- Titles: Rust-Eater Bisco
- Genre: Action, science fiction, post-apocalypse, I don’t know kinda BLish at times?
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: OZ, NAZ
Japan as we know it is no more. Years ago, a devastating war reduced most of the country to a wasteland but that’s not the worst part. No really, it’s not. After all, life finds a way. From the ruins, people started rebuilding. Small towns popped up here and there. There was a real chance that Japa would once again see the dawn, except the legacy of that disaster was much worse than destroyed buildings and devastated landscapes. It brought the rust wind, spreading persistent rust that destroys everything in its way. Including people. Once the rust gets inside you it slowly spreads, eventually making it to your lungs and then you’re a goner. There is no cure and no escape. According to popular belief. However, there are some, branded as heretics, who think salvation might just exist. In the humble form of mushrooms of all things. And those people will stop at nothing to find this miracle.
It happened slowly, so slowly that I hardly noticed it myself. I’ve always been a fan of science fiction and post-apocalyptic is certainly a popular genre with its share of successes. But if you had asked me, I would not have thought of it as a genre I am specifically fond of. Yet I’m pretty sure I have been systematically watching all animes loosely fitting this genre that have come out in the past few years. There have been hits and misses but more hits. I guess I’m a fan of post-apocalyptic anime now.
One thing that immediately struck me about Sabikui Bisco is how good it looks. It really does. And I stayed impressed by the visuals all the way to the last minute. The character designs are nice but not exactly that unusual or anything. I particularly liked Paw personally. However, the art style, the background and those incredible colours all come together to create a delightful spectacle. I just enjoyed looking at this anime.
There is a quality to the outlines. The line weight is inconsistent creating certain spots that look lighter and thinner. Like it was drawn with an actual pen. It’s very subtle, I figure a lot of folks won’t notice it at all. But I also think it adds something to the image that makes it stand out. In any case, I absolutely loved it. I think the visuals in the OP are in fact my favourite of the entire show.
I sort of just threw backgrounds in there like it’s no big deal. Sabikui Bisco takes place in this future/alternate reality and the environments are a big part of the personality of the show. From large cities where you can still see the shanty town foundations, to scattered desert strongholds. There are beautiful temples built on top of giant carbs and dangerous flying blowfish. All of these elements just come at you in dazzling technicolour.
I looked up the studios because I was so impressed. OZ haven’t done anything else at all, but if they are mostly responsible for the way Sabikui Bisco looks, I hope they get a lot more work. NAZ on the other hand is a mixed bag. I thought Hamatora was impressive and ID:Invaded did some very interesting things with the visuals but I was considerably less impressed by DRAMmatical murders and My First Girlfriend is a Gal was just very standard looking. So I’m thinking OZ had a lot of influence here!
Story & Characters
I’m not sure how to go about it. Sabikui Bisco is sort of a sprawling post-apocalyptic adventure. It’s almost an epic. It often reminded me of Dune. Not only because of the frequent desert scenes but the entire mushroom trade and mushroom keeper community was a bit reminiscent of spice. There’s some solid classic science fiction world-building in this series. And the scale of it is impressive, considering that it never gets overwhelming.
And I really liked the premise. Yes, there is an actual bad guy in the show but for most of it, the antagonist is this slow-acting but very deadly disease and that really changes the nature of the conflict. It’s interesting and feels very grounded. In a way, it’s just more relatable than having to fight a monster or something.
However, I would be lying if I said Sabikui Bisco didn’t have some flaws in the storytelling. For one, the characters are pretty flat. Don’t get me wrong, they’re likeable, really likeable in fact. I took to Bisco and Dr. Panda and Paw pretty much immediately. And I cared a lot about their well-being. But I can’t deny that they are one-dimensional characters.
Milo (dr. Panda) is so good that it’s nearly impossible to attribute any real flaw to him. Bisco is basically just the classic cool guy hero. Paw is the strong woman archetype, Japi is the paint by numbers mentor and father figure. As for bad guy Kurokawa, he’s so evil it’s comical. Like I said, that does not mean that the characters can’t be enjoyable to watch or that the adventure itself isn’t fun. But don’t expect any deep characterization. These guys are pretty much what you see is what you get. And their character arcs are more about them doing things than becoming things, if that makes sense.
