Beautiful Bones is a light novel adaptation that is presumably titled after its protagonist Sakurako Kujo, who happens to be an attractive osteologist. Either that, or the title is referencing Shotaro Tatewaki’s reaction to her. When the aforementioned teen first spotted the “beautiful” lady he must have gotten a “boner.” Shotaro was so smitten with Sakurako that he started stalking her. Trailing the gorgeous Sakurako eventually culminated in the pair meeting and Shotaro becoming her unofficial assistant. Often, when the duo ventures outside in search of animal carcasses, they stumble across human remains. It then falls on Sakurako to use her expertize to solve the murder they have just uncovered.
This 2015 anime, based on Shiori Ota’s books, is worth watching for the eccentric lead alone. Sakurako is a genius in her field, but not much of a people person. Her blunt remarks often cause offence and her skeleton obsession sometimes sees her squabble with the police. She just cannot understand why the authorities won’t allow her to keep the bodies she discovers! Those seeking an action packed series better look elsewhere, as the show is mainly made up of scenes where people chatter. I can’t imagine that the artists at studio Troyca were overly challenged by this project. The cartoon’s most visually impressive moments occur whenever Sakurako dons latex gloves, in anticipation of inspecting a crime scene. Said sequence features CG undead critters.
Sakurako is a captivating character, but the support cast are far less interesting. Her right hand man Shotaro is your typical anime male. A nice guy who is rather plain. For the most part he’s there to diffuse tensions, whenever Sakurako’s barbs cause umbrage. About the only person that Sakurako listens to is her elderly maid Ume Sawa. Just like a strict grandmother, Ume scolds Sakurako on the occasions when she ruins her appetite by overindulging in sweets. The show’s mascot is a pooch named Hector, that Sakurako procures later on in the series. Hector’s past owners had a habit of meeting an untimely demise. Frequent exposure to the dead has given the mutt a sixth sense for sniffing out corpses.
My rating for Beautiful Bones is four stars. It’s a show that I can recommend to viewers who dig a good whodunit. The cases that Sakurako tackles aren’t mysteries you are likely to solve yourself, but they do a good job of highlighting what a powerful tool forensic science is. It would be unrealistic for someone to come across so many murders (although that never stopped Murder She Wrote from becoming popular) so not all of the storylines revolve around killings. Episode three for example has Sakurako investigating an alleged suicide, whilst a two-part tale titled The Entrusted Bones sees the sweet-toothed osteologist track the origin of human bones stored within a school’s science department.
The only issue I have with Beautiful Bones is with its conclusion. Although the series is mainly comprised of standalone adventures, its finale wraps up by setting up a villain named Hanabusa. He is a devious painter who collects skull fragments. Rather than get his hands dirty, Hanabusa preys on the emotionally fragile and convinces them to take their own lives. He can then harvest the remains to claim his trophy. Hanabusa is still at large, when episode twelve closes, and an after credits clip hints that he has set his sights on Sakurako. How things will play out remain up in the air, because a second season is unlikely to ever get made. If you are hoping for an animated resolution I am afraid to say that you are “boned.”