“A Story of Two”
As the months press onward, Hanabi reflects on everything that’s happened. She is enlisted to help with the school festival, Kanai tells her of his plans to marry Akane, and the students give them a celebratory party. All the while there is a distance between her and Mugi.
While I could probably write a book on the brilliance and beauty of Scum’s Wish, I could not begin to come close to doing it justice. Far too often high-ranking series fall victim to over saturation. Instead of ending on a high note, these popular series may end up with episodes spanning triple digits; laden with copious amounts of filler content. For Scum’s Wish, however, this truly was the end.
The finale touched upon every relevant character; allowing a brief glimpse for viewers to surmise what is to come. Kanai is following through with his plan to marry Akane, which Hanabi appeared a bit too okay with. Noriko continues to shine after adopting her more positive outlook on life, minus Mugi. Ecchan has accepted Hanabi back into her life and slightly reinvented her appearance, perhaps to separate her identity from that of her former self.
Although this strategy makes for a definitive end to a running series, it also allows enough room to keep viewers pondering. Will Kanai and Akane’s union stand the test of time? (probably not, but I’ll root for it all the same). How about Noriko, will she allow herself to fall in love slowly next time around? Did Atsuya convince Ecchan to give him a chance? These are things the audience will never truly know, but are pleasing to ponder all the same.
Hanabi and Mugi reconnect for the finale, after a indeterminable period of separation. As they catch up, Hanabi silently realizes that they are not attempting to physically comfort one another. Although this had been their instinctual ‘go to’ response in the past, this time around their lips, hands, even tips of their fingers never actually meet. It is as if these two former lovers are discovering one another for the first time.
While the idea of becoming a “true couple” is considered, in the end the pair opt to say “goodbye.” After all, they no longer need to be physically sheltered from the pain of heartbreak. It has come and there they now stand– processing, healing, and ultimately growing from the experience. Although this makes for a bittersweet ending, I thought it was absolutely perfect.
– A bittersweet, beautiful ending to a series. Don’t expect a sequel. It doesn’t need one.
– Move along…
Scum’s Wish has never shied away from the painful or unpleasant. It never tried to convince the viewer that things were simple when they weren’t. To put it simply, it never took the easy way out when it came to portraying the often confusing and uncomfortable aspects of romance. The final episode of this series doesn’t stop this trend, and delivers a finish that is every bit as honest as the entire season has been.
Just as this story began with Hanabi’s perspective, so too is the ending told from her point of view. Admittedly, a large part of the episode is hurried along in as much of a rush as Hanabi encounters. The preparations for the school festival have her running around trying to help in one way or another, leaving her seemingly without a second to breath. It’s all a distraction though, as the moment she does get a chance all the thoughts she’s been holding in come to the forefront.
Not to say that every development had been a negative one. She sees an Ecchan that has been able to go on without Hanabi as a partner. She sees a Noriko confident with herself even in the absence of a partner. Most endearing of all she sees Kanai actually happy and excited to start his life with Akane. Having already given him up, she doesn’t fight against this news, but rather accepts it with grace. She’s already let go of the longing and despair she carried for years in being unable to have him, so all that’s left to do is hope things turn out for the best.
What was missing in all this was any kind of resolution with Mugi, and it’s here that the series shows its discipline. A fight with Mugi over how things turned out could have been used to create some drama. A rekindling of the romance between them could be used to satisfy viewers who were hoping for some kind of happy ending for both of them. What Scum’s wish does instead is show them finally opening up to each other in a genuine sense to end the longstanding silence.
Hanabi shows literal restraint in this episode in stopping herself from reaching out to Kanai, not making any fuss about his upcoming marriage during the party, and not making a move to physically reconnnect with Mugi. The series itself shows restraint by staying on course with its message and not backsliding on the valuable lesson these two young characters learned about love through the tumultuous year.
The final scene thus plays out as strongly as this series has so far managed. The bittersweet melancholy of knowing that Hanabi and Mugi care for each other hangs over the mutual understanding that they aren’t ready to be with one another yet. At its core it is a happy ending for them both, but it’s one which remembers that love can’t be found so easily.
– Every major character is given a satisfying resolution that doesn’t compromise them.
– Hanabi and Mugi give each other the best shot at happiness either has had.
– I could nitpick, but I won’t. This was great.
This post is part of our seasonal episodic review series. To view all the posts in this series, click the following link: Viewing Party