Review-Roundup: Beautiful Bones 11, Subete ga F ni Naru 11

[C12] Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru - 11.mp4 - 00005I guess, this arc has been all about convincing the audience that bones are easier to talk to than living people…

This time I review:

Beautiful Bones 11: Apparently we still live in this parallel world where everybody’s an asshole or just plain pathetic. And Sakurako is an asshole as well which earns her an infuriated attack from one of the girls. But Shoutarou is there to save her! He survives – but of course the best thing to do is to severe ties with him. You know, that thing series quite often do to cheaply heighten its tension. After all, severing ties with your best-friend/partner-in-crime/lover is always a good way to protect such people from a psychopath.

Subete ga F ni Naru 11: Saikawa and Magata have a little chat about what has happened on the island. And we learn that Nishionosono’s opinion matters little in her little romance with Saikawa – which is just the way she likes it apparently.

Beautiful Bones 11 Review:

[C12] Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru - 11.mp4 - 00007… Which doesn’t sound crazy at all. And how is this even a sign of purity…?

What connects Shoutarou to Sakurako? This series has been a mix of a detective-procedural and a moralistic study of grief and depression so far but the themes were always more idealistic in nature, the plot more incidental and characters played second fiddle to the Sherlock-gimmick of making Sakurako a super-detective. The actual meta-story of Sakurako’s connection to Shoutarou and her past has been more hinted at than build up and the series is seeing the results of that in this episode’s drastic turn in their dynamic.

The lead-up to that, though, is the story of the three girls sharing a deep bond – and a dark secret. What unfolds in the episode, though, is very much a continuation of this arc’s rather blatant, nihilistic characterization. As it turns out every one of these three girls is an asshole – or at least a coward. All three girls were scarred by their past and fled to a shed in the woods where they had a great time. But one of them was already suicidal before she arrived, so at some point she suggests that they all should kill themselves. Surprisingly another girl in the group agrees. This is when the third flees – but regret eating at her she turns back and finds the second girl with the suicidal girl dead. As Sakurako quickly deduces, though, is that the second girl had strangled the suicidal girl and this is when the surviving girl insults the third girl who ran and tries to explain how insane the third girl had been.

The characterization of basically everyone in this arc really keeps you from sympathizing with anyone of the characters involved in the incident. Everybody’s at fault in some way in this arc. The whole thing could be great material for morally ambiguous storytelling but it quickly gets flattened to one-note characterizations. The suicidal girl comes off as completely unhinged, the killer-girl is just a selfish asshole and the third girl is a coward. Even the teacher finds no redemption here as he admits to kinda knowing what was going on without having done anything about it. The tone gets REALLY dark here and the ideas are actually solid if they would cohere with the worldbuilding of the series (but they don’t).

Things start to get messy, though, as Sakurako is at her most tactless in this episode and the art-department needlessly gives her a psychopath-stare for most of the episode. And this time around it isn’t just Sakurako being a bit of a socially awkward character, she’s downright cruel in how she handles revealing the truth. Of course, it gets even weirder when Shoutarou is kinda doing nothing to prevent her from scoffing too much. He’s supposed to guide her to a more moralistic perspective but in this episode he kinda does nothing in that regard.

It also doesn’t help that this evil serial killer is involved somehow. Of course, it made me laugh out loud when Sakurako was like “Hey, Shoutarou, remember this mysterious dude we have encountered in some cases.”. Well, it’s more like one other case and just like in that one, he’s more of a side-show in this arc as well. The way his character is handled he certainly sounds more like a guy with straight-up mind-control-powers instead of a fascinating, evil character. Apparently his gimmick is to prey on the weak-minded and convince them to kill themselves and afterwards he would collect a specific bone as a trophy. Also, he likes surreal art. This should’ve been the moment to elevate him as a villainous figure but instead the episode still insisted of keeping him in the dark for the most part.

The actual emotional ‘gutpunch’ is when Sakurako gets attacked by one of the girls but Shoutarou sacrifices himself. Later in the hospital Sakurako tells him to distance himself from her for his own protection. There’s nothing more heartbreaking to see two characters with great chemistry get into an argument or distance themselves from each other – except as a plot-device to create drama it’s a bit trite. So you have to make a REALLY good case for why this is happening and this series’ writing reveals itself as weak once again here. The reason why Sakurako wants to keep Shoutarou away not only speaks of her not understanding Shoutarou at all but also strategically makes no sense. She even says it herself: “He probably already knows about you and me.” The damage is done! Shoutarou has become part of the game! Does she think this psychopath won’t target Shoutarou if he absolutely dedicates himself to the milktoast-route?

I’m certainly interested to see whether this series will turn Shoutarou into a whiny, angsty bitch or if this will be Shoutarou’s time to shine and grow a spine finally. The latter is certainly preferable but with this series’ love for negative emotions it wouldn’t be surprising if the series goes for the former. Death in this series either leads to nice life-affirming truths or reveal horrifying secrets. But if this episode has proven anything it’s that Shoutarou’s pretty helpless in a scenario where everywhere you turn you only find another sort of nastiness and the best thing he can do is to heroically sacrifice himself for his own values. It would be interesting if the series were to use the separation to give Shoutarou the room to figure out what he should’ve done in that situation other than becoming a needle-cushion.

