Shotarou, who likely has that name on purpose, should be doing ordinary teenage boy things but instead he is helping out a young lady named Sakurako Kujou, his…uh, friend of sorts. She is a wealthy young lady who is rather antisocial, and her hobbies include dead things. To be more specific: bones. Sakurako sure loves her some bones, collecting any specimen she can get her hands on and completing fossil models of animals in her home. She loves bones so much that she has Shotarou help her search for animal bones on the beach for her collection.
The problem is that apparently whenever Shotarou and Sakurako are together, the bones they find often tend to be human. Luckily, Sakurako’s macabre obsession means that she has an incredibly keen eye for detail and is highly skilled at analysing bodies to determine causes of death…making her a more capable detective than the police themselves.
Sakurako is introduced to the audience by Shotarou walking in on her kissing a skull, which is light years ahead of ‘getting dressed ridiculously slowly’ in ways you can introduce a character to the audience with another character walking in on them. It’s also memorable, so while some people might have been thinking ‘why the hell is she kissing a skull’, all I could think of was ‘AT LAST, A MAIN CHARACTER WALKED IN ON A GIRL DOING SOMETHING OTHER THAN CHANGING TO INTRODUCE HER TO THE AUDIENCE’. It’s a dumb thing to be happy about, but hey, small victories. It also sets the quirky tone for the rest of the episode.
‘Quirky’ is not a word I really like, and it’s hard to pull off – most anime that try are either obnoxious or pretentious. It’s too early to tell if Sakurako runs the risk of becoming either of those things – but so far it’s promising. The animation and art are nice to look at, Sakurako is engaging without being over the top in her oddness and I was actually surprised at how appealing Shotarou is. Other shows like this might have a deadpan, constantly eye-rolling guy but Shotarou is honestly pretty cute – he gets exasperated a lot, sure, but he’s also excitable and childish in a way I rarely see with male protagonists in this kind of genre. There’s a good deal of his narration in the episode that makes it obvious this was adapted from a light novel, and yet it doesn’t feel that intrusive and actually manages to carry the episode pretty well.
We don’t know yet why Shotarou ‘has’ to hang around with/assist Sakurako – he clarifies early on that they aren’t lovers (she seems to be several years older than him regardless) or relatives or even friends – although doesn’t go into any more detail than that. There’s surely some kind of reason, because he seems to find her exhausting to be around and she apparently doesn’t like other people. The plot is kind of set up to be ‘these two solve mysteries’ – but what use Shotarou will serve in this is also unknown, because he kind of just stood back slack-jawed in this episode when Sakurako went into her analysis. (And yeah, on that note, she totally barges into a crime scene and starts investigating. The police and investigators kind of do this feeble ‘no dont stop’ thing but were so half-assed about it that I actually laughed. It’s vaguely explained that she is the niece of a famous forensics professor – but I really doubt that’s going to give anyone free rein in a crime scene in the real world. I’m willing to overlook that in an anime, though.
What did confuse me about this episode was the fact that the start of it seems like a completely different show. Before Shotarou walks in on Sakurako kissing a skull, he’s at school burying a dead kitten, and getting to know a girl who seemed, at first, like she was going to be important…but doesn’t appear again for the rest of the episode. The whole segment seemed out-of-place and even a waste of time (and the fact that it included a dead kitten makes it that much worse) but its possible it has some relevance in future episodes.
What excites me mostly about Sakurako is the tempting possibility that this might finally be a detective anime that doesn’t suck, which is something I have been wanting for years. I don’t really want to hold my breath on that because I’ve been burned so many times before, but hopefully this turns out to be worth watching – Sakurako and Shotarou are an interesting pair and I plan on watching more just to find out what their deal is.