Weekly Motion Cannon: Scum’s Wish Episode 2

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You ever thought about giving up?

jaredJared (@savevsjared)

“Masaomi Andou again proves he understands the story in the way every director must in order to create a hit show. ”

The paneling techniques employed in the first episode return but have been toned down a bit. It also felt to me like less paneling occurred, but that may be just my own recollection. Still, it remains a well-utilized technique and if Lerche did in fact tone it down they made the right choice. Overuse will cause it to become tiresome (See Also: Shaft Headtilt).

Visual techniques aside, Scum’s Wish put a lot of storytelling capital into expanding its world by introducing new characters and complexity this week and chalked up another solid episode. We learn more about Hanabi’s friend Sanae and meet the stereotypically irritating Noriko aka “Moca”, a childhood friend of Mugi and a “rival” of Hanabi’s. Sanae becomes a viewpoint character for this episode to some degree, and we begin to see hints of a more complex characterization than that of “best girl friend”.

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Mengo Yokoyari has a sensibility similar to that of Shuzo Oshimi in that both mangaka like to foster shock and discomfort in their readers. Masaomi Andou again proves he understands the story in the way every director must in order to create a hit show. Throughout the episode, subtle tension in the form of furtive glances, subtle movements and shifts in posture threads its way throughout scene after scene. Despite the tension coming from different scenes and plot threads, the feeling itself stays with the viewer across the entire episode. When the twist comes, all of the prior tension rushes to the surface and gives the ending added force. Scum’s Wish demonstrates its delight at throwing curveballs to its audience this week and sends us a very clear message to forget what you think you know about teen romance shows. It’s too early to tell if the show will be able to keep viewers off-balance with twists and sudden shifts in character development, but Scum’s Wish will easily become one of the most talked about shows throughout this season.

I wouldn’t go around clinging

to things that aren’t yours.

the-subtle-doctorThe Subtle Doctor (@TheSubtleDoctor)

“Moment of the year so far.”

“When we started / Both brokenhearted // Not believing / It could begin and end in one evening //” – Feist “One Evening”

After the premiere of Scum’s Wish impressed me with its deft treatment of potentially-explosive issues, I was worried that it would take an episode or two to coast in neutral or waste time chasing unfulfilling romcom hijinks.  Fortunately, the show’s creatives seem to understand the story they want to tell and how they want to tell it, and episode two manages to build on and even top Scum’s previous outing.  I was worried for a moment, though, when the loud, obnoxious, tiny childhood-friend character, Moka, entered the fray.  Her entire first scene began as a giant red flag that the show was going to divide its attention; however, the show gives her both a role that services the ideas the story is already pursuing and a much-needed infusion of humanity.

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The soft-spoken and kind-of-mysterious Ebato is also introduced in episode two.  While she certainly appears a more palatable inclusion into Scum’s than Moka, I couldn’t help wondering initially what she would add to the show.  Both she and Moka are established as two sides of a love square by the end of the episode.  Their own one-sided crushes on Hanabi and Mugi serve as a reflection of what “typical” unrequited love looks like and as a catalyst for Hanabi and Mugi to face up to the feelings they are developing for one another.  The efficiency with which the show integrates these new characters into the story is commendable!  Certainly, the show “loaning” the first-person perspective to both debutantes helps this process.

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Hanabi’s trip to a café to give romantic advice to two of her classmates is just a wonderful moment.  As, the realization that she and these girls have totally incompatible views on love slowly washes over her, Hanabi’s eyes grow larger, her disbelief greater.  Love is not a choice, for Hanabi; it’s something that happens to you.  It bowls you over like a truck.  It’s got a grip on you that you can’t ignore even if you wanted to.  It’s a deep and aching emotion that informs your every thought.  And here these girls are debating about whether one of them should go out with a boy whose future prospects are good.  Hanabi would probably be upset with them if she wasn’t so surprised to discover that people actually think this way.  Moment of the year so far.

Speaking of moments, the moment Mugi’s normally listless gaze becomes wide-eyed panic, I sat up in my chair.  People talk about the ending to this episode being surprising.  While it certainly is, the introduction of (what appeared to me like) sexual abuse into the story was the big shock.  A repressed memory of a woman seemingly coercing Mugi to perform sex acts on her flashes unexpectedly across his mind’s eye.  He pulls back from Hanabi, only to return to her arms when he can safely pretend she is Akane.

