I only recently decided to make this post because of the impact of a certain episode. While everything leading up to episode 4 may have been alright, episode 4 in my opinion culminates in a great explosion of sexual toxicity that is hard to look away from. Kuzu no Honkai is certainly one of the most risque anime that has been produced in a while, not for the fact that the saliva kissing happens in every episode or there is…GASP! NUDITY! No, Kuzu no Honkai merely uses sexuality as a vehicle for its uncomfortable takes on love that still to this moment make me uncomfortable. So I thought a post explaining the interesting notion of Kuzu no Honkai in modern anime seemed like a fitting thing to do. Well enough with the introduction! I want to dive right into this world of toxic relationships!
This will cover the series, Kuzu no Honkai, up until episode 4 of the anime series. You have been warned about spoilers!
Sexuality for anime has quickly become a staple of its infamy/appeal for many people. Some find anime a weird culture in which unusual sexual fantasies can be explored, or something that can have good stories about varying levels of love. That or it could be a fun little romp with ecchi thrown in there. Anime is a medium drenched in sexuality almost to the point of where there are countless numbers of shows that come out in an airing season that highlight that very aspect. In Winter 2017 we have:
- Akiba’s Trip where it is about vampires that can be defeated by tearing off their clothes.
- Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon is about a office-woman who has a maid fetish, who voluntarily, in a drunken stupor, offers a female dragon a place to crash so long as she is her maid.
- KonoSuba uses sexual humour to parody archetypes of popular fantasy, much like Darkness and her masochistic tendencies as a crusader.
- Seiren is a highschool drama that of course has to have the girls placed in weird positions with the guy, and ever since we are in this train of thought Fuuka can fit into here as well.
- One Room is a first person point of view show about interactions with cute girls where you are the protagonist.
All in all that is merely the ones I have seen parts of, so there could easily be more like Super Lovers 2. In essence, anime is not a medium that turns away sexuality in its content. Some shows in fact fully embrace it much like Lars von Trier and other filmmakers do in the indie scene. Sexuality is something that is sometimes explored in a risque sense, again going back to Lars von Trier and his film Nymphomaniac which is predominantly about an overabundance of sexual desire. Anime also has this tendency as well, with such series as the sexual comedy of Panty and Stocking and the incest driven romance Kiss x Sis. So the second example is not something generally well accepted, but it still shows how much anime can travel into more risque areas. Now with Kuzu no Honkai, we have yet another take on the sexually driven romance.
Kuzu no Honkai is a series about Hanabi and her journey to discover what love is and what it means to have someone care for you. Sounds pretty PG at this point right? When you take into account that she is someone obsessed with an older guy who she calls brother, whom she grew up with and now has as her teacher, you can start to see that PG rating fall through. Kuzu no Honkai, or Scum’s Wish, is a story about morally apprehensive relationships using one another as sexual tools of desire. It is about seeing how dark love can get and how it can truly bring out the worst in people. That is what makes Kuzu no Honkai so effective I feel, especially coming at it from a standpoint of sexuality. These aren’t scenes of fan service appealing to our libido, but rather supposed to make us feel uncomfortable. It isn’t glorifying the sexuality, but merely objectifying it in the harshest way possible. That is an interesting stance to do especially in the modern day anime scene.
It uses sexuality in a way that shows the toxicity of the relationships. Much like how every scene of sensual touching done between Hanabi and Mugi is actually kind of disturbing. We watch as they both substitute their own desires onto the other person, using them as mere slabs of meat for their imaginations to take flight into the impossible. Hanabi is in love with her “brother”, Kanai, and Mugi is in love with his old tutor turned music teacher, Akane. They both are having sex not with the one in front of them, but rather the person in their mind creating a completely toxic form of “friends with benefits” no matter how much Hanabi wants to see it as more than that. We are watching two characters slowly corrupt themselves through this relationship built on sexual desires. Mugi only sees himself as a tool for the girls he has dated in the past, used primarily as a means of having sex or seeing him as more of a means to an end. Hanabi is trying to figure out what she wants in a relationship, trying out sexual experiences and imagining herself with her beloved “brother” rather than with Mugi.
The teacher, Akane, is an equally toxic individual when it comes to relationships. She merely wants the desire of men and the vitriol of the girls who admire them from afar. There is no love between her and her boy-toys and once they are no longer seen as desirable by others she gets bored and tosses them aside. Even during sex, what many people affectionately call “love-making”, she is completely hollow as an individual. Sex is more a means to an end. Her body and how it entices the men is merely a means to an end. That end is the sadistic satisfaction of having something someone else wants, to have that object of desire only in her hands and away from others. Sexuality and the very act of sex is merely detached from her form of excitement which is only born from a sociopathic and sadistic need to have what others want. This is merely a hollow form of sexuality.
