Soap & Sweat is a mature, romcom manga that focuses on the relationship between two colleagues: Asako and Natori. Asako is embarrassed that she sweats a lot, and she always uses the company products to hide her odour. Natori is a product manager who loves Asako’s scent and takes an interest in her.
I came across a review of this title and became curious, so I searched it up and began reading it. I haven’t caught up to the latest chapters, but if I could sum up my impression so far, it would be the following.
- It’s trope-y.
- Minimal character development.
- It’s extremely relationship-focused.
Asako is your very typical shoujo female protagonist. She’s selfless, shy, and doesn’t have a lot of confidence in herself. Natori is your very typical male love interest. He’s handsome and good at his job.
For some reason, Natori is attracted to Asako’s scent. He invades Asako’s personal space and literally smells her. In the first chapter, he also feels her up. A major red flag? I would think so. But, even though Asako’s caught off guard and uncomfortable, she doesn’t mind it? Or, at least she doesn’t tell him to back off. She just runs away, feeling embarrassed.
I initially thought Soap & Sweat would be an interesting read. But I was immediately turned off by Natori’s actions and Asako’s lack of action. And to romanticize this is a definite no-no.
This gets stranger when there’s a reported “pervert” on the train who’s doing the exact same thing as our questionable male protagonist. Except, this nameless pervert is seen as creepy, and, of course, he is a middle-aged man who isn’t as handsome as Natori.
I don’t get it. When Asako meets this nameless pervert on the train and leans in to smell her from behind, Natori protects her. He strangely becomes protective, saying that only he is allowed to smell Asako. Many questions are coming in at this point, and I’m confident that we have the same ones right now.
In the first chapter, Asako falls for Natori.
This is the first time they’ve met. And, for some reason, Asako starts falling for him because…
That’s a fill-in-the-blank question that I don’t have an answer to.
On their first date, Natori keeps “holding himself back” because he wants to smell her scent. I’m pretty sure that the author is just using this as a roundabout way to say that he really wants to have sex with her.
Again, for some reason, Asako tells him that she’s been waiting the entire day for him to smell her.
They end up having sex, and there’s more of that in the later chapters. It’s not graphic, but enough to be considered a mature manga.
The following chapters focus on Asako and Natori’s relationship. And, well, nothing really happens between them. I guess there’s sexual tension, and Asako becomes more… aggressive? I don’t know the right word. When they come across a hotel, she leads him in. Asako has a very reserved personality, and for some reason, when it comes to this, she’s more straightforward?
Natori and Asako are opposites, but for some reason, there hasn’t been any conflict in their relationship. The only “conflict” was the appearance of a younger colleague who appears interested in Natori. But he only sees her as a little sister. There’s also no character development either that’s coming about from this relationship either.
The rest of the chapters focus on Natori and Asako’s relationship, and everyone else is just accessories to them.
The only character I sort of liked was Asako’s younger brother whose name escapes me. He’s protective of his older sister, and he’s cautious of Natori. When they meet, Asako’s younger brother tells him that Asako has never said “I want” to anyone. A little exaggerated, but okay.
But Asako’s brother hears Asako saying it to Natori when she asks for or “wants” his bread. Very exaggerated. Yeah, I think so. This killed the entire scene for me.
I think you would like Soap & Sweat if you want to kill time with a smutty manga but not overly graphic. But if you’re looking for something with well-rounded characters, you should probably look elsewhere.
And lastly, take a shot every time you see “for some reason” in this post. The entire plot is pushed forward just from these three words.