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Scum’s Wish Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

A harsh look at sex and love with some very difficult teenagers.

What They Say:
Hanabi has loved her older friend Narumi for years, but she’s still in high school and not only is Narumi now her new homeroom teacher, he’s also clearly in love with the music teacher, Akane. And as awkward as being the unwanted third in a romantic triangle can be, things become even more twisted for Hanabi when she learns that another student, Mugi, is in love with Akane. That leads to a strange idea: since the ones that Mugi and Hanabi are in love with aren’t available, the two unrequited thirds start to explore the idea of becoming each other’s substitute surrogate relationship. It’s not about romance, of course. Just sex and convenience. Or at least that’s what they keep telling themselves as love’s wires become hopelessly crossed and ensnarled.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English language dub, both of which are encoded in the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series is very much dialogue driven with what it does with only a few bigger moments that comes from the swell of music or dramatic acting. The bulk of the dialogue is simple back and forth between two parties or internal dialogue and that keeps it to the center channel with how it feels. But that works well to give it a warmer feeling because of how intimate it gets throughout it. There are moments of good placement to be had and some movement across the screen but it’s pretty straightforward and problem free throughout. We didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with a nine/three breakdown. Animated by Lerche, the series captures a really fantastic feeling in youthful sexuality, uncertainty, and just how we get in our own heads. The visual design goes a little soft in some areas to create the mood but it also has a really great sense of color with very warm areas and some vibrant areas as well. There isn’t a lot of high-motion material but the quality of the animation is strong and the end result is an encoding that brings to life something that looks and feels great. Colors retain a wonderfully solid feeling throughout, there’s a lot of detail to be had across the board, and the use of the lighting really makes a lot of scenes work better than they might otherwise.

The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case without hinges being used for the two discs. The front cover uses one of the main key visual pieces to showcase the main cast of characters with a white background that lets them stand out, especially with the pink flowering aspects around the corners. THe logo is kept simple to the lower left and it breaks out the episode/disc count clearly along the upper right. The back cover has a nice shot of Hanabi that sets a good tone which blends into a couple of strips of shots from the show. The summary of the premise is fairly well detailed and we get some fun taglines with it as well. The rest is standard fare material with production and technical information that breaks out how the discs are put together clearly. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design for this release goes for a simple but welcome approach with a static image design. That it uses some of the gorgeous illustration work from the Japanese releases definitely makes me even happier as we get a good look at Hanabi through this to set the tone. The watercolor look of it is fantastic and that blends into the navigation along the right that uses pinks and purples to great effect here as it lays out the episode numbers and titles. The navigation is straightforward as there isn’t much to the releases beyond the show itself but language setup is a breeze and using it as a pop-up menu or the main menu is problem-free.

The extras for this release are basic but welcome as we get some of the original promos for it as well as the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga series Kuzu no Honkai by Mengo Yokoyari, Scum’s Wish is a twelve episode anime series that aired during the winter 2017 season. The manga began in 2012 and finished as the anime ended with eight volumes. The manga was one that was beautifully illustrated and had gorgeous covers that caught the eye so I was intrigued about the series from the start. Few anime shows engage in actual sexuality or sensuality outside of a gag or the briefest of moments to try and feel grounded and have a real moment. The majority skates right by it, pays a little lip service in its own way, or just runs through the comedy angle to keep us there. There’s a difference in fanservice style material and something going for actual sexuality as related to the story so Scum’s Wish is something that won’t work for a lot of people since it goes the distance. But that’s what will make it a thrilling show for others as it goes where so few go.

Scum’s Wish is a complex and complicated look at love, sex, and relationships that involves high school students and a couple of people that are a few years older. That alone will make things problematic for people but such stories have been part and parcel with anime and manga for years where there’s just a few years difference but the legalities are problematic for many. The core focus are on two students named Hanabi and Mugi. Hanabi has been in love with Narumi for years, a childhood neighbor that was a few years older than her and is now teaching in her school and is even her homeroom teacher. Mugi has much the same problem in that he’s in love with Akane, a music teacher in the school that he’s known since she was a student herself. His own complication goes back to middle school where he began to sleep with others because of his inability to confess to Akane and that has lead him into an area where he’s missing the grounding to really connect with others.

Both Hanabi and Mugi realize that the other is longing for something that, at least at the moment, they cannot have. So they enter into a faux-relationship in order to ease that pain a bit and gain some closeness. They play at it at her insistence where she pretends its Narumi that’s doing things to her while he imagines Akane. The show takes place over about four months or so with the main story but engages in some decent flashbacks to show origin points of relationships or other areas, such as Akane taking advantage of Mugi as a plaything while going on her own sexual journey of exploration. To complicate things even more, Hanabi has a good friend in Sanae that she got close with when they were both starting school together and Sanae has been deeply in love with Hanabi since then. She’s been a very good friend and sense the changes in things once Hanabi begins a relationship with Mugi and that gets her to make a much more formal play for Hanabi.

Add in a few others that bring their own tangents and there are a lot of different relationships at play. This show isn’t exactly complicated in a sense but it works with a lot of complex things and characters that many will find difficult to like. But that’s the point. You won’t like everyone that you know and there are people living very different lives. I was thoroughly engaged in Akane’s story as we see her sleeping around, playing with the men of all ages, because she enjoyed the attention and understood that. While it has an interesting closing idea that may be a little too neat in some ways, we have someone throughout that knows what she wants and simply goes after it, putting herself first. There are issues with how thoughtless she is with the feelings of others but she also makes it very clear what she’s interested in and how far she’s willing to go, so they can’t feign surprise. That makes things very difficult for those that really care for it, with Mugi really struggling to break into her life in a meaningful way while the completely unexpected opposite of her is the one that does but still has to struggle with the reality of who she is.

I love the way the series has a dreamlike aspect to it during a lot of pieces and that we get a lot of internal dialogue to help them express how they’re feeling more honestly than just awkwardly saying it out loud in some way. But I also really like that it doesn’t get shy about the sexuality. Yes, it avoids showing any nudity but it manages to titillate and excite in other ways with the mood, the movements, the sensuality of it all as they get closer and actually talk about sex. All of this, even as problematic and “wrong” as it may be for many, is more authentic than about 95% of what we see out every year from relationship anime series. It’s a rough and raw look at people that I won’t classify as broken but are struggling with their emotions and feelings in ways that feels incredibly human and that just drew me in, trainwreck that it is.

And it should have been Hanabi and Sanae at the end, even though I think the show ends right overall.

In Summary:
Scum’s Wish is one of the best series I’ll likely see in 2018 if only because it didn’t hold back in showing people that you may not be able to be sympathetic toward. I like shows that give me characters like this that I don’t like, exposing to me to the way other people live, think, and go through their lives, relationships, and so forth. Scum’s Wish is not an easy series but it’s a highly worthwhile series and one that is beautifully designed and animated. Sentai’s release provides us with a good dub for it and a great looking encode to be able to enjoy the experience and go through it with the characters. Very highly recommended.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Japanese Trailers; Clean Opening Animation; Clean Closing Animation

Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 25th, 2018
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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