「八十万日貨の男」 (Hachijuuman Nikka no Otoko)
“The Man Worth 800,000”
From the art style alone, it was clear that Sabikui Bisco’s aim was to stand out and tell a chaotic, surreal story about trying to survive in a plague-infested world where mushrooms could spell the difference between life and death. But if you watched the trailer and hoped for more elaboration on what could possibly explain the craziness that unfolded, you’re in for a treat because Sabikui Bisco’s first episode helps elaborate on the lore of the universe, explaining how and why certain phenomena and factions emerged from the decaying landscape.
I’M ON SHROOMS!
What felt like a fresh breath of air in an otherwise toxic plague world was how interested Sabikui Bisco is in the world it’s crafting. Rather than dumping us in a space and letting character interactions speak for themselves, it wants us to engage with the post-apocalyptic Japan that has assimilated to a bleak existence.
It also dips into fascinating, surreal imagery with its struggle between Mushroom Hunters wanting to terraform the world with mushrooms and the police states that have banded together to fight them off. With slug ships, stray hippos, rideable iguanas, and giant crabs, it lends itself to how crazy society has gotten since Rust had dug its claws into the world.
As the general populace has to maneuver around the wastelands and Rust plague created by the explosion, they have to live in constant fear of both Mushroom Hunters possibly causing more Rust outbreaks and the particular governments that rule over the cities that humanity fled to with an iron fist.
The premiere shows a ton of love and care into
exploring the flora, environments, factions, and societal barriers that are struck up because of the mushroom plague. As the episode went down, it wanted to make sure it had all of its P’s and Q’s sorted out before they could get too deep into the plot to explain it. Concepts like Rust as a disease, the value of old world artifacts as currency, and the borders created to sort out the habitable and inhabitable land will help to get a lot out of the way before we follow Milo and Bisco for the long haul.
It was a light episode as far as character drama goes, but it puts in the effort to flesh out one particular character; an optimistic, kind, and driven doctor in Imihara named Milo. It’s a relief to see his character in action because his kindness and enthusiasm jumps through as he’s willing to care for the average people who are broke and desperate to find any way to survive in an otherwise hopeless society. While he’s weary of the danger he faces by getting involved with experimenting on mushrooms, he does so with the express purpose of finding a cure for his sister Pawoo’s rust.
Unfortunately, his positive reputation allows Governor Kurokawa to come into the fold to intimidate him into working for the government and abandoning his goals. It’s the catalyst that discourages him from having to worry about authorities, especially as the Mushroom Hunters target the town with mushroom arrows.
While there had been a fearsome mythos that surrounds Bisco and Pawoo blames people like him for her illness, Milo’s fascination with studying mushrooms causes him to be impressed and intrigued when mushrooms start sprouting from the city. Nothing might’ve prepared him for coming face to face with Bisco, but it’ll be neat to see how their dynamic is when Milo has to call to question whether Bisco will help him find the right mushroom for the cure or if he needs to be weary of a guy spreading mushrooms in this day and age.
Sabikui Bisco’s first episode might’ve been lighter on character development, but it more than made up for it by fleshing out the world that surrounds them. It can be a loaded statement to say that every story needs to have world building and lore to be worthwhile, but Sabikui Bisco’s first episode is a good example of why there is so much value placed on explaining the intricacies and details of such a fascinating, post apocalyptic landscape. With how it makes you want to learn even more about a world plagued by Rust, it should be exciting to see what the show can do when it sheds more light on Bisco and his journey.