Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
An amnesiac living with a family of Sweepers, supernatural specialists who cleanse the minds of those infested with hateful thoughts manifested as bugs, Fumi Nishioka is trying her best to fit in and become a capable Sweeper herself. By Fumi is no mere supernatural talent – she's actually a Queen, someone who can influence people's minds directly, either for good or for ill. As her powers begin to awaken, Kyutaro and his family must try to prevent her from awakening as a Dark Queen – but there are forces at work against them that they can't even begin to fathom.
Queen's Quality volume one could easily be called QQ Sweeper volume four – it picks up directly where Kyousuke Motomi's previous series left off. That's certainly not a bad thing for fans of the author, whose other English-language works include Dengeki Daisy and Beast Master, since QQ Sweeper was definitely lacking in the finale department. But it also means that if you somehow missed QQ Sweeper, you do need to go find and read it before embarking on Queen's Quality, because there really isn't anything by way of transition or explanation between the two titles.
If you are all caught up, there's a good chance you've been waiting for this book. It immediately begins to build on the revelations of the previous series, namely Kyutaro's feelings for Fumi (when she was Fuyu) and the fact that Fumi will shortly awaken as a Queen, a special type of Sweeper who has the power to directly influence peoples' minds. Given this awesome power, it makes sense that Queens go one of two ways – Light or Dark, depending on how they choose to use their skills. While Light Queens can be helpful in a variety of ways, Dark Queens appear to be a force used specifically for chaos, and both Fumi and her new friends very much want to avoid that outcome. Unfortunately they are opposed by a group who is actively trying to awaken her Dark side, for reasons that are as yet unknown. Since Fumi is largely unaware of what she's capable of and how to do it, which very well may be caught up in her amnesia, this makes things particularly fraught for Kyutaro and company.
It's therefore appropriate that emotions, both openly expressed and concealed, play such a large role in this story. While Fumi puts on a smiling face for most people regardless of how she's actually feeling, Kyutaro instead shuts down, closing everyone out in a bid to maintain his equilibrium. In part this is because he's been warned against jogging Fumi's memories of being Fuyu, which also means that he has to keep his love for her under wraps. While the fact that he's instructed to do so by Sweepers higher up the chain of command than he is, it also sounds the alarm for his future well-being. Remember, Sweepers clean the human mind corrupted by negative emotions and influences. So far most of that has been due to bullying or other social depredations, and we've also seen some narcissism thrown into the mix, but couldn't a mind be infected if it spends too much time repressing its emotions? It's great that Kyutaro's superiors have such faith in him that they believe that he can keep the fact that he's in love with her hidden from Fumi, but it also seems like they're putting him at risk of becoming a problem himself. It's also causing Fumi to suppress her own burgeoning emotions for Kyutaro – as he makes statements about always being by her side to help and protect her, Fumi finds herself beginning to solidify her crush on him. (This makes perfect sense, given that they've fallen in love before.) But because Kyutaro is hiding his own feelings, Fumi feels like she must do the same so as not to become a problem for him, and her interior conflict risks becoming exterior as she struggles with both it and her Queen powers.
Like most of Motomi's series, Queen's Quality's first volume relies on a combination of tortured emotions in the best shoujo style and action, with this being more supernatural than a few of her other works. At this point Kyutaro is the stronger of the two characters in terms of his emotional backstory, but that's largely due to the fact that Fumi simply can't remember hers. The idea of an infestation of negative emotions manifesting as literal bugs within someone's head is a fascinating one, and if the battles aren't spectacular here, there is a good sense of how much a person's emotions can control them, with Fumi's Dark Queen moments standing out as particularly good examples. If the series isn't yet asking how much we should guard versus share our inner lives with others, it feels like this is a direction the story will eventually head in, and there's enough continued set up for that to make this book intriguing.
Queen's Quality looks set to continue the story of QQ Sweeper in a very satisfactory way. With the rising threat of those who want Fumi to become a Dark Queen, the suppressed emotions of both hero and heroine, and the intriguing concept of sweeping out a mind cluttered with terrible thoughts and feelings, along with Motomi's goofy sense of humor, this is looking worth the wait. Even if the story doesn't move ahead by leaps and bounds, it's still the kind of book you can just sit down and immerse yourself in.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B
+ Picks up right where the previous series left off with no backtracking, nice combination of emotion, action, and humor.
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