Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation

When you look at the name and read the description of Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation, it appears to be a detective story with a focus on scientific bone knowledge. (Perhaps along the same lines as FOX's Bones.) That's one aspect, but it spends a lot of time on other themes. Perhaps too many themes for a 12-episode series.
Shōtarō Tatewaki is the main viewpoint character, a high school boy who has become friends with an osteologist named Sakurako Kujō. That's a scientist who studies bones, and she's an odd one - lives alone except for her housekeeper, tends to assemble skeletons and keep them around the house, and doesn't much like other people. She tolerates Shōtarō, though, and they often end up finding bodies or otherwise being pulled into investigations of disappearances or homicide.

On the one hand, the series feels like it's modeled on Sherlock Holmes. Sakurako gives off the Holmes vibe, noticing things that others don't and inferring various conclusions before anyone else. Shōtarō plays the Watson role, keeping her grounded and curbing the worst excesses (such as taking home human remains instead of turning them over to the police). And there's a mysterious figure in the background much of the time, playing the Moriarty role.

On the other hand, the actual mystery-solving feels secondary much of the time to the struggles of the characters involved. While Sakurako herself isn't particularly concerned with the people involved, the viewer is clearly meant to understand and empathize. The girl worried that her grandmother committed suicide, trying to understand the real circumstances around her death. The husband worried about the fate of his wife and daughter because of a "family curse" that causes men to die early. The young women who were best friends in high school, before one of them disappeared, and now another is gone missing. There's much more time spent on how the people are affected than on the minutia of the clues that Sakurako puts together to solve the mystery. While all of these are interesting, the fact that there are so many different characters in such a short series means that all of them feel a bit shallow.

Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation was an interesting watch, and if they add any more to the existing 12 episodes, I'd be interested in checking it out. It won't be for the mystery-solving aspect, though, but rather for the character exploration in the context of the mysteries.

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