Posted on 8 April 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Scum's Wish

I remember after watched a movie called “Requiem for a Dream” a few years back, I felt devastated for an entire week. The ending hit me so hard that after finished that movie I had to walk around my area for 2 hours in the middle of night to settle my feeling and I thought to myself, “What’s the point of being too hard to the characters, those who have feeling and dreams just like any of us?” Then it hit me immediately. The movie is an unflinching look at the bad side of drugs and how it corrupts people. People like you and me. I finished Scum’s Wish feeling the exact same way. Scum’s Wish is an anti-romance series, a show that excels on portraying ugly aspects of romance relationship and the line of that love versus physical love. I don’t blame you if you feel emotionally-drained watching this series. It was supposed to be that way and for all the dark sides the show evokes, Scum’s Wish always give more thoughtful and honest treatments than most of other anime out there. The way the show handles the bright side of love though, couldn’t pull so much punch as it aimed for.

I do believe the title “Scum’s Wish” really give you an idea of what this show is about. The “Wish” part of the show is its exploration of unrequited love. This unrequited love trope appears everywhere in the show to the point it could be considered as a deconstruction. All these feelings so pure and strong it begins to be eaten over by desired; hatred and obsessions. In Scum’s Wish, everyone falls hopelessly in love with another person who don’t return their love, become blinded and damaged by that obsessive love and in the end, they had to leave that love to move on with their lives. “If it’s a special kind of pain, they’ll be able to become stronger”. Scum’s Wish argues that it’s a painful process to let go with the love of your life, but it’s a necessary step in order to grow up and become a fully-formed person.

But it’s the “Scum” part that gives makes this show provocative and controversial, for all the right reasons. Unable to let go of those one-sided loves, the characters of the show start to use physical means to get what they want. The show keeps progressing its confidence take on the line between physical desires and emotional desires, on how the characters keep using the former as the substitute for the latter, but end up being lonelier and more suffering. Also in Scum’s Wish, all characters really self-aware on the muddy situations they get themselves in, but charge forward anyways. They know what they do will fill them with regret and disgust, but they continue to do it for their own selfish gains, be it to escape from the frustration that they can’t be with the one they love, trying to get every little moment they could out of the loved one, or just use physical attraction as an approval of their power – hence Scum. Those moments where the characters struggling with themselves, most notably Hanabi’s young version loathes current Hanabi are one of the darkest, yet effective sequences of the show.

For a show that has little action and with a mundane high school settings, the visual presentation and the direction of the show are surprisingly very solid. I agree with most of its visual choices, ranging from the using of panel like in manga that represent both multiple perspectives and establish the space between our characters; the stylized key frames that make us feel like time has stopped in those moments; the text screens that represent more as a visualize of characters’ thoughts; the constant use of visual motifs like fallen rose pedals, characters facing the bright, more innocent selves that detailing the increasingly corruptions of the cast. The music; in particular, stands out in Scum’s Wish, as each segment has a different distinctive musical score that really help elevating the mood of each sequence.

The characters in the show are unfortunately a mixed-bag for me. We have really strong leads of Hanabi and Mugi who constantly have to deal with their personal issues, and the show successfully keeps peeling their skins for more nake, more vulnerable of themselves. With a show that aims more on pushing provocative themes than actual characters’ study, there are some characters of the cast are decidedly presented as one-dimensional from the start. Both Akane-sensei and Moca fall comfortably in their usual character’s stock, one is a bitchy bitch who love attention from men and jealousy from girls, the other is an elegant princess who dream for the prince to come. The show presents them as cliché in order to deconstruct how flawed their ways of thinking are. When they shrug off that extreme side of theirs, however, they become stronger and happier in the process. Moreover, I find Ecchan love towards Hanabi one of the most complex and appealing romance in this show. While the female cast if this show is consistently great (even with limited time on screen, Mugi’s senpai still come off as a painful and conflicted character. Strong character’s writing here), the male cast unfortunately doesn’t develop fully enough. Four-eyed sensei drags the show down and he feels more like a walking stick than a normal person; that guy Takuya is portrayed in mostly insensitive light that I feel he was more a trash bin with all the bad traits male inhibits; and Atsuya’s role in the show feel awkward and a bit forced towards pulling Ecchan out of her mess.

While the way this show handles its dark, twisted web of broken romances is effective and thought-provoking, the last third of the show it loses some of its impact as the show tries to resolve all of its relationships. With things are messy and complicated as they are, the ending feels a bit too clean and sometimes overreached. I can’t buy that love between Akane and Narumi for example, I feel like Hanabi and Ecchan can’t go back as friend, bot with that short time span and I feel the ending of Hanabi and Mugi, while appropriate, is underwhelmed. The best strength of Scum’s Wish is its ability to grab you and never let you go, but its impact is lessened greatly towards the end.

As a whole, Scum’s Wish is still a solid drama. Not so often in this medium we see a more realistic and dark aspect of love and romance like this one. The fact that I keep comparing this show to other movies really speak to this quality of Scum’s Wish: the show is structured and presented more like live-action TV show than an anime one (in fact, the live-action drama is currently streaming as we speak). For all of its devastating and depressing details, at its peak Scum’s Wish manages to pull many raw and naked emotional punch that many other shows don’t dare to address. Scum’s Wish is ultimately a painful and uncomfortable experience, but that what growing up is all about.

