Welcome back to Romance Roundtable: a feature where the editorial POME Crones gather together to discuss Romance Manga. Today we’re covering Sweat and Soap Volume 1 by Kintetsu Yamada: a spicy and surprisingly sweet romance manga about, essentially, being loved for the things that make you most self-conscious. Join us and bathe in the ~aromas~ of this adorable and sweaty romance (but, probably at home and not at work — this roundtable isn’t explicitly NSFW, but may be awkward read for your boss to snoop on).
Rachel: i’m so excited to talk about this book with y’all
i think it has been a minute since i truly really enjoyed one of these, but i really really liked this one!
Jenny: it was v horny!! a lot of fun!
Rachel: shoutout to my fave youtuber for recommending this (and many other excellent spicy manga i want to read next)
CC: YESSSS yes I loved this one too!
should we start with a plot summary right out of the gate?
mine would be:
musty girl finds love, And How
Rachel: LOL yes accurate and good
CC: also: horney manga pretty wholesome, actually?
i got it
Jenny: a lot of good stuff in there about communicating your feelings honestly
v wholesome for sure
CC: i guess when your partner can smell your whole BO profile like a sommelier taking in a full bodied wine it makes things easier L O L
without that bloodhound-level sense of smell I feel like this guy would have been in trouble so kudos to him for leaning into his superpower
Rachel: so to break down the summary a bit, we have our very sweat protag, Asako, is has grown up ashamed of her BO and because of that loves soaps and deodorants and things
Natori is the head perfumer/smell guy at the company that Asako works at, and he smells her when she’s happy and loses his mind
that is something that i wish i could do — tell someone’s emotional state from their smell
i mean i say that, maybe it would suck
CC: “he smells her when she’s happy and loses his mind”
tl;dr the whole book LOL
Jenny: lol and quick, importantly: they work at asako’s favorite soap/deodorant manufacturer
CC: what was the name again? i know it’s bootleg bioré
Jenny: liliadrop! but i think she uses a bootleg biore deodorant sometimes
CC: from the very very horny cover i was not expecting this book, and specifically the “i love my stinky gf” portion of it, to be so sweet!!
i was fully expecting a weird not endearing fetish comic
but instead we got a fully lovely and very sweet fetish comic!!
Rachel: one thing i will say
is that apparently this comic was originally just a 1 shot
which is why the first chapter feels so compact
they go from meeting to bonding and smelling to boning in a very short amount of time
which like, good for them!
but the poor artist had to figure out what happens next when it was decided to give them a whole series lol
CC: yeah i mean like, to be fair
as a fully formed adult
i feel like if somebody gets within sniffing range that frequently
things are going to escalate quickly
the one thing that surprised me was how much these two hook up at work
Jenny: yeah i gotta say the whole workplace romance element took me a long time to get used to
Rachel: yes because i would NEVER
i kept thinking about that scene from Ted Lasso
where Roy tells his gf that he likes porn of people doing it in the woods
because he could never be that free
that’s me, but with office romance
CC: yeah if we have learned ANYTHING in the past 18 months
it’s that you can’t trust your coworkers’ hygiene any further than you can throw it (and it’s a metaphorical concept so u can’t throw it far)
have to protect the precious natural resource that is ur butt from those harsh environs
Jenny: and really the majority of chapter 1 does feel like 1 big HR complaint
Jenny: this is all before they’ve ever even kissed!
but it’s ok because he’s not a weirdo (trust me)
and they go out of their way to prove it by having him CATCH a sniffing harasser on the train!
not a very subtle way to draw a line between the sniffers we like and the sniffers we don’t, but i appreciate the attempt
Jenny: lol it was really a case of it’s OK if you’re hot and the other person is into it
but bad if the other person doesn’t like it
which, like, i guess is most things
CC: i mean: isn’t that just the beautiful nuance of consent, that a hot person you’re into doing a sex thing to you is different than a weird rando on a train?
Jenny: i mean yes
but also he’s not historically the best at consent
right out the gate we’ve got:
CC: oh yeah absolutely
Jenny: and i think that’s part of why it took me so long to warm up to them
like, after chapter 1, he’s great at listening and talking openly
but to get the ball rolling there was some arm twisting
which: not great!
CC: i retract but do not delete my statement about consent bc i forgot about this and was a little off base lol
Rachel: well i will say that the book tries (but doesn’t necessarily succeed) to imply that Asako is nervous about her body odor not about him
this is that attempt
it kind of lands???
Jenny: i mean, i can definitely see the validity to that reading! for sure!
Rachel: but also i had the same reaction to him literally DRAGGING her away against her will so he could smell her
Jenny: yeah it was a Bit Much!
but i guess it’s fine bc in the end
Jenny: and then they immediately fuck!!
