“A Kind God”
Akane travels to a vacation spot with Kanai to figure out what he really wants from their relationship. The simplicity of his feelings startles her, and she begins to understand just what it is other people find so appealing about love. Mugi similarly comes to understand his own feelings as he meets Akane for their first and final date.
After realizing Akane was the central focus again this week, I feared Scum’s Wish was deviating from the meticulously laid path intended to summarize Hanabi and Mugi’s journey. Previously, emphasis was given to Ecchan and Moca — with episodes dedicated to detailing how the events surrounding the main characters impacted their lives. Even with the attention shifted to supporting characters, the intent was to build upon Hanabi and Mugi’s stories.
With a significant portion of this episode given to Akane and Kanai, it seemingly felt disconnected from the rest of the series– with Akane being a stand alone character and Mugi demoted to developing a storyline surrounding her. Given the decision to shift focus onto Akane so close to the end of the series, what unfolds is a rush of intricate, forced narrative.
What becomes fascinating regarding Akane’s rushed arc is the way it is woven back into Mugi’s. Her readily acceptance of Kanai’s marriage proposal not only emphasizes Akane’s transformation, but is a means of shifting her away from Mugi. In this roundabout way, the complex attachment Akane’s young lover feels towards her is resolved.
With all their connections dissolved, Mugi and Hanabi will likely be reunited in the finale; this time unhindered by emotional attachments. As if meeting for the first time, it will be intriguing to witness how these tragic lovers will perceive one another.
– Akane’s rushed side arc has been woven well back into Mugi’s storyline.
– Free from his attachment to Akane, Mugi is finally in position to be reunited with Hanabi.
– While it was handled well enough, Kanai’s marriage proposal was a bit out of place.
I expressed concern last week about Scum’s Wish placing so much focus on Akane at this point since the early part of the series was centered around Hanabi and Mugi and the struggles they faced. Mugi was still in a very unhealthy place, and Hanabi had been sidelined. Though the episode count may have left a little time for it, I wasn’t clear what the series was aiming for as it tired to ‘fix’ Akane.
In the process of doing this though, the show does a few interesting things that draw viewers into her character. She is much more herself on this trip with Kanai, focused more on trying to figure out her feelings and those of her unusually accepting boyfriend than on putting on an act to manipulate him. The show has given plenty of signs into how broken Akane’s understanding of emotion and fulfillment are, but this episode delves a little deeper into her belief that she was never meant to feel happiness by being with someone.
This is why Kanai’s simple explanation that he loves her throws her off guard so much. The concept of unconditional love runs so counter-intuitively to her knowledge of how people fundamentally work that she can’t help but feel something when Kanai persistently invades her closed off mind. Better still, all this happens without drastically changing her as a character either.
Apart from the awkward fitting marriage proposal, this segues well into her date with Mugi. It was nice to see that Mugi’s wish to be the one to change Akane wasn’t forgotten, as he begins to understand that she has changed, though not because of him. Seeing him come to terms with the idea that their relationship won’t continue this way makes all the time spent on Akane’s development make sense. As much of an impact as she had on Mugi, she needed to have a different state of mind before he could convincingly let her go.
At this point the two high-schoolers are at the point they had resigned themselves to being in a few episodes back, only this time instead of believing they can fall back on one another for comfort, they have a better understanding of of themselves and what they value. It’s a great setup for the finale that, in being devoid of the drama they fell into mid season, can resolve their stories in a natural way.
– Akane is near sympathetic this week, and her moments with Kanai play off very simple emotional beats that are easy for viewers to grasp.
– Mugi finally understands his place in Akane’s life, and can now establish what he needs for his own fulfillment.
– We may never really get a full picture of Kanai, but that’s okay.
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party