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Manga / Scum's Wish

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Counterclockwise, from frontmost left: Hanabi, Mugi, Noriko, Akane, Narumi, and Sanae

Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya appear to be the perfect couple. They've been going steady for a few months, and are all over each other. This is the ideal that others strive for.

If only it were so simple. The truth is, Hanabi and Mugi have no interest in each other. Hanabi is actually in love with Narumi Kanai, the school's language teacher and her childhood friend. Mugi is infatuated with Akane Minagawa, his tutor in middle school, and now just started as a music teacher. Knowing that their true love is out of their reach, Hanabi and Mugi are only together to satisfy each other physically. Rounding out the cast are Sanae Ebato, Hanabi's classmate and someone who has a crush on her, and Noriko Kamomebata, Mugi's childhood friend, who happens to have feelings for him. And so, the stage is set for a tale of twisted romance.

Scum's Wish (Kuzu no Honkai) is a seinen manga series written and illustrated by Mengo Yokoyari, which was serialized in Big Gangan from September 25, 2012 to March 25, 2017. An anime adaptation by Lerche began airing in January 2017. A sequel manga that acts as an epilogue for the characters, Kuzu no Honkai -decor-, began serialization in late 2017, and ended in 2018 with 7 chapters.

Scum's Wish contains examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: The last page of decor mentions that Mugi and Hanabi's drama has just begun, and will continue even past the end of the series.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: This trope is everywhere, to the point where it can be considered as a Deconstruction, as the manga shows just how emotionally damaging such a trope can be on the people involved.
    • Hanabi loves her teacher Narumi, who has no such feelings for her.
    • Mugi loves Akane, who doesn't return his feelings. That said, when Mugi confesses his feelings to her, she pretends to reciprocate (which Mugi is fully aware of) and starts sleeping with him. She eventually breaks it off when Narumi proposes to her.
    • Hanabi's best friend Sanae is in love with her, while Sanae's cousin Atsuya is in love her.
    • Mugi's Childhood Friend Noriko is in love with him.
    • Narumi is in love with Akane, but Akane (initially) feels nothing for Narumi and only enters a relationship with him because she loves to see men's admirers cry. However, Akane and Narumi end up averting this, as Akane eventually develops feelings for Narumi, and accepts his marriage proposal. However in decor, she describes her new lifestyle as being "surrounded by unrequited love", so emotionally the trope still applies.
  • Always Someone Better: Invoked and played with. Noriko tells Hanabi that she won their "competition" of sorts by at least being able to love purely and sincerely, something that Hanabi herself was pursuing but never achieved; sure, Hanabi went through the more "physical" approach, but she definitely didn't leave "happy" with herself. Still, Noriko had to drop most of the self-image she built around herself to achieve a response from Mugi, but she took it too far off from the image Mugi had of her, making him back off. She wanted to be in Mugi's "world", but he didn't let her.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • Hanabi. While she's not in love with Sanae, she does find her attractive and clearly enjoys fooling around with her. Whether or not it's a case of If It's You, It's Okay is not addressed.
    • This also appears to be the case with Sanae, as, after she breaks things off with Hanabi, she acknowledges that Atsuya has always been there for her, and hints that a relationship between them might be possible. However, it's ultimately subverted in decor. While she and Atsuya live together, she explicitly says that she won't return his feelings because she "can't do it with men."
  • Ambiguous Situation: In decor, it's left unclear whether Akane hasn't yet cheated on Narumi because of her feelings for him, or because (as she claims) she's decided to be more discerning about who she sleeps with now that she's married.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: A rare platonic version happens after Sanae realizes that Hanabi will never fall in love with her and decides its best to just break all contact with her. This causes Hanabi to chase after her and declare that while she isn't in love with Sanae, she still cares about her and wants desperately to remain friends.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Invoked. Noriko tries to seduce Mugi, but at the crucial moment he cannot bring himself to debase her because he both cares for her and respects her too much to be able to do anything of the sort to her.