Posted on 31 March 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

So we end things up with the bookend of school festivals, huh? I think I get it, school festivals supposed to be fun, exciting and thrilling which is exactly opposite with how Hanabi feels. She feels lonely, but now as time slowly passes, when all the pains become somewhat endurable, she just wants to be left alone. Drifting in life so to speak. But that happy tones of those school festivals seem out of place to me, especially those comic exaggerated reactions don’t land well. Maybe in the manga form it works better because we can still have the silent moments of sobering, but in anime there are noise everywhere. The jump back and forth between festivals don’t really inform us much either. That got me thinking but I do feel that in this case, the best way to end the show could be flashforward few years into the future and show us how the characters are at that time. In Flowers of Evil, when the manga did the massive time-jump, it felt jarring at times, but afterward I found that last part the right treatment to examine the wound, the aftereffect of those obsessions bring to the main character. In Scum’s Wish, the characters are in the same circumstances: lost and adrift in life, time can indeed heal these pains but those wounds don’t heal overnight. It’s a progression; seeing how the past still affects them, but they still can move on with their lives would be rewarding enough. But I’m settled with this ending, not the best way to close up the story but it still pulls great emotional punch to our two mains.

It’s great to bump up each of the cast for the last time, and they’re all in a better, healthier stage right now. Moca embraces her dark self and becomes more beautiful, more attention-grabbing because of it. Remember the ugly duck transforms into a beautiful swan fairytale? Well, she was no ugly duck by any mean but this is a right metaphor for Moca: SHE TRANSFORMS. Ecchan; cuts loose her hair and still manages to be that hot, lets go of that dark past behind and moves on. The way she treats Hanabi was the same way Hanabi treated her back then, sincere and earnest as friends. Four-eyed teacher and Akane are all happy, of course, with the wedding around the corner. Hanabi had a moment to really accept that she can’t never be with Harumi and feel happy for him, and I love the brief moment of Akane being her usual self while picking on Hanabi. As it turns out, I’m pretty the same with Mugi, preferring Akane when she was a broken, lonely character than her current happy version.

At last, it’s time for Mugi and Hanabi relationship and overall I like this treatment. Back in my weekly coverage, I firmly believed that they couldn’t be great together because they don’t talk to each other about their problems, instead just keep those feeling bottled inside and release them in terms of sexual contact instead. Well, this last time they do just that, talk to each other about everything, no physical contact, and decide to part ways to grow on their owns and find their new true love. Well, this show’s main theme has always been about exploring unrequited romances, so I’m happy with this ending; although I do feel like they could’ve been better. As a final impression, Scum’s Wish is an emotionally charged and mature series that don’t afraid to go dark and disturbing to examine unflinchingly on what it means to love someone with all your hearts. I don’t mention it much in my weekly reviews but the direction for this show is rock solid, and I pretty much agree with most of their visual choices there. As for my personal feeling on Scum’s Wish, although the show managed to grasp me personally, I’m more respecting it as a well-written character study, rather than outright responding to it. I’m not that big romance and true love to begin with. Can’t say I’m “enjoying” the experience but I’m glad that I’m sticking with it, because it manages to pull many raw feelings that other series shy away from addressing. The pains won’t go away anytime soon for our Hanabi and Mugi, and I know at the end of this trip, they don’t learn much about what they want, but certain only of what they didn’t want. And that’s fine, it’s all part of growing up.

Posted on 25 March 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

It’s strange, for a show that almost certainly make viewers furious one way or another, be it totally love it or hate it; I remain indifferent for last couple of episode. The thing is, I can’t ship this Akane – Narumi relationship, because I’ve witnessed this kind of relationship in real life before and it just didn’t work out. Contrasting personalities can attract each other, sure, but they still have to share the same basic fundamental of mutual understanding. I’m sure Akane and that robotic sensei have different sets of value about commitment, and until they can sort out that gap, marriage proposal is out of question. Furthermore, to what extent should we love and accept a person the way they are? The only one-sided, unconditional love that work is the love of the parents towards their child (I love a line in Xavier Dolan’s movie“Mommy”, in which a Mom talks to her son- “The only thing that’s gonna happen… is I’ll love you more and more. And you’ll be the one loving me less and less, but… Life works that way.”). Love as a couple means you love and expect the other to love you and have a moral obligation to behave correctly towards each other as well. How will he react if Akane is going to stay true to herself and f* anything that moves? Accept it means he assists her to her own destruction but reject it means he doesn’t accept her they way she is.

Therefore, it’s important to know what Akane’s feel about this relationship, and I actually can see why Akane attracts to Harumi. For all her love life, she has been a man’s sexual desire. She’s in the centerstage, demand all the men’s attention and enjoying their possessiveness and their jealousy over her. For Akane, it’s the proof of her worthiness. But Harumi cares none of that so that order is thrown out of the window and she suddenly feels confused and wants his approval. His very perspective of love- he’s fine if she screws around because she likes it- eventually reaches to Akane, shattered all the gallery of previous relationships (great visual metaphor here, although I still don’t understand why the young Akame again?), and makes her feel connected. As I said above, I don’t think this love will last and marriage proposal is way too fast for this relationship.

