Beautiful Bones – 03/04 Review
Is there any way to be less of a milktoast-character than to get flustered while showing concern for your mother’s health…? If it’s serious, you shouldn’t get flustered and if it isn’t serious… quit being age-ist. Getting older causes a lot of problems over time but you certainly don’t want to hear that from some milktoast-grasshopper.
This time I review:
Beautiful Bones 03/04: Death has a way of following Sakurako, the woman who’s obsessed with bones. So during a trip Shoutarou and Sakurako stumble on a skeleton in a Japanese forest (as you’re bound to do at some point, I assume, according to Japanese mystery-stories). Turns out it’s the grandma of Shoutarou’s classmate. Since she fell from a cliff the police naturally call it a suicide. There’s NO way in hell an old lady could accidentally falls down a cliff. But guess what…? Turns out it WAS an accident! It really needed a genius to figure this out! For the fourth episode the dimwit is a guy who believes in curses this time around. Maybe he should just slit his own throat immediately if he’s that convinced that some supernatural force will turn his life into a Final-Destination-plot. Then again, who knows… maybe there’s something strange about the cursed guy being such a try-hard…
As a mystery-series this has yet to show one interesting case so far. It almost seems contradictory how the stories in each episodes try to be dramatic and quite sentimental but the focal-point of the series is supposed to be a Sherlock-figure with a gimmicky obsession with bones. What exactly is the point of Sakurako doing her usual shtick of analyzing bones when the episode ends with her saying “I guess, that’s what has happened…? It isn’t like I have hard evidence or something to prove my theory.”. How can a mystery-series even function with such a flimsy attitude towards its plot?
And again you feel like a contradiction is appearing because the OP bluntly declares that this is a series concerned with those who can’t let go of the past. The first episode had none of that, the second episode supposedly had a very small child in that role and in the third episode you got that classmate of Shoutarou. Even if you try to judge the series by how it treats the victims left behind by the sudden death of someone, it isn’t like the series has a lot of depth to offer. There’s so much going on in each episode that this series has barely any time to explore any particular subject. And when it’s time for the wrap-up, you’re left with cheap guesses as far as the mystery is concerned and the emotional arc was as predictable as it was superficial.
The superficiality of this series’ emotional beats was well hidden in the second episode with having a small child as the central character in that role but seeing a more reasonable character like Shoutarou’s classmate perform the same role for the mystery of this episode, you quickly realize what a bad decision it has been to just do episodic stories at the start. None of the three episodes in the beginning did a good job of exploring the mystery and the characters didn’t have a lot of opportunities to become sympathetic.
Shoutarou’s classmate is simply annoying in the third episode. Since the episode doesn’t have a lot of time to explore all the wrinkles of its story, it obviously chose to turn that classmate into a frigging drama-queen. Seriously, the tonal shifts that are happening in the scenes she’s in are absurd! In one moment she will calmly talk about something and then she just starts screaming and weeping about her grandmother all of a sudden. The first time she talked with Shoutarou in that cake-shop, she literally just started shouting about her grandmother without checking that Shoutarou was even aware of that story. She went from zero to eleven on the drama-scale within a second! And she even does the same thing later on when Sakurako and Shoutarou talk to her! Instead of presenting a coherent image of her state of mind, you get bombarded by these bursts of emotion that also function as infodumps for the mystery at the same time.
The plot of the third episode starts with the two main-characters finding a skeleton in the wilderness (as usual… which is already becoming a dumb gimmick at this point in my opinion). The boy calls the police which arrive and who choose to completely ignore Sakurako’s advice. Later the Shoutarou’s classmate invites him on a bit of a date where she reveals that the skeleton has been her grandmother and she spills the beans on the whole tragic story of her grandma’s disappearance. Later, she asks Sakurako for help. She does her thing and it all ends with a happy moment of the girl realizing that her grandma wasn’t suicidal after all.
Okay, look, I already mentioned this in the review of the first episode but the police in this series are beyond dumb. That detective from the first episode and the third one as well is indeed insultingly presumptuous. Two times we’ve seen him analyze a dead body and in both cases he just assumes it’s a suicide when it hasn’t been that in both cases. Usually the go-to for dumb policemen is for them to say it was an accident when it wasn’t but to do the same thing with calling everything a suicide without any evidence is just terrible! You need to be some kind of sociopath to call “Well, what happened here… don’t know… fella probably killed himself then, I guess.” a police-investigation. The usual go-to of declaring a murder an accident is based on the murderer’s cunning to disguise his actions but presumptuously calling something a suicide makes the investigator as much a bad guy as whatever or whoever ultimately had caused the death of the victim. It becomes especially insulting when it’s actually just an accident and somehow the moronic standard-option is still suicide for the investigator. Imagine if every unfortunate car-accident with deaths gets explained by the police as suicides. Something like “Oh, what, it was a rainy morning with a lot of fog and the guy’s car crashed into a tree…? Don’t know how that happened so it must’ve been a suicide.”. That’s insane!
But of course it’s a real mystery why the grandma died at that spot. It isn’t like her taking longer walks in the morning is a habit or something according to the girl’s statement. Nope, must’ve been a special occasion that ended with a suicide.