  • At Least I Admit It: Akane knows what she's doing is wrong, but she embraces it for most of the manga until Narumi's unconditional love somewhat gets through to her. Mugi slowly develops this mindset over the course of the manga, but manages to move past it after he and Akane end their relationship.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: In a platonic sense, the reason why Akane breaks it off with Mugi in the end.
  • Babies Ever After: Akane and Narumi have a child by the epilogue.
  • Becoming the Mask: Akane initially agrees to go out with Narumi just to hurt Hanabi, but ultimately comes to develop more genuine feelings for him.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In spite of her innocent and cutesy appearance and behavior, Akane is a sadistic woman who gets off on seducing men who are either already in a relationship or pined after by other women. In fact, she purposefully lures Hanabi in the music room just so she can witness her heartbroken face when she hears her crush confessing to Akane.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Hanabi's had her heart broken twice, but she's able to go forward in life and find solace in being alone by the time the story ends and can finally start anew without all her baggage weighing her down.
  • Book Ends: The some of the first and last visuals for the manga have Hanabi with her finger to her lips as the main visual. The main difference is in her expression; while in the first she looks like she's trying to keep a secret, in the last she has a small smile on her face.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • The idea of the characters being "scum" or engaging in loveless sexual acts is hampered down by the fact that Hanabi is a Technical Virgin. Some fans go into it thinking that despite her complex personality and her using Ecchan, she's still technically "pure" (and therefore still sympathetic to the audience as an MC) by virtue of not being penetrated during any of her various smut scenes, and cite having Akane, the series' Vamp, and Mugi (who is a very horny boy) get the bulk of penetrative sex and character focus (at least on Akane's part) as proof of this.
    • When Akane tells Narumi about her sexual past, she's driving him away because she thinks he couldn't possibly be attracted to her after learning about how "unpure" she is compared to most women. Her arc in general could give her some sympathy, seeing that she's putting up multiple fronts and no one's looking to see the "real" her, if only she wasn't as intentionally sexually manipulative as she was throughout her teenage and adult years, perpetuating all of the false projections of herself that she's not quite sure she wants to take down.
    • The story's intended message that a relationship that's just sexual and not romantic is meaningless is completely undercut by Akane winding up with the best ending out of the main cast despite her romantic relationship with Narumi being one sided for a good part of it, and she's still largely the same empathy-lacking Manipulative Bitch she was when the story started.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Initially, Hanabi regarding her feelings towards Narumi, and to some extent Mugi regarding his feelings for Akane. Hanabi particularly angsts quite a bit about this when she hears Narumi's Love Confession to Akane.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Start with a Love Dodecahedron, then give most members of it some type of mental instability. For the ones that don't yet have problems, break them repeatedly. Continue for pretty much the rest of the story; this is this manga in a nutshell.
  • Casting Gag: Chika Anzai, who voices Hanabi in the anime, appears in the live-action adaptation as a teacher. Dori Sakurada, who plays Mugi Awaya in the live-action show, guest stars in the anime's 11th episode as Ori Kurada.
  • Childhood Friends:
    • Hanabi and Narumi have known each other since Hanabi was very young, to the point that she thinks of him like an older brother.
    • Mugi and Noriko have known each other since they were kids.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Hanabi and Noriko are both of the unlucky type, as their feelings for their objects of affection are unrequited.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Noriko to Mugi.
  • Coming of Age Story: Everybody has a lot of growing up to do in the manga, even the adults.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Partly averted. It's rather coincidental that the respective objects of Hanabi's and Mugi's affections both happen to teach at their school, and even more so that they appear to be into each other. However, it turns out that Akane, being a Jerkass who gets off on other girls' heartbreak, pretends to reciprocate Narumi's feelings precisely because Hanabi is in love with him.
  • The Cutie: Noriko. Even to the point that her Non-Uniform Uniform makes her look more frilly and cuter in retrospects.
  • A Day in the Limelight: An extra chapter of decor follows Mito and Ayumi, two girls who went to Hanabi for relationship advice in the original series.
  • Does Not Like Men: Sanae Ebato, by her own admission.
