A bold, quirky new anime that successfully blends post-apocalyptic tropes with an original story.
A plague-like wind blows across the arid, sandy expanse of a post-apocalyptic Japan. As it sweeps over the living and non-living alike, rust is all that remains in its wake.
The cause of the catastrophic state of the world is believed to be mushroom spores. Bisco Akaboshi, known as the “Man-Eating Mushroom”, is a wanted criminal archer whose arrows instantly grow mushrooms wherever they land. However, he is in truth a “Mushroom Protector”, a person who spreads fungi in order to enrich the land and return it to its previous state.
Alongside the crab Akutagawa and young doctor Milo Nekoyanagi, Bisco ventures through the wastelands of Japan searching for the legendary “Sabikui”– a panacean mushroom said to devour all forms of rust.
The shows starts with an opening shot of a cataclysmic explosion that decimates everything in a flash of light. I am immediately questioning what caused this explosion and I am immediately drawing reference to the beginning of Akira.
In contrast we cut to the aftermath, a huge hole in the ground surrounded by an endless sand dune – where animal’s roam free amongst the rust laden super structures of old.
One single man is making his way through this backdrop, with a cart in tow. We are given a few shots of his travels here, showing the pure vastness of these spaces and the damage that has been wrought.
Eventually, we cut back to the cloaked young “monk” who is attempting to gain access to a city through a security checkpoint. On his back, he carries a green bow. A wanted poster (which always reminds me of Trigun or One Piece) resides on the wall, which causes an exchange between this man and the guards.
Funnily enough, the title of this first episode is “The Man Worth 800,000” – which is very similar to the title of the first episode of Trigun – “The $60,000,000,000.00 Man”. Maybe a funny reference or Easter egg there?
We learn about the “Man-Eating Mushroom”, Akaboshi Bisco, a wanted criminal who is described throughout the episode as a “mushroom terrorist”.
In contrast to the stark barren rusted wastelands, we cut to a vast cityscape – which could be compared (in part) to something that resembles classic cyberpunk. Neon, rain, people. In the background, we can hear advertisements promising sweet nothings to the people walking past.
As soon as the episode cut to this, I drew comparisons immediately to the dichotomy you often find in post-apocalyptic stories, such as Hokuto No Ken. Huge cities, surrounded on all sides by an empty sea of despair and lawlessness. This is where these stories often thrive.
We are given a sneak peak of some shady goings on, involving illegal transportation and procurement of mushrooms through the city – sold by dealers that resemble futuristic edo-period like street hoodlums with masks.
Next, we meet a young doctor treating patients in what looks like an establishment for prostitution. I suppose the concept of going to a venue such as this to obtain medical treatment in the first place raises suspicions. What this doctor is doing, is helping people under the radar – and he doesn’t want to be caught doing it.
Next, we see the young doctor is heading home, stopping by to pick up food for his “ill sister” on the way back. An exchange is had between him and the food vendor and that’s when the doctor, looking nervously, asks… “Do you ugh… have any today?”
Of course, what the doctor is talking about here are the illegal mushrooms that we saw smuggled into the city earlier on. Why are mushrooms illegal in this world?
We soon come to understand that the mushroom “spores” are believed to be the cause of the deadly rust disease that is spreading through the world on the wind. This is referenced several times through this episode. And now this explains why a “mushroom terrorist” might be wanted by the authorities.
Because of the setup until now, I was fairly convinced that I could guess exactly what the truth is here. Whoever is spreading this information is probably making financial gain for having citizens believe that mushroom spores are the cause – when in fact, they could be the cure.
Who this villain is and why these rumours are being reported as truths is yet to be revealed. This is something we can look forward to, I’m sure.
Anyway, the good doctor returns home to his sister, they exchange pleasantries about her health. We learn that his sister is actually a ranking enforcer in the local police / military force for this city, with her being bed bound due to the extent of her “rusting”.
We quickly learn that “Doctor Panda” (dubbed this because of the marking around one of his eyes) is actually using the illegal mushrooms he bought earlier to try to find a way to cure the disease that plagues his sister and the nation.
It’s assumed and then confirmed that all of his experiments have yet to yield any results. But he isn’t giving up until he’s tried every type of mushroom he can find.
After learning this, I was 100% convinced that this character was going to be one of the main protagonists of the show (along with Mr. Bisco). The connection became obvious… a man searching for a mushroom to create a cure for the rusting and another man that can seemingly create mushrooms at will…
It also seems that the doctor has received some unwanted attention by the government running the city, who appear to want his medical skills for their benefit. It appears this goes against “Panda’s” character development though, he genuinely wants to find a cure and help the citizens of this city – instead of simply making money of his abilities.
We do get a very brief scene later on in the show where the doctor meets an official from the government – which he quickly deflects the advances. I have no doubt this strain will be one of the causes for the doctor having to make the journey with Akaboshi to find the cure.
Anyway, we cut back to the masked “monk” who is back at the checkpoint – being questioned about his payload. He explains that it’s a pile of dead bodies. Naturally the guards become immediately suspicious, and go to check. The monk tells them it could be dangerous due to the centipede’s that could “bite through your fingers”.
The guards back off and decide to let him through, until they notice the bow on his back – apparently these monks don’t believe in firearms, bows or projectiles . Uh oh – perhaps this monk isn’t who he says he is.
Earlier on, we actually cut to a huge aeroplane that had the face of a slug – firing rockets. The rockets are hit with an arrow which causes them to turn into mushrooms and explode. We cut to a man stood next to a huge crab, bow in hand.
I wonder who this could be…. *rolls eyes*. Yeah ok, there is SOME trope here – but it’s the acceptable kind. And it was an awesome little crazy scene – that hopefully showcases some of the bizarre things we’re going to see in future episodes.
Cut back to the city and it appears the local militia are hunting for the archer. He draws his bow and turns the helicopter into a mess of mushrooms, and it falls to the ground instantly.
Carnage ensues as other helicopters are now firing rockets at this men, who expertly navigates the rooftops creating mushrooms on buildings, floors and whatever else he needs to right toe-to-toe.
After fighting a while, the “mushroom keeper” makes the obligatory hero landing right in front of Doctor Panda, we get a glimpse of his face, he has a slight smirk and then he launches off the ground on a huge mushroom into the air.
At this point, I was totally sold. Some of the animation here was very nice. Albeit, the idea of using mushrooms to fight is a somewhat comical ability to have – it actually works in favour of the plot. Which I actually quite like.
Anyway, the doctor returns home to find his sister clad in her gear, ready to fight against the mushroom terrorist in the city. She’s adamant on going, and goes ahead against her brothers will by knocking him out.
He wakes, walks to his experiments and meanders about the mushrooms. He hears a voice behind him asking whether he can “make medicine”. He turns around, and that’s where our protagonists lock eyes.
So it seems, this was Bisco’s destination all along… the doctor.
And that’s where the episode ends. With the episode title card.
SABIKUI BISCO has some slick animation that harkens back to classic anime from the 80’s and 90’s. It has a mysterious plot line that successfully dodges some of the more common “Shonen” tropes.
If I was going to compare this show to something else, Dorohedero comes to mind (both shows seem to really enjoy mushrooms).
And, if the trailer is anything to go by, I think we’re going to be in for one wild ride after the next. For me at least, this show is definite HAVE TO WATCH.
You can watch the official trailer for SABIKUI BISCO below.
You can also check out the opening theme “Kazenootosae kikioenai” by JUNNA on Spotify below.