It’s not clear who the woman in Mugi’s flashback is, but, whoever it is, I absolutely did not see this coming.  This scene represents another quite bold move for Scum’s Wish in its desire to confront difficult, emotional problems.  Also, it didn’t feel like a cheap ploy for sympathy but, rather, like a helpful explanatory device.  Mugi’s flashback allows me reframe his actions in a way that makes him feel more three-dimensional as a character, and I’m now even more interested in any glimpse the show might give us into his psychology.  Is he intentionally loving an unattainable woman so that he can keep love and sex separate?  Did he develop an attraction for an adult because of sex between child and adult being a thing in his own life?  The writing in Scum’s Wish has been brave so far, so I’m optimistic it will continue to be so when giving me answers.

I end up recreating him in my own mind to fit my needs.

cj avatar circleCJ Hitchcock (@cjhitchcock)

“It feels like I’m watching the cliff notes version of the source material.”

 

This episode was very dense. There was a lot of information given to us involving Mugi’s previous affairs, Hanabi’s feelings on romance, and even introducing more rival lovers. You have the obnoxiously pure-hearted Moka, who’s still pines over her childhood friend of Mugi; and Hanabi’s closest friend Ecchan, who’s harboring a crush for Hanabi. While I’ll tackle what I like and don’t like about these elements in a minute, my largest problem with this episode is how much story the series was trying to cram into a single episode. Instead of feeling like we are exploring these ideas about love and being introduced to new characters, it feels like I’m watching the cliff notes version of the source material.

Where this structuring of the story hurt the most is the subplot dealing with Ecchan. She pops up here and there throughout the episode and we get the since that she’s worried about Hanabi’s pseudo relationship with Mugi and she’s might have deeper feelings for Hanabi, but her screentime extremely brief. The episode ends on a cliffhanger in which Ecchan kisses Hanabi. Instead of building proper tension, this kiss just happens. Hanabi greets Ecchan at the door, and the scene cuts to some time later with Ecchan on top of Hanabi. It’d be one thing if this part of the story was entirely from the perspective of Hanabi being surprised, but this moment in the episode is centered around Ecchan’s internal monologue and its from her perspective. While it’s a surprise for Hanabi, Ecchan is struggling with these thoughts and emotions for awhile. We want to see that tension and struggle that lead up to the kiss, not just the kiss itself. While I’m fascinated to see where this subplot will go and how it’ll effect Hanabi’s love life, this scene feels like a teaser for the next episode instead of a proper fleshed out scene.

One part I did like a lot, though is Hanabi and Mugi’s date at the karaoke club. While Hanabi belts out her feelings about how she feels about her brother ignoring her, we get to see Mugi silently struggling with his previous relationships. While not confirmed, we are starting to get the impression that Akane has flat out rejected Mugi and he’s still in denial about the whole thing. On top of that there seems to be a previous unnamed, faceless blonde woman who’s taking up Mugi’s headspace as well. Mugi seems to be struggling with the idea of having to settle with somebody he’s not in love with. He’s been rejected by all of the women he’s held a flame for and the only women who seem to actually love him are the emotionally unstable Hanabi and the juvenile Moka. The best moment of the episode is when Mugi looks over at Hanabi and sees Akane. While the two are making out, all the audience sees is Mugi kissing Akane. It’s a perfect visual for Hanabi and Mugi’s relationship, he’s using her as a surrogate for Akane.

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Finally, I want to mention the scene where Hanabi is confronted by two other girls about romantic woos. The scene served as a good way to inform the audience that Hanabi isn’t just after her Narumi or even Mugi because of their looks. She’s attracted to them because she has emotional bounds with them. Nothing about her feelings are superficial. While her feelings for her brother might be tough to chew, she does make a decent argument for why she feels the way that she does.


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4 Comments

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  1. I’m not sure if this is done on purpose or not, but I’m really liking the flow from Subtle to CJ’s thoughts. It just feels right. Having CJ anchor this piece was a nice choice on a greater whole given his stance. Kudos to WMC for setting their order up that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Moka’s presentation seems to be crafted with the intention of enraging the viewer. She is obnoxious, generic and entitled. Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about what her reaction will be when she realizes that she dedicated some two thirds of her 15 year long existence trying to live up to a standard that only exists inside her head, changing the way she carries herself, her wardrobe, her friendships and preferences in order to be “deserving” of a “prince” that feels towards her nothing more than a faint camaraderie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I thought the scene on the train where the show “lends” here the first-person perspective did a lot to soften the initial annoyance I felt toward her. You’ve gotta imagine that she knows deep down but isn’t letting herself believe it. I almost can’t imagine her being broken so much by Mugi’s rejection that she begins using someone as a substitute for him…but this show has been full of surprises so far.

      Like

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