  • Dude Magnet: Akane and Hanabi
  • Dysfunction Junction: The title's not called Scum's Wish for no reason. Everyone likes to act out on their own selfishness, and everyone involved has some deeper reason for acting the way they do.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: And if it's not sex, then it's foreplay instead. The majority of the cast sort out their deep-seated problems by fondling everyone else, or think that their feelings can be resolved if they sleep with the person they love.
  • First Kiss: Hanabi had hers with Mugi.
  • For the Evulz: Seemingly the only justification Akane offers for her behavior, when questioned by Hanabi, as well as several of her internal monolouges. She seems to have no Freudian Excuse for her manipulative promiscuity, and appears to simply like the feeling of getting men to fall in love with her, hurting other women who are interested in them, and ultimately discarding them.
  • Friends with Benefits:
    • It's a slow start, but Hanabi and Mugi become this in the beginning, stopping just short of actual sex.
    • Hanabi and Sanae's relationship goes in this direction, although it's a bit more complex given Sanae's feelings for Hanabi. It doesn't help that both are aware that they are just hurting one another; that is, Hanabi feels guilty for using Sanae to numb her pain, while worrying that breaking it off with her entirely will end their friendship. Meanwhile, Sanae knows about this, and acknowledges that she is using their friendship to manipulate Hanabi into sleeping with her.
  • I Can Change My Beloved:
    • Mugi thinks he can do this with Akane, but as he realizes on their first real "date", he was never able to.
    • The overlying message of the series seems to be that if you want to make a change in someone, you have to be willing to change yourself first.
  • If It's You, It's Okay:
    • Noriko tries to go for this when she asks Mugi for sex, saying that it's alright for him to defile her even though she's seen as cute and pure, but Mugi knows that he won't go for it and that she won't go for it either, and so stops her.
    • Akane always sees her relationships with men as if she were outside looking into a gallery of windows, isolated from the reality of her actions; that is until Narumi stands behind her in the gallery and lovingly embraces her. This shocks her enough to accept his marriage proposal, even for the mere sake of trying to love and be loved. Dude nailed her, although ironically and for the first time, not in a sexual way...
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: This is the crux of where Akane's behavior comes from. She likes the attention and affection that others give her, but she doesn't want to be emotionally hurt and walls herself off to do so. She's also coming from a position where she wants to be loved as she is, not for some front she puts on.
  • I Know You Know I Know: This exchange -
    Mugi: Sensei, I love you.
    Akane: I knew all along.
    Mugi: I know you knew all along.
    Akane: I did not know that.
  • Important Haircut: Sanae cuts her hair short by the end of the series, to signify that she's going to stop pursuing Hanabi.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Ecchan has Hanabi (apparently), Atsuya has Ecchan. Of course, in Atsuya's case, there's also the issue that he's her cousin, but that doesn't seem to bother her as much.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • "Moka" for Noriko, a nickname she picked for herself because she hates being called by her actual name.
    • Hanabi calls her friend Sanae Ebato "Ecchan", and she herself is called "Hana-chan" by Narumi.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • In Chapter 33, Hanabi confesses to Narumi, but is turned down. She accepts his rejection and is able to move on.
    • Sanae eventually gives up pursuing Hanabi as she knows that her feelings won't be reciprocated. She almost went as far as to sever their friendship, but is convinced otherwise.
    • When Akane reveals to Mugi that she's getting married, he congratulates her, tearfully tells her that he'll never forget her, and decides to move on.
  • I Will Wait for You: A platonic version between Hanabi and Sanae. Sanae is ready to completely sever her friendship with Hanabi, as it hurts too much to be around her due to their supposedly Incompatible Orientations. However, she agrees to try and get over Hanabi, who promises to wait until then so they can be friends again.
  • Karma Houdini: By the end of the series, Akane is engaged to Narumi, and seems none the worse for wear after sleeping with her student, manipulating men's feelings for years, and getting under Hanabi's skin. You could argue that her atonement is trying to learn to love Narumi, and she seems to be more sympathetic, but she doesn't seem to get any comeuppance for her actions in the manga.
  • Kawaiiko: Noriko. Everyone else agrees with that statement, calling her cute and pure, and her self-proclaimed nickname Moka is the result of her wanting it to sound cuter.
