Mop Girl is a 2007 ten episode time traveling comedy series that’s an adaptation of a novel by Miaki Kato. The titular “mop girl” is the very clumsy but caring Momoko Hasegawa played by Keiko Kitagawa. When she was a little girl Momoko was almost ran over by a car only to be pushed out of the way at the last second by a woman who ended up being hit and killed. As an adult Momoko works as an event organizer but her clumsy ways have just lead to a demotion to her offices side department that provides funeral services. To be more specific her new job is to clean up the scenes where bodies are found at and prepare them for the funeral. Shotarou Otomo, played by Shoske Tanihara, is her jerk boss who is always calling her a fool and chasing foreign ladies. On her first day on the job while cleaning the scene of a bank robbing she realizes the person who died, who was also the robber, was an old favorite school teacher, saddened she bends down to pick something of his, when she does so she seemingly jumps back in time to earlier the very same day. Being an extremely helpful person she decides to use the opportunity to help everyone in the day she had encountered who needed it including unraveling why her teacher is robbing a bank and preventing her teacher from being killed in the nick of time. See what I did there? A bad time related pun, sorry I had to I will try not to do that again. Confused by her unexplained new power she vows to help others if it happens again.
I really liked Keiko Kitagawa’s performance and I really enjoyed her character throughout the show. She is hilarious and quirky. I really love the way she reacts and apologizes whenever she gets in an awkward situation. The look on her face when it dawns on her she is time traveling is priceless. There is the romantic subplot between Shotaro and Momoko that I thought was done really well and gave them both a little more depth. Each episode the two grow a little closer and share more and more sentimental moments. Normally I hate these types of characters because “will they won’t they” TV relationships are predictable. But these two are very genuine and completely unpredictable and I ended up really enjoying these quiet moments.
Unlike other series I have reviewed so far this one doesn’t have much in the way of an overarching plot as each episode tells a self contained original story of a day, well I guess two days in Momoko’s life. Besides the subplot where Momoko and Shotarou grow closer each episode follows the same basic path. The day begins with Momoko daydreaming there is some great banter between her and her friend Hina Okouchi played by Reina Asami, usually her clumsiness gets some on hurt on the way to work, at work her boss insults her, they begin the day’s work, she touches an object owned by the deceased in the episode she flashes back to earlier in the day and races against the clock to prevent the death. Each episode generally has a mystery to it as well as Momoko has to deduce how the person dies and the circumstances that lead to it, and with most good mysteries everything is not as it seems.
The time travel is done really well they keep continuity really well and have all the same events that happened earlier happen in the same way except Momoko reacts faster to come out ahead in the interaction or prevent impending accidents. In fact I think this chunk of each episode is my favorite part, it’s also the funniest part generally. The best way to rate a comedy based show I think is to ask a simple question, is it funny? For Mop Girl the answer is yes the comedy is great and has enough range to last the whole series without growing stale. The show obviously relies on some slapstick with Momoko’s clumsiness and some physical comedy with her sheer quirkiness in awkward situations; however there were many times I was surprised by how subtle the show could be. In the 4th episode near the beginning Momoko remarks how she looks down on women who have to rely on their bodies or sexuality in any given situation, and then later in the very same episode in order to get vital information she has to dress very sexy while going undercover at a bar and she has a reaction that’s priceless. This series is worth checking out its funny, dramatic, and has a good episodic format for those who don’t want to get involved with a show with an overarching plot.
- Episode one tells the story of Momoko’s fall from her high job of planning events to becoming the Mop girl of a funeral and crime scene cleaning company. Momoko is revealed to have time traveling powers and uses this power to go back in time to prevent the death of her teacher and deduce the reason for his sudden death.
- Has Momoko trying to take the day off to help her friend but instead she is present for the death of a famous model that is soon to be married. Momoko travels back in time after it seems the groom to be is wrongly accused of murder.
- Begins with what seems to be two unrelated stories where in an old man has passed and a politicians assistant while on trail for embezzling millions of dollars is killed on live TV under fuzzy circumstances. Momoko has a lot to do this episode and while I liked it the end seemed rushed.
- This is by far my favorite episode and it deals with what at first seems to be an open and shut case of unrequited love becoming murder. The ending was very well done. If you don’t watch any other episode watch this one.
- When Momoko’s boss is accused of murdering their top competitor after the two exchanged some very mean words Momoko goes to the past to see for herself what took place and to try and clear his name if possible.
- An up and coming actor and model is murdered by a knife wielding serial killer bizarrely this episode makes many (presumably unauthorized) uses of the pirates of the Caribbean theme.
- The second best episode of the series a high school student is murdered and everyone is a suspect, I never saw the ending coming great twist.
- The secret to the time powers are revealed and we learn much more about Shotarou Otomo’s past and how it links with Momoko’s life.
- An utterly bizarre episode all around.
- The final episode is pretty good not an ending though, to put it in perspective t makes the ending of The Sopranos where it cuts to black mid scene look conclusive.