Over the past few weeks I’ve been catching up on series I missed in the past months, particularly with Anime. That’s how I found Sakurakosan no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru (translated as Beautiful Bones – Sakurako’s Investigaion). Many sites and forums described it as Bones the animation. As someone who enjoyed Bones until it got too tiresome, I decided to give it a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Genre(s): Mystery

Created By: Shiori Ōta | Tetsuo

Studio: Troyca

Year: 2015

Good:

  • Phenomenal characterisation.

  • Takes time to explore secondary characters.

  • Fascinating cases and stories.

Bad:

  • Light Novel Adaptation syndrome.

Review

The similarities to the police procedural come from the first episode in which the osteologist protagonist, Kujou Sakurako, helps the police solve a cold case with her faithful companion Tatewaki Shoutarou. She’s extremely intellectual and views the world in an almost clinical way, though her love for bones takes over her and she wants to collect them to take home, no matter if the grieving family is there. It always takes Shoutarou—whom Sakurako only refers to as “Shonen” aka Boy—shouting “Sakurako-san” to stop her in her tracks.

In this regard this series is not Bones, it’s not about aw TV-Asperger super genius scientist. It’s Sherlock Holmes, about a detective with weird hobbies and their sensible partners. Only in this case the detective is an osteologist by trade with investigations falling on her lap or appearing in her path as she looks for new and wonderful specimens. I love Sherlock Holmes.

Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
Sakurako can be tactless sometimes

But Sakurako is a wonderful character. Yes, she comes off as cold, but as the series progresses you start to understand why she behaves that way. As she states it, “everyone around me dies.” To her death is not something to cry about, probably because her tears have all dried up. Yet, when Shoutarou’s life is in danger or when Gran, the old lady that takes care of her, has back pains, she’s quick to react with particularly strong emotions. She just buries those feelings deep inside. It’s never more clear than on one of the last episodes when, fearing for Shoutarou’s safety in the face of a serial killer, she distances herself from him by saying “I never want to see your bones” while visibly shaking. On the way home you can see her cry, something she often bemoans others for doing.

Shoutarou is Watson through and through. Immensely fascinated—romantically so I believe—with Sakurako, despite how morbid she can be and how many murders and corpses they come across together. He learns something new about her, and about the world every time they’re together and by the time the series ends they’re inseparable.

Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
But she’s also capable of great tenderness.

Every episode is a new case, usually starting with Sakurako finding a body while hunting for animal carcasses. Yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds but the character infuses the activity with some childlike glee that you can’t blame Shoutarou for his fascination with her. But remember what I said about only the first episode being a procedural? While Sakurako does find plenty of bodies throughout the series, most episodes are about her helping the families deal with it, finding evidence of what happened to them, or even discovering the truth of a homicide but not telling anyone about it because the murderer is a senile old woman. The cases are varied, and in some the main characters barely show up, only coming at the last moment for a resolution to the conflict, which ends up being completely different to what you expect. I found the stories fascinating, particularly those that delved deeply into the victims and perpetrators’ pasts.

Then there’s the main antagonist, the serial killer. He’s involved in a couple of cases but his influence is felt greatly, and the season ends when they’ve discovered his name and how he operates. He manipulates people into killing themselves and then he comes in and collects his prize: their sphenoid bone, the one in the skull that looks like a butterfly with its wings spread. Sadly, the series suffers from Light Novel adaptation syndrome, in which the first season is all about setting the stage for the main confrontation but leaves things completely open and unresolved. On the upside the series takes its time to develop not only the main characters but also the secondary ones, so even the Police Officer they regularly meet and Shoutarou’s plant-obsessed teacher get time in the spotlight.

Conclusion

If you like Sherlock Holmes and like mystery series where you explore not only the main characters but even the victims’ pasts, then this is a series for you. After all, the series does state that it is, “A Story for those trapped in the past.” Must be why I like it.

TMA SCORE:

4.5/5 – Amazing!

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