REVIEW: Sweat and Soap Vol. 1 (2020)

A Manga by by Kintetsu Yamada

I normally don’t get into books like this, but this was highly recommended to me due to being somewhat atypical, and for the most part that assumption was 100% correct. I’m not going to lie, when I read the synopsis and saw the cover, I assumed this was your typical “ecchi” borderline adult manga that generally have garbage humor and questionable writing. Thankfully that was not the case, as this is a somewhat mature romance story and I could see this becoming the plot of a live action TV series or film if that hasn’t already happened. Yes, you get the feeling that Asako and Koutarou have a strange fetishistic relationship to a degree, but I suppose that’s no different than a lot of romance stories.

“Don’t miss a romcom manga like no other! In an office romance, there’s a fine line between sexy and awkward… and that line is where Asako — a woman who sweats copiusly — met Koutarou — a perfume developer who can’t get enough of Asako’s, er, scent. Asako’s living her dream, working at the toiletry maker Lilia Drop. Little do her coworkers know, the reason she loves the company so much is that she’s ashamed of her body odor, and their soap is the only thing that does the trick. So when the company’s lead product developer, a perfuming genius, approaches her in the lobby and wonders what “that smell” is, she’s terrified… but could it be… that he likes it? And, even more surprising to Yae… does she like him?”

The art in the book is pretty decent, but there’s not really any earth shattering fight scenes or fantasy set pieces in a story about a cosmetics company to really show anything off. The plot is fun and while having a few romance manga tropes and clichés, the plot is crazy enough that it still ends up feeling somewhat fresh. I think the biggest thing is having a story revolve around a relationship between grown adults with real adult issues vs an exploitative story with kids acting like adults or sex objects as many “romance” manga do. There is a bit of suggestive content, but I would not characterize this is exploitative or pornographic in any way, so if you are squeamish on anything more than a PG-13 level glimpse of an intimate scene, you will be okay.

Overall, I liked this and will likely read more. I’m not flying out of my seat to do this or anything, but it help my interest long enough and was not an infantile or exploitative mess. The plot’s a bit weird, but the characters are all likeable and it never gets too heavy which is a good thing for me. If you are an adult that wants a realistic romance story with a little bump of weirdness, I’d recommend this – it’s better than expected.

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