I just finished the entire first season of Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation. This anime, produced in 2015 is based on the light novel A Corpse Lies Buried at Sakurako’s Feet by Ota Shiori. It is, without doubt, one of the best story driven anime I have ever watched. Picture a beautiful and enigmatic Japanese woman who is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Temperance Brennan, teamed up with a very proper and emotionally volatile High School boy solving mysteries through the power of forensic deduction. Does that sound too weird to be true. As bizarre as the scenario sounds, it works amazingly well. If you enjoy TV dramas like Criminal Minds or Law and Order SVU then you will be hooked from the first episode.
Sakurako Kujō is an Osteologist. She studies bones. It could be said that she loves bones. The case could even be made that she has a fetish for bones. Her primary occupation is the preparation and preservation of skeletal specimens. In the live action version of the story we learn that she works for a museum (Trust me…Don’t waste your time or the lining of your retinas watching the live action adaptation). In addition to her familiarity with all things skeletal, Sakurako-san is a deductive genius on the order of Mycroft Holmes. (Now THERE’S a reference you don’t see everyday. I’ll let you look him up). The primary plot of the series is Sakurako-san’s continual, and yet accidental, involvement with various and sundry situations which have only one thing in common…a corpse, usually human.
Any good super hero needs a sidekick. Shōtarō Tatewaki, a high school student who
wears his heart on his sleeve, plays the role, as well as that of narrator. While there is no overt romantic relationship between the two protagonists (she is obviously several years his senior) it is apparent that Shōtarō regards Sakurako very highly. She, on the other hand, is the perfect Tsundere. The series begins with her referring to Shōtarō as 少年 (Shonen or “boy”) and never by his name. Over time, as their relationship deepens, it becomes obvious that Sakurako has a deep and abiding affection for Shōtarō.
I am not going to spend a great deal of time or potential spoilers by trying to outline the stories, except to say that each is a stand-along episode with elements that point to an over-all case involving an arch-villain. The writing is tight and suspenseful and the reactions of the characters are dead on. The dialog is crisp and fast-paced without resorting to cliches. There is no nudity or inappropriate content here with the exception of the sort of violence you might expect on an episode of Criminal Minds. The themes of several of the episodes are also of a very adult nature involving things like abused children. (The second episode can be hard to watch if you are sensitive to that sort of thing). The art is good, as is the music. The colors are muted and tend toward earth-tones as befitting a dark mystery.
I can not recommend this anime enough to fans of the procedural crime genera, however, let me issue a dire warning along with the recommendation. As of this writing, there is no Season 2 and Season 1 ends in a cliff-hanger. I spent a good portion of an evening searching the Internet with every trick I know to try to find any word on a release date for Season 2 with no luck. The light novel is complete, however, there is not a full English translation available yet and so if you don’t read Japanese you will have a difficult time. As I have been spending the summer learning to do just that, I have already placed my order on Amazon for the complete collection in the original language and I plan to work my way through them over the course of this year. Meanwhile I leave you with my highest recommendation for this one, gentle reader. It can be viewed legimately online at the link below…