“I’m Here for That Warmth”
As Hanabi and Mugi’s fabricated relationship reaches new levels, past rivals for their affection emerge. Challenged by Noriko, a self-proclaimed princess from Mugi’s childhood, Hanabi seeks comfort from her only female friend, Sanae Ebato. Though their fondness for one another is mutual, Sanae’s feelings for Hanabi may be far stronger than anyone realizes.
I hadn’t expected Scum’s Wish to exceed my expectations after the premiere episode, but it managed to do just that. As the summary above explains, two new characters are introduced in this episode. Noriko (“Moca”), Mugi’s childhood friend, has reinvented herself over the years to become a princess worthy of her prince’s (Mugi) affection. After reappearing in his life, she makes her adoration of Mugi painfully obvious, much to Hanabi’s dismay.
Agitated by Moca’s brazen affection, Hanabi snidely declares, “you shouldn’t cling to things that isn’t yours.” (ouch!) Unsatisfied with only reprimanding the infatuated ‘princess’, Hanabi also advises Mugi to tell his childhood friend that he doesn’t want anything more to do with her. If the relationship between these two lovesick protagonists is meant to be purely fabricated, why would Hanabi react so strongly, almost as if threatened, by Moca?
As viewers can surmise, Hanabi is starting to feel a bit more possessive of Mugi. After all, she is privy to seeing sides of him no one else has seen. This is a natural reaction to growing closer to someone. Adding to this, she can relate to his feelings of unrequited love for another. In this sense, their relationship is on a completely different plane than others. Bound by this secret, seeking affection to abate their budding emotions, anyone outside this relationship is truly an interloper.
With the shift in emotions, the audience is privy to Hanabi’s inner dialogue. She determines Mugi, at times, reacts in ways that suggest they are in a real relationship (like flirtatiously teasing her). Similarly, she moans his name during an intimate moment they share. This prompts Mugi to remind her that she should be thinking of her ‘big brother.’ When Hanabi agrees, the briefest downwards curve of Mugi’s lips can be seen; no doubt foreshadowing his own shift in feelings towards her.
This one sided love theme continues with the introduction of Hanabi’s female friend, Ecchan. Soon after confiding in Ecchan over her aggravation of Moca, glimpses of deeper feelings began to emerge. My first thought was “yuri bating’ and that nothing more would come of Ecchan’s feelings for her closest friend. Nope, it actually happened. At the very end of the episode, viewers are left with a cliffhanger when the screen pans over Ecchan kissing Hanabi. WHAT!?! I know right! While this cannot be heading for anything but heartache, props for Scum’s Wish for pushing the boundaries yet again.
– Continues to push the boundaries in the most amazing ways
– Animation is still breathtaking and crisp
– Addition of supporting characters who seem to have a real purpose.
– Honestly? I’m still not finding anything to criticize yet.
This week’s episode was different from the first in many ways. The introduction of Noriko (who goes by “Moca” – short for “Most cutest angel” /eyeroll) threatened to veer this story off the path that it had originally set out. As Mugi’s childhood friend, she had somewhat groomed herself, based (as far as we know) on one adult’s comment from when she was a child, to become the perfect ‘princess’ for her ‘prince’ Mugi. Finding out that he’s dating Hanabi leads to the expected jealousy and childish antics. Her silly attitude and apparent youth, though old enough to attend school with Mugi, further set her apart from the otherwise serious tone of the show.
In addition to Noriko, a sequence where Hanabi’s friends ask her for romantic advice is done in a more humorous style. The whole story is conveyed comically, as is Hanabi’s bewilderment about how to advise her on which guy to date. It’s a sort of typical high school drama issue that comes not long after a sequence where Hanabi goes to blow off some steam at a karaoke place and sings the 5th OP of Naruto with Mugi.
These cliche’d moments and elements are quite noticeable, but they aren’t used in typical cliche manner. Each moment has a serious side to it and highlights Hanabi and Mugi’s situation through parallelism. Dealing with Noriko leads Hanabi to confront her own feelings of jealousy where Mugi is concerned. Noriko herself has an idealized image of Mugi in her mind that she can’t ignore no matter how painful it is to think about him loving someone else, just as Hanabi sees her sensei, Narumi. The story about Hanabi’s friend directly parallels her own, with not so subtle commentary by a third friend suggesting that “senpai” is the better choice. The karaoke scene, while slightly silly, emphasizes the points that torture the lead characters and leads to another physical encounter where they consciously push reality aside to indulge in deceitful fantasy.
It’s this dedication to the core theme that keeps this episode grounded and allows it to use everything that happened to strengthen the story where it might otherwise derail. This is still very much a story about the pain associated with unrequited feelings, and uncertainty about the ones that develop. The last scene with Hanabi’s friend, Sanae (“Ecchan”), hammers this point home with a well hinted twist that nonetheless comes at an almost rushed pace and startles. It’s a reminder that Hanabi’s already shaky emotional state can’t be anchored by someone that she knows and implicitly trusts.
– Strong adherence to the core theme
– Hanabi’s choices illustrated through parallels
– “Ecchan” is played by Haruka Tomatsu and is thus my default favorite now
– Noriko’s childishnes can be annoying if it becomes frequent
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party
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