Why the Ending of Scum’s Wish Dissatisfied Me

I finally caught up on the last chapter of Scum’s Wish today and… it was kind of lame.

Brief spoiler-ific thoughts below.

scum's wish 1

To put it simply, the resolution was rushed. After not interacting for around ten chapters, Hanabi and Mugi have one conversation and that’s it, the story ends. Even the way the teachers hooked up was really abrupt. One chapter, Akane is her usual femme fatale self, the next chapter she’s suddenly getting married. The final chapter suggests that she’s still a rather mean-spirited person when she tells Hanabi: “I don’t want you to get taken by anyone else.” She’s still a cipher by the end, and that makes her romance with Kanai difficult to buy.

Looking back, this story needed at least a dozen more chapters to flesh out the emotional arcs of these characters, especially considering how much time the manga spent establishing them in the first place. A lot of time was wasted on side characters like Ecchan and Mugi’s childhood friend. (The latter character doesn’t even appear in the final chapter, btw.) It’s all especially disappointing because neither of those characters got much payoff in the end.

scum's wish 2

Ecchan cuts her hair, just like every girl whose love is never requited but magically “gets over it” off-screen

I’m glad, at least, that Hanabi and Mugi didn’t get together in the end. Their relationship was a bit too messed up to serve as the springboard for a healthy romance. The story ended with them affirming how much they appreciate and needed each other, but ultimately deciding that they were strong enough now to be able to go their separate ways. Had this been given more buildup, it could have been a rather powerful ending. As it is, it’s a bit underwhelming, although the art does sell the emotions behind their parting really well.

scum's wish 3

So, yeah. Scum’s Wish. I really enjoyed this manga when I was binge-reading it (as evidenced by my post gushing about it here), but I felt kind of disconnected from the characters when I returned to the series a few months later. Maybe I can’t relate to that “TFW NO GF” theme this manga has going for it. I also can’t really wrap my head around these characters’ obsession with “the real thing” in their relationships. I can’t deny that watching a bunch of distraught people make terrible decisions makes for a fun emotional rollercoaster ride, though.

This manga has some definite strong points. The art looks beautiful, and I really do like how it takes the same-sex interactions between Hanabi and Ecchan seriously. This series was at its best when it explored the complex and ambivalent feelings involved in not-so-platonic friendships.

However, I cannot recommend Scum’s Wish, because there is no payoff in the end. Where did all that angst and pining lead to in the end? Nothing but more angst and pining. Kind of a waste, even if I did see that coming.

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Posted on April 16, 2017, in Anime Analysis and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I watched the anime and didn’t even realise the fact that there was no real payoff if you hated the teacher. I’ve not read the manga but if it’s similar to the anime then watching/ reading it is more interesting for me than the payoffs at the end so I didn’t notice/care that much about the outcomes. I was just glad that we got an ending in the anime as I was really hooked on the series and didn’t want it to end abruptly with not conclusion.

    • there was no real payoff if you hated the teacher

      That’s an interesting thing to say. Personally, I don’t really dislike Akane as a character, even if she is a pretty bad teacher to be sleeping with her students. I liked her character arc in the abstract. The idea that even someone like her can fall in love for real gives the story a feeling of hope even if the main characters don’t find love by the end. It’s just a pity that her story ends so abruptly, so I can’t accept that she fell in love for real.

      I’m glad you really liked the anime, by the way. It’s true that the journey can be more fun than the outcome in this sort of thing.

  2. I was going to read the manga… but it sounds like it suffers from the same lack-of-ending as the anime.

  3. Really? What kind of ending would you have preferred? That after all their personal preferences have failed, Hanabi and Mugi end up with each other as comforting third-best-option? I was thanking the lord that this did NOT happen.

    This show was refreshingly _realistic_. The confident femme fatale gets married in the end (they always do in real life – and when their marriage fails, someone else is there in no time to fill the void). The lesbian love interest manages to get very close, but fails to “win” in the end. The idolizing dreamer eventually wakes up. And those who have their hearts broken because their first love fails to materialize realize their failure, hurt, learn something and move on. They DID get proper closure. It’s just that you don’t _like_ the end result.

    If you expected this show to be standard fare where the heroes win, the villains lose, and justice, effort and friendship prevails, I can understand your displeasure. But it never was. It was a character study of different kinds of unrequited romances, and the very point of it always was: They are NOT requited, so they CANNOT succeed. This makes it tough bread to swallow, but I’m glad they didn’t chicken out to feed us happy endings.

    • Did you read the paragraph where I said that I was glad that Hanabi and Mugi did not end up together, but that their parting did not have as much impact as it could have because it lacked buildup? I’m not unhappy with what happened, just how it happened. That’s why there’s no feeling of payoff at the end.

  4. I’m sorry the anime and manga lacked the payoff you desired.
    In this case, I’d recommend writing to Kuzu’s mangaka and sharing your reviews and opinions with her (through the proper channels that is). They do need feedback to improve themselves, and you are fluent in Japanese.

