Kuzu no Honkai (Scum’s Wish) is without a doubt a top anime this season. Based on a 2012 manga and produced by Studio Lerche, Scum’s Wish is a disturbing but empathetic drama about how teenagers use others and are used, all in the service of keeping sexually active.
In media, teenagers often possess a balance of insensitivity and narcissism. In certain dramas like Gossip Girl, producers lean into their more sociopathic tendencies, not considering the emotional debates that lead them to cheat, steal or even hurt others, just for teenagers to discover themselves.
In real life, the self-preservation of people prevents these from happening. That’s the one thing so many dramas don’t capture, but Scum’s Wish captures with its dark tenderness.
Hanabi is a 17-year-old high-schooler who dates Mugi, a handsome older student. They go through all the motions of young love, stowing away behind the school to kiss and walking each other home. In the dark, they test their sexual and emotional limits as any young couple would, but it’s only a farce. Each is in love with someone they can’t be with. To satisfy their emptiness, they’ve agreed to use each other.
“Why don’t you pretend that I’m him?” Mugi says after school one day, leaning in to kiss Hanabi’s neck. “It doesn’t matter,” Habani responds. “I’m a replacement, too.” Mugi tells her to close her eyes. Pressed against him, Hanabi sees her crush’s face staring back. At first, their agreement is cold and transactional. It slowly thaws and becomes more intimate through time.
It soon becomes clear that a web of characters has formed around Hanabi, each with their own wicked yet understandable romantic motives. Through time, Hanabi tries to figure out whether she’s the kind of person who can be satisfied by lies.
This might go without saying, but Scum’s Wish is extremely NSFW. What makes this anime even more real is whenever there is a romantic scene, the silence is broken by an awkward question. This teenage romance may be very sexual, but it is never porn-like.
Scum’s Wish is one of the more beautiful but understated anime this season. It is recommended to watch it alone in a dark quiet room, so the lonely parts will hit you harder and no one can judge you.
Have you watched Scum’s Wish? Tell us what you think about the anime in the comments below.