Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatte Iru, or Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation, or if you want to get technical about it, “A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako’s Feet”, is a 10-episode 2017 J-drama based on a series of light novels by Shiori Ota and illustrated by Tetsuo.
So can this show stand up to scrutiny? Is it really, really similar to another show from America? Read on and find out!
When Tatewaki Shotaro takes a job at a local museum, he meets up with Kujo Sakurako, world-famous osteologist who works as a consultant for the museum. Sakurako is also horrible with people, she values bones over the living any day, but Shotaro and Sakurako continue to get involved in murder mysteries with the local police, who at first aren’t wild with their involvement, but then start to value their expertise.
Now I’m going to get nit-picky here for a moment because there are some things that stuck out to me about the series. First off, it’s very clear that Shiori Ota got the idea from the books by Kathy Reichs, which then turned into the long-running Bones TV series. The bone expert with no social skills is very much a lift off of Temperance Brennan, I don’t care what anyone says. And, as in Bones, Sakurako’s Investigation doesn’t keep the anti-social scientist around any more than they have to, mostly because it’s really, really hard to keep an actress acting like that for long. So, except for some places where Sakarako is clearly purposely rude to everyone, she becomes emotional pretty early on.
And unfortunately, the major plot thread that runs through the entire series really makes very little sense. There is a mastermind who causes people to murder for him so that he can collect one particular bone out of the skull. Except there’s a problem with this, apparently he’s got to wait until the bodies become skeletons before he can expertly remove the bone, and it takes about 10 years for a body to skeletonize in the ground. The problem is, this has only been going on for a couple of years, far too short for the bodies to rot. It’s a nitpick to be sure, but that’s how it goes.
Mizuki Alisa plays Sakurako and I thought she was pretty good in the role. She’s had bit parts in a couple of shows I’ve seen like Omukae Death and Higashino Keigo Mysteries. I was more impressed with Fujigaya Taisuke, who played Shotaro, but who seems to have been in mostly high-school dramas. Then there was Washio Machiko, who played Sakurako’s housekeeper, who was really great in the role and she’s had a very long career with shows like Tenchu, Naniwa Shonen Tanteidan, Trick 3 and Detective Conan 3. Finally, I wanted to throw in Shinkawa Yua, who played the museum specialist Shikura Airi, who popped up in ATARU back in the day.
One thing that I really appreciate in a lot of these dramas, compared to U.S. television shows, is that they don’t spend a lot of time putting together characters in relationships. Here, it wouldn’t have worked between Shotaro and Sakurako, after all, the actress for Sakurako is 40 and the actor for Shotaro is 26, but there was no serious attempt to force them together. Even though they played with the idea of putting Shotaro and Airi together, they never followed through with it. It was all about the cases, not about the drama. I appreciate that. Far too often, it just gets in the way of what we’re there to see.
I do recommend this series for anyone who likes the standard detective tropes, which I do. It’s fun, the cases are engaging and they don’t linger on unimportant things for very long. Go give it a shot, you just might like it.