Unrequited love is a tragic circumstance with no simple resolution. It comes in many forms, yet each one shares the same debilitating feeling of inconceivable longing.
Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya are two high school students who appear to have the ideal relationship. They are the envy of their classmates, and it is easy to portray them as the classic example of high school sweethearts. Unbeknownst to friends and family, however, there is a side to their love veiled by hidden passions: their true affections lie elsewhere, and they use each other to physically sate their unreciprocated feelings.
Hanabi is in love with Narumi Kanai, her new homeroom teacher who is also her childhood friend. Mugi is in love with Akane Minagawa, who used to be his tutor when he was younger. Now teachers at the same school, Kanai and Minagawa begin to show an interest in one another. As a result, Mugi and Hanabi find solace in each other as victims of the same pain.
With little hope of their feelings being realized, these two students face a challenging predicament: cope with and move on from their lust, or become further entangled in their web of unrequited love.
I want to like Kuzu No Honkai, I really do. But I just can't, and here's why.
First and foremost I'd like to praise the superficial, the art. I adore Yokoyari Mengo's art, it's very well done. Each of the character's design feel unique and somehow colorful. Mengo's greatest achievement in Kuzu No Honkai was definitely her art. This is the only aspect of the manga I have very concrete positive feelings for.
Next the character, this is a double edged blade. It was simultaneously good and bad. Characters felt like they could be real people, they were relatable and all but one felt competent.
Almost all of us can relate to loving someone who won't love us. And Mugi and Hanabi's sexual solace in each other while unhealthy, is understandable. On the other hand a lot of their actions and emotions feel completely unjustified and frankly illogical. Almost childish. Specifically Kanai's (and Mugi's) love for Akane. It makes absolutely zero sense. What does he love about her? Think about it. Everything he knows about her is total bullshit. The only thing he knows for sure, is that she's a pretty face. Why would he willingly commit to being a cuckold? "To make her happy". That's not an answer, why does he want to make her happy, why does he love her. He doesn't know enough about her to love her. It's childish. It's one thing to love someone despite their faults, but to love someone with seemingly no redeeming qualities is just ridiculous. Either that or he's a masochist who want's to be cheated on. In which case, whatever. I'm not going to argue with the disturbing fetish that is netorare.
Another issue with the character in this story is that the characters has this nasty little regression habit. They'd make a little progress, show a sign of moving on only to hit a wall, give up, have a little emotionless sex and go back to a world of self pity. I feel that no one in this manga had any meaningful character development. I feel that given the opportunity, Mugi, Ecchan, or Hanabi, would immediately hop into the arm's of their first love.
Almost none of the characters were likable. Yea you could empathize with them, which is important and good. But empathy means jack shit if you don't like them. Hanabi constantly act's like a victim. Always giving into her surroundings and scarcely making a choice for herself. Mugi is a delusional idiot who believes his first love is infallible. Akane doesn't need anything said about her. She's just a sociopath. And Kanai is just a man child. Ecchan was a good attempt, but had this nasty habit of taking advantage of her love, leading me to believe she more infatuated than inlove. And Moca, my favorite, just fell in love with an idea, the idea of a prince and princess. She's almost a reverse of Kanai and Akane, except Mugi isn't nearly an awful person as Akane.
Finally the story, Kuzu No Honkai's great short coming. I have two things to say about the story. First and foremost, it is my belief that a story is only as good as it's ending. And Kuzu No Honkai's ending was frankly shit. It end with a sociopath marrying a manchild who claims to love her when he knows nothing about her, and our two main characters who actually move on (which is good) just deciding "this person who helped me through the darkest time of my life to date, who I probably love, lets just completely cut them out of my life". People are saying this is a fitting and lovely ending. I think it's illogical and emotionally regressive.
Second, it feels like this story never had a clear ending in sight. Any good story teller knows two things when they begin to write a story. It's beginning, and it's ending. Kuzu No Honkai felt like it knew's it's beginning, but had no damn idea what the hell was going to happen after that. It just threw side characters at us and the "resolved" the story. What do I mean? It felt like Ecchan, and Moca were just there to kill time and attempt to add some more sympathetic characters.