I’m glad the show doesn’t tackle this, instead just hints very slightly this episode; but at one time I thought they made Harumi lose his glasses so that he sees Akane reminds him again of his lost mother. Because if it is then I really question if Harumi really love/care/know Akane enough to live with her for the rest of his life. Akane herself doesn’t sure if it works out either, but the mere fact that she wanted to change is good enough. Also, credit where credit is due, although you know I believe he’s the worst-written character out of this show, I need to praise Takuya’s appearance in this episode (yep, he was in this episode, sobbing when he found out that Akane was cheating on him), because seeing the brief moments of him hurting by that love, I can feel the way his pure love is broken and a glimpse on how he becomes the way he is now. That is a sensitive storytelling.

Akane accepting Harumi also means the rejection for our boy Mugi. For the first time since forever, they have a date but it’s just purely a date, you know, no love hotel. Akane enjoys herself and then firmly rejects Mugi. When you think about it, it’s actually very thoughtful of her (I guess because she actually cares for Mugi) that she cuts that relationship clear and clean so Mugi can be able to move on. Like a protagonist in 500 Days of Summer (gosh, what’s with all the movies’ references today Mario!!!), he learned that people can actually change, but it’s always someone other than him; he has no real influence on her decision. Now, it’s important that he remembers this so that he can grow after this pain. “If it’s a special kind of pain, they’ll be able to become stronger”. Indeed. If there’s a central message to all of our tainted love threads, it’s that line. Now, it’s only Hanabi and Mugi left on stage for the finale (it feels so long without Hanabi), the real question is if they mature enough now to actually be together? I don’t really mind how the result might turn out, but I do think they deserve some happiness after all the troubles they have been through.

Posted on 19 March 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

This week the main spotlight is heading back to our beloved Akane and two of her relationships preys, Mugi and Narumi. Although I really like the way the show addresses each of those tainted relationships until finally we’d get to the bare bone of Mugi and Hanabi’s core relationship, this episode for me is just so-so in the way they handle the situations regarding Akame. It’s a bit of a shame because Akame is the most interesting character to talk about. This week, she takes us back to her first sexual experience and notifies us how she becomes the way she is now. But guess what? All of these details we already know about her. She’s enjoying sexual desires from men and jealousy from girls are nothing new. Even the visual trick the shows use concerning Akame doesn’t really give much sense. I can understand when Hanabi (or even Moca) faces off her younger self because she has lose the innocent part of herself in a process by her dark thoughts, but with Akame, she’s basically the same person as her younger self. She’s born that way so for what purpose of putting the two versions face to face in that labyrinth of roses entail? I do think this visual trick has turned into a gimmick this time.

But still, even in her flashback, she realizes that she keeps pushing on that way because it’s the only way she know how. You can’t fault a scorpion for stinging others, it’s just in its nature. She receives all the love from men and give nothing back, doesn’t love anyone but herself. But both Mugi and Narumi end up being the kind of relationships that she never encounter before, thus might be unequipped to deal with. With Mugi, he knows about her true self but he’s the only one to want to really go beyond sex and push forward his love. As of now, Mugi is controlled totally by Akame, even when replying her he has to think first to not upset Akame because he scares that he’d be hated by Akame. And although Akame clearly doesn’t love Mugi, his genuine actions still surprise her because from I understand, nobody have ever approached her that way. Others, they want sex, they have it, end of story. Mugi, he wants to engage in more serious relationship despite knowing he is no match for her. It’s nice to see a bit of development from Mugi, instead of running away like he used to, he actually tries to pursuit his crush for once.

Furthermore, because she’s always at the top of her seducing game, she can never get the reason why Narumi doesn’t feel attracted sexually to her. They had sex on their first date, but afterwards they date like normal couples without love hotel involved and that frustrated Akame (normally in real life when a guy does that it means that he is insecure about his sex performance, but well we’re talking about Saint Four-Eyes sensei here) . She feels like she’s pursuing him and doesn’t let him go; which maybe that’s right after all. Someone like her, who bathed herself into the lust of men and the hatred of girls, need someone who clearly in the other side of her world as Narumi. Someone loves her for her inside, not for her body. Well, that’s a theoretical talk anyways because I still pretty much in doubt if Narumi really loves Akame from the inside or not. First, he’s clearly knows nothing about her, and just learn about her bitchy side like seconds before still holding on to her. Second, the show really doesn’t help us at all to show what the heck this guy is thinking inside his head except that he falls in love with Akame for her long hair that reminded him of his mother in a first place. Meaning that he might fall for her for some goddamn unreal affection. Lastly, he talks like, 3 lines when he grabs her back and those are vague and pretentious as it gets and somehow Akane falls for it. Well, I think his role is good this week but overall he’s still very weak as a character. In fact, the show doesn’t write male characters really well, except for Mugi all the others are really under-written and serve as an obvious plot exposition: just look at that guy Takuya this week. Saying all the stupid, obvious details in a bitchy voice with a lousy attitude while standing with other girl, then running away like a 6 year-old kid? Excuse me but only terrible writing has that kind of laughable characters.

