by Steve Jones,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Sabikui Bisco ?
Community score: 4.2
It's hard not to grin like an absolute fool while watching Sabikui Bisco, and that's maybe my favorite thing going for it. With gleeful abandon, it'll introduce a skyscraper-sized bowling pin in the background for the sole purpose of demolishing it moments later, replete with the requisite strike sound effect. That is cinema to me.
Despite all of the narrative and organizational twists and turns thrown into these first three episodes, Sabikui Bisco closes out its prologue in an expected, yet satisfying way. To get the plot going, we needed Bisco and Milo to travel together outside the city, and they resolve to do just that for the sake of the family members who cannot make the journey with them. Naturally, the anime accomplishes this with the bombastic and fungus-rich aplomb we've come to expect from it, delivering an eclectic twenty minutes that peel back some of this world's layers and leave us eager to see more.
While Milo wants to save his sister Pawoo and Bisco wants to do the same for Jabi, this week's centerpiece scenes mix up the pairs, with Milo caring for the ailing Jabi while Bisco does ridiculous battle with Pawoo. This turns into a clever vehicle for some highly necessary exposition. The information relayed in both scenes is more or less the same, but the tenor of the conversations could not be more different. Milo's bedside manner and open-mindedness make him an eager receptacle for Jabi's explanations about the relationship between mushrooms and rust. Given his prior illicit experiments towards searching for a cure, Milo probably already suspected as much anyway. Appearances and assumptions too often get in the way of progress, and it's kind of nice that this week's most important scene is such a temperate and understanding one.
The same can't be said for their companions, who embroil themselves in a loud and dumb spectacle of senseless property damage. This is Sabikui Bisco, after all. More seriously though, this clash between Bisco and Pawoo provides an object example of the political struggle at the rusty heart of this post-apocalyptic setting. If the world's biota has already evolved to adapt to—and even purge—the omnipresent rust, then the core problem is no longer an environmental one. It's just good old-fashioned human hard-headedness. Bisco and Pawoo both talk past each other and take twisted pleasure in pushing each other's buttons, because they're both primed to think of the other as the enemy. They're not having an ideological battle; they're just lashing out.
Jabi provides a reasonable explanation for the misunderstanding: mushrooms that feed on rust will be found near rust, so people ended up conflating the two. You don't have to look far back into human history to find plenty of analogous examples of people's irrational or plain incorrect attitudes towards disease. I like, too, that Mushroom Keepers aren't described as a monolith. Jabi acknowledges that there are less-than-savory types who utilize “forbidden mushrooms” (a delightful phrase) for nefarious ends. This is followed by a conspicuous cut to the governor, which suggests the shroom business might be the secret to his iron grip on Imihama. It also adds further complexity to the post-apocalyptic power differential. Beyond the unavoidable fact of basic misunderstandings, there might be political reasons behind turning Mushroom Keepers into societal pariahs. As dystopic as this rust-infested world is, clearly some people are thriving in it, and those people would have plenty of reasons to stop anybody from rocking the boat. After all, individual human lives don't add up to much when weighed against the altar of capital.
Both Milo and Bisco care a lot about their loved ones, however, and that's what gives them the final push out of Imihama's heavy iron doors. Part of me expected both Jabi and Pawoo to not make it out of this episode alive, but I'm glad the resolution is nowhere near that bleak, even if the two of them are clearly on borrowed time. Plus, leaving them behind gives Sabikui Bisco's narrative plenty of reason to keep tabs on Imihama, which I hope it does. The city's seedy streets have a hell of a lot of character, and I don't want to say goodbye to it so soon in the story. That said, it certainly doesn't look like their journey in search of the Rust Eater will be wanting for inventive and evocative set pieces either. The post-credits cliffhanger is exquisite in that regard: Not only do we get a fascinating history lesson that touches on the inextricable relationship between war and religion, we also see a glimpse of an unidentified mountain-sized creature covered in ancient artillery. If that's not a good hook for next week, I don't know what is.
Sabikui Bisco has a lot of appeal as an over-the-top and mushroom-sated popcorn muncher. In fact, that boisterousness is what drew me to the series in the first place, but its long-term prospects (for me, anyway) ride or die on its characters and themes. And in both of those respects, this episode dishes out some good meaty tissue to chew on. Milo and Bisco's chemistry together proves that opposites attract, and there are plenty of secrets and giant fauna for them and their crab mount to scuttle towards.
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