Sabikui Bisco, Vol. 7

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

I had wondered in previous reviews why Sabikui Bisco wasn’t simply in Shonen Jump, given its sensibilities, its dialogue, and its homoeroticism, but I think after this volume I’ve figured it out. Jump is a title where, if the author said “hey, I’ve decided that for the next 26 weeks I want this series to be a samurai drama starring a bunch of cats”, editorial would say, “No, you will not be doing that”. But this isn’t a Jump manga, it’s a light novel series, and the sky’s the limit. So we not only get a samurai drama starring cats, but it is as ridiculously overblown as everything else in Bisco. That said, fear not, because despite the samurai cats, this absolutely feels like a Sabikui Bisco title, it has some hilarious and fantastic dialogue, and its homoeroticism is higher than ever, despite, as always, a strong finish for heteronormativity. The two will simply have to exist. It’s a good thing they’re related.

Bisco is not having a good time at the start of this book. He’s dragged away from a rakugo performance he was enjoying by Pawoo, who did not appreciate that the performance was in fact attacking her. Despite being, supposedly, in wedded bliss, he’s feeling bored and full of wanderlust. And, oh yes, everyone suddenly starts growing cat ears and tails and behaving like cats. Including, of course, Pawoo ad Tirol. The answer lies in the underground nation of Byoma, which is inhabited by intelligent cats, who were affected by the disaster that led to the world of Sabikui Bisco just like everyone else. Their world and Bisco’s are now connected thanks to that reality-bending arrow he and Milo used last time, so they’ve got to go fix it… assuming that they can avoid becoming cats themselves!

This is a particularly hilarious volume, with a lot of choice lines I don’t want to spoil, and features a lot of cat-related puns and cool action scenes. But it does have a serious core at its heart, one that ties the cat samurai stuff in with Bisco’s ongoing plot. The world of Byoma is suffering because, years ago, a samurai and his true love could not separate love and duty, and everything went to hell as a result. Now she is back, ready to destroy the world and remake it in her own image (well, in the image of monster mushrooms, because this is Sabikui Bisco, and everything is mushrooms, let’s face it). But this conflict, and also seeing it literally from the villainess’ point of view (which leads to the funniest line in the book) allows Bisco to resolve his own angst. He’s been trying to be understanding to Pawoo, who is governor and has a lot of responsibility. That’s why he’s not wandering around with Milo being slightly gay. Only… are those his only two choices?

It remains to be seen whether this series, which is very fond of literally hurling Pawoo away from the book for the majority of the pages, will feature her heavily in the next volume. Till then, this was a hell of a lot of fun.

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