Ten Count, by Rihito Takarai and published by SuBLime, is the kind of yaoi manga I like — the kind with a plot beyond “let’s watch two cute guys make out”. In this case, it’s even based on a topic I’m immensely curious about.
Shirotani is the assistant to a company president. He’s germ-phobic, to the extent of wearing gloves in daily life, and a compulsive hand-washer. He meets Kurose by accident. That’s fortuitous, because Kurose is a psychiatric counselor who offers to help Shirotani cope better with his condition.
The title comes from the therapy Kurose suggests. He has Shirotani write a list of ten items he has an aversion to, from easiest to hardest. Kurose is going to help Shirotani do each of them in turn, as a friend, in the hopes that this exposure therapy will lead to an eventual cure. (I’m not sure of the medical specifics of this, since at other times, Shirotani is referred to as having OCD.)
I like these people. I want to know more about them and spend more time with them. Takarai draws the two men with almost the same face, but I could tell them apart based on different hair color. Kurose is very understanding, and I want to find out what brought him to that attitude and profession. I like the idea of a friend who’s so accepting and caring. It’s an appealing fantasy. And it helps Shirotani, who can be distracted from his concerns by wondering about Kurose instead of getting wrapped up in himself.
I’m pleasantly surprised to see so much drama and involvement wrung out of simple events, such as the two men taking a train or eating at a restaurant or shopping at a bookstore. As the series continues, there are hints at the continuing mystery of what made Shirotani this way, since we get flashbacks to him as a child, where he doesn’t have the problem.
Fans of the genre may want to know that there isn’t much contact between the two leads in this volume, but a brief author’s note promises that “the relationship between the two main characters will start to grow and change” in the second volume. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)