Queen’s Quality, Vol. 1

By Kyousuke Motomi. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Comic (“Betsucomi”). Released in North America by Viz. Translated by JN Productions, Adapted by Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane.

This is, of course, not so much Vol. 1 of a new series as a reboot of an old one, which is why I’ll continue to use the QQ Sweeper tag for it. Just looking at the covers might show a difference, though – the first QQ Sweeper volume had Kyutaro front and center, with Fumi getting less attention. But now the Q in the title has changed to refer to Fumi herself, and she is front and center. It’s also a more dramatic, serious cover, which is appropriate, as while there are still many lighthearted moments in the book, the overall mood is darker, particularly towards the end. The series examines the popular idea of negative emotions manifesting themselves and how to fight that. And, also a popular idea, the answer is to get in touch with the darkness in your soul without letting it overwhelm you.

While the essential plot is much the same – under the guise of cleaning around the school and residence, Fumi and Kyutaro seek out bug infestations, and work out where they may have come from. But Fumi’s true nature is revealed now, making her more self-conscious, but not nearly as badly as it affects Kyutaro, who has no idea how to act around her anymore, especially given their past together – a past he’s not allowed to talk to her about. Sometimes it’s best not to rip the band-aid off all at once. They even bring in an expert to test Fumi’s ability, though I wasn’t too fond of him – but that’s mostly because I just don’t like his type. That said, they do grow closer, especially in the shopping sequence, the most fun adn heartwarming part of the volume, where we discover Fumi’s dreadful fashion sense.

Things get dark fast, though, and the last chapter is showing us just how terrifying the Black Queen can be when she’s active. And active she has to be, as Fumi can’t learn how to control her dark side without knowing what it is and how it can take over. The scene of her gleefully torturing her teacher – who is, to be fair, a nasty piece of work – and ordering her to never close her eyes again for the rest of her life is chilling, reminding me a bit of Delirium at her worst in the Sandman comics. Fortunately, Kyutaro reminds us that he’s not just there to be a potential romantic lead, he’s also got the experience and determination to bring Fumi back from this, even if afterwards she’s terrified.

And so we get what will likely be the plot going forward: teaching Fumi to use her powers for niceness instead of evil, with the villains (who pop up here and are somewhat generic, though there’s a hint they’re not truly black-and-white evil) trying to corrupt her over to their side. Balancing this sort of serious drama with cute romance is what Motomi does best, of course, as readers of Dengeki Daisy will no doubt remember. I’m not quite sure why the series rebooted itself, but I am happy to see it back, and look forward to more volumes.

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