Ten Count, Vols. 1 and 2

Ten Count Volumes 1 and 2 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count is a yaoi series that caused me to wonder greatly about psychiatric ethics. Shirotani is an executive assistant who functions well in his job despite having an almost debilitating case of obsessive compulsive disorder. He has to wear gloves to hide his injuries from frequent hand washing and he has elaborate systems and rituals in place in order to make him feel safe. His condition also affects his relationships with other people, as he has an aversion to being touched.

One day Shirotani’s boss gets saved from an accident by a random bystander, who turns out to be Kurose, a therapist. Kurose recognizes Shirotani’s symptoms and goes out of his way to cultivate his acquaintance. Kurose’s mannerisms are brusque and not very emotional, but Shirotani seems to be drawn to him anyway. Kurose proposes that Shirotani gradually build up a tolerance to the situations that trigger his OCD by making a list of ten things he finds difficult or impossible to do, ranging from things like touching a door handle bare handed to eating with another person. Kurose says that this isn’t therapy, just two friends trading tips.

The relationship begins to grow, and Shirotani becomes increasingly dependant on Kurose, but Kurose abruptly cuts things off, only to leave Shirotani confused and upset. For someone who is supposed to be an expert in human behavior, Kurose seems a bit odd himself in how he conducts himself with this new friendship.

The first volume doesn’t need the explicit content warning on the front, but the second definitely does! I’m not terribly fond of relationships in yaoi manga where one person is entirely dominant and the other is set up in a more submissive role. In this case Kurose seemed to keep pushing Shirotani out of his comfort zone, and while it might end up that Shirotani becomes a more functional human being as a result of this, there were some dynamics to the relationship that I didn’t really enjoy reading. I think though that this is likely to be an enjoyable manga for most yaoi fans.

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  1. I don’t normally enjoy those sort of relationships either, but I think in this case it is *supposed* to make me feel uncomfortable. I’m willing to suspend judgment and follow along because they are both such interesting (if not necessarily) likable characters. And the art is just lovely — standard yaoi exaggerations, but not so much that they look like bizarre spider aliens.

    • That’s a really good point. I agree the uncomfortable feeling is deliberate, rather than just accepting this type of situation as normal and totally healthy. The art is quite nice!

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