English Name: Scum’s Wish
Completed: Volume 1-7 of an English fan translation, roughly 42 instalments
Scum’s Wish Online: Official Website for show (Japanese), Wikipedia, manga@ Crunchyroll,
Genre: School life + Romance + Psychological + Drama + Smut (apparently this is a category for certain anime that deal with sexual situations)
I decided to read some of this manga after seeing a list of upcoming anime shows. Scum’s Wish was in the top ten, so I decided to check out the manga to have a comparison when it is (hopefully) dubbed into English. The premise was interesting enough but not necessarily original given that there’s been a few different series that have touched on the idea of two people mutually agreeing to go out for the purposes of being substitutes for unrequited love. What I didn’t expect was how much of a train wreck most of the cast were.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The series revolves around Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya, two high school students at the same school. Hanabi has a huge crush on the guy that lives next door, a young man that sees her as a little sister and has become her homeroom teacher. Mugi is one of the more popular guys at school, who has a thing for a music teacher who has also started taking an interest in Hanabi’s crush to spite her. Aware of each other’s particular dilemma, Hanabi and Mugi agree to play the part of the perfect couple, even arranging specific rules such as dealing with physical needs. The story becomes even more complicated when it becomes apparent that Hanabi best friend, Sanae, is in love with her; and that Mugi’s love interest is not what she appears.
This series is about lonely people making bad decisions in the hopes of alleviating their loneliness and feelings of inferiority. This isn’t just the teenagers making these mistakes time and time again, though. Although I tend to steer clear of this sort of thing in stories, it seems to work well in this manga, giving the characters numerous chances to learn and grow from their mistakes. However, just like all human beings, the cast have huge problems in breaking cycles of poor choices and bad habits.
To the conflict itself, we see characters often making the mistake of relying on sexual contact in order to deal with their loneliness. This creates its share of problems, with Hanabi and Mugi often looking for ways to fulfil their own physical needs outside of their odd arrangement. That being said, we know early on that any chance of the pair falling for each other is minimal at best because that wouldn’t make much sense. After all, the two did enter into the arrange because they were obsessing over two unavailable people. The fact is that relationships and the world as a whole are complicated.
Back to the issue of characterization, a lot of people would find the flaws of the main characters annoying enough to stop reading early on. This was nearly the case for me in the third volume, where we see Sanae and Hanabi’s relationship become physical. It was a strange choice, but it was part of Hanabi’s need to keep her best friend in her life instead of rejecting her. Yes, I did have an issue with this choice as Hanabi was lying. In spite of Sanae clearly knowing that Hanabi was lying, she was also fine being a substitute because love can apparently make some people stupid.
Self-destructive and manipulative choice compounds for both Mugi and Hanabi to the point where something has got to give. Confessions are made and only one comes out of with a secret bang buddy. At least the pair began to acknowledge their own part in the whole mess and are beginning to make choices not to drag other people into their own situation by the end of volume 7. I suppose that is progress. Baby steps?
What did I like about this manga? I liked the fact that it didn’t try to gloss over the glaring flaws of the cast. As lonely and pathetic as they are, it came off as a bit more authentic than the characters of a handful of manga and anime that I have consumed in recent years. (I am looking at you Honey X Honey!) I wanted to see if these characters can dig themselves out of their own self-created shitty situations because I want to see positive struggle rather than just wallowing about like a… perpetually wallowing thing stuck in a tub. Are the characters perfect? Of course not, but they aren’t supposed to be. However, if you prefer not to read or watch something with heavily flawed and often self-destructive characters, then this series will certainly not be a good fit and neither will the upcoming anime adaptation.