Tadaomi Shirotani suffers from severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The skin on his hands is rubbed raw from frequent hand-washing, despite him always wearing gloves. Simple pleasures like browsing in a bookstore are foreign to Shirotani, who can’t stand the thought that anything he handles might have been touched by strangers. Thankfully, Shirotani’s crippling fastidiousness has proved a boon in his chosen career: executive assistant to a company president.
A twist of fate and a near-fatal accident involving his boss brings Shirotani into contact with Riku Kurose. A therapist by trade, Kurose is sought out by Shirotani, whose boss orders him to find the hero who saved his life so they can be rewarded. Kurose instantly recognizes the symptoms of Shirotani’s condition and offers to help him—not as a professional, but as a friend. It’s an idea that adds to Shirotani’s already considerable anxiety, yet he finds himself agreeing. So it goes that Kurose asks Shirotani to write a list of ten things, in order of difficulty, that he can’t do because of his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder but would like to try. Thus begins a journey of discovery as Shirotani tests his limits and discovers things about himself that he never would have guessed.
Ten Count breaks the standard Yaoi tropes in several regards, and chief among these is the care that has been taken in portraying Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in a realistic manner. While many Yaoi stories typically have neat-freak/slob pairings between their leading men, the subject is usually mined as a source of humor. Here, Shirotani’s condition is treated with the utmost respect and he is not looked down upon, even when he collapses in a panic attack after trying to touch the hand-holds on a public train. It’s also noteworthy that the story is relatively romance-free in this first chapter. One senses that Kurose really is a good man who just wants to help out someone in need and maybe form a friendship, not a pick-up artist. For those who might have concerns about a story built around a romance between a medical professional and their patient, know that Kurose maintains a professional demeanor at all times regarding Shirotani’s treatment.
The artwork proves typical of the Yaoi genre. The male characters are all tall, pretty boys, and even Shirotani’s boss barely has a wrinkle or two to denote his age. The action of the issue is presented well and the story flows naturally from panel to panel. Fans of the genre will be satisfied with the appearance of this book, though there’s really nothing notable about Rihito Takari’s style one way or the other.
This volume of Ten Count has an M rating, but there’s little to offend anyone who doesn’t object to gay male relationships on principle. There’s no nudity or sex in this story—not even so much as a kiss! No violence, no curse words, just an apology from the author for the slow opening and a promise that the relationship between Shirotani and Kurose will change in volume two.
Ten Count, vol. 1
by Rihito Takarai
Sublime Manga, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: M (18+)