Sunday, March 19, 2017

Scum's Wish Vol. #02 Manga Review

Your warmth is what I seek.

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

What They Say:
Mugi and Hanabi are in a relationship even though (And exactly because) they're both in love with someone else. As the deception continues, will they hurt the ones they care for the most?

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Now that the toxic relationship between Mugi and Hanabi has been established, I'd say it's about time to throw a few more bodies into the fray, don't you think? After all, what good is a series about decaying and unrequited romance when you only have one couple to focus on? If you haven't figured it out in the first two sentences, the second volume of Scum's Wish hones in on the feelings of some of its side characters -- specifically Sanae Ebato (Best girl) and Noriko Kamomebata...Err, Moka, as she likes to be called.

Ecchan's feelings toward Hanabi were hinted at in the first volume, but become incredibly more apparent this time around. Hanabi, desperate for companionship in any sense whatsoever, adores Ecchan, albeit in a strictly platonic way. So when she invites her over for a typical one-on-one slumber party that ends up being a complete make-out session, she a bit surprised to say the least. Through flashbacks, we learn that Ebato has admired Hanabi ever since they first met. Incapable of controlling her emotions, she lets these feelings out in a steamy, physical confession that takes on the form of some hardcore yuri action. Hanabi, not necessarily being opposed to the idea, doesn't fight back and instead sort in. This is the first time anyone has ever openly expressed romantic interest in her, after all. It's a new, exciting feeling that completely contrasts Hanabi's relationship with Mugi. Ecchan, on the other hand, simply wants to become closer to the object of her affection through any means possible. And, in a way, it works. Though, later on in the volume, her emotions begin to take a toll on her and becomes complacent with the idea of becoming a sex object for Hanabi.

On the other side of things, Moka's feelings toward Mugi reign just as clear as ever. Her hatred toward Hanabi is what winds up taking a turn for the worse. Instead of just shouting mean, Moka-like things toward Mugi's current "girlfriend," Moka instead begins planting seeds of Hanabi's evil side in her friends -- particularly Ecchan. Mugi, having a soft spot for Moka, never fully dismisses her and even reasons with Hanabi, beseeching our protagonist to pay her no mind. Of course, this doesn't really work considering every appearance the princess makes comes with a serving of, "Leave my man alone!"

In the second half of the manga, we finally find out more about Mugi's past. And, as we could have guessed, he's no stranger to physical contact. Just a year or two ago, Mugi was wrapped up in a secret relationship with a beautiful senpai of his, yet again free from any emotional attachment. Apparently, his desire for Akane has been a reoccurring theme for a while now with his last partner fully understanding that she was a bit of a replacement for his tutor as well. The interesting part of this relationship is that Mugi's senpai was basically just using him to satisfy her thirst for sex, becoming pretty much synonymous with Akane (Her personality has been further established in the anime thus far, so we haven't exactly gotten to her feelings yet).

The purpose of this volume is to really force home the idea that everyone in Scum's Wish is in love with someone else. It's not your typical love triangle, it's a love octagon. And the beauty of this series (Apart from its subtle encroaching dread) is that no one is happy. There isn't a single character in Scum's Wish that is okay with their position in terms of romance. And just the thought behind a story like that is enough to make a series worth reading.

In Summary:
The second volume of Scum's Wish further reinforces the book's themes of unrequited love while spending exemplary amounts of time on developing its side characters. It's apparent that, from this point on, the series is only going to get darker -- which is exactly what people that pick up this book are looking forward to. The slow burn has begun, and at the forefront of it are a plethora of well-fleshed out characters and a writer that doesn't care about our feelings.

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

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: January 24, 2017
MSRP: $14.99

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