It’s been a while since I really dove into a romantic drama when it comes to anime. In fact, I think one of the last I really sank my teeth into was the excellent Golden Time from several seasons ago. That’s why I’m so ready to curl up with the anime adaptation of Scum’s Wish, a Winter 2017 show that originally blossomed as a manga series.
Scum’s Wish ticks all the right boxes when it comes to offering something different. It’s easy to find a romance-centric anime that coddles and flaunts its star couple, but how often do you find one that exploits a seemingly “perfect” couple with deep, dark secrets? Scum’s Wish does just that, with a fervor that’s matched only by titles such as Flowers of Evil or Inside Mari, another excellent manga series. It’s a mix of unrequited love and a tale of two individuals who don’t really want to be together–they’re just going through the motions so they don’t have to hurt anymore.
Both adorable Hanabi and considerate Mugi are a rebound couple: Hanabi lusts after her childhood friend and teacher Kanai while Mugi nurtures a crush on his childhood tutor turned teacher, Minagawa. But it’s not just the two stars of the series that steal the show. The supporting characters are just as broken as Mugi and Hanabi in their own delicate ways, although you’ve got to look closer to find out just how strange each character is.
Mugi and Hanabi feed off each other’s unrequited passions for the true targets of their affections, and while it’s clear to readers that they’re only using each other (a fact stated early on during their relationship) there are many cues that demonstrate the idea that perhaps they’re a lot closer than they actually think. It’s this type of interaction between the two that makes Scum’s Wish so uncomfortable at times–and so engrossing. There’s a lot of questions you have early on about each character and their true intentions, which aren’t always clear when they speak to each other. It’s a lot like watching real people talk in that, actually, the way you have to keep guessing about what’s really going on. Not to spoil anything, but there are some extremely puzzling moments throughout that should make the show quite accessible to fans of stories like Peach Girl.
It’s much more emotionally satisfying to take in a story that accurately mirrors the perils and pitfalls of modern romance; these are situations I’ve seen so many acquaintances in or have been in myself at some point in my life. So seeing the plot play out is something I’m definitely ready for. Plus, content aside, the animation itself looks as gorgeous as the manga did when I first gave it a read. It’s a series I can see myself really digging into each week with that in mind alone. Sometimes, the art style can really be make-or-break for me, and this looks like a real treat as far as aesthetics go.
In a flooded market where it’s always assumed that readers want to see two beautiful people fawning over each other, Scum’s Wish is a breath of fresh air. In terms of art style, story, and overall atmosphere, I’d be hard-pressed to find a manga series that shows these types of relationships as well in such an uncomfortably real way. We’ve all been there before, and perhaps that’s what makes it that much stronger. I’m hoping the story translates well to the television screen and there’s plenty of time to air out each character’s individual strengths and weaknesses, because that’s what makes it such an excellent tale in the end. I can’t wait to see how it shakes out now that it’s finally being animated.
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