This is an anime with another capacious title: “Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru” (“Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation” or “A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako’s Feet”) and is one of the better horror/crime dramas I have seen recently, despite an obvious problem. Sakurako Kujō (left) is a genius beauty in her mid-twenties whose life is centered around one thing and one thing only: bones. People are dull, boring little creatures, but if we can get to their bones…..well! Who cares about six-pack abs when a well-formed humerus is far more appealing. Here is where the problem sets in.
She has little tolerance for others and is fully content to be completely isolated in her study, crammed with skeletons, if it weren’t for high school boy Shotaro Tatawaki—her new assistant and constant companion. Well, she does have Ume Sawa, her caretaker (look, she would be skin and bones, never eating, as she admires bones. One feels her culinary skills are highly suspect and might not know how to boil water) and Hector, the family dog. Together, they can solve crimes, because the bones talk to her and tell her a story that others can miss.
The first episode is both emblematic and problematic with the show. She is very cold and distant and is reluctant to show any emotions, except when she comes across bones. The two of them take a walk on the beach and she manages to uncover a skull. SHE wants to take it home and admire it; HE wants to call the cops in. It’s a SKULL! Those things just don’t fall out of your head when you are taking a stroll. It’s that this leads to another crime, which they can solve. She is Dr. Temperence “Bones” Brennan in every way, shape, and form. Although, overall, not a bad way to go, one yearns for something a little different out of the mold.
The one thing that you don’t realize is that the latter cases are all interconnected and it isn’t until the final episode that you tumble to this (as this will force a second season). If you do like this cat-and-mouse approach to shows (kind of like “Death Note”, but not as high stakes), it is a very appealing offering. Sakurako’s calculating mind lets her crack some rather tough nuts out there, and some of the cases are quite perplexing. Shotaro is the human element (along with Hiroki Utsumi, a local policeman who assists on cases) who tries to give balance to her. Yes, Sakurako harbors a deeply painful secret and Shotaro is a hurtful reminder of this. Do we fully find out? What, and really wreck the chances of a second season? Don’t be that person whose skull fell out on the beach.
Now, she is not always the Ice Queen and we do get behind that façade, but no one is getting too close. The one genuine annoyance is when she slips into Investigator Mode. There is this montage/parade of living bones that come forth, so we can marvel in the majesty of the skeletal framework upon which we hang our lives. They later reduce it, so it’s not the full sequence, but I treated it like any other transformation sequence…except she isn’t getting into a flirty Sailor Scout outfit. We also do not forget that there is a story that goes along with those bones; that there was a living person who used this framework and now has moved on, leaving only this reminder that they ever existed. This is really set forth in Episodes Seven and Eight (a two-parter) where we see a chink in Sakurako’s armor regarding emotions.
Although not the best crime drama I’ve seen this year (that review is coming), it is still head and shoulders above the rest and would easily be on any Top 10 List. Or, to put it in sports terms, it’s hard to be the San Antonio Spurs when you are chasing the Golden State Warriors.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Sharp and crisp)
Plot 8 (Good individual stories, better overall ideas)
Pacing 8 (Sure and deliberate)
Effectiveness 8 (Explains without being condescending)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 8 (If only she was a bit warmer…)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Can I take this skull home with me?