As a young girl, Hanabe grew to have a crush on a neighbor. Years later, he's become the teacher of her class. Mugi fell in love with a woman who tutored him years ago, and is now a music teacher at the same school. A chance meeting of Hanabe and Mugi made them see the empteyness in each other. Can they willingly act as substitutes, or will it only lead to more pain?
If you watch anime romance, you probably do so for the semi-idealized purity of the relationships (I'm one of these). Don't pick up Scum's Wish thinking it's that. It lacks that innocence you find (and probably want) in most anime romances. It goes into dark places that I honestly found hard to watch. Descriptions imply Scum's Wish is about unrequited love, however it's more about the void created by that unrequited love, and how desperate people grasp at something to fill the emptiness.
I should point out there's plenty of kissing, petting and sex (mostly implied). Foreplay goes pretty far, but it isn't sexually explicit. I was certain it enter soft-core porno territory, but it never does and remains surprisingly tactful about the subject - which does pertain to the story.
Unfortunately I have to get slightly vague here, because Scum's Wish is best experienced by watching how things unfold. Initially characters feels distant, and everyone is a shitty person in their own way. This isn't left to the imagination though, as internal dialog thoroughly explains the thoughts and feelings of all the characters, and justifies their behavior (in their mind). This anime is exceptionally introspective, but doesn't get into lengthy preachy dialog. It's intelligent, often poetic and to the point; saying what needs to be said and moving on.
Then comes the hard part. This anime gets DARK, and it cuts very deep for a very long time. As each character has an emptiness to fill, and they use one another for the task. Many characters know this, yet allow this to happen to them willingly, because the pain is harder to face. There are six main characters, each at various points of decent in how far they've fallen. Somewhere in the middle is Hanabi; sitting at a crossroads. She could amuse herself in a hollow way, crushing what others cherish, or she can cling to better ideals and have things she cherishes taken from her.
I liked the incredible depth in the characters, however I regretted picking up Scum's Wish part way though. Everyone is getting wrung out, and treating each other like crap; surely this would be one of those shows that just shits on everything then ends. Actually no. In episode 8 Hanabi and Mugi decide to confront their feelings, and it changes into a positive direction. Having drug everyone to the depths of despair, Scum's Wish goes into a long process with characters resolving their problems. Each situation is addressed differently, with a lot of care put into how they move towards a better life. While I speak highly of the depth in the characters, I honestly hated some of them. The female school teacher pissed me off (you're supposed to hate her), and I hoped the bitch would just die, although as her story progressed I didn't mind her so much. By the end it was the pathetic guys that pissed me off more. Mugi in some ways, but Hanabi's long unrequested love most of all due to being... I don't know, fucking spineless or something. Kinda getting annoyed just thinking about him honestly.
Sound heavy? It is. Is the end worth it? It is. Everyone goes through a lot, but find some level of redemption in the end - including people I'd prefer didn't. I wouldn't describe it as a feel good anime, but hell the characters go through is gutsy in a way few titles dare to be. Scum's Wish concludes with the ending I actually wanted for Hanabi, which was the last thing I expected.
Hard to recommend this one, as most anime fans expect something different compared to the direction and depths it drags the cast through. Despite my reservations, I have to give this title a higher rating than my gut feeling, due to the high quality in content. It's a daring anime with a good payoff for those who can stick with it, but likely a big turn-off for many.
Sanae: I know I'm someone special to you. You can't say no to me because you don't want to lose me. So of course I'll take advantage of you for the cruel things you've done to me. Even if you'll never fall in love with me, I'll take what I can get. Even just your warmth.
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