Then to tie it all up we have the relationship between Hanabi and Sanae. The only same sex sexual encounter we have in the series is one of the most painful to watch, primarily because it is one born out of love but ventures into the darkest and most deprived reaches of human desire. There is this sadness one can feel from Sanae in regards to her feelings towards Hanabi, that only grows into something toxic by nature. Sanae truly does love Hanabi, so much to the point of that she doesn’t care if she is abusing Hanabi’s weakened state in episode 4. Hanabi after being tricked by Akane into seeing Kanai admit his feelings to Akane, doesn’t want to lose anything else. Since she didn’t reciprocate Sanae’s feelings in a previous encounter she was worried she would lose both her best friend and her love interest in a short amount of time. This is where Sanae’s love becomes twisted into something cruel, Sanae takes advantage of Hanabi’s weakened state to have sex with her. Sanae loves her so much it hurts, yet at the same time she is willing to show Hanabi her love no matter what condition Hanabi is in. Even she admits that this might be the only chance she can have to experience making love to the one she loves.
Yet this scene is uncomfortable because at the back of your mind you are feeling horrible of how both of these characters are feeling. Sanae believes that Hanabi will never feel the same type of love that she feels for her, so she is willing to use this chance to have sex with her. Even if she uses words like “Are you okay?” it will never be okay. Hanabi is afraid of losing one of the people she loves in the world and doesn’t know how to react to Sanae’s feelings, so rather than losing her she submits to her. In essence, both of these girls love each yet that love is on completely different plains of emotion. Sanae loves Hanabi romantically, yet Hanabi only loves Sanae as a friend. There is a darkness there overwhelming any sense of libido as you watch two friends struggle to understand their relationship, coming to terms with feelings that were neglected for a long time.
Sexuality in Kuzu no Honkai is never something to feel enticed by. It expertly subverts sexuality in the anime medium, taking what many find enjoyable bits of fan service and turn it into something insincere and toxic. There are many well done love stories in manga and anime that depict sexual relations in a positive light, much like Omoi no Kakera, Yuri on Ice and Can’t See Can’t Hear But Love, yet Kuzu no Honkai doesn’t have the same intention. It desires pain, to see its characters torn apart by these relationships growing toxic by the scene. Where good intentions make way for terrible feelings of being lost, hurt, useless, or unable to express yourself correctly. Kuzu no Honkai moves the anime medium’s occasional use of sexuality into a darker place, and I can’t off the top of my head remember a series that did it in such an explicit way. This certainly is a risk for an airing anime to take, and not the easiest way to digest sexuality as a human. Something that should feel passionate yet instead can be something that turns hollow, cold and painful.
Anime has for a long time had sexuality ingrained into many series. Yet Kuzu no Honkai takes the human libido in ways that feel tortured and cold. To force us to watch a spiral of people not knowing what to do when their hearts are so lost. To some degree it feels like an indie production, or an arthouse film, experimenting with something that feels out of the norm for anime. A serious dramatic take on sexuality without skimping out on anything. We watch as each individual reveals parts of their love that is both fragile and painful. Love is fractured in a way that shatters like glass and the shards pierce through others in close proximity. In a way you could say Kuzu no Honkai is a breath of fresh air, reveling in its unique take on sexuality even if it took its time in reaching there. In the modern age of anime where sexuality is never shied away from, Kuzu no Honkai manages to subvert carnal desires into a more dark and painful place.
What it is attempting to teach us would probably be best looked at later on in the series. Right now I just wanted to highlight how different it feels in the anime medium today. It reminds me of the works from Inio Asano, like A Girl on the Shore or Good Night Punpun. Works that go through a darker strain of thought in regards to sexuality without making it feel lovey dovey. This series most certainly isn’t for everyone, and I would recommend at the very least watching up to episode four to allow the show to get into the full swing of things if you feel inclined to watch. It reminds me of Aku no Hana and the praise it received by people who stayed with it through its “awkward” rotoscoped art style. It has the makings of something good, but let’s see if it manages to effectively convey it.
So that is my little look into Kuzu no Honkai and what a show. It certainly takes one back a tiny bit and allows you to see how effectively it does sexuality different from the occasional fan service in a more meaningful way. I hope you enjoyed my little spiel on it. So have you watched Kuzu no Honkai? What is your feelings about it and the sexuality in modern day anime or manga? Feel free to leave a comment down below and have yourself a great day!