And for a show that consistently pull off many raw emotions week after week, this week is surprisingly light in heart-wrenching moments. My reaction to this episode is rather lukewarm. The show is still pretty solid and progresses strongly so far, but I’m a bit afraid that after we get this far, the end result just can’t pack the emotional punch it has built up for an entire season.

Posted on 11 March 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

Wah, a clean cut breakup of a messy relationship, somethings I didn’t expect Scum’s Wish could ever address, let alone pulled it off. At this point, the show starts to untie its knots, one at a time (actually this episode does that with 2 relationships. Killing 2 birds in one stone as they say). Following the rejection last week from her crush Narumi, and that Mugi never showed up to the meeting place like he promised (is there any feeling that worse than being rejected? Hell yeah, it’s the feeling of being cheated on), so it’s very natural of Hanabi to escape from her terrible emotional state for a little trip with Ecchan alone, except they AREN’T alone. Ecchan’s cousin Atsuya shows up out of nowhere to keep an eye on Ecchan, which of course pissed Ecchan off. She wants to take this opportunity to make Hanabi her and her alone.

The most interesting aspect of this relationship is the yuri sex how both of them feeling guilty about using the other party for their own benefits, which in a way they’re both right. Ecchan loves Hanabi but understands deep down that the girl doesn’t love her back, so she uses every means necessary to grasp as much as she could. Hanabi, on the other hand, feels that she’s using her best friend to escape from her own pains, using someone’s love and attention for her gains. Both of them know it won’t end well. Both of them don’t want it to end though because they still need each other. Their first days on the trip, especially their night spent together and the next day’s shopping together, are their relationship in its most flourish. We could see all the brightest aspects of their bonding: honestly clinging to each other without being afraid of others, sharing physical intimacy together (which, on a serious note I think it’s important for every love relationship), and most of all having fun together (Hanabi even noticed it’s one of the rare times she sees Ecchan enjoying herself).

But all *good* things come to an end, naturally. Atsuya is the man of reason both for Ecchan and for Hanabi (no, still think his role is way too forceful). He questions Hanabi on what she truly feels about Ecchan, in which she hesitates to answer. That is the core issues of why this relationship will never work out: Hanabi still sees Ecchan as a dear friend, and Ecchan clearly doesn’t want to be back as friend again with her. There’s a line you mustn’t cross as friends because once you did, it’s extremely hard to revert back and it’s all pain in the process. Ecchan now ascertains that Hanabi would never love her back, so she decides to make one hell of a decision: to cut Hanabi loose by herself. The show handles their biggest emotional standoff with steady execution, splitting it up into two emotionally-heavy back-to-back sequences: Ecchan letting Hanabi go in a house and they letting their emotions all out in the rain. Hanabi tells her exactly how she feels (which is important, the cast of Scum’s Wish have a great sense of self-awareness but never be able to say it aloud) and wish that they could become friends again, be it as long as it takes. That’s hardly ideal for Ecchan, but she settles for it because it’s the most optimistic outcome they could ever reached.

While I did say that Scum’s Wish handled those two sequences quite emotionally honest and effectively, judging those sequences as a whole, it doesn’t work out well. The abrupted transition between two scenes is jarring, and because they don’t carry the same pace (quiet from the first to outburst from the second), it takes you right out of the scene. Moreover, from what I understand about those characters and the messy situations they’re currently in, the end of this relationship still seems very easy for me. Yup, they know they’re in a destructive relationship already, but with this kind of relationship, it would take a huge catalyst in order to break them off. This trip just isn’t big enough to actually change their current status, and as I said earlier Atsuya is very awkward in this whole situation, making not only Hanabi and Ecchan, but us feeling awkward as well. Ecchan told him she might try trusting him, but remember he’s also an one-side dreamy lover who just wish to obtain the love that he can’t possibly have? I honestly don’t know how to feel about this guy and I have my doubts that the creator knows exactly how to feel about him either.

Lastly, Moca surprisingly steals her scene in a little time she got this episode. Putting off her princess persona that she had always carried, we see Moca literally woofing down the bread (and her expression is awesome) and be much more expressive and honest than her past self. She meets Hanabi again but this time, it’s Moca who brushes the other girl off and walks confidently ahead. After all, she’s the least involved in this mess, hence she’s the quickest to actually learn her lesson and move on. Moca, unlike Atsuya, is a well-written character for this show. Now, as Hanabi’s love thread is over, it’s time for us to move on to the other love affair next week, starting with the teacher home visit – without the parents of course, what show do you think we get in for?

Posted on 4 March 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

Leave it up to Scum’s Wish to break some more taboos about love. I’m not gonna beat around the bush here, this episode was magnificent, the way it grabs you in closely and never lets go. I felt emotionally wasted after the episode ended, but for good reasons. We finally have some major developments in the main plot- the premise that was promised in the beginning by our main characters, not tangled by any supporting, third love this time. Mugi confessed to Akane, and Hanabi confessed to Narumi – pretty straightforward. But things won’t end here, mind you, it’s spinning out of control just as messy as everything came before it. Scum’s Wish understands that making characters miserable all the time don’t produce massive impact. After all, if we’re keep going down to the bottom, the only way when we reach there is up. Instead, they give us some moments of genuine feelings between Hanabi and Mugi, before crushing our hope down to pieces. Dang it, Mugi has to f*ck it all up! The fireworks finally appear (for those of you who don’t aware, her name Hanabi literally means fireworks) to signal the storm about to come so I know we’re about to have a thunderous final act of the show.

