Since the first volume in early 2020, Sweat and Soap has been a romance series that continually delighted its audience. Now the series has reached its conclusion with Volume 11, but does it prove a strong conclusion? Let’s find out!
Wedding bells are ringing as we step into the world of Sweat and Soap for the final time. Asako and Kotaro are knee-deep in preparations for the big day and the to-do list never seems to grow shorter. This isn’t helped by the fact it’s crunch time at work for Asako as the financial year draws to a close and the accounting department needs all hands on deck to handle the workload.
Of course, by now we know that there is nothing our couple can’t overcome together and that remains true here. Step by step, they accomplish the tasks laid out before them and finally reach their big day. With their friends and family around them, the two take that next big step in their relationship and reach for their happy ever after.
Despite how busy the couple are with their preparations, there is still time for some character development here and there. Over the New Year, the two visit their families where we get to hear about why Kotaro didn’t take over the family business. On top of that, Asako’s friend Mitsuki (whom we met in Volume 9), makes a reappearance which I’m grateful for, because I’d have hated for her to be a part of such an emotional storyline and then never return.
On the whole, I think author Kintetsu Yamada does well to balance the chapters on offer here. Each member of the cast gets a moment in the spotlight, even if they’ve played a relatively small part in the story and that goes a long way to leave readers feeling satisfied. It also helps that although the big plot point for this volume is the wedding, this only takes up the middle portion of the book. Beforehand, we have the preparations and then afterwards comes a two-chapter bonus focused on the future, where Asako and Kotaro begin thinking about starting a family.
I appreciate the decision Yamada made to conclude the main series at the end of the wedding ceremony. That to me always felt like the end goal and it’s the perfect point to say goodbye to the cast without overextending the story. But of course, readers are always going to be curious about what happens in the years after, so these bonus stories neatly fill in the blanks if you care, yet can be ignored if you don’t.
While I’m sad to see this one come to an end, I’m happy with where Yamada has left it. Most of all, I’m glad that Sweat and Soap has remained such a strong series through to the end. It means it’s easy for me to recommend to people looking for a romance series that’s a bit more grounded and down-to-earth. It has been funny, emotional and charming all at the same time, making us fall in love with and cheer for Asako and Kotaro right from the beginning.
It’s rare for a series to run for this long and not to misstep at least once, but looking back, I’ve enjoyed every release without many criticisms. The only time I really had a complaint was back in Volume 1, where I thought the cover was off-putting to potential readers. I still stand by these thoughts because I think it creates a hurdle to getting new readers into the series, but hopefully all the positive thoughts from the fanbase it’s grown as it continued will help to counteract that.
Sweat and Soap Volume 11 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha and continues to be translated by Matt Treyvaud. The translation reads well with no issues to note and as always there are helpful translation notes at the end of the volume. Author Kintetsu Yamada has already started a new series in Japan called Kasane to Subaru, which I sincerely hope gets an English release at some point as well!
Overall, Sweat and Soap continues to be a delight until the very end. This volume offers us the perfect ending to the story we’ve come to love throughout these eleven books, leaving it a highly recommendable read for those looking for an interesting romance. I’m sure this is one that manga fans will be enjoying for years to come.