If You Weren’t So Pretty, I’d Have to Punch You
OMG, Scorpio. Yes, yes, he’s described as “abrasive”, but this is a new level of adversarial beginnings. He has absolutely no use for humans, and his being forced to cooperate with the MC is disgusting to him. He makes his disgust clear in every word he utters.
Why would I choose such a character, you ask? While the MC is bound to be far less assertive than I am, she will probably not accept everything he throws her way lying down. I like a bit of fight in both my men and my women. Also, the more adversarial the beginnings, the sweeter the surrender. Yes, that’s a trope, and a toxic one at that. But that’s what we’re here for.
Scorpio has been cast from the heavens and banished to earth to atone for a sin he committed against the King of Heaven. He needs the MC’s help to remove the mark he’s been branded with and return to heaven. The MC, having chosen him in a split-second, life-and-death decision, cannot wait for him to get rid of his mark and out of her hair.
When the gods learn that they can use their powers while they are in physical contact with the MC, Scorpio summons her in order to resume his work in the Department of Punishments.
On their second assignment together, they have to administer an in-person punishment, meaning that they have to be physically present in the place the situation happens. A man is attacking people with a knife in broad daylight, and, as a woman with a stroller gets too close, the MC jumps in to shield her, making herself a target in the process. Scorpio steps in to protect her. After scolding her for her recklessness (the term “stupid woman” comes up a lot), they leave the scene to teleport back.
A few days later, an agitated Altair, the cherub-like child god that serves as Punishments’ messenger, arrives at the MC’s home. Somehow, Scorpio is sick and the other gods don’t know what to do. On the way to the mansion, Altair and the MC are ambushed by a bunch of guys in military get-up, and the MC remembers seeing one of those oddly clad men at the scene where the guy with the knife was. Little Altair wants to fight the guys, but it’s Dui’s timely intervention that makes them leave.
Existing on earth depletes the energies of the gods, and Scorpio appears to be having a fever. While the MC takes care of him, Altair, who is very worried, lets Scorpio’s most dearly held secret slip. Zyglavis, the minister of Punishments who comes to check on Scorpio, fills in a few more details for the MC and then warns Scorpio not to sin any more than he already has. He insinuates that Scorpio knows what the military unit outside the mansion is about.
One day after work, the MC is yet again confronted with one of these men. When she is abducted by them, Scorpio has to make a decision of consequence.
Zyglavis allows Scorpio to divide his time between heaven and earth, so that the latter can stay close to the MC. However, it turns out that her presence is too distracting for perfectionist Scorpio, and he tries to distance himself from her. The other exiled gods – Ichthys and Dui of Punishments, Leon, Teorus and Huedhaut of Wishes – immediately make a move to get close to the MC and have their own marks removed.
On a beach outing with the other five gods, the weather suddenly turns ugly and the MC finds herself in peril, prompting Scorpio to intervene – thereby revealing that he’d been lurking nearby all along. They get into an argument, and just when the MC is sufficiently fed up to leave the scene, Scorpio finds the courage to finally voice his feelings.
Back at the mansion, Scorpio takes the soaked MC to the baths… and then to bed.
Scorpio despises all of humanity, believing every single human to be a lying, cheating, stealing piece of shit. He asserts that every one of us would sell their loved ones for fame or fortune. The trouble is, the people on his lists of punishments prove him right again and again.
He can sense the feelings of the people he touches (it is not clear if touch is needed for him to pick up on that, but touch makes it inevitable), but only the “negative” ones, like fear, anger, jealousy and such. Being constantly exposed to exclusively difficult emotions, in combination with his line of work – and his own history – lead him to conclude that humanity is filth.
The MC, of course, who happens to be an actual human who is nothing like that, is extremely disturbed by the punishments he metes out, and constantly frightened of Scorpio himself. But this wouldn’t be an otome game if a transformation were not to happen in their relationship. The shift is gradual enough to be believable, and the revelation of Scorpio’s secret makes his behaviour understandable.
While the MC is initially cowed by his demeanor, she learns to talk back when necessary and makes some bold decisions on her own, which in turn impress Scorpio. The more he is around her, the more he softens – not just to her, but to humanity in general.
The Love Meter
There is a Blessed Ending and a Forbidden Ending. The first time around, I got the Forbidden Ending, which is the one that carries a bitter aftertaste and a far less benevolent Zyglavis. It just shows how much I was at odds with Scorpio all through his route. Of course, I had to play it again, changing a few decisions so I could get to the Blessed Ending. Yes, totally worth it.
What a piece of work is Scorpio! He is probably not the worst Domineering Asshole I’ve ever seen, but he’s in the top three. More than once, I wanted the option to punch him in the face, but that choice never came up. Needless to say, I love him. The story was entertaining, and I like the dynamic between the protagonists. There were some exceedingly cute moments there that I found very endearing. Check out his new favourite food.
My main beef is with the climactic ending, which felt a bit unsatisfactory. I understand why the story had to go in that direction, but it felt rushed. Also, I personally feel like the hero of the tale deserves a victory in the end, and the way it played out, it didn’t feel like Scorpio got his due.
A thing about the Epilogue: the MC is obviously embarrassed about everything all the fucking time, but the scene in the bath takes the cake. Scorpio points out to her that she constantly says one thing and means another, telling him to not touch her when she wants nothing more than for him to do just that. This, of course, is what women in general, and, I’m assuming, Japanese women in particular, are taught to do: deny their own sexual desires, lest they seem too forward. IT IS FUCKING ANNOYING. In fiction, and IN LIFE.