Kuzu No Honkai never had the intention of making anyone happy. It simply expressed the fact that there is misery in the world and that we have to deal with it. Kuzu No Honkai had no intention of creating any enjoyment and I certainly didn't find any.
A fruitless love. A painful love. A one-sided love. Is that really such a wonderful thing?
It's all too common throughout the romance genre to follow the journey of an unrequited love. These stories are light hearted in nature and sparkling with color as characters fantasize about confessing to their unobtainable goal. What rarely gets explored is the emotional toll that weighs on the soul of a person who rests their hopes on the choices of another adolescent. To not be able to share yourself with the one you desire most in this world, even worse watch them grow closer to someone else, is an excruciating
ordeal. One that can lead you to make terrible choices out of utter desperation and that is what Kuzu no Honkai attempts to depict in gritty detail - the darkness that can develop from an unrequited love situation and the depths one is willing to go to in order to fill that void in their heart.
In this story we encounter two seventeen year olds named Mugi and Hanabi who attempt to quell the pain from their own unrequited loves by using one another as substitutes, pretending as though the other is the one that they truly love in order to satisfy their raging desires. We witness the consequences they face from beginning such a disingenuous relationship and how it impacts the people around them for the worse.
For adolescents in a school life setting, our two main characters are unusually mature. They obviously make their fair share of mistakes throughout as any teenager would, but the way that they describe events that happen before them, rationalizing their ever changing feelings by referencing modern psychology and embracing their sexual proclivities make them appear as though they're older than they actually are. Maturity is a prevalent theme as our lead characters look to progress themselves in order to make the people that they love, both adults in their early 20's, look their way. They each have childhood friends who are in love with them and are understandably upset over the suspicious relationship that they share which serves as the root of much drama in this story. Even they begin to change drastically as the plot progresses. Character progression is a refreshing strong-point for this manga as everyone begins to develop before your eyes with the turn of each page leading into the next chapter. Kuzu no Honkai is also told from a variety of different perspectives with each central character getting an opportunity to describe the events through their own point of view, helping to keep the story from ever feeling repetitive or stale.
The art in this manga does a great job of depicting the emotional state of the characters especially during intimacy scenes. Despite the lewd premise however, this is not a very explicit manga as there's much more focus on the reasoning behind why the characters act upon their impulses, rather than the impulse itself.
Given the current events thus far its safe to say what this manga sets out to accomplish as intended by the author: Kuzu no Honkai is designed to make you feel. To evoke a reaction out of the reader that will range anywhere from lukewarm sadness to berserk anger due to the many painful decisions that these characters you grow accustomed to make. It can be quite the vexing read for many who are used to more predictable happy romantic outcomes but a strong quality of any work of literature is the ability to create a rise out of the reader. That was me as I sped through this manga upon discovery which compelled me to compose my thoughts into a review. Hopefully that is what will inspire you to continue on forth with this manga and witness the most oft ignored aspect of love that is human desperation and desperately sought after compensation for a broken heart.
I've just finished reading Kuzu no Honkai (Scums Wish) and I felt the need to put my thoughts into words, so I decided to write a review. As this work is ongoing take my current score with a grain of salt, as many of you know you can't give an accurate score till something is over. However, rest assured the 8 does mean that I have "enjoyed" what I've read (More on those quotations later). That being said, let's get into the nitty gritty.
The story is simple enough, two people find comfort in each other as the pine away for the ones they truly
love. At it's heart the author tries to make the manga about the pain of having unrequited love. However, the more I read of this manga I begin to see something more. The author has created something more, something honest. Scums Wish shows depravity. The characters in Scums Wish are empty. And this emptiness gives way to their struggles. They want something desperately to fill their emptiness, but they can't get it. This is where the honesty comes in. How often do we pine away for something to fill up our own longing? Scums Wish shows this struggle. People seeking something, something they may not even be fully aware of, and that something is destroying them from the inside out.