Let’s start with the newest taboo this show tries to tackle on, relative member’s crush. Now mind you, it’s debatable when it comes to perception on cousin love relationship, even today around the world people still arguing if cousin marriage is legally acceptable or not. I know in Japan this is not uncommon for cousin to love each other, though it’s becoming less and less prevalent now. From where I come from, in contrast, that same topic is strictly perceived as a taboo for example. But let’s move on now since I know that topic isn’t what you come here for. Well, introducing Atsuya- Ecchan’s cousin, that late in a game doesn’t really bode well with me, because I think the show is offering Ecchan a safe way out and a bit unnecessary conflicts on his yet-another unrequired one-side crush. We’re all know that Ecchan tried everything she can to take all she can take from Hanabi physically and emotionally; so that guy is a voice of reason, the guy who would step back and say to Ecchan “You’re trying too hard”. That’s good, mind you, it’s mean some more character development for Ecchan, and I truly think Atsuya inclusion here helps Ecchan to realize the stopping point on her own relationship to Hanabi. From the preview next week we have Hanabi and Ecchan in some random country house so (smirk) prepare for some yuri show time next week. Oh and that Ecchan’s hat!

It’s Mugi and Hanabi who actually share some intimate moments together, and for the first time since they started forming contracts, they acknowledge that they see  each other as themselves, not as a substitute for other lover. It’s a major development if you ask me. Before, their relationship was strictly business, consoled each other by way too much touching in other to hide away the pain; but now, they start to have feeling for each other, Hanabi starts to feel and enjoy the warm when they hug. Those are one of the warmest, most hopeful moments in Scum’s Wish and really, hoping for them can get through all the batshit in order to become a normal couple might be our greatest rewards. But I’m telling ya, don’t get your hope up, not because of the mess Mugi had done (I’ll get to that later), but as I keep saying for awhile now, I don’t think they can become a healthy normal couple. What they lack is sharing, especially in regards to their problems. I get that each of them have to face all these personal issues for themselves for their own maturity; but they are unable to share their problems to each other and just kinda let it pass. No. That will never work as a couple.

And Hanabi is the only unfortunate soul to get a short straw here. Both being rejected by her crush, and her partner-in-crime falling into pitfall created by Akame. Hanabi confession is as conventional as it gets, but it’s touching because she can finally let it all out, resulted in her outburst. And that four-eye teacher handles the situation surprisingly well, always stays calm and respects her every words. Kudos the show for handling the sequence with great framing and near-perfect pacing. The other confession though, is as unconventional and (again) taboo-breaking as it could get. Although Mugi is the one who ask her out and confess his love, it’s very clear that Akame is the commander in charge here. Mugi claimed that he knows everything bad about her, determines to change her but he couldn’t help but fall for those sweet words anyways. We actually did see some genuine facial expressions from Akame (or was it not? She’s the liar-master after all), but it’s bad. It’s bad because he has her way too easy, thus he will eventually become one of her prey, never get out of her spider-web. He can never have her by himself, and our Hanabi will always be alone. Forever alone. And our hearts again will be crushed along with her.

p/s: after watching this episode, I had to put on the ED of Flowers of Evil to calm my mind and arrange my feelings. Does that make me a broken deviant who like being tortured and manipulated? So be it.

Posted on 25 February 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

Let see, this week we have a full Moca’s episode. Her role up till now admittedly has been a little insignificant, mostly because her princess, childish persona don’t go to well with the dark themes of love in Scum’s Wish. Thankfully, this episode gives her character justice and yes, she does support the overall theme very nicely. While it’s still unclear right now that it’s the end or just the beginning of her act, I believe she serves her purpose so I don’t really recommend if she’s trying to push her love through Mugi (but if one thing I’m sure about Scum’s Wish, it’s that they WILL push forward anyway). Really, her role would just make less impact the more they force her love in so the trick here that you should learn, Scum’s Wish, is to make one sharp clean slit rather than several dull cuts.

“Apparently, if you go to sleep holding hands, you’ll both have a same dream”

Alright, the loss of innocence.I’ve been waiting long for this opportunity to address it because Moca is a perfect candidate. She acts like a princess, having “elegant mood”, eat Western-style foods (because the other characters actually don’t), and dreaming of the prince of her life. She’s a girl who stay inside her little perfect dream because it’s the safest and the most beautiful world. Looking at her roles in a big narrative, she contrasts very well with Akane, who embodied all the darkness and bitchiness of woman’s nature (I wonder how it feel like if the two talking to each other with their true personalities). The show has a great touch to further express that theme through the movie Mugi and her watching: The Little Mermaid, whose story details one big theme about shattered romance, with all the dreams dissolve into foam. Here what makes her character different than her archetype, she awares that Mugi never desire her. Going out with him is for her sake and she intends to enjoy the most out of it so she always has the “perfect moment’ in her dream, and then leaves it at that- the sweet little moments that she will cherish for life. Of course, things don’t go according to plan because she feels the desire to touch him, to kiss him. That desire will forever shatters her fairytale version of love, but for Moca in particular I think this is for the better.