CC: “when it’s you smelling me….i don’t mind at all”
Rachel: love when two people’s kinks completely compliment each other
CC: i am so happy for this artist
who got like, what, 9 volumes out of this series that, if vol 1 is any indication, is 9 volumes in their particular horny jail
Rachel: good for them
also love that this artist is so into their own characters they made their own porny doujinshi about them LOL
Jenny: oh lol yes v same!
gotta respect it
one of the things that i think works well for me (bc the first chapter is so condensed/gets right down to business) is that MOST of this book is about the two of them actually BEING in a relationship, which is nice. feels v Going Steady
Rachel: YES JENNY
that’s a great point
because they hook up so quick, so much of the book is them navigating being IN a relationship
Jenny: and it’s good, relatable, non-smell-related stuff for the most part
just like, are we dating?? do we kiss each other goodbye?
how do dates work? are we allowed to touch each other in public??
i’m having fun? is she having fun? what do people do with other people??
but also, i think the main conflict was she saw him at work with a female coworker and got jealous
Jenny: and then that coworker was SUPER VAGUE on the invoices she turned in, and asako ended up having to confront her about work stuff
a thing that i hate, personally, as a fellow “i work in finance for a large entity” (edited)
when people don’t just tell you the things they bought
what does “supplies” even mean???
I did think the jealousy thing was a bit….idk, extra? because they’re adults? but then I remembered:
CC: i have a feeling she does not have a lot of love and sex experience
Jenny: yeah idk what it is w romance manga and virgins
CC: at least this girl’s back story makes sense! I can see this being something she’d be self conscious about
Jenny: that’s very fair and true
much better than the one we read about mountainous houston and blacksmith who was PREGNANT but still technically a virgin bc she artificially inseminated herself
that felt like a real stretch
CC: i forgot about that one LOL
there’s one thing i really want to talk about
and by talk about, i just mean bring up
a bit off topic but
CC: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡° )
Rachel: lol is this a comment on the “strong and straight” part?
CC: hemp plant
Rachel: ok here’s something i am scared to admit online but
i do not know if hemp is a different plant than weed!!!
are they they same??? or just related?????????
i don’t know and at this point i’m too scared to ask!
Jenny: i love to learn
thank you for this
Rachel: huh the more you know
CC: romance roundtable: the new learning channel, with 50% less aliens and 15% more weed
i am making up these numbers idk how much weed is on TLC these days
considering i also had to google “weed and hemp same plant” i too can’t claim to be a thoughtleader on this matter L O L
Jenny: is THAT what TLC stands for?? the knowledge just keeps comin
really always assumed it was THE what not to wear with stacy London and clinton kelly CHANNEL
CC: oh i guess iceroad truckers is the history channel huh
Jenny: i mean, now with 50% less “can you believe how many children these religious midwesterners have” and 15% more weed
CC: we can have it all!
CC: BUT, going back to my initial screenshot: appreciate literally dank office lady having weed name
CC: thanks sweat & soap for setting it up for me
Jenny: how’re y’all feeling for final thoughts?
CC: i’m feeling good! ready when y’all are
Jenny: my final thought is p quick
just that if you take our advice and check out this book
and you think
it’s the heightened sense of smell for me
might i recommend Gourmet Hound
Rachel: YES +1!!!!
also finished relatively recently so you can binge the whole story!
CC: love a “recommended for you”
ok, my final thought is
THIS, this is the source of my enmity for the zodiac
CC: this is every aries horoscope
Jenny: LOL i did think of you when i read this part
Rachel: LOL what do the stars have against Aries?!?!
we will start a petition
Jenny: we’ll petition the universe
take it easy on these poor sheep
Rachel: yes, The Stars??? we have some suggestions
CC: wake up sheeple (the stars hate you): literally every aries horoscope
v grateful to feel so Seen in this horny manga
if for no other reason than this
ok here’s my final thought
i do not have this level of self control and it is good that i am not a cop or something
this looks like a breakroom poster
are YOU using the company intranet incorrectly? it’s more likely than you think!
i would love to see Asako in one of those training videos
just doing super mundane stuff and being like “OH NO” and getting flustered for extremely minor possible offenses
mean while you’ve got her bf literally snoozing in a storage room
Jenny: lol relationships are all about Balance, i guess!!
get you someone who makes you both better and worse, somehow
Rachel: LOL yes!!
CC: true! Love!!
Join us for even more love story shouting in our next Romance Roundtable! In the meantime, check out our Patreon for just a few bonus goofs that didn’t make it into today’s roundtable, as a treat.