The art is clean, and consistent, no qualms and not much to say.
Scums Wish is an accurate title. The characters in this manga are truly scum. They are empty people doing selfish and empty things with no concern for the damage it may cause them. They so desperately want to be filled that, the very desire they wish for is killing them. Our two leads are pitiable, but not just them, the whole cast (Except for one) are sad individuals. Lonely and broken people. There have been countless times during reading the manga that I wanted to punch the characters, to yell at them. But this is not because I hated them. It is because it is painful to watch people go down a path of self-destruction. This is not bad story writing, when I stepped away from this work to look at it objectively, I agreed with how the characters acted. If I had the values that these characters hold, I could see myself doing what they have. They acted honestly to their characters, and I my mind no matter how much I hate that honesty, it is the mark of a good character when you see where their actions come from. However, that honesty is painful and frustrating to read.
Now, let's talk about why I had quotations around my "enjoyment" earlier. As I hinted at in my characters segment. Watching people spiral down a self-destructing life cycle is painful. It is like watching a friend who has a drug addiction fry his brain. You want to punch your friend, but it won't do anything. Scums Wish is a hard read, but despite how sad the characters are, I enjoyed the work. I can look at the world Sums Wish has painted and agree with the action of its characters, even if those actions frustrate me, it is an honest look at the way I believe people are. We may not seek such rotten fulfillment in love, but we may in other areas. Scums Wish is introspective and honest, and I found my self enjoying it.
I'll wrap up my thoughts here, and add a warning to future readers of Scums Wish. Scums Wish is an honest depiction of how empty people act, when they can't reach for the thing they think they desire. Bad decisions pile up, one on top of another. I ate the story up because it fascinated me, and if you can handle the shear sadness of the characters I would recommend you try it too. If you are not instantly turned off, you may learn something about people too. I know I have.
That being said, I want to end with a warning. Around the 33rd chapter or so, the main female lead decides to find a resolution. I am desperately worried that this manga will slip into a cliched "I'll believe in myself" kind of manga which would depress me greatly. I'll be honest, I'm a sucker for happy endings, but a work like Scums Wish should not be set up for one. Unless the Author can find a way for her characters to find true redemption, I worry that Scums Wish will end hollowly. She has painted an honest world. One where people are screwed up, and I feel as if a shallow solution to the characters problems and trauma would be a disservice to this work. So be warned, all readers of Scums Wish, you may be in for a poor ending. Here's to hoping I'm wrong.
tl;dr: Scums Wish is interesting. Although the characters are frustrating, they act honestly. The drama is intense, and can be an off put, but instead of focusing on it, instead ask yourself this question, "Where do you seek fulfillment?" If it is in love, do you see yourself honestly acting any different if put in the characters situations? Try it.
This review is spoiler free with nothing to do with the story, so you can enjoy the manga without knowing 'too' much. Remember this is my thoughts, therefore I will make a paragraph at the end about it not based on my personal thoughts.
Kuzu no Honkai is kind of messed up in many ways, not school days messed up but not your average manga. For me it's hard writing a review for this because i can't find much good things about it. Its not boring at all,I read all 40 chapters (so far) in the first go. I can't really love any of the characters,
I just can't get attached to them because its not a simple romance but a complicated romance. I didn't necessarily dislike or love it, just too hard for me to get in the story.
The plot is kinda lame no matter what way you think about it. Some say complicated relationships makes it interesting, BUT their is a limit of how f*cked up it can get. The characters are absolutely screwed up at times and some people get annoying especially this one female character. The reason why the characters are like that is because THEY are STUPID and they DONT think. Somehow i managed to give a 7/10 because it wasn't boring and it was kinda fun reading it.
The manga in general is good and worth reading but If you dont like f*cked up relationships and mature moments then I suggest you give it a pass. The art was well done, proabably one of the best aspects. Story has potential and surprising at times.