Review for Scum's Wish Collection
Sometimes you take a look at the premise of a show and you ask just why it was made. The name, Scum’s Wish certainly sounds provocative, but when you read the blurb, about a girl in love with a boy she can’t attain, and a boy in love with a girl he can’t have, who then wind up together supporting each other’s unrequited love, you’ll be forgiven for thinking ‘Toradora’. It turns out that there’s more than one way to spin a yarn, and that Scum’s Wish is nothing like Toradora.
Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya look like the perfect couple, but in reality they are anything but. Both have been nursing crushes on someone else. Hanabi’s in love with family friend, tutor, and now schoolteacher Narumi Kanai, while Mugi’s in love with music teacher Akane Minagawa. Not only aren’t the teachers interested in their students, it actually looks as if they might start dating each other. So Hana and Mugi, both losers in love decide to go together, with the provisos that neither shall fall in love with the other, and should things actually turn out the way they hope with their respective crushes, they’ll support each other.
12 episodes of Scum’s Wish are presented across 2 Blu-rays from MVM.
1. Make a Wish
2. I’m Here For That Warmth
3. Show Me Love (Not A Dream)
4. Bad Apple!!
5. DESTRUCTION BABY
6. Welcome to the X-Dimension
7. LOTS OF LOVE
8. Sweet Refrain
9. butterfly swimmer
10. Fragile & Empty
11. A Kind God
12. Their Story
Scum’s Wish gets a really quite nice 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. The image is clear and sharp, the animation smooth and untroubled by aliasing, or even digital banding. It’s a shojo anime, aimed at female audiences, and you can see that expressed in the warmer world design, the expressive characters, and the more nuanced and thoughtful animation. It’s not the most energetic of productions, but then again it’s not supposed to be. It looks great on this Blu-ray release.
You have the choice between DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese, with subtitles and signs locked to the appropriate track. I merely checked to see that the English dub existed, which it does, but stuck with original Japanese audio for the duration. The subtitles are timed accurately and free of typos, and the actors are suited well for their roles. As you might guess, this isn’t an action heavy piece, more a dramatic, dialogue focused show, and the sound design reflects that. The music does a good job of driving the emotion of the piece without ever sounding obtrusive.
The discs present their content with static menus, and the episodes are followed by translated English credit reels.
The extras on disc 2 comprise 2:50 of trailers for the show, one textless opening and two textless closings. There are also Sentai trailers for Hitorijime My Hero, Princess Principal, CLANNAD, and No Game No Life Zero.
Scum’s Wish isn’t my cup of tea to be clear, but it is exceptionally good at what it does, a study of teenage love and relationships through the eyes of its protagonists, giving each of the characters equal weight and depth. Most anime romance is of the comic kind, the Love Hinas and the Toradoras of the world, Once in a while the creators might get serious, in which case we get overwrought and histrionic efforts like Saikano. Scum’s Wish on the other hand aims for a more realistic story. I haven’t seen this much teen angst in an anime romance since Rumbling Hearts, although Scum’s Wish manages to avoid the soap opera melodrama of the latter.
The one, off-key note about the show is the examination of relationships between teachers and students, justifiably verboten in British society, but not quite so much of a red flag issue in anime. Scum’s Wish manages to avoid the most obvious landmine by giving the characters history; both Mugi and Hana were tutored by Kanai and Akane when the latter were students in their own right, and those relationships have continued as they both became teachers, and Mugi and Hana started going to the school where they work. But I have to admit that I did hear The Police’s “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” in my head on more than one occasion while watching this show.
It’s a popular fiction that teen romance leads to a happily ever after. Scum’s Wish offers a more realistic perspective, that relationships in teenage years are really just practice for adulthood, that emotions and feelings are still developing and yet to be understood, and the lines between lust and love, obsession and infatuation have yet to be drawn. Mugi and Hana start dating/not dating when their respective crushes on their teachers seem to be going nowhere, looking to each other for solace and understanding. They quickly learn that you can’t divorce action from emotion in that way, and things quickly get complicated.
Things get even more complicated with Hana’s best friend Ecchan, who is coming to the realisation that she is a lesbian, and she’s attracted to Hana. It’s just one more aspect of angst for the characters to deal with. What makes the show so well done is that it examines each of the characters and determines their motivations. There are no antagonists in the show, although you might at first think that Akane is the antagonist, her narcissism compelling her to play the field, interested only in attached men, getting as much pleasure from their company as she does from causing pain to their girlfriends by flaunting it. But Scum’s Wish goes to some lengths to explain what makes her tick, to make her just as sympathetic a character as the others.
Scum’s Wish is also realistic about the nature of sexual relationships, so you won’t find any apologetically awkward virginal boys or violently chaste girls as per the usual anime rom-com, no intense blushes over the prospect of an indirect kiss; instead the show can be fairly graphic, justifying its 15 rating, although I still think that anime kisses are about as un-erotic as animation can get. Scum’s Wish is well worth a watch if you want an anime romance that avoids all the usual tropes and clichés and offers something realistic instead. It’s just that for me, the show’s realism felt just a little cynical and depressing. It just didn’t click with me.