Post Reply Review: Beautiful Bones -Sakurako's Investigation-
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Posted 11/12/15 , edited 11/15/15
By: Eclipsed_Oblivion

While crime series that use the “case of the week” formula are nothing new, Beautiful Bones - Sakurako’s Investigation - has an unusual quality to it that still makes it feel original. Not only is the series immediately captivating with its exquisite visuals and high production values, but it reworks the crime genre in its unique approach to cases. What truly makes the series stand out, however, is the relationship between the two lead characters, as it brings both charm and depth to the story.

The story focuses on Shotaro Tatewaki, a high school student who somehow wins the favour of the prestigious Sakurako Kujo, a woman who hates interacting with people and would rather study their skeletal remains. Shotaro begins to assist her in both excavations and, when they inevitably find human bones, crime scenes. Despite him being much younger than her, Shotaro constantly has to keep the asocial Sakurako and her bone obsession in check while also trying to win her respect. This dynamic between the two is part of what makes Beautiful Bones so engrossing.

What is immediately engrossing, however, is Beautiful Bones’s high production quality. Not only is the art extremely detailed — the bones really are beautiful — but the animation is fluid and, combined with superior cinematography, mesmerizing. The sequence that plays every episode of Sakurako entering her “investigation mode,” which is visually similar to a magical girl transformation sequence, has wonderful colours and animation that are not just for show, but also help add to Sakurako’s character; the sequence shows her becoming serious, leaving her immature side behind for at least the duration of the case. On top of this, the gorgeous visuals are accompanied by a quality orchestrated soundtrack. While, at some points, the volume is slightly too loud in comparison to the voiceover track, the soundtrack is still pleasant to listen to, even on its own.

Beyond these high production values, however, is a series of mysteries that Beautiful Bones keeps fresh in the way it approaches them. Instead of being involved in law enforcement, Shotaro is only a high schooler, and Sakurako is simply passionate about bones. This allows her in particular to solve cases, but she relies on more than just knowledge; she also uses refined observation skills and common sense to deduce the context of a crime rather than just the victim’s identity and cause of death. This adds a human aspect to the cases as the characters try to uncover the entire truth for the sake of those left behind, not just for abstract concepts of justice. As well, rather than focusing on suspense to make the cases interesting, Beautiful Bones highlights the presence of death via bone imagery, creating a chilling, morbid atmosphere instead.

Balancing this morbid atmosphere, as well as being one of Beautiful Bones’s most intriguing elements, is the relationship between Shotaro and Sakurako. The two act like siblings with their constant banter, except that Sakurako is the immature one with little self-control, and Shotaro is the one who has to discipline her. While Sakurako’s quirky personality makes her a more dynamic character than the average Shotaro, his presence too is necessary, as he is the one to keep the anime grounded amid Sakurako’s oddities. This highlights Sakurako’s character by way of contrast, as well as makes Shotaro integral to the plot. Sakurako’s enigmatic past also connects to her relationship with Shotaro, resulting in a gripping running storyline between the two of them within the otherwise episodic series.

Beautiful Bones - Sakurako’s Investigation - certainly makes a lasting impression. Its high production values, in combination with its original approach to cases and the dynamic relationship between the main characters, results in a gripping plot marked by a macabre atmosphere. For those looking for a memorable crime series, simply join Sakurako in her investigation of beautiful bones.
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