  • Kissing Cousins: Sanae's cousin Atsuya is in love with her. She is not interested.
  • Lonely Together: The main ethos of the series. Neither Hanabi nor Mugi are with the person they love and they are together by virtue of being in the very same situation as each other; and as a matter of fact, no one in the series gets to be with the person they love except maybe Narumi, as a relationship with Akane comes with a big asterisk on its own.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Sanae Ebato. She's very conventionally attractive (even Hanabi thinks so), and has some stereotypically girly interests like dress shopping.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Hanabi is in love with Narumi, Narumi and Mugi are in love with Akane, Sanae is in love with Hanabi, Noriko is in love with Mugi, and Hanabi and Mugi are not in love with each other least until they start developing feelings for each other later on. Also, Sanae's cousin Atsuya is in love with her. It's complex, to say the least.
  • Love Epiphany: In decor, Mugi eventually realizes that he loves Hanabi.
  • Love Hurts: Due to the combination of Love Dodecahedron and All Love Is Unrequited. There is not a single happy and healthy romantic entanglement to be found.
  • Love Martyr: Over the course of Mugi and Akane's sexual relationship, Mugi gets it into his head that he'll stay with her in the hopes that she'll love him one day, or at the very least like him the most out of all the men she's been with. He says this, even though he knows that he's just being used and doesn't like it and wants to go back to Hanabi, but still sticks by Akane anyway.
  • Loving a Shadow: Mugi eventually realizes that the Akane he loved was just a set of different faces and personas she put on.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Gender-inverted example with Akane and Narumi; as time goes on, Akane realizes that she's the one chasing Narumi, not the other way around... and this thought disgusts her.
  • Like Brother and Sister: How Narumi sees his relationship with Hanabi. She does not agree.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Akane, it turns out, up to eleven.
  • Maybe Ever After: How the manga ends. While Mugi and Hanabi don't get together and don't need each other anymore, they still have the possibility in the future. Decor also doesn't conclusively hook them up, but it's heavily implied that they get together.
  • My Girl Is a Slut: When Akane tells Narumi about her sexual past, and that she's slept with countless men before, Narumi says that he doesn't even mind it. He's perfectly happy with her doing what she wants, even when she warns him that she might cheat on him one day. This is what gets her to agree to his marriage proposal. It's not so much him being okay with it, and more Narumi's intent behind it— that he'll try and love Akane for whatever she is.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: Noriko's shirt is more frilly than the usual, and she also forgoes the typical vest and ribbon.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Hanabi comes to this realization with regards to herself and Akane after she sleeps with Sanae for the first time, as she feels as though she's also using someone's unrequited feelings towards her to get sex for her own needs. The point is emphasized in one of Akane's flashbacks; back when she was a teenager, she looked almost exactly like Hanabi does at present.
  • Oblivious to Love: Narumi is completely unaware of Hanabi's feelings until she confesses them to him. For her part, Hanabi doesn't notice Sanae's feelings until she comes on to her during a sleepover.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Narumi, the only one in the main cast who is not only living a healthy and stable life, but also dealing with his own issues - losing his mother when he was still a child - without angsting too much or hurting other people. At least until it turns out that he has a bit of a complex about it...
    • One could also make the case that Mugi's upperclassman that he had a sexual relationship with is this as well, if only because there isn't some deep seated or unnerving reason for her to be having sex. She just likes it. On the other hand, she may just come off as relatively well-adjusted by dint of being a fairly minor character.
  • Queer Establishing Moment: In an extra chapter from decor which follows Mito and Ayumi (the girls who ask Hanabi for relationship advice), Mito comes out to Ayumi as asexual.
  • Questionable Consent: The first time Hanabi and Sanae have sex, Sanae asks for consent knowing that Hanabi wouldn't say no regardless of what she really wanted.
    Sanae: You care about me as a friend, I know that I'm someone special to you. You can't say no to me, because you don't to lose me too. So of course, I'm going to take advantage...
  • Red String of Fate: On one cover, Hanabi and Mugi are bound by one.
