Sabikui Bisco, Vol. 1

By Shinji Cobkubo and K Akagishi. Released in Japan by Dengeki Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Jake Humphrey.

I admit that I was a little wary of this title. It got a HUGE amount of buzz when it first came out and when it was first licensed, which is all very well and good, but the last two times that happened it was The Detective Is Already Dead (which I bounced off of hard) and Osamake (which people stopped demanding the license of once they actually knew the plot). Not to mention that, let’s face it, this does not feel like a Dengeki Bunko light novel, it feels like a shonen manga. Even after I finished the book, I wanted to see what Jump or Magazine title it was novelizing. But no, it’s a real live light novel. It’s just loud, and boisterous, and action-packed, and stars two guys who feel like they could definitely be popular Shonen Jump characters. And, of course, there is one other reason why it reminded me of some of the more popular titles like, say, Reborn or Haikyu!: the two male leads are about as gay as you can possibly be without actually saying it.

Sometime in the future, and try not to be too shocked by this, a huge disaster has leveled Tokyo and left the other prefectures around it in an arid, desert state. What’s worse, people can get infected with rust, which spreads and eventually kills. Rumor has it this is all caused by the Mushroom Keepers, who have control over mushrooms and have gone underground after being accused of destroying the world. Our hero, Bisco, insists that in fact the mushrooms are what can save people! Now he must team up with a naive yet determined panda… erm, doctor named Milo (there’s a big cookie naming theme going on here, in case you didn’t get it) and try to get a cure for the rust before it kills off Bisco’s old mentor and Milo’s sister. This is not being helped by the many people trying to kill Bisco… including Milo’s sister.

This is definitely one of those “gets better as it goes along” books. It starts slow, and I tweeted after about a third of it that I thought it was trying too hard. But around about the time when the pink-haired mercenary who’s also been following them around spouts off every single cliched line in the world in one paragraph, I began to feel its vibe, and the last half flies along. It’s helped by its two leads. Milo bonds with Bisco immediately, and though Bisco takes longer to get used to Milo’s concentrated niceness, by about halfway in they’re both sacrificing their lives for the other. Milo even literally confesses “I love you” to Bisco. I suspect it may have made the editors uncomfortable, as Milo will occasionally try to tell Bisco how hot his sister is and how big her breasts are. It would be sad if it weren’t so funny – the tacked-on feel of it makes it hilarious.

There is one other big problem with this book – it’s a perfect one-shot. Which is an issue, as there’s currently 8 volumes and counting. Contest winner, I expect. In any case, that’s for future Sean to worry about – this volume, for once, actually deserves its hype.

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