Anime Corner: Sabikui Bisco Review

Well, Somebody Certainly Has a Taste for Mushrooms.

What’s the Story?

After an apocalyptic event, Japan has become a wasteland. The majority of it’s populace are infected with a strange disease that makes it appear as if rust is covering their skin. One doctor, Milo, is desperately searching for a cure for his infected sister. He’ll use any and every ingredient he can get his hands on, including illegal substances like mushrooms. That’s when wanted criminal, Akaboshi Bisco, enters the town, causing giant mushrooms to sprout wherever he fires his arrows. The last thing Milo is expecting is for said criminal to turn up at his clinic with someone who needs saving. Even less expected, is that once the chaos of their initial meeting is over, Milo finds himself travelling with Bisco, learning the ropes of what it means to be a Mushroom Keeper and on the hunt for the legendary Rust Eater mushroom.

The Review:

I’ve talked about this quite a few times before, but for anyone new here one of the reasons I love anime as much as I do is just how bizarre it can be. I adore the wealth of different ideas that I’ve never come across anywhere else. Every time I think, ‘that’s it, nothing can surprise me now’, here comes anime to blow my mind. Take this series as a case in point. You’ve got a main character who fires arrows and wherever they hit a giant mushroom grows. There’s also a disease that makes it look like people are slowly rusting themselves to death. Animals like hippos, giant geckos and huge snails take the place of everyday vehicles, though how a snail gets inside a plane and makes it fly I have no idea. Clearly somebody, somewhere, was smoking something and, while I want to stay well away from whatever it was, I’m grateful for all those brain cells they sacrificed to make this (Remember kids, don’t do drugs. Unless they make you creative in which case go right ahead! Wait…that feels like a bad message to give out).

I don’t even know where to start with this series. I will admit the first couple of episodes are a little hard to get through. Apart from the bizarre aspects that make up this world, the first episode is told mostly out of order. Subsequent episodes are told in a progressively more linear fashion and, after the initial arc, the series is almost entirely straight-forward storytelling. I don’t really understand the logic behind this choice, as it really just makes it harder to get a handle on what’s going on at the start, which is something you really want to avoid in story-telling. If, however, you can get through that initial arc then you’re in for a wild, and enjoyable, ride. Sabikui Bisco is a series that likes to put the pedal to the metal and never let up, unless it really has to. It’s a bombastic roller coaster filled with big action, crazy set pieces and a moustache-twirling villain that you just love to see smacked in the face.

A lot the characters are fairly stock, the titular Bisco is the gruff, shouty type with a heart of gold. Milo is a lot more gentler and innocent, and a good counter-balance to Bisco in a lot of ways. Neither of them is the deepest characterisation, but they make up for that by being endlessly badass. Bisco is just a force of nature and, once Milo gets over his learning curve he too has some truly epic moments. The build up to the final episode sees Milo, bloodied and battered, facing down a giant death machine and he doesn’t flinch for a second. I was punching the air so hard I nearly pulled a muscle, It’s just that kind of show. The animation isn’t all that special, it’s good and does everything it needs to, but it’s hardly knocking the doors down. Yet, when the animation is mixed with the dialogue, characters and that rocking soundtrack it just all hits another level. Pumped I believe is the appropriate word for what this series makes me feel.

Lastly, on a world-building front, I was surprised by how much this series managed to cover in just twelve episodes. We go on a long journey, have some epic twists and build up a lot of lore all in a short span of time and, amazingly, none of it feels rushed. Every moment feels like the natural next point from where we’ve just been, while at the same being a completely different place to where I imagined this series going. There is a lot of very good story-telling going on here and I take my hat off to the writers, even if I still want to question them over those first couple of episodes.

The Verdict:

In the end, Sabikui Bisco is a wild ride. The series gets off to a bit of a rocky start with some strange story-telling choices, but if you can get past that there’s a lot of gold waiting for you. This is a colourful and bombastic series, filled with badass characters, crazy ideas and plot twists aplenty. There’s a lot of story and world-building packed into this series without it every feeling like things are being rushed. Everything just gets the right amount of time it needs to make the impression it needs and then we move on. Throw in a rocking soundtrack and this series is a lot of fun. So, if you’re in the mood for something a bit out there, grab your bow and come join in the adventure! Mushrooms are optional of course.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

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