Miss my review last week? Check it out here.
Scum’s Wish continues to impress with its representation of teenagers navigating complex emotions, relationships and social situations in a somewhat competent manner (a rarity for teen dramas). This week’s episode opens with the introduction of a new character, Atsuya. Like the other teens in this series he pines after someone he can’t have: Hanabi’s good friend and brief flame, Ecchan.
After a brief peek at their previous friendship, Atsuya makes the case that he will wait for Ecchan and that he’s not planning on giving up. They have an interesting conversation about gender labels as Atsuya gets to the bottom of who it is she likes – explaining that Ecchan likes Hanabi for who she is, not just because she’s a girl. The conversation is a fascinating exposition of Ecchan’s feelings for Hanabi, and also makes her reconsider continuing to hold a candle for a girl who’s never going to be hers.
Meanwhile, Mugi and Hanabi move to confess their feelings to their true loves. The pain of unrequited love has been a running theme through the show since the start, but this episode really brings the sledgehammer down as both Mugi and Hanabi confront the object of their desires.
In a final meeting before their respective conversations, both Mugi and Hanabi seem to have accepted the fact that they would be rejected, and grow more at peace with moving on with their lives in a hopeful manner. In their own way they’ve grown close as a proper couple, and seeing Mugi embrace Hanabi and assure her that he would see her again the next night is a tender moment that gives you hope for a happy ending.
Hanabi meets Brother at the park, and is surprisingly good at actually verbalizing her feelings. Too often in teen slice-of-life dramas the tension lies in the words left unsaid, but Hanabi is able to tell him how she’s cared for him for quite some time. This is a recurring strong point in Scum’s Wish: though these character may make poor choices, they at least have the bravery and sense to communicate with one another.
Narumi is equally distraught over Hanabi’s confession, heartbroken that this girl he’s known his whole life is suffering so much because of him. As he holds her she makes a heart-rending statement: I’m shaking because I know it’s not me. And so, as she sobs into the arms of the one she knows she can never have, Hanabi puts her unrequited love to rest, hopeful that she can move on to a better future with Mugi at her side.
It was refreshing to see Hanabi turn away from the dark path of becoming an emotionally manipulative woman after her run-ins with Akane. Her confession scene put a satisfying bow on the long-running drama from the start of the show. Unfortunately, Mugi’s encounter may ultimately end up ripping that bow right off and send Hanabi spiraling into the depths.
Mugi meets Akane and almost blurts out his feelings at the train station, but Akane has them go to a cafe first. After he tells her that he loves her, he quickly follows it up with “Well, I used to.” You see, Mugi understands what kind of person Akane is. He knows that she just is using him and exploiting his feelings. This self-awareness makes the rest of the encounter even more tragic.
Akane tells Mugi what he wants to hear, and lends it enough sincerity that he goes back to a hotel with her. With his love pinned to the bed, he angrily tells her that he knows the truth about her.
The entire encounter is a heartbreaking contradiction of emotions. On the one hand, he’s committed to having sex with her because he thinks that he can change her. At the same time he’s painfully aware that he can’t change her and that he is no match for her maturity and experience with the world.
And so, Mugi consummates his feelings for Akane while Hanabi waits for him at the park, confident that she no longer has to be alone.
I’m very interested to see how next week shakes out. With Hanabi’s obsession with Narumi put to rest, how will she move on from Mugi’s wounding betrayal? Will Mugi be further ensnared by Akane’s manipulation? The only thing I know for sure is that I’m glad Scum’s Wish is bringing this drama to life so wonderfully.