Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Scum’s Wish
Anime Studio: Lerche
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Drama / Ecchi
Released: March 11th, 2019
Extras: Trailers, Clean OP & ED
Scum’s Wish Collection Hanabi has loved her older friend Narumi for years, but she’s still in high school and not only is Narumi now her new homeroom teacher, he’s also clearly in love with the music teacher, Akane. And as awkward as being the unwanted third in a romantic triangle can be, things become even more twisted for Hanabi when she learns that another student, Mugi, is in love with Akane. That leads to a strange idea: since the ones that Mugi and Hanabi are in love with aren’t available, the two unrequited thirds start to explore the idea of becoming each other’s substitute surrogate relationship. It’s not about romance, of course, so if one of them manages to snag their true love, the whole deal is off. Or at least that’s what they keep telling themselves as love’s wires become hopelessly crossed and ensnarled.
Starting with the technical aspects of the series, Scum’s Wish is really quite pretty to look at. The colour scheme, especially during flashback moments, felt almost water-coloured to me. The opening feels slightly chaotic, and reminded me a little of Tokyo Ghoul, but it fits remarkably well with the way the character’s lives play out during the season. The soundtrack was fine, with nothing feeling out of place, and honestly, I thought that both the Japanese and English voice cast did a good job with the script. So, from an auditory and visual standpoint, Scum’s Wish is a decent show. It’s the actual story that will divide viewers though.
When Scum’s Wish first streamed, I remember there being a mixed response to the storyline and how it played out. And let’s be honest here, it’s not hard to see why. The series opens up with Hanabi Yasuraoka talking about her feelings for her teacher, Narumi Kanai. She comes across as quite sympathetic in a tragic sort of way here. Once things kick in though, the show descends into being a series of events that could easily be described as bad people doing bad things.
Hanabi and Mugi Awaya’s relationship is the simplest of these, with them both using each other to quell their loneliness and longing for people they can’t be with. You can’t fault their honesty in the situation, and you do feel sorry for them when they’re together. For all the want to see them get together properly though, you always feel like they’re doomed. In part, this comes down to how everyone seems to be using someone.
And boy does that cross some lines in how it plays out. Sanae Ebato essentially forces herself on Hanabi, which is yet another example of the troublesome predatory lesbian trope. You get the sense that Hanabi is also trying to satisfy herself with Sanae too though, even when she knows she’ll never feel the same way about her. Then there’s Akane Minagawa, another teacher whose only goal in life is to seduce men and use that to hurt those who care about them. She even goes so far as to intentionally taunt Hanabi, and then goes on to seduce Mugi.
So, we have people using each other, teacher’s seducing and taunting students, and assault. As a personal dislike, you can throw in Hanabi viewing Narumi as a big brother too. Honestly, throughout the series, the only one that came across as truly likable was Narumi. He looked after Hanabi when she was young, he doesn’t want to step over the teacher/student boundary, and he works with Akane’s character traits in their relationship. We don’t see enough of him to make him a main character, but his presence was probably the only consistent positive throughout.
It would easy to think that I didn’t enjoy the show. Somehow though, it remained engrossing. In a way, the term Car Crash TV seems to fit. These are unlikable people leading tragic lives that are falling apart around them due to their own decisions. I’m not certain why it feels compelling to watch, but it is. The ending even gives a sense of progression for both Hanabi and Mugi, with the other characters taking smaller steps forward. So, while not one for those who like their anime on the happy side, if you can get past the things that the cast do, it’s a worthwhile watch. 3.5 out of 5.