I Guess this is a Series Now?
Welcome to the, now, third article in this series. This started as kind of joke when I reviewed B: The Beginning and noted some similarities with Psycho-Pass. Later I wrote one about Hero Mask, which I named in a similar fashion, this time meaning it in a negative way. So we’ve arrived to the subject of today’s article, Beautiful Bones and why you may want to give this a watch if you enjoyed Hyouka.
The most obvious points of commonality between these two shows is that they are both in the mystery genre. While Hyouka is more of a classic mystery series with character exploration driving the B plot, Beautiful Bones is almost the exact opposite with the characters being the focal point with the mysteries being more of a B plot.
However, the similarities do not stop here. Visually there are moments where both shows present things in such a striking manner. They almost feel dream-like, placing emphasis on character emotion, but not to an absurd degree where it becomes distracting.
Lastly, both series explore a romantic angle but if that’s all you are interested in, both series will likely disappoint. Hyouka is going to be the better show if this is your only point of interest.
It’s a double-edged sword in that way, because this slight difference may turn off some viewers despite having a lot in common. That said, these slight divergences are the most interesting parts.
While I prefer to have solvable mysteries that take their time, which is what Hyouka excels at, it also had more episodes at a count of 22. Beautiful Bones, unfortunately, only has 12. Taking that into consideration, the latter anime elects to take a more Western approach similar to cop shows like Law and Order or NCIS.
The end result is a show that explores the characters more than the actual mysteries. You can solve some of them, but they really are a secondary concern in Beautiful Bones. That is, until the show starts bringing things together with its main villain.
Unfortunately, Beautiful Bones is just a giant prologue to a story which is clearly much larger. While Hyouka also has room to continue, that did leave off on a relatively solid spot. I wouldn’t say that Beautiful Bones is unsatisfying, but I would never say it feels complete as is.
Out of everything Beautiful Bones does, there are two things that really stuck out to me the most as I watched. Before I can get to that though, I need to provide a little extra context.
Originality I had tried to watch this show when it first aired in Fall 2015 but ended up placing it on hold because the first episode was putting me to sleep. It isn’t a bad episode, but you need to be in the mood for it. Well, I should have kept going.
This brings us to the first thing. Episode 2 was a real shock. If you thought I was exaggerating about my comparison to Western crime dramas, then you are dead wrong. It wasn’t the most clever, but the tone and drama went up to 11 here. Episode 1 felt kind of sleepy and just introduced the characters a bit, but episode 2 wastes no time introducing the larger plot, exploring the true intentions of characters, and adds a true feeling of tension.
Beautiful Bones does not sustain this momentum through the first half, but it allowed me to be really engaged. I wanted to put together the larger picture which was slowly doled out in these episodes. Eventually, things hit a critical mass and the show ramps up again as it approaches its conclusion. This made the pacing feel a bit clunky early, but really paid off by the end. I wanted more, it was a really great setup for a larger story.
Obviously, that’s my chief complaint though. This is just a prologue and nothing more. It’s told as a retrospective from the main character and he indicates multiple times how this is all just how things started. It is a real shame that more wasn’t made, at least in anime form.
Moving to the second point, which is its core theme. The story focuses on death and acceptance. One whole episode was dedicated to discussing the death of the main character’s grandmother, who died of cancer. It was a really great episode, but not the only one like it. Over and over it emphasizes that death is a part of life, normal, and we need to accept it. However, just because somebody is gone, it does not mean that they are forgotten either. They left an impact that stuck with people in the show.
I’m struggling to fully explain this second point, but it was something that this series really nailed. The female lead, Sakurako struggles with this throughout the entire run and largely about her needing to accept these things. It just worked really well and didn’t feel like silly drama or emotional manipulation, it felt like a person wrestling with real issues.
In good faith, I can’t claim that Beautiful Bones is better than Hyouka but if you liked one you are probably going to enjoy the other. They have a lot in common with some key differences which make both worthwhile in their own ways. If you haven’t already, consider giving this one a look!
Have you seen Beautiful Bones? Did you find it to share things in common with Hyouka? Share your thoughts in the comments. If you would like to support my writings here, please consider clicking my donation button below and sending a few dollars my way. Lastly, thank you for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day!