Also, remember last week when Sakurako reprimanded one of the parents for not calling the police immediately once they’d noticed that their daughter was gone? Well, guess what, Sakurako never calls the police until the VERY end in this episode. What a hypocrite… Then again, the police in this series’ universe would have just eaten up the story of a suicide (policemen love those apparently…).

Episode-Rating: 5.5/10

Subete ga F ni Naru 11 Review:

[C12] Subete ga F ni Naru - 11.mp4 - 00001This final meeting should be between Nishinosono and Magata. She would at least give her shit for having such a ridiculous opinion. Magata is starving so much for social contact, she actually enjoys the idea of getting killed for the sake of getting entangled in someone else’s life.

It’s strange to get to this point and realize that Subete ga F ni Naru wants to tell the story of a love-triangle. Plot-wise it feels more like a murder-mystery and story-wise Magata’s background-story seems the most important element. But when all is said and done what the series comes back to is examining the relationships between Magata, Saikawa and Nishinosono.

Now that all the cards are on the table for the murder-mystery, it’s time to look at it again from the perspective of that love-triangle. Since technically I have been watching this story-arc for a second time, the murder-mystery wasn’t a very big point-of-interest. The plot and pacing of this series had its flaws but the incredibly grotesque background-story of Magata leads to some great moments in the last third of this series. But if you follow the series waiting for meaningful interactions between Nishinosono, Saikawa and Magata, you’ll end up disappointed more often than not.

The biggest problem is that a LOT of this series depends on secrecy. For fuck’s sake, they even turned Nishinosono’s memory of the day her parents died into a frigging puzzle-box! This series is so much more interested in holding stuff back than giving something to the audience that for most of its run its conversations can be best described as “almost getting somewhere”. There are so many big barriers in the storytelling of this series it stands in its own way often!

And even when you reach this epilogue, you kinda realize that the romance between Nishinosono and Saikawa makes NO sense. Well, the idea may kinda work but the chemistry between the two is terrible! The biggest reason why Nishinosono is jealous of Magata is because Magata and Saikawa are indeed very similar. Of course, the series is actually smart enough to realize this and remarks upon that – but that it was deliberate makes it all the more annoying. The reason why Nishinosono is special after all isn’t her lack of insight and deduction-prowess of course. What makes her special is that she doesn’t beat around the bush with her ambitions and ideas. But both Magata and Saikawa totally do! It’s just frustrating just how ready the latter two are to bail on insistent questioning and just wisecrack philosophically instead. Of course, their “philosophical shrugs” lead nowhere and while it does say something thematically, it’s just frustrating to watch. It’s an approach that brings any conversation to an abrupt halt unless you’re equally philosophical in restarting the discussion – and Nishinosono’s never able to compete with Saikawa in that regard. You get to this epilogue where Saikawa tries to explain his relationship with Nishinosono (without ever mentioning love) and it seems like a very unbalanced relationship.

The chemistry between Nishinosono and Saikawa is one of a want unfulfilled. Nishinosono is the only active one in this relationship while Saikawa just remains this passive watcher. And it seems weird how this epilogue makes it seem like Saikawa should pat himself on the back for doing just that. It’s absurd when you get to this moment where the logic becomes that Saikawa annoyed Nishinosono so much with his jokes the he indirectly gave her a reason to live as his annoying, constant presence kept her from becoming too depressed. And also she fell in love with Saikawa for some reason. And although he indeed noticed the change he didn’t change his behavior at all. Instead, the series almost glorifies Saikawa for “just being there no matter what”. But how does that make sense in a partnership-dynamic…? He’s entirely passive and thinks “being there” while ignoring any misgivings is good enough. At no point within this series Saikawa responds romantically to either Nishinosono or Magata. It’s always indirect when he talks about his somewhat romantic relationship with Nishinosono.

What you end up with here is a story with great parts that has yet to see a adaptation that actually utilizes these great bits to turn it all into a great whole. There are glimpses of greatness here and there but neither this version nor the Live-Action-one has delivered a convincing adaptation that wasn’t entirely reliant on the great parts of the story. Despite all this extra-time this anime really just tried to find ways to buy time and lengthen the procedural aspects of the series. It even turned a necessary character-background-story-bit into an unnecessary mystery (secretly reeking of plot-convenient amnesia)! All this time and most of the things this adaptation did on its own were superfluous.

All the great bits are still there which makes this series still worth watching. The bad stuff in this series feels more disappointing to me than anything else. This is the second adaptation of this material and in both versions I get the sense that the creators didn’t find a way to unlock the mystery of what makes Nishinosono and Saikawa work as a couple. Also, Magata is a character WAY more complex than what these two adaptations make of her. It’s a series with more good than bad but where the sum of its parts is more than the whole. Greatness appears in short bursts here instead of being a constant presence – and more than that, those bursts really just happen at the beginning and at the end. Figuring out the mystery alongside the protagonists will be somewhat fun the first time around but the second time you will already despair over the invisible walls of this series as it clearly tries to control the plot with what is known, deduced and so on. Subete ga F ni Naru deserves a third adaptation because neither of the two have done the great story at its core justice.

Episode-Rating: 7.5/10

Series-Rating: 7.0/10

About M0rg0th

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Posted on December 18, 2015, in Anime, Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation, Reviews, Subete Ga F Ni Naru and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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