Scum’s Wish Volume 2 Review

Scum’s Wish:

Volume 2

Reviewed by: Linny

scums-wish-volume-2-rfi

A cover that’s as depressing as its story.

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.

(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)

Hanabi continues to wallow in self pity and frustration as she watches her beloved Onichan praise and be mesmerized by Sensei, Mugi’s crush. Her following depression leads to a karaoke date with Mug during which we learn that Mugi may be hiding secrets that even Hanabi does not know about. In fact, this volume is all about the revelation of more and more love secrets as we find out more about the past and current lives of Mugi, Echhan, Moka and some new characters.

Review:

Volume 2 opens with a Hanabi monologue as she recalls the reason for her short hairstyle and broods about her obsession with Oniichan. We then cut to her helping him carry some handouts at school where she then finds herself alone with him in the language lab room. Just as she decides to take a bold move and make him realize her feelings towards him, the sound of Sensei, a music teacher, playing the piano floats into the room and Hanabi’s heart sinks as she observes her Oniichan’s face clearly mesmerized and lost in the thoughts of Sensei. Another cut to Mugi and Hanabi in a karaoke room on a date as she sings and screams into the mic about her strong hatred towards Sensei.  After some half-hearted attempts at immersing themselves in the music, Mugi takes control and initiates a make out session. His thoughts are shown to the readers and we find out some very disturbing things about his enjoyment of controlling Hanabi at her lowest, and we also get to see a flashback to a mysterious girl for a single panel. This first chapter was basically set up because most readers would have known that Hanabi was never going to succeed in physically coming onto her beloved Oniichan this early on in the story. It’s been made clear from the start that he seems completely unaware of her sexual and romantic feelings and only thinks of her as an adorable kid sister. There was a slim to nonexistent chance of a positive outcome and the entire situation seemed to have basically been shown to explain Hanabi’s mood afterwards and her complete obedience and acceptance of Mugi’s commands during their date. The most promising part of this chapter was seeing more of Mugi’s inner thoughts. His controlling nature isn’t that big of a shock but his admittance that he was aroused by seeing Hanabi cry made for a controversial and slightly disturbing reveal. There was also that quick flash of a faceless girl but because of the vague details and the similarity to Hanabi’s body and hair type, don’t be surprised if you missed it the first time you read it.

Creep alert!

Creep alert!

The next chapter focuses on Ecchan, Hanabi’s only female friend and we see events through her eyes and thoughts. This chapter managed to make me feel like a complete fool for not catching onto it in the previous volume but we come to find out who Ecchan is actually in love with. The chapter also features Moka and we get to see a glimpse of her fantasies and continued devotion to Mugi. For a split second, Moka seems on the verge of realizing that she has glorified Mugi in her mind, inventing a vision and version of him that pleases her and feeds her obsession but it is then quickly dismissed later as the real Mugi does something sweet and pulls her right back into infatuation land. Moka has to be the most derisive and distracting element of the story so far thanks to her character being used for comic relief and being portrayed as this laughably delusional person who dresses extremely fancy and refuses to be called by her actual name. It’s hard to take her seriously and everytime she is used for comic relief the story starts to feel like a try hard comedy rather than the twisted story it seeks to be. It’s likely that Moka is a character invented by the author to inject some light-hearted brevity to stop the story from getting too dark and heavy but her outlandish behaviour makes her feel like she doesn’t belong in this story or its universe. Having Moka apparently eats things in such super speeds that even Hanabi can’t see her or having her scale walls with a single jump end up feeling like more of a oddity than a mood brightener. But let’s get back to the crux of this chapter which is that Moka and Ecchan meet for the first time which leads to some very interesting development. First off, the fact that Mugi and Hanabi are possibly faking this entire relationship is openly discussed and addressed by two characters together and most importantly, it is revealed that Ecchan’s object of affection was actually Hanabi all along.

Ebato-vision costs an extra $2 btw

Ebato-vision costs an extra $2 btw

In case the readers had forgotten, Chapter 8 reminds us that Scum’s Wish is all about the nastier side of teenage love and relationships by having Hanabi be forced to discuss and give love and relationship advice to a female classmate named Ayumi. Ayumi and her friend, Mito approach Hanabi and ask her to help them out as Hanabi is ‘ a relationship expert’ because she is dating Mugi, the most coveted boy in their class. Hanabi voices her concern about agreeing to Mugi who points out that she should do it so she can make more friends as she only has Ecchan as a friend in the entire school. Hanabi reluctantly and passively agrees and listens in horror as the classmate relates her own twisted and complicated relationship status. Just like it’s always easier to see other people’s flaws and problems, Hanabi finds herself spilling out the harsh and blunt truth to Ayumi warning her that if she doesn’t do the right thing, Ayumi will end up losing both the relationships she is currently in. It’s amusing to see Hanabi dish out advice so easily especially after she was so apprehensive and nervous about it all the time leading up to it. It’s clear that this was a beneficial encounter for all involved as there seems to be a hint that Hanabi could slowly be seeing logic and making sense of her own twisted condition through it. The conversation and how it played out also leads me to believe that Mito might be hiding some secrets of her own but given how this story has been one secret after the other, it’s becoming hard to care, especially when it’s the secret of someone who so far seems to have no relation to any of our main cast. if her secret does get revealed and is shown to be related to the main cast in a smart way, it will definitely be an impressive feat given how disconnected she is from all of them right now. This conversation leaves a deep mark on Hanabi and she walks away contemplating about her own relationship and feelings to the point where she decides to grill Ecchan about her feelings too and ends up inviting her to a sleepover so they can discuss it in more depth. If anyone was still clueless about Ecchan’s crush on Hanabi, the end of this chapter makes it undeniably clear as Ecchan loses her cool thinking about the fact that she will be sharing a bed with her crush at the sleepover.

