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.

Sabikui Bisco, Vol. 4

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

This review really cannot happen without spoiling the end of the book, so beware if you do not want to be spoiled, though I will try not to exactly spoil. Throughout most of this volume, this has the feel of a “makework” volume in the series, as events happen but it lacks the striking imagery of previous books, which was one of the major reasons we read it. It also is not as gay, which is the other reason we read it, mostly as Bisco and Milo spend most of the book separated from each other, and there’s only one or two moments, such as brief princess carry, or Milo staring in what is clearly jealousy at one point, that makes you realize the writer knows what they’re doing. But it’s all right. It’s got some really cool fight scenes, Bisco is funny at times, we have a new waif who needs to be guided/rescued, and we get a little more development of the post-apocalyptic works with a slave race. OK, that last part is questionable.

We open with a teenager escaping from what appears to be a maximum security prison, only to be caught almost immediately, and their rescue/medical treatment by Bisco and Milo, and we then backtrack to see why they’re in a prison in the first place. They arrive at what is supposed to be a mushroom keeper’s village only to find it nearly deserted, covered in sakura flowers. The tribe have been arrested and thrown into a maximum security prison by the warden, who is very big on justice in a “Shonen Cop Gone Bad” sort of way. Shishi is part of a tribe called the Benibishi, an artificially engineered plant-based species designed as slaves. All the Benibishi are ALSO in the prison, and Shishi’s father, their King, is due to be executed. Now Bisco and Milo have to get into the prison and try to resolve things… except that they’re promptly arrested and thrown in there anyway.

Starting off with the one really great part of the book. The third volume ended, to the surprise of most readers, with Pawoo marrying Bisco, and she’s come along in this book as well. Then, a third of the way through the book, the prison warden grabs her and simply throws her out of the book and back to her home town. We never see her again. It’s jaw-droppingly funny given the novels’ BL tendencies. Well, that’s the good out of the way. Shishi is briefly presented as trans, but it’s unclear if that’s gender-based or just has to do with the idea of “prince”, and the book uses female pronouns for Shishi throughout. The Benibishi all are jailed because there is a worry that they will go mad with revenge and try to kill those who wronged them. Their plant nature means they run the risk of getting caught up in murderous rage, and the King warns Bisco and Milo about it, so they help his daughter calm down and not choose violence.

And then comes the ending, which is like the author giving you a nice warm hug and then stabbing you in the back. Now, I will grant you there’s certainly a plot for Book 5 now, and I wonder if the only reason this happened is the author ran out of things to do in this series. But man, Shishi’s actions in the last three pages or so leave SUCH a bad taste in my mouth that I can’t really recommend this anymore. A merely okay volume of the series till the ending brings it down to bad.