“And then, the prince’s kiss shatters the dream, and the princess wakes from her dream, finding herself alone in the darkness”

Thank God that Moca isn’t just an one-note character, as she has her dark, spoiled side and she awares of it. One distinctive thing about Scum’s Wish is that almost every character awares of their own dark feelings (except for a certain guy with glasses), they have their own reflections. She knows Mugi having a girlfriend and with her “dignity”, she should stop and has a more genuine relationship with Mugi. But she decides to charge over, hugging him and kissing him. That sequence of her real self fighting with her innocent self further highlights on how she abandons her innocent in pursuit of lust. As soon as Moca kisses Mugi, she’s no longer a “pure” princess, and now she understands the breakdown of the real romance relationship. At least, Moca had broken the shell of her egg so that she can be more mature and more honest to her love. She might find herself alone in the darkness, but at least now she knows what she doesn’t want to be.

“I want you to think I’m worth something”

Meanwhile, Hanabi tries unsuccessfully to hook Takuya up, but that guy who basically act based by his hormone so why give him so much effort? Hanabi wants attention, and desperately hooks into one so she can feel her worth. That’s painfully honest, pathetic and sad at the same time. From how I see it she doesn’t really love her true self, so insecure about her worthiness that she needs a desire/conformation from the others. Well, at least she and Mugi decided to confess their hopeless love in order to move on and possibly start dating for real again. I don’t see their relationship going to be genuine at all but at least now they have a courage to do what they had been avoided from day 1, so there’s a tiny little ray of light at the end of this dark tunnel.

“I’m going straight to hell”

Yes, totally. You bastard.

Posted on 18 February 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

If there is one thing that I really respect about Scum’s Wish, it’s that they commit themselves all the way to that tangled web of broken desires and love, instead of chicken out half-way. As a result this show gets much harder to swallow, but leaves you a big emotional impact. This week in particular we follow Hanabi and her descending to hell AKA her path of becoming another bitchy bitch, trying to beat Akame in her own games. If there was ever a doubt that Hanabi wasn’t a “scumbag”, she sure is becoming one now. In this show, characters do realize a lot of things, they all aware that they’re straying in the wrong side of the road but keep pushing forward anyways until everything broken apart.

“I will pretend with you as much as you want. Then you can fall for a fake version of me”

There she goes. Heartbroken after hearing that Narumi-sensei had slept with Akame, Hanabi wants the attention the boys have for Akame, so she determines to use any mean necessary to beat Akame. Everyone knows that Akane is hardly a role-model; she’s a fake. All her worthiness comes directly from the desires of those followers so as long as she isn’t desired anymore; she’s a done deal. Hanabi herself knows that it’s a pathetic decision, but when all the people she have connection with got stolen away by Akame, I can totally see her urge. Starting with Mugi when she decides to take his attention back by suggesting that they should date for real. She then meets Takuya, in this show served as a pawn for both Akame and now Hanabi – Akame’s prey who Hanabi personally connected to the least- in order for Hanabi to test out her own game. The result of course is as painful and pathetic as it gets. There is no real love involved, even no genuine moments together, it’s just plain body heat. All Hanabi does is to fake herself to please Takuya, and this guy isn’t either sensitive or care enough to realize. It’s the win-win game anyways. Takuya gets some comforts behind Akame, Hanabi learns and masters her game. They all basically get what they want.

“Every time I’m touched, I realize that I’m so empty inside”

But by pushing herself for physical means to lure the guys, she simultaneously has to lock her inside up in order to not falling apart. It’s not that Hanabi doesn’t aware she is attractive. I wouldn’t call her character attractive to be completely frank, she just knows how to use her body to seduce boys. It’s pathetic. The attractiveness, after all, should come from the inside and Hanabi’s inside is confused and empty. Feeling sick, feeling unworthy. Feeling empty. Feeling like scum. She’s experiencing a lot right now but expect things to get worse later on, when she uses her fake charms to seduce both Mugi and Narumi. The true question now is when she reaches the breaking point of feeling explode, how would she react then? The child version of Hanabi both present in the best and worst part of this episode. On one hand, I enjoyed the sequence of her conscience fighting with her current dark self tremendously. The visual styles really capture the dark mood of her battling with her head, and look how ironic that is when the child version of her that is more mature and critical, calling her current self “brat”. On the other hand, the flashback of her and Narumi again feels awkward. Here goes daddy issues again and Narumi seriously drags everything down with him.   

