Queen’s Quality, Vol. 1

Queen’s Quality Volume 1 by Kyousuke Motomi

I was very happy when I saw that Queen’s Quality was licensed shortly after the earlier series QQ Sweeper. Motomi has a quirky and slightly warped sense of humor that makes her shoujo series stand out. Queen’s Quality starts out at what felt like a faster pace than QQ Sweeper, as many of the plot points that were only dangling or hinted at in the earlier series get pushed forward dramatically in the first few chapters of this volume.

Fumi continues her life as an apprentice sweeper, learning the tricks of the paranormal trade from her friend Kyutaro and his family. While they practice cleaning everyday rooms and objects, they are also training for dealing with exorcising the demons that can get inside human hosts, causing them to act cruel. There’s a focus on personality and inner character in this series, as people who might be mentally weak or who have a tendency to be cruel end up leaving a door open for evil to get in, and their worst personality traits are magnified.

Another sweeper named Takaya Kitahara shows up to visit the Horikita family, and he provokes Fumi’s hidden Queen power as part of a test. Kyutaro is able to bring her back to herself, but seeing her power manifest is frightening. Kyutaro resolves to stay by Fumi to support her, but he’s told that he can’t ever remind her of the past that she’s forgotten, when they used to be childhood friends. Kyutaro’s response to this is to emotionally withdraw even more than usual, causing Fumi a great deal of distress as she doesn’t understand why he’s acting deliberately cold towards her. Fortunately his family has their best interests at heart, and they send the young couple on a mandatory and hilariously awkward shopping trip/date as an assignment, and their friendship is salvaged.

One thing I like about Motomi’s series is that there’s always a psychological element to be found in the stories, and they don’t rely quite as much on external situations or antagonists. While there are certainly forces at work trying to turn Fumi into an evil queen, the bad guys aren’t really as interesting as the fact that Fumi is going to have to draw on her emotional reserves and face the darkness that’s inside her, the same as any human. Fumi and Kyutaro talk at the end of the volume, and she asks if he’s afraid of her. He replies “Everyone has dark thoughts…or parts of themselves that they can’t control.” He vows that if she has to head into the darkness, he’s going too. This relationship dynamic is so interesting to see in a shoujo series, and it is why I’m so impressed with Queen’s Quality.

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