Welcome, one and all, to my first anime review of the year. This time around, I’m starting out with the series that won the 2017 Crunchyroll of the Dice Tournament: Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation.
Background: The series is based on a light novel series by Shiori Ota, and is also known as A Corpse Is Buried Under Sakurako’s Feet. This adaption was created by Troyca Inc, whose also worked on Aldnoah.Zero, Re;Creators, Idolish 7, and … that’s about it.
As per Wikipedia, the plot synopsis can be summarised thus: Sakurako Kujō is a genius beauty in her mid-twenties whose life is centred around one thing and one thing only: bones. With little tolerance for others, she would be completely isolated in her study full of skeletons if it weren’t for high school boy Shotaro—her new assistant and constant companion. Why exactly she has taken a shine to him remains a mystery, but one thing is clear: Whenever the two go out together, the chances are high that they will come across a human corpse.
The Good: The first thing I want to mention here is something that remained consistent throughout the series: our leading lady Sakurako. Her general design is relatively simple, but her personality is one of the biggest selling points of the show for me. Her intrinsic knowledge of biology, her rather mixed bag of social skills, and her general outlook on life all form an intriguing mix that makes her more than capable of carrying the narrative virtually single-handed. This in itself is about as good as you could want for a main protagonist.
The story itself is also an interesting one. This isn’t a series that’s high on shōnen style action, but instead focuses on pure mystery solving. Working primarily through a monster of the week format, the individual tales are covered by single or double episodes, which is a great choice in this case as it prevents the cases from being too drawn out. At the same time though, once we get through the first few episodes, we do start to move towards a bigger story building slowly in the background. This particular mystery is, as we discover towards the end, intrinsically tied to Sakurako and her family too, which was a nice touch. Throw in some wonderfully emotional sections, and you have a tale that does a really good job of getting you emotionally invested.
Art wise, Beautiful Bones is capable of shining when it’s needed too. From Sakurako’s facial expressions to picturesque backdrops, from mood-based colour use to some high detail bone art, the studio brings its best at appropriate times to really make certain scenes pop.
The Bad: There are two big issues for me here. The first is the age-old problem of there being no real end to the series. Like I said, we learn towards the end that the bigger mystery being built in the background relates directly to Sakurako. In fact, the big bad is seen in the final scene to seemingly be targeting Sakurako. But then it ends. I understand how anime works, what its purpose is from a business stand-point, and so on. Unfortunately, it does take away somewhat from an otherwise good story when you know the ending isn’t coming.
The other thing to note is that I’ve only mentioned Sakurako by name. That’s because the rest of the cast are a little bit … mixed. There are plenty of characters that exist purely in the context of their case, so you don’t expect to see them too much. There are some other regulars though. The problem is that, while not unlikable, not a lot is done to make them stand out like Sakurako. It’s a real shame too as if they had the same level of intrigue to them, the series would have the potential to be a real classic.
Subbed or Dubbed: To my knowledge, there is no dub, so that makes this an easy choice. The voice cast is good too, so that’s a bonus!
Final View: One of the biggest surprises of last year’s tournament, Beautiful Bones is a good series for fans of mysteries and not-entirely-friendly sleuths. Despite some inconsistency’s in quality, it does a really good job overall, and is well worth a watch.
Final Score: 4 / 5