“I love you enough that I can live with that”

That’s when the idea of “accepting your love ones exactly the way they are” becomes problematic. And yes I’m talking about both Ecchan and Moca in this context. Ecchan becomes more and more dangerous, a crucial factor to manipulate Hanabi to her corruption and she enjoys it. As much as Hanabi desperate to hook up with any guy connected to Akame, she’s still sensible enough to cut-off Ecchan, because she just couldn’t see Ecchan as lover. But that red-hair girl knows all about it and content to be just that: a substitution. She loves Hanabi for both her good and bad sides so she has no problem to exploit Hanabi’s dark side so that she can embrace her even more. That girl is getting even more tricky when she even informs Mugi about Hanabi just to wreck that couple apart (and intend to leave another hickey soon, sly girl!). At the same instance, Moca and Mugi finally have a date so 1) it’s gonna be Mugi descending to hell next week and 2) I will have a chance to discuss my personal favorite theme “the loss of innocence” next week. Will it be embracing the person as they are, even their darkest side, a wise solution? Normally I’m in a camp that say yes but it’s clear that the show proves me the other side of the coin here.

Lastly, it got me thinking so I figure I will address it here, about the emotional response we get from this show. Normally, why would you watch shows that produce negative feelings to you? What’s the quality those shows have that frankly are quite addictive than normal, harmless, feel-good shows out there? I understand shows like “Now and Then, Here and There” or “Grave of the Fireflies” depressing nature because the audience have a chance to get emotional connect to the characters before the shows broke us apart with a hardship of nature (tragedy). Then you have those exploitation medium in which their main purpose is to rape your mind and make you feel disgusting and sick. For example, think of alleged “snuff” film from Japanese movies in the 80s, early 90s (don’t mean to knock them off, as I think they still have their merits). And then we have the ones like Scum’s Wish or Flowers of Evil that fall into the middle of those two (provocative). Here in Scum’s Wish we aren’t really supposed to root for the characters (unlike the first one), as they are pretty unrelatable from the first minute and make more and more extreme behaviors later on. It’s more about we project ourselves to the situations that make us engaging and gripping along with the characters. Everyone has to go through teenage phase, all of us have to go through the uncertainty of self-worth, lust, “true love” at some points in your life so your own experience will reflect greatly to those kinds of shows. I know for sure that If I were in the shoes of Kasuga in Flowers of Evil, I would have turned out just like him, and that feeling cuts me deeply. So my point is this, don’t think of this show as an entertainment piece, think of it as an experience you could’ve gotten, and I think your thoughts on this show would differ greatly. But then again who would want to watch shows that just make you feel depressing?

p/s: I normally just keep my blogging here in this sites as strictly anime-related, but since I’m a movie-buff at heart, I might as well recommend you readers to films that shared the same theme as this series. If you enjoy Scum’s Wish then by any mean check this one out: Breaking the Waves (1996). This movie won the Palme D’or back in ‘96 about a wife that after her husband was bedridden and asked her to have sex with other guys to heal him spiritually, thus come her journey to become a nympho by the public’s eyes and a martyr in her husband’s eyes. I know it sounds devastating to say the least but well, I hope… you “enjoy” it if you check it out.

Posted on 13 February 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

Boy, they actually did it; they actually went that far. And here I thought after introducing the cast and their dark love, they’d tone down on the “physical” aspect and focus more on the “emotional” part. Guess I’m already underestimated Scum’s Wish because they go all the way to this explicit sexual desires without hitting the brake. In this show, emotional pain IS physical pain, for rarely I see in other shows character cries when they’re having sex. All the characters keep holding their emotions inside that they need other for physical release. Sex here is more akin to pain than pleasure since those characters keep using it as a mean to escape their desolation.

“Did you know we’re never done it when you’ve wanted to before?

I’m glad that Mugi isn’t a clueless sad sack (unlike certain someone) who actually knows the true nature of Akame, but despite knowing all this he falls into her trap anyways. This revelation does add new layer to his crush with Akame, as deep down he knows -like Hanabi’s crush on sensei- that it would never work out as normal, healthy relationship. So in order to escape his hormonal needs he turns into his senpai Mei instead (and there I said last week we won’t see her again, ouch). It only makse sense that after Hanabi having an affair last week, now it’s Mugi’s turn to show us how much of a dickhead he is. For a really limited screen time, Mei is surprisingly vivid and sensitive. She understands his deal, and her comment above really signals us what kind of relationship they had before, and where Mugi stands right now. Remember Mugi reflected on her last week that she was incredibly lonely? Now he’s pretty much on that same boat. The affair here isn’t out of love, or even out of desires to be honest, but it was out of running away from current pain. Mei knows that full well so she fullfils what he needs, even when herself hurt so much she sheds her tears. Seriously she becomes my favourite characters out of this series (partly due to her limited appearance since it makes her pain more bearable compared to the rest of the cast).This section does Mugi’s current situation justice, both sheds new light to his hopeless crush on Akane, and further underlines his loneliness by jumping to physical means to escape his frustration.

“The number one thing I desire. Something that will break the mundane routine of everyday life. Freedom”

Akane is becoming a character that everyone love to hate. I actually feel for her character, I really do. Not by her fake charm of course but by her absolute boredom with the strictness of her surrounding. For her, time is a restraint, the way it dictates human to follow through their everyday life. Last week we learn that her bitchy act is the form of her enjoyment from attracting sexual attention from men and causing miserable for women, in this week we also learn that it comes from her thrust for breaking free out of her “boring” life. That’s actually something that I can relate to. And I’m pretty much on the same page with her regarding Narumi. He’s boring, and he currently drags the show down. I guess it’s all set-up for now so his arc begins now as all the sexual desires begin playing a part in their relationship and how he deals with the situation once he realizes Akame’s true color. But for now he’s terribly plain, he’s terribly uninspiring. It’s a bit whimsical to think that the whole situation changes by the mere slip of the tongue, but that also shows us how he truly cares for Hanabi as a true brother. And all Akame’s effort of enduring the guy just so that she can whisper that thunderous message to Hanabi’s ears.

