The anime roster for Winter 2017 was packed with hard hitters. Everything from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid to Little Witch Academia proved that it was going to be a great year for anime fans. While the season held tons of new shows, there were some coming back for another round, such as Dragon Ball Super and even One Piece.
It was easy, then, to let a few fantastic shows slip through the radar. That seemed to be the case for Scum’s Wish, a 12-episode anime from studio Lerche that was based on a manga with the same name. Both the name and the key visual for the anime were enough to pique some interest for anime-only fans.
However, for those fans who might not have seen it, now is the time to dive head first into one of the most intriguing and heartbreaking anime from the past couple seasons.
What is Scum’s Wish?
Scum’s Wish, otherwise known by its Japanese title Kuzu no Honkai is based on the manga series with the same name, written by Mengo Yokoyari. It featured in Big Gangan, Square Enix’s seinen manga magazine. The manga was adapted into a 12-episode anime that premiered in January 2017 and was available through Amazon Prime. Soon after it was adapted into a twelve episode live-action series on Fuji TV.
The series is known for tackling hard-hitting issues that apply to both adolescents and adults from yearning for true love, depression and sexual relationships. However, critics have pointed out whetherwhether it’s genuine representation, or just for shock value.
The story follows a group of teens in high school, all intertwined through love and need for companionship. Hanabi Yasuraoka is a student in love with a childhood friend who ends up being her homeroom teacher. The teacher, Narumi Kanai, is in love with the new music teacher Akane Minagawa.
But things can only get more complicated from there. Another student, Mugi Awaya, is in love with Akane. Both are cases of unrequited love, and through this brings Hanabi and Mugi together.
However, it’s not a case of love in unexpected places. Instead, the two come up with a plan. They come together for companionship, vowing to be nothing more than physical.
The deal ends when one of their love connections returns the feelings. The show follows them trying to combat their loneliness with a mere facade of companionship. The show proves they aren’t alone in their solitude, introducing us to other students who are also trying to find meaning in their feelings.
It’s a melancholy show with angry and depressed teenagers that desperately want to fall in love, but it’s so much more than that. The art of the anime is unparalleled, with stunning visuals and the color palette of the dreamiest shoujo anime. The art lends itself to the story in more ways than one.
Early on in the show the color scheme and layout of the first episode are there to gently remind us that this is about love and romance. It’s about finding companionship, and combating the loneliness that anyone could be subjected to. But at the same time, compared with some of the brutal lines and thoughts the characters say it’s also there to remind the viewer that not everything is as easy as it seems.
The show constantly pits characters side by side, but with obvious walls between them, no matter how close they actually are. The characters themselves are very interesting. Again, playing against a typical romance anime, the characters are seen as unstable, dangerous, and chaotic.
The characters consistently make selfish and even bizarre choices, with their internal dialogue showing the thought process along the way. That doesn’t make it any easier to watch, The viewer feels almost helpless, watching the characters harm not only others around them but themselves as well. Unfortunately they can also come across as hollow, only there to perpetuate ideas and stereotypes rather than fully formed people.
It’s clear that the story is the most important part, and occasionally that comes at the expense of the characters within it.
Should you watch it?
It’s not that easy of an answer. The show has tons of moments that can be hard to stomach. There are raw, vulnerable moments that are enough to make anyone squirm.
The show is also unapologetic with its sexual imagery. Episodes are littered with sexual tones and moments that are blatant in their meaning. So if sexual imagery in anime isn’t quite your thing, feel free to skip. If it’s something you’re willing to overlook, then maybe give it a shot.
While the show can make someone incredibly uncomfortable, it also feels like it’s the point. It’s not the show you will want to settle down with for the night for something sweet and romantic, nor is it the one you’ll watch to get through a rough time. Instead, it’s just there, simply, as it is.
It’s what you watch when maybe, you want to experience something a little more honest. As over the top as it can feel at times, it also feels honest with the viewer. Romance isn’t always as sweet as it can be portrayed, nor is it always a deep tragedy.
Sometimes, it can be messy, unstable, and unsatisfactory. But if you’re looking for something a bit thought-provoking and even something to make you feel a little angry, then Scum’s Wish is for you. It’s a great anime about difficult people dealing with difficult matters.
There are times when it’s hard to believe that it is a bunch of teenagers and the occasional young adult grappling with these themes, but a firm reminder that it isn’t the furthest thing from reality. In the end, it doesn’t feel as if anyone has won, because truly, no one has. I won’t spoil it here, but the ending has become one of the most divisive endings of the past few years.
It’s a welcome change from other anime, particularly since it was shown on Amazon Prime. Its melancholy nature is perfect for a springtime viewing when maybe, the sun isn’t shining as bright as you hope.