Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation
Episode 5

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation ?

The saga of the cursed man came to an end this week, as we learned Fujioka's triple-stacking of curses was actually all part of his plan. But first, Sakurako had other mysteries to solve. Having finally confronted the cursed painting, she revealed that its curse was actually a manifestation of its arsenic-based paint - and that having stored it in a mold-breeding storage space for too long, it was now the cause of Fujioka's banded fingers and persistent cough. With that mystery solved, Sakurako then turned to Fujioka's ominous family history, and theorized that all their early deaths could be the result of hereditary heart defects that wouldn't show up during routine checkups. With both those mysteries accounted for, the group settled in to enjoy Fujioka's birthday party.

Of course, that wasn't the end of the story. As it turned out, Fujioka had been intentionally setting himself up to die; having lost all his money in the global crash, he was now simply looking for a way to cash in on his own life in order to support his family. Fortunately, Lassie was able to convey this message to Sakurako before anything too terrible could happen. After a botched suicide attempt, Fujioka apologized for his actions, and committed himself to living with his wife and child no matter what else happened.

This was a perfectly reasonable conclusion to Beautiful Bones' first solid arc, one that built up a fine set of characters in order to make this episode's moments of heartbreak and repentance land well. Instead of relying solely on the reveals of the mystery, the drama here was tied to both Fujioka's character and Sakurako's relationship with those around her. When Sakurako was talking about arsenic and effect of stress on the body, it seemed clear she was reflecting on her own life - both her new status as a “doctor of relief,” one who brings peace to the living, and how much her life has been shaped by the absence of her brother. Given what we know about her and the framing of this episode, her angry “you presume to know what it's like for those left behind?” came as a welcome capstone to her investment in this story.

Some nice tricks of visual framing also helped keep this episode interesting, with the scenes of Fujioka's “accident” by the woodshed using the surrounding flowerbeds to create the sense of a graveside confession. And in the episode's final minutes, we got some hints as to where the overall arc of the story will go. Apparently, Fujioka's choice to keep the painting was informed by a sinister painter, a man visually linked to the corpse-loving butterflies. It's likely this man will act as some kind of mirror for Sakurako, possessing similar talents but using them to sow discord instead of peace.

Overall, this episode lacked some of the strong atmosphere of the previous one, but still did a fine job of concluding Beautiful Bones' first two-part arc. The storytelling is still somewhat hammy (the whole idea of an “evil painter” using arsenic to poison babies is pretty silly), and Sakurako's dialogue remains incredibly tortured, but the beats of the story landed well enough. Beautiful Bones still isn't a truly impressive show, but it's looking like it'll shape up to be a competently constructed one.

Rating: B

Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.

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