Ten Count is crazy popular right now. Like, every BL fan knows about it. But I’m sure the direction it has taken in the recent volumes is quite a surprise. It is for me.
But for now, let’s talk about the first volume.
Volume 1 starts with, “Everything in this world is dirty,” which sets the tone of the book. Shirotani sees the world as something full of bacteria, which is true, but his condition goes beyond the usual fastidiousness. It is a medical condition called mysophobia, or excessive fear of germs or getting contaminated by them. The fujoshi in me instantly goes “!!!” because how would he fall in love and do H-things with someone if everything appalls him? But with my experience with other Takarai Rihito series, the characters will screw each other. But not after Takarai screws my feelings. That doesn’t sound reassuring www.
Shirotani then meets Kurose, who notes about his condition the moment they meet. Kurose then offers to help him in exchange for being his friend. He asks Shirotani to list the ten things he could not do, with number 1 being the easiest and ten as the hardest to accomplish. Shirotani left the last one blank, but Kurose decides to go through the list despite that. The rest of the book shows how Shirotani handles things with Kurose as his guide.
There is little to no ero scene in here, but there is just something in this book that makes me want to read more of it. Ten Count is probably the first manga I have read (more so in BL) that deals with phobias seriously. Phobias are conditions that do not resolve itself overnight. More often than not, people with phobias have to deal with it their whole lives. With Shirotani’s mysophobia, it’s like him against the entire world every single minute. Maybe some phobias are not obstructive in daily life. But for him, opening a doorknob with bare hands is already a tall order. So treating his phobia, one step at a time is something new to me.
As I said before, Takarai is good at twisting my heartstrings, so I’m going through the book carefully. This volume is as good as a shounen-ai. The romance keeps me at the edge of my seat, and at full alert to any subtle changes in their demeanor. The chemistry is there, the tension is there, but for some reason, they just won’t hook up. Seeing Shirotani’s efforts to get over his phobia makes me want to root for him. I want to support him all the way. Because despite his neat appearance there lies a discomposed Shirotani.
Little Shirotani also makes a brief appearance in this volume. He is shown as cheerful and someone who can hold his father’s hand. It’s like, do we see the same Shirotani here? He did a complete 360 degrees turn. It makes me wonder what happened in between to make the adult Shirotani like that.
Kurose is a specialist when it comes to conditions like the one Shirotani has and it may have been a curious case for him. But it is hard to tell at this point since we know very little about him. He keeps on dati–, I mean, treating Shirotani to various places going so far as helping him without a fee but what is the catch?
Reading volume 1 again makes me realize how safe and pure the story was. There is a certain charm in the tension set in this book that makes me want to follow the story until the end.