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.

Sabikui Bisco, Vol. 6

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

You know, I appreciate its use as a plot twist or a way to get the characters to do something they would not normally do, but as I was reading this 6th volume of Sabikui Bisco, I began to think that this series goes to the “I am mind controlled” well a few too many times. Half the cast in this book is, at one time or another mind controlled, including Pawoo, who spends nearly the entire volume at the beck and call of the villain. It can be a tad predictable. That said, I can’t really talk about just mind control. Sabikui Bisco is a series that overdoes everything and dares the reader to object. This volume has reality-warping powers pulled out of nowhere, to the point where everyone remarks on this. It brings back every single cast member of the last five books to do a cameo. It has Milo veer so far into the yandere stereotype that I’m comfortable using the term. The book is just A LOT.

Kurokawa, the villain of the first book, is back. She’s in a female body now, she’s a film director, and she’s taken over all of Japan. If you’re thinking that makes no sense, clearly you have not read the other volumes of this series. Bisco and Milo are forced into action by the evil director, who wants to use Bisco’s attempts to stop her as the plot of her latest film. To do this, she has her assistant director/muscle (Pawoo, mind-controlled as I noted before), as well as any number of minions wearing rabbit masks, who she will happily kill if they don’t get her film trivia correct. As the book goes on, and Bisco keeps pulling out ludicrous solutions to Kurokawa’s even more ludicrous problems, I am once again left with the odd dilemma: how do I sum up the plot in this second paragraph if the book doesn’t have one?

This may make it sound like I did not like the book, which is not true. I actually think it’s the best book since the first. The series has always had an element of “action movie” to it, which normally feels like a Shonen Jump series but here is far more like a Western action film, complete with expensive sequences and CGI. The author now trusts the reader to not particularly care that none of this makes a lick of sense, or that Bisco can defeat the bad guy if everyone just claps for Tinkerbell (the second time I have written that this week). And, as with previous volumes, I am highly amused at the contrast between every single woman in the series falling for Bisco, and he and Pawoo still being married, with the fact that he and Milo are clearly destined for each other and the gayest things ever. The whole book is ridiculous.

But that’s why we read this. I don’t need self-examination from Bisco, even when he goes through genuine tragedy. Just keep pulling out more arrows.

Sabikui Bisco, Vol. 5

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

Sabikui Bisco tends to coast along on three elements. The first is what I would call “high concept”, coming up with fantastical ideas, people or places that make the jaw drop when they’re described. The second is the wall-to-wall action sequences that make up the bulk of the book. And the third is Bisco and Milo getting closer and closer to just making out, even as each book seems to add a new girl to fall in love with Bisco and sigh as she watches he and Milo declare themselves to be soulmates. The good news is that this fifth volume has all of those things in abundance. The bad news is that it does tend to lean a bit too much on the action scenes this time around. Bisco is not really someone who ever slows down or stops to smell the roses, but reading this book is like watching an action movie that’s all the last 15 minutes. It can be utterly exhausting.

After the events of the last book, Shishi is now apparently evil, and Bisco is very definitely a 10-year-old. As he and Milo try to catch up with her so that he can do something about that, they end up on Hokkaido… which it turns out is basically a giant floating space whale. That was not in any of the guidebooks! Unfortunately, Shishi got there first, and is trying to take over the island with camellia flowers… which have already taken over the prison wardens from the previous book. Fortunately, they have allies in the native peoples of Hokkaido, which include (yes, try to contain your surprise) another teenage girl who thinks Milo is pretty hot. She’s not into Bisco, though, as he’s just a kid. Will they be able to stop the island being used for a mass terrorist event? And just how evil *is* Shishi anyway?

The book makes an effort to try to keep it ambiguous about Shishi’s motivations, saying that it wasn’t just her being possessed by an evil flower but her own desires that led to her murdering her dad. But given that this motivational speech is coming FROM the evil flower, it’s a bit hard to take this as anything more than “sorry, bro, I was possessed”. Indeed, it’s not the only possession of the book, as the climax of the volume shows that there is no character the series will not bring back to make another appearance. Speaking of which, Pawoo is kept far away from her husband, but Tirol is around to be the absolute worst again, and Amli also shows up to try to save her god/crush delete where applicable. This is a series that thrives on barely controlled chaos, so it works, but eventually the “controlled” part is going to be lost, I suspect.

Still, overall I was less grumpy about this book, despite it basically just being Bisco and Milo screaming for 260 pages. I’ll keep going.