visuals. From the title of the episode, it appears that we’re getting to speak with Satou, the succubus teacher this time too, which should make for a nice change of pace from the kids.
It’s four in the morning, and math teacher Satou Sakie is not enjoying getting up. She’s 24, single, and starts early every day. The problem is, as a succubus, she can’t even hope for a real relationship. That makes sense when you think about her innate powers. She takes a long walk to the train station, bumps into a businessman, and gets a little nervous, turning from him at speed. The sun is up before she reaches her destination. At the school, a colleague thanks her for her effort, as she’s always first to arrive, and even cleans up. As she walks through the school, Takahashi says good morning, and Hikari tells him to do it again with more feeling. He does so, pleasing the ever-over-excited vampire girl. Satou watches as the two talk, noting that Hikari thanks him for getting approval for Macchi to have a backpack rather than the usual school bag (as a dullahan, the normal bag was difficult for her).
Satou thinks back to how forceful she’s been in dealing with Takahashi, but knows that it was necessary as she can’t carelessly come into contact with a man. Later, a female student asks for help with a math problem, and Satou provides assistance. As Satou replies, the girl tells her that she’s so pretty and should dress up more. Satou brushes it off by stating that she doesn’t need to do things like that. Unfortunately for the succubus, dressing up would have an aphrodisiac effect. We learn that succubus abilities effect men, but that the succubi do have self-control and that dressing appropriately and keeping a good head on their shoulders can help lessen the effects. To help demonstrate this, a student bumps into Satou and gets flustered, but the teacher walks away. The poor boy was convinced, just for a moment, that he bumped into someone really hot. As Satou says, if all goes well, this momentary acknowledgement is the sum of it all.
The day ends, and Satou travels home. She takes the first and last trains every day to avoid rush hours (and so, masses of people), leaving her very tired. She drifts off, just for a second, and instantly flares up thoughts in other passengers. When asleep, Satou can’t control herself, and gives others obscene dreams. Because of this, she cannot live in an apartment, but can only live alone, far from others. She’s struggling, but wonders if marriage and a family would help things calm down. She finds the idea laughable though as she’s never even had a real relationship, so marriage is simply not on the horizon. The problem is that her succubus powers mean that, while it would be easy to snare a husband, she’d forever think that their feelings were fake. She does wonder if what men feel for her is any different to what she feels for men that she likes though, because if it’s not, then what does she have to worry about?
The beer comes out, and Satou gets a little drunk. There’s a line about ‘stretching her wings when she’s at home’ which was a nice touch. A little dog outside looks curious about all the noise, and lets out a howl.
The next morning comes, and it’s back to the daily grind for tired Satou. She’s sleepy, and stumbles, only to be saved from falling by Takahashi … which leads to her blind panicking. He laughs, and says that she looks pretty tired, reminding her that while her students are important, she should look out for herself too. Satou seems surprised by his lack of reaction to her touch, and ponders if her powers don’t work so well on people who don’t already hold strong sexual desires. She’s very happy about this as it’s never happened before, and she likes that a reaction of little interest makes her heart flutter. Amusingly though, when we cut to Takahashi, he’s having a hard time controlling himself. Being the nice guy that he is, he must have been trying to keep himself under control so as to not upset her.
Later, Takahashi is typing about the demi humans that he’s met: a succubus, a vampire, a dulluhan and a snow woman. Hikari drops by to cool down as the sun is getting hotter, and she can’t handle being out in it so much. She pushes in front of Takahashi and starts reading what he’s typing, and asks if it’s an article about her. He talks about the different things he’s written about vampires, and how he has an interest in the link between blood drinking and romance. Hikari is a little put out by that and blurts out that she’s not embarrassed at all, and can’t say enough about it. Bad idea! Since she offered, Takahashi proceeds to question if there’s any truth to the idea that bloodsucking has sexual undertones for vampires. Hikari asks if he means how does it compare to kissing, and he asks if it’s more than a kiss and less than intercourse. Hikari says it varies from person to person and he asks about her personal thoughts.
Interesting idea here, but that seems a little more forward than Takahashi usually is. I wonder if this is a reaction to Satou that’s making him take this line of questioning?
Anyway, Hikari reminds him that she hasn’t had any romantic experiences and has only sucked someone’s blood once. He replies that everyone’s seen scenes like that in movies, and wanted to know how it compares to … and then he notices how uncomfortable Hikari is. He starts babbling about how bloodsucking was a way for vampires, who are low on blood, to supplement their own, and how the government now aids by supplying blood. He starts to wonder if categorising bloodsucking in a sexual way is actually wrong in itself.
Hikari, who is still embarrassed, tries to break the mood a little by planting a brief kiss on Takahashi’s cheek and stating that kissing is easier than sucking blood. Takahashi doesn’t seem to know how to react, so just notes it down, much to her continued embarrassment. Takahashi thinks to himself that Hikari is probably still too young for romance talk, but he does wonder how demis view the subject.
Elsewhere, Satou is helping Macchi because her homeroom teacher decided to ask the dullahan to carry a box. That’s just silly given the state of her head. With how Macchi feels about Takahashi though, this could go wrong very quickly. Macchi tells Satou that she gives off the impression of being very mature and that she’s kind and beautiful. She says that she thinks Satou must have lots of romantic experience too. Satou tries to move things along by responding ‘more or less’, but Macchi wants advice. She likes someone. Satou says that’s nice and asks if it’s a student. Macchi replies that he’s part of the school, but not a student, she likes Takahashi! And Satou responds … ‘I do too!’
