First Look: Sabikui Bisco

Alternative title: Rust-Eater Bisco
Novel Adaptation by OZ
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

In post-apocalyptic Japan, a phenomenon known as the Rusty Wind leaves its victims infected with a seemingly incurable disease. Bisco Akaboshi, known as the “Man-Eating Mushroom,” is a wandering outlaw who can shoot arrows that grow mushrooms wherever they land. Believing that mushrooms are the source of the Rust, he’s been declared an enemy of the world’s remaining government.

Gee’s verdict: Promising

If nothing else, Sabikui Bisco is channeling so many cool and weird vibes that whatever my reservations, I’m at bare minimum, interested in seeing where this one goes. The post apocalyptic setting has just enough unique weirdness going for it, from the biotech slug planes to the bunny headed mafia goons, that it demands your attention. That said, while it’s rare for me to say this, I think Sabikui Bisco would have hugely benefitted from a double length feature. For as intensely bizarre as the story’s setting is, the first episode is strangely languid in its pacing, constantly cutting back and forth between a disguised Bisco and the story’s seeming deuteragonist, Milo. It basically serves as a way to have some comprehensive exposition about the state of the world in as short a time as possible, but I can’t help but question if all this worldbuilding was necessary so early on in the story.

For better or worse, Sabikui Bisco invites comparison to Yasuhiro Nightow’s legendary action manga, Trigun, which was also about a wandering outlaw in a desert apocalypse world. While the story would eventually take on a surprising number of nuanced concepts, its initial impression largely relied on its kinetic action, charming characters, and unique style. When you’re engaging with a new work sight unseen, spectacle and style go a long way to getting new viewers in through the door. Comparatively, Sabikui Bisco’s slow paced introduction does a good job of giving me a greater understanding of the world, but not necessarily a great feel for the characters or the type of story that this world is intending to tell. Without that grounding, it’s difficult to immediately sing the anime’s praises. Regardless, I’m such a big fan of the general aesthetics that I’m more than willing to give Sabikui Bisco the time it needs to hopefully flourish.

Artemis’ verdict: Hard Maybe

I found myself pretty on the fence about Bisco. On the one hand, this was a perfectly decent first episode, and while I question the pacing choices, it delivered a fine viewing experience in basically every way that mattered. On the other hand, I also wanted something indefinably more out of it. Maybe it’s because I watched Bisco immediately after another new season anime that I gravitated to more, maybe it’s because this is a PG-13 show that just needs a little more bite and/or dark humor to really carry it. I was vaguely reminded of the amazing Dorohedoro – likely due to the urban post-apocalyptic setting aspect (well, that and the ‘shrooms) – but this was a double-edged sword, since it also served as a reminder that Bisco wasn’t delivering quite what I wanted it to. I may or may not get around to watching a second episode, depending on how the rest of the winter season goes.

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