Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation
by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation ?
Beautiful Bones pulled a pretty neat trick this week, and shook things up by jumping away from Shoutarou and Sakurako altogether. Instead, this episode followed Yuri Kougami, the girl whose grandmother's death was investigated two weeks ago. With a summer festival approaching, Kougami's friends pestered her to invite Shoutarou on a date, but Kougami couldn't quite find the right moment. Instead, as her friends occupied themselves with boys of their own, she found herself standing alone on the bridge to the festival, a sudden witness to a woman who appeared poised to jump into the river. Rushing to the bridge's railing, Kougami found the woman had disappeared - but had left behind an envelope containing a mysterious ring, and a short letter asking for forgiveness.
That premise segued into Kougami and her teacher Isozaki searching the festival for the woman, making some investigations of their own and eventually pulling in good old officer Utsumi. Not much really happened, but I actually enjoyed the first two-thirds of this episode. With Shoutarou and Sakurako out of the picture, the show assumed a much more contemplative tone, and the direction seemed smartly focused on sticking us in Kougami's pensive headspace. The backgrounds were also very lovely; in contrast to the last two weeks stuck at an ugly house in the rain, the bridgeside festival setting allowed for many rich evening and sunset shots.
It wasn't just the visuals that elevated these early sequences. Kougami and Isozaki also made for a more interesting pair than the show's usual leads. In contrast to Shoutarou's pleasant blandness, Kougami came off as legitimately thoughtful - and instead of Sakurako's off-kilter genius, Isozaki came across as relatively smart, but also abrasive and full of arrogant philosophy. It's not necessarily a credit to Beautiful Bones that these two demonstrated more personality in twenty minutes than the normal leads have in five episodes, but I guess I can't complain. And their back-and-forth reached a nice emotional peak in the episode's later scenes, when Isozaki's desire to give up on finding the woman ran into Kougami's still-burning feelings about her grandmother's death.
That scene unfortunately signaled the end of the good stuff. After Kougami's outburst, Isozaki slipped right into Sakurako's usual overwritten nonsense prose, warning Kougami that her feelings of wanting to help the woman would become “a briar that will continue to grow, but never flower.” Not only was this speech just wholly composed of awful, treacly writing, it also seemed like an absurd overreaction to the very minor drama of the episode. And things didn't really improve when Sakurako herself inevitably showed up, as the resolution to the “mystery” was both obvious and uninteresting, a dull capstone to an episode that had mostly succeeded in all the areas outside the mystery.
Overall, this week's Beautiful Bones was half of a solid episode attached to half of a lousy one. Kougami and Isozaki are more interesting than Sakurako and Shoutarou, but they still can't escape the show's problems with dialogue and mystery construction. It seems like those are just fundamental issues the show will have to live with.
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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