Sunday, May 17, 2020

REVIEW: Sweat and Soap (manga, vol. 2) by Kintetsu Yamada, translated by Matt Treyvaud

Sweat and Soap is a contemporary workplace romance series. It's licensed by Kodansha Comics.

This review contains slight spoilers.


Asako finds herself having to talk to Natori's assistant, Korisu Ichise, who she's worried might have a crush on Natori. Then Natori and Asako go on a company trip, where hiding their relationship becomes a little more difficult than expected. After that, Asako visits her family and ends up inviting Natori to the restaurant her brother Keita works at. Natori is aware of how close Asako is to Keita and wants to make a good impression. Meanwhile, Keita is convinced that Natori must secretly be a sleazebag who's playing his sister.

I still really like Yamada's art style, and Asako and Natori are a cute couple whose romance I'm enjoying, even if aspects of it are a bit weird. Still, this volume wasn't quite as good as the first one.

In the first volume, Asako's body odor insecurities were extremely intense. She'd use her work breaks to reapply deodorant and would stay quiet and still in order to avoid sweating. The fact that Natori liked the way she smelled and actually enjoyed it if she sweated a bit was embarrassing and surprising to her.

In this volume, it felt like the author scaled Asako's body odor insecurities way back, more than really made sense. Yes, Asako's self-esteem was gradually improving, but Asako had been dealing with these issues since childhood. She'd only been dating Natori for a couple months - it was hard to believe that she'd be able to go on a company trip without her body odor worries being much of an issue. I had thought she'd fret over the toiletries she needed to bring, whether anyone would notice all the stuff she'd packed, whether she'd be able to find time to reapply deodorant, etc., but from the sounds of things she might not have even brought any of her soaps and things from home - there was a part where Natori noted that she smelled like a soap that wasn't one of the ones he'd created.

I'm also not sure I liked the way Asako's jealousy over Korisu was handled. After their talk about the missed text message at the end of the first volume, I expected better from these characters than Natori deciding that he couldn't continue treating Korisu, who he'd known for three years and viewed like a little sister, so familiarly. On the plus side, at least it was his own decision and not something Asako asked him to do.

The second half of the volume, featuring Asako's family, was great. I loved how close they all were, and I'm really looking forward to Natori eventually getting to meet the whole family. This time around, Natori just got to meet Asako's brother, who'd been protective of her since back when they were kids and she was being bullied. Dinner at the Italian restaurant Keita works at turned into a mini battle as Natori tried to make a good impression while Keita turned everything from their introduction to the menu into a test of Natori's character. Asako, meanwhile, was completely oblivious and thought they were getting along just fine.

I definitely plan to continue this series, even though this particular volume wasn't quite as enjoyable for me as the first one. Asako and Natori have been a pretty sweet and supportive couple so far, and it's nice to read a romance manga starring adults, relatively low-drama ones at that.

  • Character profiles for Asako, Natori, Korisu, and Keita
  • A 2-page manga-style afterword by the author
  • A one-page comic continuing the scene on the cover
  • A profile page for Jin Okura, Asako's boss
  • Two pages of translator's notes
  • A "normal soup peperoncino" recipe

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