Scum’s Wish Volume 1 Review
Reviewed by: Linny
Synopsis: Mugi Awaya and Hanabi Yasuraoka are two seventeen year olds who appear to be the perfect couple, both popular among their classmates and envied by all. However, the truth is far from that as both of them are actually in love with other people and are only pretending to date each other for their physical needs and so that they can live out their fantasies and soothe their loneliness through each others’ bodies.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Right off the bat, one can tell Scum’s Wish is not your average romance manga from its series summary. It is twisted and dark and perverted with our leads starting off as the most envied couple in class then turning into two people suffering from unrequited love and using each other for their own selfish desires. As soon as they are in private and away from the gaze of their classmates, they turn into bitter and frustrated beings spewing hatred and jealousy. As a teenager, or if you think back to your teen years, you might find their pain relatable if you have had an unrequited crush and were forced to watch them drooling over someone else while seemingly completely blind to your feelings for them. It’s something that a lot of people have experienced at one point or the other, and while not everyone may have been as bitter as Mugi and Hinabi are, it’s a situation that might warm them up to the readers who can relate to them or atleast understand their love predicament. No matter how bitter and hateful they both sound, it starts off as a great way to understand and showcase just how frustrated they are with their current status, rather than immediately painting them as terrible humans.
Chapter Two gives us a glimpse into Hanabi’s past and why she is so in love with her teacher. We see how they have shared a deep bond since her childhood and why and how she came to develop feelings and affection towards him from a young age. It’s a good touch to the story so far as we get to understand Hanabi even better and this is most likely to prepare us for when things get ugly as the series proceed. If you are the kind of reader who likes their protagonists to be good people or people with good intentions at heart, this might not be the series for you. The story seems determined to explore the darker aspects of romance and relationships and isn’t hesitant about that. While we do get a good look into the motivations and personalities of our protagonists, there’s a good chance that some readers will not like what they see. The aim of this series feels like it’s meant to be a bit controversial or thought provoking, it’s less interested in being a comforting romantic tale and more into grabbing the readers’ interest with some shocking reveals and developments.
The next chapter is a much more meatier chapter than the previous ones. Not only does it give a lot more history but it also introduces a new character and a new secret. Despite their attempts to keep the truth of their relationship under cover, there’s someone who is starting to suspect that Hanabi isn’t actually in love with Mugi. Of course, this person has their own agenda too for being so interested in the relationship between them. Hanabi is asked about why she is dating Mugi and later in the chapter, Hanabi muses on it in the privacy and comfort of her bedroom. This leads to another flashback and we get to see exactly how and why they got together and come to realize that while Hanabi was the one who figured out Mugi’s secret first, it was Mugi who initiated the fake relationship. There’s not much to be said about this chapter except for that it really adds a lot of history and starts to really kick off the complex web of emotions and lies that all our characters have landed themselves in.
Chapter Four is when things start to get really ugly and Hanabi’s twisted psychological state starts to breakthrough in public. We see her losing herself in fantasy as she fools around with Mugi and admits that she is addicted to it as it’s the only way she can get to be with her unrequitted love. She even goes so far as to claim that she is engaging in things that she knows her Oni-chan would never do, not even with her. This sudden chasteness feels rather wrong and questionable. She’s clearly put her crush on this holier-than-thou pedestal and finding out that she thinks her older male crush does not have sexual desires feels like such a stupid and strange complex to have. It really cements her ignorance and how her so called love may not actually be love but more of an extreme infatuation arising from her absent father complex and a hero worship complex. Carrying on, we come to a defining moment for Hanabi as she turns down a proposal from one of her admirers. Her words are harsh and cruel and considering her own true unrequited situation, it makes it sound all the more cruel and shallow. She’s been shown to have a really low opinion of herself so far with the book literally titled Scum’s Wish and Hanabi so far seemingly thinking of herself as scum for engaging in physical activities with a boy she doesn’t love all for the sake of promoting her fantasies. So when she mocks people as being creepy for loving someone who has no interest in them, she is most likely also venting her feelings about herself as well. Nevertheless, in the moment, it is going to make some readers immediately take a disliking to her and start to cement that this isn’t a book about nice people at all nor about good people stuck in a bad situation.
Mugi sure seems popular as this volume introduces not one, but two of his ardent admirers, with one of them not at all afraid to let her feelings be known to the point where we see a face to face point blank confrontation between her and Hanabi over Mugi. This new character, who calls herself Moka, short for Most Kawaii, is another character that’s extremely out there and seems to be suffering from “Chuunibyou” or “eighth-grade syndrome”. For those unaware, Eight grade Syndrome is a term from Japanese culture used to refer to teenagers who have strong delusions or fantasies about possessing special powers and abilities which tends to occur around the time they’re in the eight grade. Moka isn’t in Eight Grade though, she’s the same age as our protagonists and even goes to the same school as them. However, she has a Princess Complex and refuses to stick to the school uniform code. When Mugi calls her by her real name, she flinches and claims it is an accursed relic of her ancient past. Oh, to be a psychiatrist in this series..one could make millions just off our cast members. She has an unrequited love story similar to Hanabi, in that she grew up with Mugi and decided that he was her destiny after getting inspired/ carried away when people remarked that she and Mugi looked like a princess with her prince when they played together as kids. For those who balked at that, a useful thing to remember is that this is a bunch of immature teenagers we are looking at, and the teenage years can be a rather puzzling and emotionally charged period where people act in ways that might make them cringe at themselves in the future. With that thought in mind, it’s easy to smirk at our casts as they make one selfish or dumb and confounding decision/action after the other and chalk it down to them being ‘dumb’ teenagers without completely losing your hair over it.
Scum’s Wish feels like something that would most appeal to sadist or people who like their stories and characters as twisted as possible. These characters all seem to have some sort of personal issues and hang ups and clearly, none of them fall into the classic good spectrum. It feels like a guidebook on how to not be a nice person but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad story in and of itself either. For those that don’t mind or come to understand its selfish/dumb characters, there’s a sense of mystery as to how this story will play out. If you’re wondering whether our leads end up falling for each other, for now, they have strict rules for their relationship. They’re not allowed to fall in love with each other and the second either does, the whole fake relationship will be called off. And for those looking forward to the smut, they even make a rule that they will never actually have sex with each other. There’s plenty of intense make out scenes, but these scenes are filled with dialogues and thought bubbles so these scenes act as a glimpse into Hanabi’s inner thoughts and feelings towards herself and her actions, rather than something inserted for the sole sake of titillation.
At the end of the volume was a rather mysterious mini chapter featuring two original characters who do not seem to be actually related to the main story in any way that was immediately noticeable. It’s about this cat-like woman (who later turns out to be an actual cat?) and the man she loves. It’s hard to explain because to be honest, I didn’t exactly get it but it seems to deal with unrequited affection as well, thus cementing for me personally, that this series basically wants to be a mindf**k about love and relationships. The art of the series is interesting and uses black clouds at the end of chapters to express and denote the darker notes and psyche of the story. So far, the story has been told mainly through the eyes of its female characters so maybe the following volumes will finally give us the point of view through some of the male characters. The most honest and unbiased statement I can make about Scum’s Wish is that it is not for everyone, but that’s a statement that can be applied to literally everything. To make it more specific, Scum’s Wish deals with characters and topics that are more likely to feel disturbing or unlikable than most other series pegged as romance. It’s not a happy story and is most likely going to only get a lot more sad and twisted as it continues. If the sound of a teenaged, selfish and psychologically unbalanced cast doesn’t immediately turn you off, Scum’s Wish might win you over for the sheer twists and oddity of its content.