If you have ever wondered what Sherlock Holmes would feel like if he were a woman (and if he were Japanese and into bones rather than chemicals), this anime is the one for you.
If there is one thing a solid argument could be made for, it would be that there is a lot of anime out there that needs more attention. Among the ocean of underrated anime, A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako’s Feet, a.k.a. Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation, is a definite hidden gem. A 12 episode-long mystery-psychological anime, the show follows a normal high schooler, Shoutarou Tatewaki, who finds himself caught up in abnormal situations, solving a series of mysteries as he works with Sakurako Kujo. Sakurako’s characterisation is the main pull of the show. She does not have much interest in people. What she does love and has one pure talent in is the examination of bones. An osteologist, she is fascinated by all things osseous, even open to working with people she utterly dislikes if it could afford her an opportunity to examine bones and solve a puzzle. The show is mature and intellectual in its writing.
As different as chalk and cheese, the interactions between the two lead characters are highly interesting and form much of the show. Shoutarou is both the moral anchor and the soundboard for Sakurako to bounce her ideas off. Sakurako is smart, analytical and gets straight to the point, but is equally blunt and anti-social. She does sometimes come across as unorthodox for her very visible interest in and fascination for dead bodies or the prospect of running into one, times when Shoutarou becomes the voice of convention and acceptable behaviour. He often watches over her, trying to keep her direct personality in check. A case can also be made about Shoutarou representing life and Sakurako representing death. While Shoutarou loves life and most of what it has to offer, Sakurako hates death but fixates on its aftermath.
The anime provides mystery at two levels. While the cases themselves are certainly cloak-and-dagger, the person solving them, Sakurako, is quite inscrutable as well. It is an element frequented by most series where the lead investigator is either pure brilliant or a pundit (case in point, Sherlock, House MD, Rick and Morty, the list goes on). Watching professionals at work has long fascinated people because most of us just do not possess the knowledge to piece together the clues like them. It’s a bit like procedural dramas, wherein you know the lead will solve the case, but you are interested in how. Shoutarou is the audience surrogate, rarely able to figure out the mystery himself. What he does explore, like us, is Sakurako, the main mystery of the series. The enigma we try to unravel. Trying to figure out Sakurako and what makes her tick, what tragedy shaped her and why she is the way she is, are the biggest puzzles because it is difficult for most to identify with the absolute genius types. Therefore, while you cannot figure out the story as well or as quickly as they do, you try to figure them out.
Sakurako does not yield to the trope of an eccentric genius, who are generally either misanthropic or morose. While she does have a tragic backstory, she is also caring and jolly and has interests outside of bones. Another relatable trait about Sakurako’s character is that she is not a prodigy. She is not so knowledgeable about bones just because she is a genius, but rather because she put in a lot of time and effort to study them. She became this good because of her dedication and hard work.
The series is visually a very bright one, with radiating artwork. The use of colours, the drawings, the animation and the music are unique, all contributing to the mood each episode tries to set. Which makes a show about examining bones rich with human emotions and experiences. It also tells you many facts about the human body, making you wish you paid more attention in grade 10 biology.
Theme drives the series more than plot. The theme is death and each episode focusses on different aspects of death. The show’s narrative emphasises the importance of life and death, how someone has to be alive for someone’s death to be values and vice versa. This is a theme echoed by Sakurako’s own philosophy, which is best summarised by Brandon Sanderson’s quote: “Death comes to all. But life comes first. Cherish it. Death is the destination. But the journey, that is life. That is what matters.” Each of the bones Sakurako and Shoutarou discover has a story to tell, a story that even after years pass by remains to be heard. Even when you literally meet the bare bones of the person, when learning about how they lived and died, you connect with them on a different level and the show brilliantly pulls off this connection. Nevertheless, despite dealing with a dark theme, the anime has its share of heart-warming, funny and light-hearted moments, with a sprinkling of some dark humour. If you are a fan of mystery or if you are looking to explore different genres of anime, this one is worth giving a shot.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.