In a sentence, QQ Sweeper is a high school romantic comedy and supernatural adventure in which the cleanliness of one’s surroundings directly affects one’s mental hygiene, leading to obsessive cleaning efforts by two main protagonists.
Fumi Nishioka is homeless. Her guardians have transferred her to Kurokado Private High School and deserted her without explanation. Fumi’s burning goal in life is her Cinderella Happy Ending: to catch herself a rich husband as soon as possible. However, one of her potential Prince Charmings is in trouble and she must venture into the mysterious “mind vault,” a dark maze lined with the doors into people’s minds, to clear up his negative feelings and help him to heal. Initially confused, Fumi displays a natural aptitude for defeating the monsters that dwell inside troubled souls. Soon the prickly but extremely skilled “sweeper” Kyutaro Horikita becomes her mentor and guardian as Fumi joins an organization devoted to maintaining the cleanliness of people’s hearts. As a bonus, they also hire her as their housekeeper in the real world, which means that she is now sharing a house with Kyutaro.
There is a beloved, classic shoujo manga formula in which a sweet girl is tossed into unfamiliar and often fantastic circumstances, only to win the hearts of everyone she meets through her unpretentious charm and sincerity—and most especially, she gains the affections of the boy she met on her first day, who is rough and tough but also secretly a nice guy. An example of this model that is popular in both Japan and North America would be Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya. It is not easy to adhere to such a well-known formula without becoming boring or saccharine, but in QQ Sweeper, the premise is fresh and interesting enough to make for an engrossing read, with housecleaning tips and moments of offbeat humor balancing out the more formulaic parts. I like that the sweepers are not capable of actually fixing the emotional problems of their clients; rather, they treat the immediate symptoms in both the physical world and the mental vault with a thorough cleaning, then follow up with counseling over a longer period of time, acknowledging that people are complex creatures and their hearts take time and effort to heal.
This first volume is an introduction to the main characters and the concept of literal mental hygiene, but it has yet to introduce the sweeper organization or the details of sweeping, which I am looking forward to learning more about; there were some rituals and equipment shown, but not explained, in the process of cleaning out an infestation of mental bugs. There were also mentions of a new character coming as a student teacher to Kurokado High for their practicum, and a little suspicion as to whether Fumi really is who she seems to be. Again, this is standard fare for manga or any fiction—take North American TV shows, for that matter—but it’s also a reliable way to thicken the plot.
The artwork is typical of the genre and consists of clean lines, a lot of shading, and not too many details in the background and clothing. The comedic scenes are the most skillfully done. The translator leaves no footnotes or background notes, and some sound effects are a little odd (“rattl” instead of “rattle,” “chak” instead of a conventional “click” or even “slam” for an opening door), but everything is translated competently, including the author’s notes. There is no objectionable content to speak of.
I would recommend QQ Sweeper to those who like quirky worlds; those who read a lot of shoujo, such as Skip Beat! or The Wallflower, as these are also twists on the classic formula with a similar feel; and also those who liked Fruits Basket but want something a bit more lighthearted.
Definitive quotes: “We have no spells. Do you have a handkerchief or tissues at least?”
“I can almost smell the trust fund. Here’s my chance…”
QQ Sweeper, vol. 1
by Kyousuke Motomi
VIZ Media, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: Teen