As an avid lover of eating mushrooms, I don’t think I’ll ever look at them the same again after watching this season’s Sabikui Bisco. Equally fantastic and ridiculous, this show took us on a journey more unique than any other I’ve experienced in near memory. Skyscraper-defying mushrooms? Check. Tanky battle crabs? Check. Slug parasites? Check, check, check. Sabikui Bisco easily took its spot as my favorite of the winter 2022 season with memorable characters, a creative setting, and well-paced writing.
Set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic Japan, the world of SB looks environmentally barren yet somehow populated with countless varieties of larger-than-life flora and fauna. The former way of life came to an end through weapons of mass destruction now lost to the literal sands of time. Humanity has learned to survive in the unforgiving landscape by banding together into protected enclaves. They live in fear of the rust wind and its correlating sickness, which they’ve long been taught comes from mushroom spores. But Dr. Milo Nekoyanagi and Mushroom Keepers like Bisco know that the opposite is true: it’s the mushrooms that promise a cure.
Right from the beginning, SB impressed me with its energy and visuals. While the cities and their residents reminded me of imaginative works like Dorohedoro, the world outside those walls was reminiscent of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, complete with its very own Giant Warrior. Mankind continues to thrive no matter what’s thrown at it. There’s a real sense of vibrant life in the colors and character personalities that makes the anime so enjoyable to watch week to week. Milo & Bisco’s quest to find the Rust Eater fully engaged my attentions up until the very last scene.
Many of the side characters introduced to us over the course of their journey are interesting in their ways, from Pawoo, Milo’s impressively strong sister who is also Captain of Imihama Watch, to Jabi, Bisco’s teacher who’s as dear to him as a father, to Tirol, a mechanic-turned-mercenary just looking to make a living. There’s no mistaking one person for another, although they do take a backseat to the focus on Milo and Bisco’s partnership. It would also do you well to not forget Actagawa, their brave and gigantic steelcrab friend who often stole the light away from our main duo.
If there’s one minor complaint I have regarding SB, it’s the lack of character development. Milo does get physically stronger over the course of their journey, but who he is at the end seems not that different from who he was at the beginning. He’s level headed and infinitely caring for all manner of life. The same stagnant development rings true for most of the other characters, particularly the villain, Kurokawa. There’s no excusing his personality when we first meet him, and even less understanding when we learn about his true background as a former Mushroom Keeper. He’s a guy who enjoys terrorizing everyone beneath him and sees any possible equals as enemies to be terminated. I don’t recall ever getting an explanation for why he rebelled from his heritage and sowed the seeds of distrust towards them. Perhaps an answer can be found in his fixation on Bisco that extends beyond his death into his rebirth as Tetsujin, but that’s a guess at best.
Once the spores of the final battle settle along with the sun, we’re treated to a beautiful moment between our boys that not even headstrong Pawoo dares to interrupt. If there’s one show worth recommending from the entirety of the winter season, it is without a doubt Sabikui Bisco. No other show matched it in bombastic style and joy, and I’m certain I’ll continue to suggest it to friends far into the future.
Rating: 2 dango
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.