Another thing I should warn you about is the ending. For most of the season, Sabikui Bisco is a series of adventures as Milo and Biso travel together. A buddy road movie. Along the way they encounter all sorts of people, some good some bad and they help those they can. A pretty classic set up but we haven’t seen it outside super long-running shonen much so I appreciate it.
And it does have a lot of hallmarks of classic shonen. The fights are ridiculously exaggerated with people flying across huge distances and creating craters in walls as they land, only to get up and walk away as if it was nothing. Let’s be clear, these are supposed to be normal humans that just exercise a lot. One of them is even quite sick. It also has the trope of escalating stakes with each narrative beat. Which feels pretty normal in a shonen with 100+ episodes but it gets sort of ridiculous when you only have 13. That means things get direr every other episode or so.
By the last quarter, not only was the situation ever so melodramatic indeed, but they were fighting ancient giant Evas. (huge biomechanical androids) with magic arrows and god-eating mushrooms. And you need a specific sense of humour to enjoy that sort of thing. A sense of humour I happen to have!
I also want to just touch real quick on the BL thing. Sabikui Bisco is not BL. There is even an explicit kiss between one of the main characters and a woman with implications that a relationship is to come. But is Sabikui Bisco a BL is apparently one of the most common questions asked about the show, according to Google. And that makes sense.
There is something obviously romantic in the relationship between Milo and Bisco. Even to me. They are very touchy-feely but beyond that, each has a possessiveness that seems out of place in a purely platonic friendship. It is difficult to ignore. But then they threw in a female love interest for one of them, out of the blue and last minute. Honestly, it feels a bit like a no homo move. It’s sort of the worst of both worlds.
The female love interest really seems tacked on and there is no satisfying relationship there. Whereas the relationship between the leads feels like it’s holding back. People that wanted to see a BL romance will be disappointed that the show goes out of its way to deny it. While people who specifically dislike BL are likely to find the leads too romantic anyways. Everyone loses!
This said, both the unsatisfying romance f plot (it’s not a very important part of the story, sorry if I made it seem that way) and the ridiculously escalating action can be explained by one big thing if you ask me. Sabikui Bisco is rushed. More specifically, the last third is rushed. Things just start happening very fast and it could have used a bit more time. There is enough setup at the beginning of the series that you don’t get lost but it still seems like they were racing to the finish line.
I do this a lot. When I find a show that I like but isn’t perfect, I get on here and just go on and on about the flaws making it seem like it’s the worst show ever. I really liked Sabikui Bisco. I would watch another season. I thought the action was goofy fun and really great to watch. For all their superficial nature, I thought the characters were all endearing. And I enjoyed the hero’s journey arc a lot. The Little Prince is one of my favourite boos, as is A Night on the Galactic Railway. They both share this structure of little generally unrelated adventures all strung together to give you more of an overall impression than an actual story. The children’s town was one of my favourite stops in Sabikui Bisco for instance. I wish they would have had more time to just explore the wasteland.
At the end of the day, I had fun with Sabikui Bisco. I looked forward to watching more episodes and am seriously considering getting the manga. So if the flaws I mentioned aren’t deal breakers for you and you like this sort of premise, I think you would enjoy Sabikui Bisco.
You might like this anime if:
You just want a quick action anime. You like classic sci fi.
My favourite character:
It’s Paw but I am pretty sure the character design has a lot to do with it
- Every time anyone is sick with rust – take a sip
- Every time we see a mushroom – get a snack
- Every time the rabbit heads show up – gasp!
- Every time Paw is being a badass – cheer!
- Every time we see the border patrol – take a sip
- Every time anyone says “rust eater” – take a sip
- Every time Bisco makes someone angry – raise your glass
- Every time Bisco has archer pride – take a sip
- Every time they save Jellyfish – take a sip
- Every time Aktugawa throws someone off – ouch
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.