Asako Yaeshima has a perspiration problem. She sweats a lot – far more than most women – and her life revolves around controlling her constant perspiration. As a result of her condition, she’s socially awkward and keeps to herself, leading a quiet, solitary life. That all changes, however, when she draws the attention of a very strange man with a very sensitive nose. Sweat, sex, and soap combine in Kodansha’s latest rom-com, but is Sweat and Soap volume 1 worth reading?
Soapy and sweaty characters
A twenty-six-year-old woman who works for Liliadrop, a manufacturer of high-quality soap. She’s a big-time fan of Liliadrop’s products, which isn’t surprising, given how much she perspires.
A star soap designer at Liliadrop. He has the nose of a bloodhound and seems to move at a hundred miles an hour at all times.
A stinky story?
Asako is admiring some upcoming Liliadrop soap products in the company’s lobby. When Kotaro, with his almost supernatural sense of smell – detects her scent and is immediately drawn to her. When it comes to scents, Kotaro has no concept of boundaries, personal space, or normal human behaviour. He claims he isn’t a weirdo, but then tells Asako that he wants to study her scent. When she (understandably) runs for her life. Kotaro drags her to a storage room and sniffs her while she cries and wonders what level of hell she has somehow plunged into.
Afterwards, he demonstrates his superhero-level smelling powers by correctly guessing the soap she used that morning, as well as the hygiene products she uses throughout the day, based only on her scent. He also tells her that he’s the designer behind the company’s latest soaps (products which she loves). Kotaro then drops his biggest bomb yet. He thinks she smells amazing (something no one has ever said to her) and needs her for inspiration. He has a presentation on new products due in a week, and he’s hit a creative wall. So he’s now going to come and smell her every day until the presentation is finished.
And the positions he puts her into as he smells her are all just a bit suggestive. Definitely the kind of behaviour that would get him fired in the West for sexual harassment. But it seems Japan has different rules about this sort of thing.
Eventually, Kotaro gets the presentation done. Asako thinks this is the end of their relationship, but Kotaro has other ideas, and steps over the line in a big way. Asako runs away, with no intention of ever seeing him again. Kotaro feels awful about what he’s done, but he’s determined not to let Asako out of his life so easily. However, he also knows that he did a terrible thing. What is he going to do?
Sweat and Soap volume 1 spoilers
Making sweet smells together?
Kotaro decides that he has to apologize to her in person. But when he tries to see her at work, he finds she has already gone. He decides to follow her to her train. Kotaro winds up saving her from a pervert who also likes sniffing women, but for not nearly as pure reasons as Kotaro. After they disembark, Kotaro apologizes profusely. The two of them make up: by spending the night together at Asako’s apartment.
And that’s just the first chapter. The rest of the book deals with Asako and Kotaro figuring out their developing relationship. Whether they should tell their co-workers, what they should do on dates and all the other things two people do when they are learning to be together.
Squeaky clean art
The art in this book is excellent. The author excels at drawing incredibly expressive faces with relatively few lines, which heightens the emotional impact. It’s a perfect fit for this kind of manga. Each character – including the supporting parts which pop up later in the book – has a distinctive look that conveys a ton of information in a short space.
The backgrounds are also well-done and effectively set the stage for the drama. There’s nothing here that will make you look twice, but it doesn’t take away from the action, either.
Is Sweat and Soap volume 1 worth reading?
Absolutely. While Kotaro’s antics early in the book may be uncomfortable for Western readers, this is still a unique, heartfelt manga that jumps right into the relationship, rather than keeping the lovers apart for ten-plus volumes until they finally get together. There’s an interesting reason for that. Chapter 1 was originally a one-shot, but became so popular that the author was compelled to turn it into a series.
I loved Sweat and Soap volume 1. It’s an offbeat love story about two very quirky (but likeable) people. It’s a nice change of pace from the high school romance dramas that tend to dominate manga shelves.
A word of warning:Kodansha toe the line carefully and this isn’t an ecchi or hentai manga. You’ll never see a nipple or a genital. But there are several steamy sex scenes in it. Sweat and Soap is a book written by an adult, starring adults, and intended for an adult audience. Keep this in mind if you’re concerned about who in your house may be reading your comics.