Elsewhere, Takahashi is walking, and comes across Kusakabe, the snow woman. Two boys ask her to hang out, and she says no. In a nearby group of girls, one gives Kusakabe a dirty look. Meanwhile, Takahashi bonks the boys on the head with a book, because he’s been trying to talk to Kusakabe but she keeps running away. He starts getting a bit odd, mumbling about how she’s a teenage girl so asking too many questions may be insensitive and the suchlike.
Back with Satou and Macchi, we see that Satou’s response was actually to herself. She doesn’t want to make this a competition as she’s a teacher and Macchi is a student. So, she just says that it’s surprising and asks what Macchi wanted advice about. Macchi feels that she may be too childish for Takahashi and wants to know how to be more mature. She sees Satou as the embodiment of an attractive, mature woman, and thinks that she looks like she’s had lots of experience – great flinch from Satou there. You could feel the accidental blow from Macchi. Satou recovers though and tells Macchi that a lot of the maturity that kids see is just a façade, designed to make adults seem more acceptable to society and worthy of respect. Macchi asks if that applies to Takahashi too. Satou says that she and him are both adults, but the age gap is similar to her and Macchi’s. That said, he does seem very mature to Satou too, and she thinks he’s really impressive and attractive … and panic! She tries to flip it and asks Macchi if that’s what she likes about him too, and I think that Macchi starts to catch on a little. Satou keeps going though and, rather than try to dissuade the girl – like she should – suggests starting with a change in fashion or hairstyle. That’s a no-go as long hair would make Macchi’s head slippery, and so dangerous to carry. That wouldn’t matter anyway though as Takahashi told her that he thought it was cool that their hair kinda matches, so she doesn’t want to change. Satou is immediately jealous.
Elsewhere, Kusakabe is walking around the school when she overhears some girls talking about the boy hitting on Kusakabe earlier. From their faces, they know they’re being mean, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were waiting for Kusakabe to come into ear shot. They say that she’s arrogant, which really hurts girl, and go on about how she must think she’s some kind of idol to refuse to hang out with the boy. The rain starts up and Takahashi says goodbye to Hikari. As he walks up the stairs though, he notices things getting chilly. Eventually, he finds an upset Kusakabe waiting outside what I’m assuming is his office.
And that ends the episode. It’s a nice piece of music with some funky crayon/pencil style art.
In all, another enjoyable outing for the show. I do think that they need to be careful with Takahashi and the romantic feelings he’s stirring in his students, but the show hasn’t crossed the line as yet, so that’s something.
Let the battle commence!
I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. Being the quarter finals, we’ll be using a few different categories this time: Best Story Progression, Best Character Progression, Best Individual Scene, Best Character, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.
So, both shows are currently going for a monster of the week format, but with something else happening in the background. Both are still very different though with Beautiful Bones just giving little snippets of Sakurako’s backstory, while Interviews With Monster Girls is content to play out some high school drama. Neither made giant leaps, and neither failed to do enough, so this one is draw. Best Story Progression: Draw
Sakurako took some steps with the mini-reveal about her brother and some subtle reactions, while Shotaro’s distaste at being called boy also moves him forward a little. Interviews With Monster Girls holds an advantage here though, as the format means that it can place a lot of focus on one character and give them a boost. The result is that Satou Sakie’s arc saw the most progression of all the characters today, as we learned about her lifestyle and troubles, as well as saw her warming to Takahashi some more. That takes the win. Best Character Progression: Satou Sakie (Interviews With Monster Girls)
Beautiful Bones served up some great comedy this time around with the toilet misunderstanding and the lung discussion. In the same way, Takahashi’s reaction to Satou was obvious, but still amusing. In the end though, one scene stood out more than the rest: the ending to Beautiful Bones. That was beautifully animated, and wonderfully uplifting. Best Individual Scene: To live, not to die (Beautiful Bones)
I really liked what they did with Satou this episode. It added a lot to her, and you do kinda feel sorry for her. Sakurako does edge it here though. Her obsession with bones and overall intelligence is interesting enough, but it’s the little things that makes her such a good character. The moments of kindness that break through her more serious mood, and the times where you can see that she has something else going on. That gives her the points. Best Character: Sakurako (Beautiful Bones)
Interviews With Monster Girls is a very competent series in this regard. It’s great with facial expressions, and it’s very good at getting character’s personalities across. It doesn’t really progress beyond being an above average Shonen series though. Beautiful Bones stands out in my eyes because, as well as doing as good a job from a facial standpoint, it pulls off some terrific picturesque scenes to boot. While not quite on par with some series out there, it is closer to the complete package, which gives it the win. Best Animation: Beautiful Bones
Interviews With Monster Girls takes the points here. Neither show has anything that sounds particularly out of place in the actual episodes, but neither of the Monster Girl themes feel out of place either. Best Soundtrack: Interviews With Monster Girls
Final Scores: Beautiful Bones – 7 points, Interviews With Monster Girls – 5 points
And there you have it! Beautiful Bones finally manages to finish a match without forcing a sudden death situation. The interesting thing here is that, if this has come down to sudden death, it would have lost. As good as Shizuka Ito is as Sakurako, Kaede Hondo is brilliant as Hikari and would have taken the points in the very first category, best VA.
But, that doesn’t matter. Another monster was slayed, and Sakurako marched to the throne, making Beautiful Bones the Crunchyroll of the Dice 2017 champion!
Check back tomorrow for a full tournament analysis.