How would you rate episode 7 of
Sabikui Bisco ? Community score: 4.3
I hate it when my loud and rowdy sons fight. Although it begins with a grandiose showdown against a gargantuan and upsettingly toothy flying snake, the real meat of this episode’s conflict is interpersonal. Bisco, Milo, and Pawoo together make up a Bermuda triangle of hardheaded selflessness, where their mutual desires to protect each other fill up a powder keg of well-intentioned deceit, with unsurprisingly volatile consequences. Communication skills are important! That is just as true now as it will be in our distant fungal future.
Of course, fighting is a form of communication, and not necessarily a deleterious one. Pawoo’s attempt to apprehend Bisco quickly gets sidetracked by the hungry pipe snake, and Milo and Bisco’s teamwork in taking it down help convince her that her brother is not some hapless kidnapping victim. Her change of heart happens a little too abruptly for my tastes—a consequence of the series’ overall packed pacing—but ultimately I don’t think it’s out of character. She still voices her doubts, and given how much she cares about Milo, it makes sense that she’d believe in him once given the chance. Bisco has a lot of strengths, but explaining things in a calm and convincing manner sure ain’t one of them.
The pipe snake fight itself is an appropriately over-the-top aerial assault to add to Sabikui BiscoIt’s wild oeuvre. Conceptually, the design of the snake is unsettling all on its own, since it looks less like a giant serpent and more like an unholy mutant conglomeration of human body parts. I love it. It’s something I’d expect to see hunting in the depths of Made in Abyss, but it’s not out of place among the rusty wasteland’s wild megafauna either. The action direction, however, is less dynamic than I’d like. It relies heavily on striking stills—and they arestriking—but the flow of the action itself is rather stiff as a consequence. There are some nice cuts, and it’s not like animating a battle on this scale is an easy feat, so I’m sympathetic to the choices made here. In the end, it looks polished and congruous with the rest of the show. It just detracts a bit from what could have been the highlight of this midseason climax.
Story-wise, the battle’s denouement makes for an intriguing anti-climax. After stumbling onto the snake by happenstance, it seems too easy for them to have found the Rust-Eater shrooms already. And sure enough, they don’t work as expected, and it’s only through contact with Bisco’s blood that they become an iron-oxide-munching panacea. This adds a ton of questions on top of the myriad Mushroom Hunter mysteries we already have, so it’s a solid development. It suggests, for example, that the Rust-Eaters might have been cultivated by past Mushroom Hunters through artificial selection or other kinds of genetic manipulation. The grotesque appearance of the pipe snake, their symbiotic partner, also suggests some of those methods might have been quite a bit less than savory. Maybe there is more to the Mushroom Hunters’ checked reputation than what the public already assumes. And I love that Sabikui Bisco‘s breathlessness gives us enough space to speculate on stuff like this. It’s more effective at pulling us into the story than any amount of direct exposition.
And right on cue, before we get a chance to dig into those questions, Kurokawa slithers onto the scene to airlift the snake corpse and deliver some rusty lead straight to Bisco’s stomach. We’re only halfway through the season, after all, so healing Jabi and Pawoo couldn’t have been that simple. And to further complicate matters, Pawoo, Bisco, and Milo independently decide to go around each other’s backs and spin an incendiary web of deception. It’s particularly frustrating, too, because they all have noble reasons for doing so. Pawoo gives Bisco her share of the treatment because he’s in worse shape than her, and because she wants him to protect Milo while she’s gone. Bisco agrees and, in turn, hides this from Milo, because he doesn’t want him to worry about his sister. Milo, however, instead worries about Bisco not taking his recovery seriously, even though he might actually be feeling better from his secret Rust-Eater treatment.
Worst of all, Actagawa is minus one claw, and nobody seems to care. Please respect the crab.
I usually find big mutual misunderstandings like this more aggravating than compelling. For me, drama is best when it arises from incompatible goals or personalities, whereas secrets tend to be more melodramatically expedient, but less satisfying in the long run. While these colors my perspective on the episode’s cliffhanger, I do appreciate that Milo and Bisco’s feud follows logically from the nature of their relationship and personalities. Milo is a doctor, a damn good one at that, but he’s also a doctor who has been willing to work with shady characters (ie Kurokawa) to advance his research for the greater good. So of course he would do something stupid and try to poison Bisco if he thought it would be better for his friend’s health in the long run. Bisco, on the other side of the coin, loves shouting past people and doing whatever he wants. He’s not used to communicating his reasons for doing something, so he’d rather just go save Pawoo than waste time explaining everything to Milo. In other words, they’re both complete idiots who have forgotten that teamwork is what has allowed them to make it this far.
Like I said at the beginning, I hate watching my boys try to lodge an arrow in each other’s gullet. This is obviously just a lot of emotional bluster to fuel an action-packed and/or tearful reconciliation after Milo inevitably runs into trouble during his foolhardy solo assault against Kurokawa’s forces, but I hope they kiss and make up sooner rather than later. On that note, it’s also very funny to see Pawoo openly flirting with a visibly flustered Bisco after all that time they spent trying to kill each other. Bisco is just down bad for the entire Nekonayagi family, and I can’t blame him. Milo has all the outer cuddliness and inner strength of an actual panda bear, and Pawoo has a sword, a motorcycle, and a natural eyepatch, which combined make her the most badass woman ever (and the storyboards constantly go out of their way to remind you of that). Sabikui Bisco‘s larger-than-life characters and lean writing remain their strongest assets, and they carry the story well through these rough, transitional spots.
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.