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Friday, April 20, 2018

Selah's Manga Mania: QQ Sweeper by Kyousuke Motomi

QQ Sweeper, Vol. 1
by Kyousuke Motomi
October 6, 2015
208 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media: Shojo Beat
Genre Romance, supernatural
Demographic Shōjo
Volumes 3
In the old building at their school, a mysterious room has a door that beckons Fumi, even though she shouldn’t be able to see it! Kyutaro goes in after her, but will he be able to save her before she’s devoured by otherworldly creatures?

Sometimes you want more than just a love story, and sometimes you don’t have the time to invest in reading a zillion volumes, amirite? Well, I’ve got a quirky little series for you!

QQ Sweeper is interesting because it’s only 3 volumes (technically. A sequel series, Queen’s Quality, has yet to be published outside Japan), but it has a lot of meat to it. The first volume was billed as kind of a play on Sleeping Beauty, but it really doesn’t have a lot similar to the tale except the initial set up of Kyutaro, resident school cleaning expert, finding a sleeping Fumi in a neglected room that no one should be able to go into. From there, we learn that Fumi doesn’t have much of a past, and she’s taken in by Kyutaro’s family (who also helps run the school). They also happen to be bug cleaners – they specialize in cleaning away psychic messes, whether it’s in the physical realm or the mental headspace of others, including fellow students.
It’s actually a fascinating setup, with the potential for a lot of creepy, interesting supernatural art. Fumi slowly learns the cleaning business, and also uses her empathy to connect with fellow students, even if they’re pit against her by a mysterious figure.
Because this is a shojo manga, we also have a long-lost love element in Kyotaro’s past as well as a shadowy figure trying to use Fumi for his own uses. Plus there’s Fumi’s whole dream of finding a prince charming to take care of her.

Yeah, I know. There are times when you just have to kind of deal with some of that if the story is good, and thankfully we get less of her pining element the more the story kicks into gear.
It’s surprisingly fast-moving, but also feels very vivid and fully developed. The first two volumes have a little bit of an episodic quality while still having the mystery of Fumi’s past to anchor an arching plot, and the third volume kicks it up with people actively trying to foil Fumi’s progression, as well as some reveals with her and Kyutaro.

As a couple, we don’t get a whole lot of Fumi and Kyutaro until the end, and honestly, that’s okay, because the actual story is so fascinating. I love the world-building and play on astral travel and kind of collective unconscious headspace as being a battleground for the dark and cleaning soul elements. It’s a little convoluted here and there, but overall it works for a really interesting concept. And just when things pivot to a more traditional kind of good vs evil + love story arc…it ends.

Okay, it doesn’t, but that’s where the new series comes in. I believe it was due to a publisher switch or something, which is why there’s the title change and everything else. No clue how that’ll affect the English Language version or when the next bit will be out. So, if you start this, the good news is that it’s only 3 volumes. The bad news is while it does have a decent-ish firm ending, it’s definitely not THE ending. This doesn’t necessarily bother me – if anything, it reminds me to keep an eye out for the next series.
The characters are likeable enough (hi, it’s shojo, so they’re pretty typical ‘nice’ girl and ‘aloof but good guy’), the love story is there while not really taking center-stage too much (there’s some side-angsting over feelings and pasts, but it’s pretty fast-paced and complementary to the rest of the story, so it never feels imbalanced). For me, the world-building/mythos concepts and the characters of Kyutaro’s family really sell it and keep me primed for whatever comes next. 
3.75 sheep

About Selah Janel:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

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