Konnichiwa! Over the past few days I’ve been watching Beautiful Bones, and I have to say that I was surprised at how good it is. I’m always a bit wary about really hyped shows, but after three episodes I can say that it deserves the love people give it. It feels like a mix between mystery and slice-of-life, in a good way.
The basic plot revolves around our rich loner female protagonist, Sakurako, solving death-related mysteries in a very Batman-esque fashion. As an osteologist with experience in forensics, she does a lot of work with dead animals and people, but for some reason she’s friends with a high schooler named Shoutarou. Shoutarou is the cool-headed guy who makes sure that Sakurako stays focused and doesn’t get into trouble, and the age difference between them makes them a lot like brother and sister. Finally, an anime where the main male protagonist is just friends with the main female protagonist, instead of being romantically involved.
What sets Beautiful Bones apart from most other anime I’ve seen (at least until I see The Perfect Insider) is its focus on death. The mysteries in the show focus a lot on the death of individuals, and while a lot of western shows share this feature, Beautiful Bones focuses more on both the discovery and investigation through analysis of the victim, and it’s more visceral and real than some cops discussing details that “the lab boys” found. Sakurako has a deeper and more personal connection to the people she studies due to the nature of her profession; she loves putting pieces together, whether physically or mentally. She appreciates the structure and form that bones give to people, and how vital they are for life; she’s learned to find the beauty in death.
This idea of finding beauty and structure through death made me think, and I realized that the Bible says something similar, from Paul warning the church at Colossae to consider themselves “dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed” (Col 3:5), to Jesus Himself tell us that “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt 16:25). Believers are told time and time again that in order to maintain a healthy Christian walk, we must continually die to our flesh and the old sinful desires it holds. This entails us learning three main things:
- Our daily death to our flesh helps to form the foundation of our walk with Christ. Just as bones form the foundation from which the rest of the body’s organs and muscles work from, our faith and daily struggles help to form the foundation of our Christian walk. We are saved through our faith alone, but because of our faith we desire to do our best to serve God. This desire is often at war with the sinful desires of our hearts, but it is our duty as Christians to fight against ourselves, to kill our desires through the power of the Spirit. It’s a struggle, and we cannot accomplish it without Christ’s power, but when we take the strength He offers, we can overcome every time.
- . Just as bones help to protect the body’s vital organs from external damage, so does our faith help us to avoid sustaining spiritual damage. We are constantly at war with the forces of evil in this world: Satan fights against us, hoping to capture our souls, or at least to slow us down in our walk with Christ. We need to have that firm foundation of trust in Christ and a commitment to continuously dying to ourselves in order for us to have protection through “the full armor of God” (Eph 6:11), provided to us through our faith in Him.
- Without bones we wouldn’t be able to move, and in the same way, without a firm foundation in Christ and the need to fight against our sinful hearts, we cannot move forward as Christians. The daily life of a Christian is a constant struggle against the wiles of the Enemy and the lures of sin. The struggle helps us to understand who we are as Christians, and it brings us closer to God because we know that our strength comes from Him.
Death is not often a subject we’re comfortable talking about. We as humans don’t like to be reminded of the inevitability of death: we don’t enjoy being reminded of how fragile we truly are. But the weakness that we find and fight against in ourselves pushes us to go to God for strength, and He never fails and never withholds His power from us. It’s not always easy to focus on God in times of trial. But He promises that He always gives us “the way of escape” (1 Cor 10:13) when we’re undergoing adversity. As we go through this fall season, as we observe the world around us slowly dying, let us remember that just as the leaves transform the landscape through their many colors, that we too are transformed into the beautiful image of Christ through our many daily deaths.