She would know since she's been at both sides of that equation and continues to be.

She would know since she’s been at both sides of that equation and continues to be.

The next chapter jumps back in time and we get to see the first encounter between Ecchan and Hanabi and how and why she developed a crush on her. It all begins when Ecchan is trapped in a crowded train and discovers to her horror that she is being groped by a man behind her. Hanabi, a complete stranger at the time, notices her plight and comes to her rescue. It’s a meet-cute of sorts and kicks off their frienship and Ecchan’s crush. Now without spoiling too much, this chapter has some very shocking development that may threaten their once close friendship. Naturally, it makes for some thrilling mystery and leaves the reader curious to know what’s in store for their friendship in the future. Just when matters couldn’t get worse, the next day, Hanabi comes across Moka on the way to the store and Moka launches into a tirade about how Mugi belongs to her and how Hanabi doesn’t actually need or want Mugi. Hanabi walks away without a word, apparently unaffected but we end the chapter watching her recall her own words of advice to Ayumi from the previous chapter and mulling the fact that she is running away from her problems instead of fixing them. Here’s to hoping this is the beginning of her journey towards freedom from this ridiculous situation she has gotten herself into.

Girl's not afraid to let her repression show.

Girl’s not afraid to let her repression show.

Do you guys remember that one panel flashback that Mugi had in the first chapter of this volume? Well you get an explanation and flashback about the mystery girl in this volume’s final full chapter. We see that she’s someone who’s an older student at Mugi’s middle school and someone who used Mugi for her sexual needs. In all honesty, this chapter felt liek a chore for me to complete because of how it wa spresented. There’s a lot left to conjecture and for the readers to infer on their own with only the most basic info laid out. We know that her name is Mei and that she intimidates and intimidated Mugi and that she could possibly be the reason for some of his own emotional issues. The problem that I feel is starting to develop with Scum’s Wish is that it seems to be injecting more and more new characters into the story at a pace and style that doesn’t seem very organic and doesn’t play out in a cohesive manner. It’s fine if you are binge reading the series but might prove to be frustrating if you are a slow reader or taking your time with the series. The chapter ends with Hanabi having turned up in Mugi’s house and getting into bed with him as Mugi muses that he hasn’t changed at all and is still an adolescent toy. At this point, it’s clear that none of the characters in this story are someone you can easily form a deep connection with. There’s too much left unsaid and unexplained for them to fully develop as well rounded characters. Rather, they seem forced into their twisted stories and personalities in order to keep the complications rolling. That’s good if you prefer a dark plot over likable or relatable characters but it is undeniably going to be an exercise in frustration as our characters are clearly going to say or do all the wrong things to keep the drama alive.

Maybe because SHE IS A MANGA CHARACTER! What? No way!

Maybe because SHE IS A MANGA CHARACTER!

Scum’s Wish Volume 2 has two mini chapters. The first tells us about Moka’s years in middle school and how she had an admirer who completely fell for and bought into Moka’s self created princess persona. It’s a somewhat corny story but it brings out a softer side of Moka as well who has up to this point come off as a completely delusional and self absorbed person. There’s not too much to be said about it otherwise with it being a short chapter, but if you had an issue with how many new characters this volume has been introducing, here. have one more new character.

Was the job for a mouse exterminator?

Was the job for a mouse exterminator?

When it comes to the final mini chapter in this volume, it’s about another cat-woman and one again about a sad aspect of love and relationships. This one made more sense than the last one as it addressed how sometimes relationships are doomed no matter what and you cannot save the person you love no matter how hard you try. The praise worthy point about Scum’s Wish is while it is filled with characters that you may consider despicable, it does highlight the uglier sides to love and relationship that do exist even in real life. It’s good reading for those jaded with the happily ever afters in fiction and looking for something that resonates with some of their own bitter experiences. It can also act as a reminder or lesson for those who only have a rosy view of relationships and might need that rude awakening. Scum’s Wish is not an easy read for anyone. It will either frustrate you with its self-centered characters, or it might ring too close to home. Either way, it’s ugly and sadistic tone is its biggest draw and your enjoyment of it will hinge on your own attitude towards sadistic tales.

 

Scum’s Wish is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com and physical copies are available for pre-order via Amazon.com and Rightstuf.com.

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