Scum’s Wish (Kuzu no Honkai) is adapted from a manga by female creator Mengo Yokoyari. Yokoyari has stated in an interview about her manga with website Comic Natalie that she aims to create eroticism in manga that even women can read. It might surprise you to know that despite all the erotic kissing scenes between the main leads of Scum’s Wish and their emotional reliance on each other, they are not in love with each other and they are not friends with sexual benefits.
The premise of Scum’s Wish as I saw at the premiere of the first episode of the anime is fairly simple: Hanabi, a high school girl, is in love with her homeroom teacher, whom she’s known since childhood. Mugi, a high school boy, is in love with his music teacher, who was also his personal tutor when he was back in middle school. Too bad for them, it appears as if the two teachers might have a thing for each other (I repeat: MIGHT).
Although they never knew each other, through a fateful moment, Hanabi and Mugi form a mutual friendship over their similar situations. While initially platonic, in their loneliness, they find themselves taking things to the next step… and then stop.
There have been with themes of filling in loneliness with sex in the past, including Say “I love you” (Sukitte Ii na yo). However, Scum’s Wish features two leads who seek warmth and comfort in each other emotionally, but not physically. Well, not completely, at least. They go so far as to kiss each other, but always imagine the person they’re in love with when they’re doing it.
When the two begin to date for the emotional benefits, they make a promise: they will never fall in love with each other, and in the case that one of them gets together with the person they yearn for, Hanabi and Mugi will break off their relationship of dependence immediately. This is quite a positive outlook for such a grim situation, considering both Hanabi’s beloved “big brother” Narumi (seen below) and Mugi’s “girl next door” Akane (seen above) see their students as mere children.
And that’s where the realization comes in for the viewer: Things will never change. This is the beginning of a downward spiral. By creating the illusion that they are in fact kissing, hugging, and talking to the person they are in love with by using another person as a replacement, they are not letting themselves give up and move on. These two did not decide to go out with each other because they thought they could fill the loneliness by falling in love again; they did it because they just wanted someone there. They are not in love with each other.
Scum’s Wish, is in essence is a story of dependence. Since childhood, Hanabi has relied on the emotional support of her “big brother” Narumi because of something missing in her life. Narumi, in turn, relied on her and her mother as a second family because of something he lacked in his life. However, when he met Akane, he moved his emotions in her direction, leaving Hanabi without anyone to depend on. Alone, without a buffer, Hanabi finds that turning someone else into her ideal lover and fooling herself is less painful than never having her fantasy of being loved come true at all.
Maybe reality will lead the “emotional benefits” partners to breaking their promise and falling in love with each other. Maybe in some crazy twist, the teachers will suddenly return the students’ love. However, no matter what the case, the dream will eventually end, and these two loveless lovers will have to face reality, whether they like it or not.
Scum’s Wish will begin broadcasting in Japan beginning on January 13, 2017. Amazon Prime Video will serve as the exclusive streaming platform for the anime outside of Japan. A live-action drama adaptation of the manga will broadcast during the same season as the anime, and both will adapt the ending of the manga, which will have its final chapter published this coming spring.
[UPDATE: A sentence has been added to clarify the fact that this article is about the first episode of the anime.]
Image Copyright: ©Mengo Yokoyari/SQUARE ENIX, Scum’s Wish Production Committee