    What anime titles are you following this season, BTW?

    • I’ve never left feedback to a manga artist or anything before. I think manga artists get swamped with a lot of fan mail in any case.

      This season, I’m watching HeroAca S2, Boruto, Sakura Quest and Eromanga-sensei. Might pick up more shows as I go along.

      • Try Re Creators – it’s essentially a metaseries like that 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Last Action Hero, especially when the movie characters break into the real world and find themselves reacting to its differences from their movie world. (In this case, animanga ones brought by the machinations of a 3rd party).

  5. Did you watch the anime? I’m curious how the two compare. I didn’t feel like there was anything missing myself, at least not for Hanabi. I kind of felt like Mugi got the short end of the stick a bit, but after thinking about it I’m okay with it.

    Hanabi’s ending was what I expected and had predicted at episode 1. I had started to hope for more before the end, by I don’t feel betrayed or like it was under developed. I seem to be in the minority in saying this, but I think if had moved any slower I’d have started getting bored.

    I’ll admit Akane stole the spotlight for me and is what I’ll remember Scum’s Wish most strongly for. Episode 11 of the anime had a stronger emotional payout than 12 did. Thematically I felt like the story fit and gave me everything I’d hoped for plus some.

    The line where Akane says “I don’t want you to get taken by anyone else.” was translated differently in the anime. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it was something more like “don’t let you man get stolen next time.” The nuance was important because Akane was revealing herself honestly and not acting all cryptic. I can only scratch my head at the manga translation.

    The Japanese text was shared on ANN’s forum. Supposedly the words are the same in both versions and it’s only the English translation that is different.

    Minagawa: 次は 盗られちゃ駄目よ
    Hanabi: よ・・・っ よけーなお世話ですっ

    I can’t read the Japanese, but maybe it’s meaningful for you? The anime translation makes sense to me. It was one of the more meaningful moments in the final episode, at least for anyone who caught why it was significant for Akane to act that way.

    • That’s interesting. It appears that the manga translation is a misinterpretation, because the Japanese line you showed me is closer to how the anime translated it. The manga line did strike me as weird in context, while the anime one makes more sense and fits Akane’s character better.

      As you may be able to tell, I never watched the anime.

      • I figured you hadn’t seen the anime, but still thought I’d ask. :)

        It’s been interesting for me to note how manga fans are reacting differently to the end of Scum’s Wish. Plenty of people were unhappy with the anime ending too, but most fans I’ve talked to split pretty neatly into the understood Akane’s character camp and the didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand camp. Hanabi’s part in the anime felt like it ended with Ecchan. The last episode felt more like a bonus to tie up already established things. Directing magic maybe?

        I’m curious, did Moka get a modeling scene at the end of the manga during the school festival or was than an anime original addition? I came away from the anime feeling like she got more out the story than Mugi did.

  6. Recent new fan here :) I like how easy this article is to read and understand. As in it’s hard to misinterpret your opinions because of obtuse wording.

    I know that you cut things out for brevity’s sake, but I am interested in hearing a bit more on some of the open remarks that you made. Like what don’t you understand about the “real thing” they talk about, and why consider that time is wasted on side characters. Just for curiosity.

    And, about the ending leading to more angst… I don’t know, was I the only one that found it the happiest and most angst-free moment of the story? All of the characters got out of their cycles of self-loathing and unhealthy emotional manipulation. They’ve gained (the teens of the show) the perspective to start looking for happiness free of doubt and guilt. It made it really satisfying.

    … A bit longer than I expected -_- Sorry!

    • Like what don’t you understand about the “real thing” they talk about, and why consider that time is wasted on side characters. Just for curiosity.

      About the former, I think it’s a personal thing. I can’t relate to strong feelings of unrequited love because I’ve never experienced it. For me, at least, love has never really involved much angst or pining. If I enjoy spending time with someone, then I’ll keep doing it. I don’t think too hard about whether the relationship is “the real thing” or not.

      As for why I think time is wasted on side characters, it’s because their character arcs never got resolution in the story. The time wouldn’t have been “wasted” if everyone got their fair share of development. But here, the side characters got a lot more focus than the main characters at times, and the resolutions of their arcs were even more underdeveloped than that of the main characters. The story was unfocused.

  7. Scums Wish was totally awesome and empowering. I look forward to more work from the same author – perhaps something about good looking youth who prove their agency and empowerment by smashing their heads into brick walls over and over and over again, while reciting melodramatic lines. I will settle for some cutter-porn though, if handled tastefully.

    Seriously, it sucked. Its one trick was to wallow against established gender-based life expectations and in the end it did so in a lame, forced manner. Even the Big Bad called truce with the beast in the end.

    The rest was window dressing over light erotica which was too gutless to admit that the erotic can be enjoyable.

    Kill with fire.

    Ps: Ecchan tolerable then turned into a pining lesbian heartbreak set-piece. Geh!

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