In the third episode Soutarou tries to bring up again that one dramatic moment from the second episode where Sakurako calls out this other boy’s name who supposedly died at some point and who’s very similar to Soutarou (even has a very similar name). And I couldn’t care less about the whole thing! Usually you slowly reveal such tidbits after building up some sort of rapport between the main-chara and the audience, something that would make the audience relate to the main-chara. Here, though, the series just immediately confronts you with the warning “Attention! Tragic past incoming!” without ever building it up or giving the audience a chance to learn something about the characters. Soutarou’s motivation for wanting to deal with Sakurako’s past is his silent infatuation with her but why should we as the audience care about Sakurako’s past? After four episodes I still don’t understand why this three-way-relationship between Soutarou, Shoutarou and Sakurako is so damn important. I get it, it probably isn’t a nice story but nothing about it screams “overarching story”. More importantly there’s no indication that Sakurako is in need of saving or overly scarred in some way. She’s just a Sherlock-figure with an almost acceptable amount of oddities, I would say and her being super-rich and having a stable relationship stops me from sympathizing with her situation as well. It certainly feels like the whole thing only works if you look at it from the perspective of an immature boy such as Shoutarou who’s lusting after Sakurako. As far as the first three episodes are concerned you may indeed believe that the whole series as far as an overarching story is concerned is just about a boy creating his own fantastical version of almost-dating the woman of his dreams.
With the fourth episode you got less of all that bullshit which is good. But it’s replaced by generic mystery-stuff. It’s an improvement compared to previous episodes in many ways but usually a mystery-series starts on that level instead of having three episodic bullshit-mysteries before the series starts for real.
The fourth episode is only one part of an arc which already differentiates it from the previous episodes. And like usual the mystery has a certain gimmick that will serve as plothook for why anyone should get invested in solving the mystery. Here it’s curses. There’s a family that’s cursed, there’s a dog that’s cursed and there’s a painting that’s cursed. A lot of talk gets devoted to why those curses exist and what proof there is for them being real. Even if you accept the whole idea of a curse as an acceptable trope of Japanese storytelling, this arc does lay it on pretty thick with all its curses-talk. At the point where the wife mentions a haunted painting, I doubt very few in the audience didn’t scream “Oh, come on…!”.
Mystery-wise the actual case is a guy being scared of dying soon because of a curse. He even has investigated his family-tree and is convinced that all of his family-members are doomed to die prematurely in some random, horrible way. But he also has taken in a dog that’s cursed and he has kept a painting which is cursed. And the friendly, clueless policeman is the hook-up for the Sherlock&Watson-duo of main-characters.
First, let’s talk about we do know: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is this episode doing the asshole-move of withholding information until it gets revealed in a dramatic fashion. What I mean with that is the dude’s nails which Sakurako holds up at the end. It’s important because just looking at those you know that this guy’s suffering from lead-poisoning. And Sakurako’s asking about the painting of course because old paintings used lead-colors. This is also the reason why the guy’s liver has been acting up as the visit to the doctor revealed (that sorta stuff always screams slow poisoning in these types of series).
The other thing is the multitude of curses mentioned here. It depends on the mystery-series really what will happen with such a storytelling-element. This series strikes me as one which prefers to be as realistic as possible but sometimes you get episodes that are realistic on the surface but have these little sentimental moments of simply unexplainable moments. Since curses are a fundamentally supernatural topic it really depends on what type of series this is.
But let’s assume the series goes for a mostly realistic perspective. And in that case what’s most striking about the whole thing is the guy being VERY pessimistic. Even if you actually believe in being cursed you would neither surround yourself with more cursed stuff nor actually try to find more proof for why you’re cursed. It’s like the guy’s more interested in convincing other people he’s cursed than dealing with his own cursed existence. Therefore I assume there’s something foul going on and this guy will try to stage his death somehow. The exact motive is unclear after this episode but that scene with the person the guy met when he drove off to get the cake certainly hinted at that option.
Of course, the other option is always that his wife wants to kill him. It’s the most cynical but also the most obvious option that many mysteries indeed go for. The person closest to the victim is actually the killer because usually that means there are some very strong personal motives for a crime available.
I hope this case concludes in the next episode but… if somebody’s dying in this arc the series will probably take another episode to resolve this arc. I know that the 4th episode had little in the way of introduction but it certainly felt like this is the point where the series finally starts getting serious. All this junk and gunk before has barely amounted to anything. Seriously, this series has gained almost nothing from these three episodic stories except to have an overly long introduction for a couple of characters and the general setting.
Episodes-Rating: 3rd Episode: 5.0/10 4th Episode: 6.5/10
- Why is Sakurako the ONLY one immediately connecting the spot where the grandma died to these landscape-paintings from the grandpa…?
- That whole debate about whether this one painting depicted the dawn or dusk was really pointless. Well, except if you give a shit about how the dawn is so much better according to Sakurako. It’s a detail that only exists to shove a sentimental idea down your throat. I mean, I get it, she has visited a place her husband had painted back in the day but to also make it coincide with the whole dawn-metaphor is a bit overkill.
- Best way to convince an estranged friend he’s full of shit…? Introduce him to some strangers who tell him he’s full of shit! It’s a really great plan!
- Curses are bullshit.
Posted on October 30, 2015, in Anime, Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation, Reviews and tagged A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako's Feet, Anime, Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation, review, Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.