  • Rescue Romance: Sanae first meets Hanabi when the latter saves her from a molester on the train, and develops feelings for her soon after.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In a fit of jealousy, Noriko yells that she is sure Hanabi doesn't really love Mugi and is just using him. She really is, but not in the way Noriko thought. And Mugi is also using Hanabi.
  • Sex Equals Love:
    • Played with a lot of the time. A lot of the characters with some sort of moral compass want to associate their romantic feelings for their crushes with sex, or hope that the sex will lead to love as is usual for the trope. However, it's really not that easy; when they fall for a person who only wants sex from them, or think that putting out will lead to the relationship they really want, it tends to create problems and poor planning that hurts everyone involved.
    • Mugi's arc plays with this concept a lot, as he doesn't want to have sex with Moka because he doesn't love her that way (and because he can't give her what she wants), and while he and Hanabi have fooled around he didn't love her all that time and never penetrated her. That being said, he's made peace with the parts of himself that make him "scum" and embraces it, becoming a sort of playboy near the end.
  • Ship Sinking: decor sinks Sanae/Atsuya. While they live together, Sanae makes it clear that she can't reciprocate his feelings, because she is, in fact, gay.
  • Shout-Out: Sanae's teacher is nicknamed "Nyarome", referencing the character of the same name fro Fujio Akatsuka's Moretsu Ataro.
  • The Sociopath: Akane is a textbook example. She takes pleasure in stealing the loved ones of other girls just to see their angered faces, can skillfully manipulate men who are infatuated with her and is very happy to do so, is unable to find genuine attachment to another human being, has absolutely zero guilt about her actions, and can fake being a normal person without any difficulty.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In the latter half of the series, much time is focused on the circumstances of Akane, and the last couple of chapters focus on resolving her relationships with Narumi and Mugi. The first of the relationships, that between Mugi and Hanabi, doesn't even get resolved until the very last chapter.
  • Teacher/Student Romance:
    • Eventually, Mugi does get into a sexual relationship with Akane, but romantically she's not into the boy.
    • Hanabi confesses her love for Narumi, but she's also shot down.
    • Sanae and her teacher Yuka, in the spinoff sequel. Their relationship evolved from a one-night stand.
  • Technical Virgin:
    • At first Mugi insists that he and Hanabi aren't "Friends with Benefits" because they don't technically have sex, making Hanabi one (not Mugi though since he has had a prior relationship with an upperclassman in junior high).
    • When she starts getting physical with Sanae, she still counts as such because she hasn't been penetrated yet.
  • Title Drop:
    • The words "kuzu no honkai"/"scum's wish" are dropped at the end of the first volume/episode by Hanabi, in a reference to satisfying one's own selfish desires.
    • Sanae wears a baseball cap with the show's title scrawled on it for much of her second arc.
  • Tsundere: Akane, as it turns out. She remains in denial about her growing feelings for Narumi for some time, and is upset with herself for developing them in the first place. Also, in decor, while she hasn't cheated on Narumi since they got married, she is insistent that this has nothing to do with her feelings for him.
    • In decor, Yuka is a downplayed example. Despite clearly being attracted to Sanae, she is initially resistant to, and quite flustered by, Sanae's advances after finding out that she is her student.
  • Unknown Rival: Mugi remains quite baffled by Sanae's animosity towards him, unaware that she's in love with Hanabi and that they're sleeping together behind his back. Mugi also technically counts as this towards Narumi with respect to Akane's affections, but they don't actually interact during the story.
  • The Vamp: Akane is this, and she revels in it. She admits as much, saying that the insecurity and anger that other girls get when they see her makes her happy, and justifies her not being tied down by the men in her life being disgusted with her sexual appetite. However, when it comes to Narumi, it's not so easy.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Akane quickly loses interest in the men she is dating if there is no other woman who desires them.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Moka, Mugi's childhood friend, always saw him as a kind fellow and appeared to be a shoujo "prince" to her. Not only is this not the case, but her naivety and attempts to win his favor go directly against her mode of thought. Not to mention this is a bitterweet seinen romance instead of a shoujo, so she had no real idea of what she was getting into.

Alternative Title(s): Scums Wish, Kuzu No Honkai