Saturday, August 4, 2018

Scum's Wish Vol. #07 Manga Review

I'll do my best to forget you.

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

What They Say:
After Hanabi is heartbroken, she goes to Karuizawa with Ebato. This journey is guiding the two towards an end to their relationship. Elsewhere, even after Mugi conveyed all of his feelings to Akane, the free-spirited girl didn't reply in kind. Who is the one that holds the keys to her heart?

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
With only two volumes left after this one, Scum's Wish has begun to wrap each of its toxic romances up. Well, at least it's trying to. But with so many emotions flooding not only our two protagonists but everyone wrapped up with them, there is no clean way to bring everything to a definitive conclusion. The first section of this particular volume does an exemplary job of detailing just that.

When we last left off, Hanabi had decided to accompany Ecchan to her family's vacation home smack-dab in the middle of Karuizawa's luscious forests. And while this seemed like some sort of rebound-trip meant to give Hanabi a break from her unrequited love's untimely demise, Ecchan had other things in mind. For her, this was the only way to solidify and obtain a few precious memories with Hanabi before ending their relationship once and for all. But when Ecchan spills these feelings over to the object of her affections, Hanabi's response isn't exactly what she was hoping for. In perhaps the most emotional scene in the entirety of the series (And this isn't me solely speaking as Ecchan's number-one fan), Hanabi frantically pleads with the red-haired wonder for the chance to stay friends. And, if you've ever been on Ecchan's side of things, this is significantly harder than it sounds.

The two girls crumble in the arms of one another, leaving the conclusion of their relationship open-ended if it can even be considered a conclusion at all. It's clear that Ebato is immensely pained by even the thought of being 'just friends' with Hanabi but, for the first time, it seems like Hanabi is actually terrified of losing something. Then again, this could just be an emotional side-effect of having lost pretty much everything else already. Either way, we bid farewell to this couple for the time being as the book tails off into focusing on the most...unique character of the series -- Akane Minagawa.

Interpreting the actions of Akane is perhaps the most difficult part of reviewing this series. I'm unsure of whether or not this can be attributed to my lack of empathy, or even understanding of her actions or if it's simply due to the fact that nothing she does really makes sense. It's like Akane is the physical manifestation of emotionless sex and that her sole purpose is to provide some sort of motivation for Mugi. And now that Mugi has actually "landed" her, she's only become even more confusing.

Despite his best efforts, Mugi is incapable of persuading Akane to ease up on her unjustified lasciviousness. And while this idea would eat most men or women alive, he accepts it because he's not sure what else to do. Mugi has been under her spell for so long that, even when she admits to him that she'll continue to be with other men, he accepts it- albeit reluctantly. And, just like that, she moves on to her next victim.

We find out in the final arc of the volume that Akane and Kanai have continued seeing each other, but haven't really 'done anything' since their first date. And yeah, this would seem pretty normal for most couples, but it's actually the most confusing part of the entire series. You see, the fact that Akane has continued to see Kanai despite all this completely contradicts everything her character stands for. It makes no sense why her relationship with him would continue even though he has failed to live up to her expectations on every single occasion thus far. The final few pages of the volume address her confusion directly in the form of an internal monologue, showing that even Akane herself doesn't understand why she hasn't ditched this guy. In the midst of this nonsense, the book screeches to an abrupt halt and we're left asking ourselves, "Just who is this girl, anyway?"

In Summary:
Despite holding the most emotional scene in the entire series within its depths, volume seven feels a bit wobbly in determining its pacing. The Ecchan x Hanabi story comes to a relatively satisfactory conclusion, but it's over in the blink of an eye. This section of the Scum's Wish timeline is really just the Akane Minagawa story. But the thing about her character is that even when you spend more than half of a book trying to explain why she acts the way she does, her actions just become all the more confusing. With no motivation or even a suitable backstory for her behavior, Akane seems like more of an excuse to be radical and sexual than an actual developed character. And for a series so character-centric, you can almost consider this a thorn in the side of Scum's Wish.

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

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 22, 2018
MSRP: $14.99

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