A woman realises she's lost interest in her latest sex partner because he doesn't have a girlfriend. He's not cheating on anyone! Their sex isn't making anyone jealous and unhappy, which means there's nothing to validate the man's desirability. She reflects on this during coitus, while looking bored.
A woman is in love with her childhood friend, whom she calls "big brother". (It's just a Japanese language thing and it doesn't mean anything scary.) Knowing this, the boy she's in bed with says "think of me as your brother" and it works.
A boy's in love with someone he knows to be a near-sociopathic, man-discarding bitch. In contrast he's bored by an honest, straightforward girl who loves him so much that she'll say things like "it's okay that you won't say you love me".
"Please, someone. I don't care who."
"Why does unrequited love feel so empty?"
It's an noitaminA series, which means it's mature. In practice this sometimes means "less fun" and "kinda boring", which is a shame because I approve of noitaminA on principle. This particular show, though, is definitely not boring. It's sexy. Very sexy, in fact, but in an unhealthy, controversial way that shed viewers and isn't much fun to watch. The ending in particular aroused discussion (to put it mildly) about whether the characters had made the right choices. Well, d'oh. Answer: probably not (although in fairness there is a lot of character growth and development). What on earth here could have made you expect good choices in the first place? Is this a show about people making compassionate, sensitive choices that increase everyone's happiness? Nope, I don't think so. Is it a show about people wanting things they don't have and partly as a result exploring bad desires in bad ways? Bingo!
It's even in the title: "Scum's Wish". Okay, "scum" is a bit harsh (usually), but you can count the number of healthy, happy, stable relationships here on the fingers of one foot. The only unrealistic thing in the show might be the depth of self-analysis, with most people being almost painfully aware of themselves and their more unpleasant hidden selves, voicing all this eloquently in their inner monologues... but, then again, maybe this is realistic after all? Self-loathing, over-analysing your own perceived flaws and picking yourself to bits are hardly unknown problems.
It's good because of its honesty. It digs deep into character types that normally get portrayed more shallowly, or else don't appear at all in most shows because the desires being portrayed are too audience-unfriendly and unflinching for most anime. (TV is usually just watched for entertainment. There's nothing wrong with that.) It shows the disconnect between what people want and how they actually react when they're in a situation.
You couldn't call this a happy, upbeat show, but it's also not a wrist-slitter. It won't plunge you into depression or anything. It's definitely sexy, in an edgy, sometimes fumbling and often incomplete way. A boy teaches a girl how to give him a hand job, for instance.
It's pretty raw. Unrequited love is everywhere and being explored so thoroughly that's practically a deconstruction. That's all over the place in anime, after all. The whole point of harem anime is to have lots of girls in love with the hero, for instance, but here you'll see that trope getting twisted into painful knots and broken. It's taking a feminine angle on its subject matter, with the female characters being richer and more deeply explored than the male ones. (They're generally the viewpoint characters, for a start.) The original manga's author is female, for what it's worth. It's basically twelve episodes of ugly emotional honesty about very flawed people and how they learn to move on and grow. It's showing sex and relationships as tools to manipulate, lie and deceive, but conversely that means that certain characters' honesty can often be the most startling thing in the show. It's excellent, but don't expect it to be conventionally enjoyable.
"I wanted to be polluted. I just wanted to live in the same world as you."