Sabikui Bisco has been airing during the Winter 2022 season and while there’s some chatter about it unfortunately it just couldn’t compete for the communities attention when big-hitters like Attack on Titan and Kimetsu no Yaiba are airing. Which is a bit of a shame because the audience that likes those kinds of shows would probably find enough to enjoy in Sabikui Bisco though it clearly doesn’t have the budget of either of them and is by a studio that I can’t seem to find any other anime listed for.
It probably didn’t help that the first few episodes kept the audience guessing about what kind of story this was ultimately going to be as we were introduced to a world being taken over by rust, a city with a corrupt leader and all the usual dystopian trappings, and a guy who could shoot arrows that caused giant mushrooms to instantly sprout.
It more or less guaranteed that Sabikui Bisco was going to be an anime that would end up being enjoyed by a few but give it six months and most people won’t have heard of it.
Again, a bit of a shame. Not saying this anime is some hidden masterpiece or anything, but if you just want to strap in and enjoy a fantasy ride, Sabikui Bisco has consistently delivered. And perhaps the reason it has managed that is that despite some of the more bizarre choices within the post-apocalyptic setting we find ourselves in, Sabikui Bisco is following almost a check list of what an adventure story needs to be. In short, our heroes find themselves on a quest.
I’ve mentioned this before on my blog that I value entertainment over originality. Weirdly, Sabikui Bisco kind of gives me both. The plot line is very much exactly what you would expect from a quest meanwhile the setting continues to feel fresh and interesting though is perhaps underutilised and underexplored.
The basic introduction to Sabikui Bisco
In Bisco Akaboshi, the ‘man eating mushroom’ (perhaps one of the weirdest and most inaccurate nicknames ever given he’s neither a mushroom or a man-eater) we have our enigmatic hero. He first appears with his face fully bandaged over in a poor attempt at disguise to cross a checkpoint. We know little about him other than he is a wanted criminal, is travelling with an old man, and he rides a giant crab. However, once he arrives in the city he meets soon to be sidekick/best friend trope Milo.
We’ll talk about how Milo has most definitely risen above his archetypal roles in a moment.
Through meeting Milo we learn that Bisco is, as all hero’s in adventure stories must be, on a quest for your standard McGuffin. This is a quest to find a mushroom that can apparently cure the disease known as the rusting that both the old man Bisco is travelling with and Milo’s sister, Pawoo, are suffering from. Actually, it probably isn’t strictly fair to call it a McGuffin because having it isn’t in and of itself the goal. The goal is to cure the rusting. Still, it could have been literally anything they had to travel to find.
Of course, they only have a vague idea where the mushroom even is and it is more mythological than reality. Then again, most people believe the mushroom keepers are spreading the rust when in fact the mushrooms they are spreading about are actually helping to remove the rust.
Now, the adventure itself through the dangerous landscapes filled with a range of biological and natural dangers could have been sufficient challenge for Sabikui Bisco to take on. However the early episodes also introduced us to a villain.
And while he isn’t a moustache twirling, monocle wearing, cackling bad-guy he’s the next best thing in anime – a gravelly voiced yakuza knock-off complete with an army of bunny guards armed with guns.
So it is the arrow shooting mushroom keeper against the gangster with gun wielding bunny soldiers?
Actually not so much. Because after Sabikui Bisco delivers the first three episodes where all the characters are established, Milo and Bisco head off on their own (pursued by Pawoo) to find the mushroom that will save their loved ones and our villain kind of disappeared for awhile. However, you had to know he was going to return. They spent too long on that set-up to let such a good opportunity just fade away.
At the halfway point just after they find the item they’ve been searching for, the villain sweeps in and essentially resets the goal-posts for the heroes who were already on a tight timeline. It is a pretty standard move in an adventure story for a party member to betray the hero or for something unexpected to throw the mission into overtime only the stakes are now far higher and the potential losses far greater.
All and all, an excellent way to pivot into the second half of the anime season and hopefully a sign that Sabikui Bisco won’t lose momentum but will power through to a conclusion at the end of the season (I am being optimistic). Still, unlike so many other anime it really hasn’t felt like it has floundered in the mid-season. Each episode has naturally progressed from the last and they’ve interspersed action set-pieces with character moments fairly nicely so that there’s always something happening.
However where Sabikui Bisco has truly excelled is in the partnership between Bisco and Milo. While Bisco is a seasoned adventurer he’s pretty brash and loud and he tends to tackle everything head on. He isn’t a mindless idiot though. He has some real survival skills and a solid knowledge of the world they are travelling through.
Milo on the other hand has lived his whole life inside the city and has become a doctor and he could definitely have become the dead-weight of the team or have been used as the damsel in distress in every other scenario. Instead the doctor commits to this journey and the path he has chosen as he is determined to save his sister, and everyone else who is dying from the incurable illness, and while Bisco’s instruction is at times lacking Milo works at improving himself.
While Milo’s medical knowledge is impressive, his ability to learn and adapt to new situations is what makes him an incredibly strong asset in the team and someone that while Bisco teases him occasionally you can see he respects. It’s also just great watching him get stronger and more confident.
It probably isn’t a coincidence that the two are colour coded with Sabikui Bisco giving the hot-headed Bisco spiky red hair and the calmer, more thoughtful Milo soft blue hair that falls across his face. Their different personalities are clear from the start and yet this odd-couple pairing works and makes what happens at episode 7 even more amazing to watch. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the two moving forward.
Sabikui Bisco isn’t treading new ground with its plot or even its characters and yet its taken the standard adventure story, thrown in a whole bunch of weird, put it in a blender and somehow managed to make the concoction stick through decent writing and not letting the pace slow down enough for audiences to question some of the plot holes. If you haven’t given Sabikui Bisco a try yet this season, now may be the time.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.