QQ Sweeper, Vol. 1

By Kyousuke Motomi. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Comic (“Betsucomi”). Released in North America by Viz.

I was a big fan of Dengeki Daisy, Motomi’s previous series, which ended up being a technological thriller as much as it was a shoujo romance. Thus I was quite excited to learn of the license of her new series. There are certain similarities between the two titles – the comedy is much the same, our heroine is a spunky orphan, and there seems to be a lot of janitorial work. But whereas Daisy was grounded in tech, QQ Sweeper looks to be more of a fantasy, with owl familiars, doors leading into people’s inner hearts, and creepy black thoughts turning into bugs. It’s a solid first volume, though, and we also have a hero who seems more stoic than Kurosaki was, which leads to a different vibe between the lead couple.


Actually, I’m wondering if the lead couple will actually be the focus of the series, as this has the potential to be something of an anthology, with our heroes solving the personal problems of various classmates. The first volume gives us Sakaguchi, a baseball star who was injured and now takes his self-loathing out on everyone around him, including his childhood friend who also feels inadequate. This is the sort of series that makes you want to invite these sweepers into your own life, to be honest, as despite the disturbing mental imagery, things seem to work out for the best – and it’s also shown that it’s not just the “cleaning” that did it, but the affected parties also have to make an effort. I look forward to seeing more of these sorts of stories.

As for Fumi, it’s quite refreshing seeing a girl who is honest and upfront about wanting to date a guy solely for his money – the catch is that she’s ALSO searching for a Prince Charming, and won’t actually get in the way of true love. Her love dreams of rich handsome young men are a comedic high point to this series. Her mysterious past, though, is what will likely carry over to future volumes. Well, I say “mysterious”, but I will be very surprised if there’s not a connection between Kyutaro’s tragic past with Fuyu and Fumi – betcha Fuyumi us her real first name, in fact. Kyutaro himself is the brooding sort, but not in a grumpy or overly sadistic way like a lot of other shoujo manga – though he does admit to Fumi going to far when she overwhelms him with how happy she is at the end of Volume 1. Oh, and his obsession with cleaning provides his own comedic highs – I bet he’d get along great with Levi from Attack on Titan.

This is a new series that could go in several directions, but the first volume is strong enough that the reader is willing to go along with any of them. I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Umineko: When They Cry, Vol. 11

Story by Ryukishi07; Art by Akitaka. Released in Japan in two separate volumes as “Umineko no Naku Koro ni: End of the Golden Witch” by Square Enix, serialized in the magazine Gangan Joker. Released in North America by Yen Press.

Umineko has a problem that Higurashi never really had, which is the fact that it is far more of an intellectual exercise. With Higurashi you had the mystery aspect of it you were trying to solve, but the primary focus was “oh my God, these poor kids, how will they avoid a tragic fate?”. Umineko has made it increasingly clear that there is no avoiding of any tragic fates, but more importantly, it’s become clearer that so much of what we’re seeing – all the meta, the increasingly ludicrous fantasy creatures and special effects shonen battles – is completely and totally bogus. Not just the “is it really witches” question, but the entire narrative.


The end of this omnibus features the witches in charge, Lambdadelta and Bernkastel, sweeping all the ‘pieces’ off the board entirely, to do the rest of the arc as a mock trial to show off how guilty Natsuhi is. The cast sits there like robots (with the exception of Battler, Natsuhi, and the witches), not really caring much about anything till they have to. It can be… hard to get invested in a plot like this. This is probably why Natsuhi made the best focus for this arc. Given choices of the other adult women we’ve seen, Rosa is a child abuser, Eva is also a child abuser (see: Ange), and Kyrie, aside from being a yakuza daughter, simply isn’t the sort who has emotional collapses. Natsuhi, who came into the Ushiromiya household as a fragile flower and has had every single one of her nerves shredded over the years, can give us realistic hysteria.

