Ten Count Volume 4
I imagine those who have trouble with the lack of consent on view in previous volumes of Ten Count have given up by now, but those who’ve stuck it out are rewarded in volume 4 by finally finding out what made Shirotani a germophobe.
The title comes from Shirotani’s list of tasks he can’t stand to do, things like shaking hands without his gloves on. It was established as a starting point for a kind of aversion therapy, but therapist Kurose has crossed his boundaries. That’s actually much too soft a description for what Kurose has forced Shirotani into, but that’s why this is a yaoi manga (from SuBLime), with explicit guy/guy sex scenes.
On the one hand, I liked this series because Rihito Takarai developed the characters before they started revealing body parts to each other, and I found the premise — how does someone who can’t stand to touch or be touched cope with feelings of desire? — intriguing. The “no, no” (but he really enjoys it) scenes fall into the tradition of dominance/submission fantasies, and within the realm of the story, Kurose really does have Shirotani’s best interests at heart. He’s never going to experience these kinds of feelings on his own without being pushed into it, and the idea of a skilled, more experienced lover who knows his partner’s body better than that person knows it himself isn’t unusual in the romance genre. Plus, we find out what attracts Kurose to Shirotani, establishing that they’re both warped in different ways.
On the other, it’s pretty creepy for a therapist to be forcing himself on his patient. And in this volume, we meet the only significant female character in the series so far — and she’s an evil, abusive manipulator who’s using sex to trap Shirotani’s father into marriage, which explains a lot of his issues, dating back to his childhood.
I’m torn. Intellectually, there are a lot of problems with the direction the author has taken the characters. But emotionally, some of the sex scenes are hot, which is the purpose of the series.