Anime Today: Beautiful Bones and Beautiful Death

I’m totally digging Beautiful Bones.

It seemed silly at first, like, “Let’s get a pretty girl, give her a young boyfriend-type, and make her singularly obsessed with bones. I smell a hit!”

But the show quickly hooked me. I enjoyed the character interactions, the animation has some key, sweeping moments, and the show’s just been fun.  There’s also an underlying hint of something deeper (we’ll get to that later) to keep me intrigued.

kujou sakurako bones
art by けいん | reprinted w/permission

That one’s skeletal remains, the barest sense of our physical selves and all that’s left after we’ve rotted away (and before we turn to dust), can tell us about life and death is peculiar and beautiful. The juxtaposition of life and death and the idea that we can tell of the living through the dead are powerful motifs, and are further colored by the presence of a beautiful protagonist, Sakurako, whose obsessive interest in bones is unexpected of one so young and pretty. As the series progresses, though, we get some insights into her interest, probably most instigated through the death of her brother.

That personal connection is really important because it humanizes Sakurako – she’s not just a comedic lead, then, but a character with heart, something that’s already demonstrated by her decisions to help others (though hesitantly).  Her assistance, and the people connected to the deceased, demonstrate the significance and value in humanity and life by breathing story into dead characters.

That theme and the show’s framework reminds me of an account in Genesis. Cain, out of envy that God accepted his brother Abel’s offering and not his, plotted against his sibling and killed him. And in this murder, we see the value God places on human life as he calls out to the killer:

What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.

– Genesis 4:10

Abel, dead and gone, is no mere victim of happenstance or product of nature or cause and effect; his life has meaning, and even in death, he is beloved by the Father. We, each of us, have significance and value. Our lives our meaningful – the life within us is godly and God-given, and when it blows out, something beautiful and amazing departs. In death, we become cognizant of the value of life.

With every death that Sakurako investigates, then, as “blood calls out” to her, we as the audience realize something godly and powerful – life is a beautiful thing, and even death demonstrates as much to be true.



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