As you might gather from the cover, we get a few more new characters this time around as well. I love Dlanor – her name is a reversal of Ronald Knox, a classic mystery writer who gave us Knox’s Decalogue, a list of 10 rules that must be obeyed in mystery stories. (Yen does not explain either of those points, a shame as this series does have endnotes.) Dlanor, though, is a tiny, haughty minister of justice, here to make sure that everyone follows the RULES. Ah yes, she also has an odd Japanese verbal TIC. I was pleased to see that the official translation stuck with what Witch Hunt had done in the VN translation and gave her ending words CAPITALIZATION (or, given that comic fonts are always capitalized, BOLDNESS). It’s an excellent way to show off her ODDITY.

Dlanor is also far more sympathetic to us than Erika, despite being on her side. Of course, having spent most of the first volume letting us hate her guts, we see Erika start to lose it here. as Battler runs rings around her logic (arguably this is Lambda using Battler as her mouthpiece, but let’s let him have his fun), and many of her theories are smashed into bits. This allows her to be abused by Bernkastel, who is truly terrifying here, possibly as Erika is supposed to be her own self-insert there in Rokkenjima, and she’s humiliating the author. Erika then takes it out on Dlanor’s subordinates, of course, because where would Umineko be without cycles of abuse?

As for the standard murder mystery, it’s still not solved as of the cliffhanger, though I can give you some pretty good guesses. One thing for sure, it’s not Natsuhi, who everyone is gleefully setting up to look as guilty as possible. Not that Natsuhi is totally innocent – she has been faking Kinzo’s death for the last two years, after all, and the whole “Man from 19 Years Ago” thing does not sound done to me either despite supposedly only being Natsuhi’s guilt for wishing a baby dead followed by it happening. Assuming you don’t mind that the characters you’re invested in are frequently revealed to be the fiction they actually are, this remains an excellent series.

Rose Guns Days Season 1, Vol. 1

Story by Ryukishi07; Art by Soichiro. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialized in the magazine Gangan Joker. Released in North America by Yen Press.

Fans of Ryukishi07’s work know that he is very fond of moments of what can best be termed ‘shonen drama’, which features all the characters being as cool as possible. The difficulty is that he’s rarely able to take full advantage of that, as his stories have involved murder mysteries and psychological horror first and foremost, so the cool moments have had to be undercut. Now, with his first series that isn’t a mystery and isn’t part of the When They Cry style, he can allow himself to open the throttle and just do a straight up action adventure which consists, seemingly, of nothing *but* cool people being cool. The result is highly variable, but it certainly has style.


The premise of this book is that, due to a natural disaster during WWII, Japan has been taken over by America and China, with the Japanese still living in cities second-class citizens who mostly join yakuza groups in order to avoid starvation. Our hero, Leo, is a former soldier who’s arrived back in Japan after a long exile. He finds himself saving the madam of a high-class brothel, Primavera, and after a few more adventures she takes him on as a bodyguard. The rest of the book is about Primavera’s attempts to avoid getting taken over by the mob, and various fighting sequences. Oh yes, and like Tezuka’s ‘star system’, Ryukishi is reusing characters again – Meryl will remind many people of Satoko/Lambdadelta, and Stella might be a lot taller and bustier than Rika will ever be, but she makes it clear when she starts rubbing heads and pitying people where her origins really lie.

It’s refreshing reading a Ryukishi07 book where you don’t have to pay close attention to try to figure out little bits of the mystery, a la Umineko. Rose Guns Days is very straightforward, sometimes to a fault. Yen Press decided not to omnibus this series, so we only have the one normal volume to go on, and so we haven’t quite hit the ‘character depth’ point of the series yet. Leo and Rose particularly suffer from this – Leo is cool and smug, and can back up that smugness with his fists, but his tragic past that was hinted at in the visual novel hasn’t shown up here yet. As for Rose, what a girl as innocent as her is doing as the head of a group o prostitutes is baffling, given she’s so shiny and pure it’s possible she can be seen from space. Soichiro’s art also doesn’t help – this time around the character designs for the VN were by the manga artist, rather than Ryukishi07 himself, but that means that the manga itself tends to get stuck in a lot of ‘default sprite expression’ poses.

I suspect this is the sort of series where we won’t really have a feel of how it’s going to go till a few books in. Still, if you like fistfights and cool posing, and enjoy Ryukishi’s writing with the ‘irony’ filter turned off, Rose Guns Days is a lot of fun.