Monday, December 12, 2016

Scum's Wish Vol. #01 Manga Review

Apart from my feelings...I'm all yours.

Creative Staff:
Story & Art: Mengo Yokoyari
Translation: David Rowe-Caplan & Megan Denton
Lettering: Erin Hickman

What They Say:
Fake relationships are fraught with unrequited love in Scum's Wish. Mugi and Hanabi are the perfect high school couple... but their relationship is built on a single shared secret: They're each in love with someone else.

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
First off, I'm going to preface this by saying that I'm all about the vulgar, risque side of the manga industry. Considering that my current favorite book on the market is Asano's "Goodnight Punpun," I think it's safe to say that I'm ready for nearly anything. That being said, I signed up for Scum's Wish before even reading the synopsis. Shortly after my interest in the series peaked, an animated adaptation was announced. So, at this time, I believe the general consensus is that Yokoyari is most definitely doing something right. And, after actually reading the first installment of this series, I'm going to have to agree.

Scum's Wish focuses on Hanabi Yasuraoka, a relatively popular and attractive high school girl. Hanabi, locked in a relationship with the equally popular Mugi Awaya, seems to have everything going for her. But despite how cool and collected she seems on the surface, there's something lurking within Hanabi that is tearing her apart from the inside out. She is sexually obsessed with her older brother. Mugi, on the other hand, isn't all that different -- he's infatuated with his former tutor (Who is not-so-coincidentally the girlfriend of Hanabi's brother). So, in order to mask their secret desires and force away their feelings, Hanabi and Mugi enter a mutual relationship comprised of nothing but unrefusable physical contact, redeemable whenever one of them sees fit (Which is surprisingly often).

Even though Hanabi and Mugi come into more physical contact an entire professional football team, the two refuse to fall in love with each other. That being said, though, there is still a confusing air of 'property' they hang over one another. An example of this comes into play when Noriko Kamomebata, a childhood friend of Mugi's, repeatedly professes her love for him. Hanabi, fearing that her outlet for unleashing pent-up sexual desires will vanish, refutes Norika and forces her away. So even though our two protagonists have agreed to never fall in love, they hold each other accountable for their own feelings. The only thing that can sever the relationship the two have built up is the unlikely scenario in which their "real" lover reciprocates their unrequited affection.

Scum's Wish has a lingering quietness to it that makes it presence known through abstract close-ups focusing on the physical contact between Hanabi and Mugi. And while these images aren't exactly sexually explicit, they leave a surprising amount to the imagination of the reader, allowing them to sort of "fill in the blanks" as to what's truly going on. The same thing can be said, however, for the minds of our characters. While much of the manga is comprised of Hanabi's thoughts, there still seems to be something missing. Even though she is directly telling us how she feels about everything, there's something she isn't understanding herself. In the coming volumes, I imagine these feelings will be made more apparent. But for the time being, everything is up to us to uncover.

In Summary:
In its first volume, Scum's Wish successfully illustrates the pro's and con's of a purely physical relationship. Backed by simplistic, yet endearing artwork, Mengo Yokoyari brings us into a dangerous and suspenseful world of lust made prevalent through an onslaught of quiet, disturbing sex scenes. It's rare to see a tale of two characters engaged in sexual conflict while not feeling anything for each other at all, but Scum's Wish manages to illustrate the idea exceptionally well and leaves a ton of room for how this story can play out.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 25, 2016
MSRP: $14.99

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