The first episode of Scum’s Wish makes a case as a contender among the top series of the season. With that said, my initial run through the episode was marked with dissatisfaction at the character and the explicit nature of the piece. The art style itself was great, with some neat manga-esque panel framing to show a wide range of character expressions during specific moments. There’s an irregular, pencil like quality to the aesthetic that’s overall pleasing to look at, perhaps hinting at an unfiltered experience of the character’s reality. The show utilizes the split window well, highlighting the conflicting nature between mind and body. This is a nice touch in a series whose major draw is the exploration of unrequited love. The part that’s problematic with Scum’s Wish is that its theme is forcefully shoved down our throats, making it a point to narrate what exactly the protagonist is feeling during every single moment. Sometimes the narration works, but for the most part it’s heavy handed and distracting. Those moments don’t really allow room for input or introspection. It’s dictating exactly what you should be thinking at all times.
Our mopey, insecure protagonist Hana is in love with her homeroom teacher and childhood acquaintance whom she calls her older brother, Kanai. Rather than ever fessing up to him, she complains to her classmate Mugi, who is equally just as bad as she is. He pines over his tutor who is now also a teacher at the same school. They then make a pact to be each other’s replacements for their unrequited love, but they must never fall in love with each other. They both appear to be lame, lifeless dolls that rather complain than fix their problems.
Both characters are largely unlikeable, at least at present, with hollowed-out expressions that paint them as empty husks. Much of their interaction entails wallowing in a pool of self-pity instead of taking any risks. Rather than putting themselves out there, they seek to protect themselves in the comfort of each other’s embrace. Then again, that’s what it means to be human; No one wants to be hurt if they can avoid it. This is exactly the type of relationship these two have. When they’re not moping, they both seem disinterested in what each other has to say. Honestly, they’re both downright terrible people. Hana makes it a point to not just reject an innocent admirer who was waiting on her response for a week, she destroys him with vicious words. Mugi seems as though his involvement with Hana is one of mere self-satisfaction and curiosity. When Hana is on the bed crying about her love life, he tells her not to get the bed wet. I’m sure somewhere down the line Mugi will show some complexity to his character, but all we’ve manage to see so far is him being a jerk.
Even with the unlikeable characters, the show itself executes its statement on the nature of desire versus with deft precision. Scum’s Wish doesn’t hold back on its depiction of the lustful moments between its Hana and Mugi. You could see them getting lost in the intimacy, with drool dribbling from their mouths as they pull back from a kiss. However, Hana’s narration make it painfully clear to us that it’s not all ecstasy. Hana’s thoughts linger somewhere in between pleasure and misery whenever she’s with Mugi. Sometimes, she has a hard time with pretending. Her conflicting thoughts pose some interesting commentary on relationships: “If one of us is feeling lonely, what’s wrong with wanting the other to hold you?” The show captures the Hana’s emotional confliction to excruciating detail. It’s not as simple as just pretending and that’s what makes the series genuinely interesting. There’s a lot to be said here about relationships and love, making this series easily stand out amongst the est.
Overall, Scum’s Wish shows an immense amount of potential. While the series’ characters are not particularly charming at first glance, they act with purpose. The theme is the strength of the show. However, I have to mention that the character’s boring personalities became somewhat of a setback in my initial enjoyment of the first episode. Though, their flaws were largely overlookable.
As an aside, ending theme song powerfully demonstrates the tone of the series with brilliant execution. It starts off with a girls slow yells (there’s something captivating about the raw emotion present in the shrill of her voice)as if in agony, building up to a beautifully sounding chaos with some trippy repeated imagery. I can’t recommend it enough.
— Palpable (`･ω･´)