Everyone loves a good mystery, do they not? Well, except for maybe young Shoutaro Tatewaki. He has the bad luck of constantly stumbling upon human remains, whether he’s strolling along the beach or hiking through a forest. If that wasn’t bad enough, he is the constant companion of the beautiful but aloof Sakurako Kujo; what she lacks in interpersonal skills she more than makes up for with her obsession with bones of all sorts, but more particularly human bones. She’s not just an avid collector either, as her profession allows her to deduce all manner of details about the person whom the bones belonged to, from their age and gender down to the way in which they died. Between Shoutaro’s bad luck and Sakurako’s obsession, there’s always something to investigate, which is the basis for Beautiful Bones.
The problem with Beautiful Bones, right off the bat, is that you’ve likely seen it before. Obviously you haven’t seen the show before, but you’ve seen literally every angle of this series before, and most likely very recently. The first episode opens with the discovery of bodies on a beach, and of course the local police force is about as useful as a fork in a soup bowl. After bumbling through some obvious assumptions about the nature of the victims’ death, Sakurako stuns and amazes with her quick assessment of the situation, leaving the viewer to wonder how the police ever got anything done without her. Shoutaro tries to soften her blunt personality, but is about as forceful as a dandelion as she easily tramples over him and the authorities. Still, you can tell she has some softness towards young Shoutaro, though she claims she is engaged and keeps him at arms length physically and emotionally, often referring to him as “boy” instead of by name. In the end, you have a gender-bent Sherlock and a timid Watson ever seeking approval.
The flaws could be more easily forgiven if they melted away after the first few episodes, but the tropes remain firmly in place throughout the entire series, with the exception of a pleasant surprise in the form of the finale. Hot on the trail of her newly discovered nemesis, Hanabusa, Sakurako dismisses Shoutaro for fear he’ll get hurt. Rather than rushing into a hurried confrontation and climax in the final episode, Beautiful Bones makes a smart choice by taking a step back instead, using the finale to explore Shoutaro and Sakurako’s friendship instead. While pleasantly surprising, the finale couldn’t redeem the heavy reliance on formula that ran rampant through the rest of the show.
Overall, though the mysteries themselves are intriguing, as is her “Moriarty” that is constantly lurking in the shadows of the cases she solves, the rest of the show falls flat. Sometimes with a show like this there’s a redeeming quality in it at least being “entertaining”. Unfortunately I can’t even promise that. While I hope you give the first episode or two a try, just to see, you may find yourself quickly losing interest, or wondering aloud “Haven’t I seen this before?”