Episode 10 – Sabikui Bisco

How would you rate episode 10 of
Sabikui Bisco ? Community score: 4.1

I’m always saying that there’s never a bad time to pivot to a kaiju battle, and one needs only to look at this week’s episode of Sabikui Bisco for proof. Sure, last week was an emotional rollercoaster on the way to the season’s big dramatic climax, and certain characters may or may not have died en route, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy the simple pleasures of a colossus with a hunger for destruction. Tetsujin lives! This is Sabikui Bisco in top form, both in context and in execution. Even while it raises the stakes to apocalyptic levels, it refuses to take itself too seriously, aiming for the absurd and picking up plenty of fun asides along the way.

The cold open is a good example. Showing us Pawoo and Jabi’s side of the battle doesn’t really add anything to the plot, but it’s worth it for the ridiculousness alone. The ape commando from last week (an anime-original character, by the by) was simply too good to confine to a single cameo. Similarly, the Ganesha Cannon, in all its pink-hued regality, is a wonderfully cartoonish doomsday weapon, jiving perfectly the show’s irreverence and with Kurokawa’s garish aesthetic sense. That Sabikui Bisco can then pivot to a quiet, touching scene of our heroes accepting Bisco’s death is yet another strength this series carries.

Tetsujin, however, is the star of this installment, and our first brush with the active automaton clarifies a lot of what Sabikui Bisco is attempting narratively and thematically. To begin with, Tetsujin’s appearance and weaponry seem very deliberately reminiscent of the God Warriors from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, with their eerie biomechanical construction and deadly mouth lasers. You can draw a lot more pretty obvious parallels to Nausicaä (even if Sabikui‘s vibe hews much closer to Mad Max than anything Ghibli), but the big one is certainly how life adapts and survives after a nuclear holocaust. I don’t believe I had voiced an explicit connection between the Rusty Wind and radiation prior to this week, but the symbolism is self-evident.

And it’s even more evident now that Tetsujin is tromping around the countryside delivering mushroom cloud payloads full of rust to anything that looks at him funny. I’m very tickled by this, because it adds a new layer to our heroes’ pinchant for all things fungal. In essence, we have the Mushrooms of Life, studied and cultivated by the Mushroom Keepers, undoing the harm propagated by the Mushrooms of Death, which bloomed with the original disastrous Tetsujin activation mentioned in the prologue. Milo says as much in his rousing speech, calling shrooms and their robustness the “very will to live itself.” He practically comes within a hypha’s breadth of quoting that legendary Tumblr post by username persononable. This also isn’t that farfetched! They’ve discovered radiotrophic mold growing in the ruins of Chernobyl, and it’s possible that one day we’ll be using similar species to help dispose nuclear waste. Fungi are fascinating! And a little scary.

Scientific accuracy is nice and all, but this is art, not a research paper, so we need something emotionally compelling to latch onto. That’s where Milo comes into play. After his tearful goodbye last week, he’s a pillar here, rushing headfirst into danger and drawing back his arrow string like he’s playing a flamenco. He takes Bisco’s words quite literally to heart, summoning both his partner’s strength and mannerisms as he confronts Tetsujin. He’s ensuring Bisco truly does live on through him, which is the most any of us can do for a lost loved one. It also makes that scene a potent intersection of hot-blooded intensity and heartstring-plucking affection. I still have my doubts about the permanency of Bisco’s purported death, but Milo here makes a strong case for being able to shoulder the burden of two protagonists all on his own.

Those doubts, by the way, have only been further fueled by the fact that this Tetsujin is very definitely being animated by Kurokawa’s leftover animosity. Milo says as much himself, and while I can’t wait to see how Sabikui Bisco justifies this resurrection, it makes a lot of sense from a thematic standpoint. Shoving Kurokawa into a vat of molten metal doesn’t do anything to alleviate the systems that let him accumulate his power and do all of the damage he did. Tirol’s run-ins with both Kurokawa’s guard and the City Watch illustrate how feckless both sides are in the absence of a leader. If Kurokawa can’t fill those shoes (due to his feet and entire body being burned off), someone else will, and the cycle will continue. Of course, it only feels right for Sabikui Bisco to blow up this conflict to the scale of a kaiju battle.

By all accounts, this is a less impressive episode than last week’s. It dials down the grand emotional scale, and its narrative is largely transitory, setting up the titan-sized showdown that continues into the next installment. However, I like it a tad more, thanks to its thematic clarifications and the way in which it runs the gamut of the Sabikui Bisco experience. It’s fun, action-oriented, mycelium-saturated, and makes me want to skip ahead to next Monday already.


Sabikui Bisco is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Steve can be found on Twitter if you want to read his World’s End Harem livetweets. Otherwise, catch him chatting about trash and treasure alike on This Week in Anime.

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