“I hate pain, but it feels so good”

Here comes the strongest section of this episode. As much as Mugi and Hanabi all gone through the same problems, they can’t be able to express their mindset to each other, instead they use physical contacts as a mean to share their feelings. The excitement they have were a mixture of the pain when they know they being cheated by the other, the shame that they’re cheating and even the arousal feeling of being cheated. They’re all negative feelings, but they are strong and irresistible. That emotional pain, however, soon progresses into physical pain in the form of virginal Hanabi. They can’t go all the way because they don’t love each other,. They could if they forced themselves to, but then what is the point of forcing oneself to love someone? I had originally hoped that they could have a genuine relationship later on, but this kind of relationship won’t have a happy ending, ever. I’m digging the smart visual choice of this section as well. Not sure how the manga portrait the dark thoughts of Mugi towards Hanabi but the show really highlights that gritty thoughts by the use of split screens of Hanabi’s face.
The visual execution in the first sequence, on the other hand, is my least favorite part as “he brings the color to my world” is as obvious as the nose on your face. For the episode as heavy and explicit as this one, I understand if some viewers thinking it was too much. In that sense this week is a good barometer for viewers to see if they should continue to watch this show or not. I’m positive that the whole love affairs will get much darker, more explicit and much more disturbing later on. If you still decide to stick with it I hope you have a stomach to handle what come next.

Posted on 5 February 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Scum's Wish

This was a sublime episode from start to finish. By showing these tales of love through fragments from many characters’ point of view, it adds more layers, as well as more perspectives to this webs of broken desires. Normally this approach of focusing of fragments mean that the story can become disjoined; but not here. Every small stories in this episode matter and it keeps sinking us to its muddy swamp. And yes, the music in this show is incredible; if you listen closely there’s a distinctive theme for its stories and it really helps to elevate the mood for each segment; like how you could feel a seedy sense in Akane-sensei story, or a false mood of sweet, dream-like quality in Narumi-sensei part. Again I’ll discuss each of the theme in last week’s format, as I see it as the most appropriate format to squeeze out most of what this show tries to convey.

“Being desired by men. There’s no greater feeling than that”

Turn out that our sweet Akane-sensei isn’t sweet at all, but a manipulative bitch. That might sound negative but in truth this is a kind of character that works really well in this story. She isn’t your typical bitch after all, as she’s the most observant one out of all characters in this story. She is the only one who sees through many intertwined love nets and really the only one who can sees through Hanabi. Using her attractiveness as a weapon isn’t something utterly terrible, but what is remarkable about her character is how she’s playing up her attractiveness mainly for wrecking other girls, for them to feel the pain of seeing the one they love taken away by her. She said she doesn’t aim for superiority but all I can see is superiority plays a significant role here, since all she wants is attention from men and the hurtfulness from girls. I love the way she recognizes that Hanabi is pretty much on the same side as her, by neglecting the one sided love of other (Moca). The true Akane is anything but pretty, but now at least she’s real. What impressed me the most is the way the show underlines her sexiness and her thrust of physical consumption; not through big boobs, sexy clothes or suggestive behaviors, but merely by her sweating. Hooray for solid characters writing here.

“I decided to believe it was fate”

The next segment was told from the point of view of Narumi-sensei, on how he was attracted to Akane and thus become her unfortunate prey to play with. This story is slight and the least impactful compared to other segments, but I still found it interesting because out of anything, the first impression he had towards Akane was directly tied to his memories of his long-lost mother. It furthers detailing his long searching for a feminine figure all his life, and really that was a false picture that he incidentally subjects Akane to be and that was the reason why he’s blind be this affection. In the end, things that too good to be true are more likely deceptive in nature so I really hope he’s sensitive enough to figure out the true Akame on his own (would be really disappointed if he can’t).

“I want you to be filled with me”

Last but not least we have a development to Ecchan and Hanabi relationship as they sunk deeper to love confusion. There’s always a distinctive border between friend and lover and now they crossed that line, each for their own selfish reasons. Hanabi both needs Ecchan as a way to escape her own heartbroken from Narumi (which I can totally feel for her), and because she still needs and loves Ecchan as a friend. Ecchan likewise knows all this, but she’s determined to use every opportunity to have Hanabi all by herself. What they both know but too afraid to acknowledge is that once they crossed that line, they can never be back to “just friends” again. That image of little Hanabi disgusted with her current self sums that sense up pretty nicely and for me the best moments out of this already excellent episode. Scum’s Wish stands on a very firm ground here, as the story keeps maintaining its confidence take on the line between physical desires and emotional desires, on how the characters keep using the former as the substitute for the latter (the first and the last segment directly tied to this), but end up being more lonely and suffering. I know a lot of viewers have been turned off by its depressing nature but all I can say is guys, you might miss out one of the more thought-provoking look on relationship here.

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