Japan is now a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Cities are built behind reinforced walls to keep out the rust wind, a natural phenomenon that infects all living things that come into contact with it with an incurable disease simply referred to as 'Rust'. Believing that the rust wind, and by extension, the Rust, come from mushroom spores, the people of Japan have come to fear mushrooms and shun those who harvest them. Bisco, a young man from the tribe of the Mushroom Keepers, is on a journey with his mentor, Jabi, as they search for the ultimate mushroom - the Rust Eater, said to be capable of curing even the direst cases of Rust. When their journey forces them to find a doctor in the fortress city of Imihama after Jabi is gravely injured, Bisco meets Milo Nekoyanagi, a mild-mannered doctor who believes that mushrooms hold the key to the cure for Rust. When Milo saves Jabi's life, Bisco offers to give him anything Milo could ever want - and Milo wants to join him in his hunt to find the Rust Eater!
Pursued by the authorities, bounty hunters, and even Milo's older sister, Pawoo, the two set out for the journey of a lifetime atop a giant crab named Actagawa in search of the cure for Rust.
... And that's only volume one.
Sabikui Bisco is a light novel series written by Shinji Cobkubo and illustrated by K Akagishi and Mocha (Akagishi is responsible for character designs, while Mocha does backgrounds) and winner of the Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! award. The series began publication under the Dengeki Bunko imprint in 2018, and it has been licensed in English by Yen On. There is a manga adaptation as well as an anime adaptation that aired during the winter 2022 season.
This work contains examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Bisco's arrowheads are sharp enough to lodge in anything. Anything.
- Action Girl: Pawoo.
- Action Survivor: A requirement to survive in post-apocalyptic Japan.
- Adjective Noun Fred: Literally "Rust Eater Bisco".
- Aerith and Bob: Bisco, Milo, Tirol, Pawoo... Kurokawa.
- After the End: This takes place after a disaster that destroyed Japan and the rest of the world.
- Apocalypse How: Class One - the Japanese government still exists on some level, but the streets of Imihama are patrolled by the governor's personal guard and the vigilante corp.
- Badass Cape: Seems to be a requirement to be a Mushroom Keeper.
- Bash Brothers: Bisco and Milo.
- Break Out the Museum Piece: Averted. The rust wind has destroyed much of the older machinery and structures of old Japan, making pieces from the before-times more valuable.
- Captured on Purpose: Bisco's plan to get some food in Tetusjin Town.
- Crapsack World: As one would expect from a post-apocalyptic setting - not only the fauna and flora is struggling to survive and had to adapt to do so, the society is also as sick as the people with actual rusty infection.
- Crapsaccharine World: In the same breath, there is a lot of focus on the wonders of the world outside and its curious biological adaptation to the Rust. The anime made a point by juxtaposing the darkest and creepiest scenes of Pawoo's stop at the old couple's town and the main characters in a sunny breezy wholesome comedic combat saving the children on Tetsujin Town, all in one episode.
- Combat Pragmatist: Bisco and Pawoo, in spades. Milo learns along the way.
- Desolation Shot: Used in the anime to show how much the landscape of the country has changed after the end.
- Everyone Chasing You: Bisco and Milo are pursued by Kurokawa and Pawoo on their journey to find the rust-eater.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Governor Kurokawa berates Milo and calls him a fool for devoting his time and medical expertise toward helping the poor at his own expense rather than working for him and earning a decent government salary.
- Exotic Weapon Supremacy: Pawoo's weapon of choice is a thick metal beam. She's the second-best fighter so far, just barely skirting behind Bisco in skill.
- Fantastic Flora: The mushrooms consume rust and there are floating bushes that emit light, among other things.
- Fight Magnet: Bisco, wherever he goes chaos ensues.
- Friendship Moment: Lots of them, especially between the main duo.
- The Great Serpent: The pipe snake introduced in episode 6.
- Healthcare Motivation: The reason Bisco met Milo, the Doc Panda, and also the main reason for them to look for the Rust Eater Mushroom.
- Homage: To Metal Max.
- Hot-Blooded: Bisco, all the time. Milo has his moments when he's pushed to it.
- Lighter and Softer: Episode 4 in regards to the introduction mini-arc.
- Made of Explodium: Bisco's arrows explode in a spectacular array of mushrooms, usually of the giant variety.
- Master Archer: Bisco, who learned from his mentor, Jabi. He teaches Milo his ways, and even though Milo can't pull off his superhuman feats, he's more than capable of standing his own in a fight.
- One-Man Army: Bisco and Pawoo are two sides of the same coin when it comes to doling out violence.
- Organic Technology: Due to the rust wind, well, rusting most metal-based technology, scientists adapted by creating animals that act as vessels for tech. Examples include snail-based cargo planes and machine-gun-mounting hippos.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: The Nekoyanagi siblings.
- Taken for Granite: The Rust is a very slow version of this trope. Once infected it slowly spreads across the hosts body over the span of several months to years. As it reaches its later stages, parts of the body will start to solidify into a brittle substance that quite easy breaks off until the whole victim is nothing but rust.
- Theme Naming: Alongside characters named after sweets and snacks, a lot of surnames like Akaboshi, Kurokawa, and Oochagama are references to types of fungi.
- The Plague: The disease known simply as Rust which has spread throughout the populace and with no known permanent cure. At best it can be staved off, but most infected live on borrowed time.
- Reduced to Ratburgers: Animals and fauna have either adapted to the new environment or died out. Bisco and Milo frequently make use of animals like lizards for food on their journey.
- Rocket Jump: Bisco makes very good use of the explosive growth of his mushrooms.
- Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick: Bisco and Milo, respectively.
- Rule of Cool: Lives it, breathes it, runs on it.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Tirol first appears as a mook, hunting down Jabi and Bisco in the desert outside Imihama on Kurokawa's orders. She decides to book it as far away as she can after she fails to beat Bisco and he rains havoc over the city instead.
- In-universe, to the brands of cookies Bisco, the Tirol chocolates, and chocolate powder Milo.
- In a meta-perspective, to Hokutono Ken and Mad Max.
- And in a more conventional vein, Kurokawa dies by falling into a sea of molten metal (or rather, Rust). To further drive home the reference, Akaboshi punctuates his death with, "Why don't you say, 'I'll be back'?"
- Stuff Blowing Up: Lots of it, and it looks good doing it.
- World of Badass: And how!