Tag Archives: Rihito Takarai

Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 5 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 5     

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: August 8, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/mangaGLBT/162 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shirotani and Kurose are rescued from their elevator ordeal and emerge into falling rain. Cabs are scarce, so Kurose says he’ll walk, but Shirotani speaks up and offers to share a cab with him, which is a major step for him. Once inside the cab, Kurose prompts Shirotani to continue with what he began to say earlier, but Shirotani claims not to remember what that was, when the reality is he doesn’t feel comfortable bringing it up in that place. A disappointed Kurose has the driver pull over and gets out, since they are right by his apartment.  As he waits for the elevator, he’s surprised to hear his name and turns to find Shirotani there. Shirotani gives him an obviously fake story as to why he’s there before finally making what is a major admission for him, even if it’s phrased hypothetically. They go up to Kurose’s apartment and Shirotani requests that Kurose “make him dirty inside”.

As a child, Kurose’s parents were very busy, and he was left on his own most of the time. He strikes up an acquaintance with an older man named Nishigaki, and begins to hang out with him, even if the man claims Kurose is a pain. Kurose doesn’t understand Nishigaki’s idiosyncrasies, why he makes Kurose follow certain rules. Too late, he begins to understand what Nishigaki’s problem is. When Nishigaki disappears, Kurose blames himself. He studies all he can about germophobes, and makes a promise to himself to save the next Nishigaki.

Shirotani wakes the next morning in a strange bed. Kurose is already up and is very attentive to him, anticipating his every need. Shirotani tells Kurose he’s filled in number ten on his list and wants him to guess what it is, so then Kurose has to tell him why he is doing this. Kurose says he has feelings for Shirotani, but Shirotani knows there is more to the story than that, that it has to do with his being a germophobe. Will Kurose come clean with Shirotani?

The story is almost done, one more volume to go, and it’s so good as Shirotani and Kurose’s relationship grows stronger and stronger.  Now we know more about Kurose, and why he was initially drawn to Shirotani. It almost feels like closure for him with regard to Nishigaki. But he also says that Shirotani being a germophobe is not the only reason he is drawn to him, that he would love him anyway. Shirotani hasn’t told Kurose about his father, and what he witnessed that helped to make him the germophobe he is now. Hopefully he’ll do it in the next volume.  Ideally, I would love to see them move in together, and have an open and loving relationship. I think they can heal each other. I’m crossing my fingers for them.

Only one more to go, can’t wait!

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Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 4 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 4     

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: May 9, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/glbt/178 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shirotani has gone to Kurose’s apartment, ostensibly to watch a movie, but did he seriously think Kurose wouldn’t try to take advantage of the situation to touch him in some way? On some level, he must have known that would happen. So when Kurose introduces him to an anal plus, Shirotani’s protests are weak at best. Once the plug is in place, Shirotani is both disgusted and turned on. When Kurose removes the plug and suggests he replace it with himself, Shirotani fights against the idea, claiming Kurose is manipulating him. To his surprise, Kurose claims that Shirotani is the one who is actually in control. Shirotani worries that if he becomes cured of his germophobia, Kurose will lose interest in him.

Shirotani leaves, but doesn’t get very far in his turgid condition and, against his better instincts, enters a public lavatory, torn between not being contaminated by his surroundings and relieving his need. As he fantasizes that Kurose is touching him, he replays memories in his mind, of his childhood, and the incidents which were the start of his germophobia.

Avoiding Kurose, Shirotani throws himself even harder into his work. The weather has turned ugly and there is talk of an impending typhoon. Shirotani’s boss apologetically asks him to deliver some urgent documents to a client, which of course he does.  Leaving the office of the client, heading down in the elevator, he sees Kurose come on but keeps his back to him, assuming Kurose won’t know him. Unfortunately, a power outage halts the elevator, and Shirotani is forced to face his fears, as well as Kurose. Can they reach a new understanding of their relationship together?

Another great volume of this series. More and more we are beginning to understand what drives Shirotani to be the way he is. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him, and also to hope he can be cured of his fixation. I believe he is fixable, and that Kurose is the key. I suspect there is more to Kurose than meets the eye. He’s already admitted to being attracted to Shirotani in large part because he is a germophobe, but there must be more to the story than that.

Some people might argue that there is some dubious consent here, but after careful consideration, I don’t believe that to be the case. While it might appear that Kurose is going against what Shirotani says, I believe he is receiving his cues from Shirotani, as he claims, and Shirotani is actually setting the pace and controlling the action. There is also the matter of Item number ten on the list, which has yet to be named. I’m not sure it ever will, but I hope so.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 10 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 3       

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: February 14, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/glbt/178 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

When Kurose takes Shirotani shopping for a new suit, he offers to take him by his apartment first so he can change out of Kurose’s clothes, which he is borrowing. Shirotani surprisingly refuses, citing the time that would be lost with the rituals he’d feel compelled to perform. This is a definite step forward for him. He does very well with the tailor, allowing him to take most of his measurements, which of course involves touching. An interesting situation arises when they take a break, and Shirotani finds himself unable to walk properly. Kurose takes him back to his apartment and helps him find relief. In the process, we learn that Shirotani is fearful that giving oral sex can lead to a bacterial infection. Where did he get this idea?

Shirotani has had as much as he can take and hurries home, unwittingly leaving a spare key with Kurose. The next day, he sleeps late and doesn’t have time to style his hair, leaving it more natural, which garners a compliment from Mikami. Feeling a little unwell, Shirotani leaves work early, in order not to exacerbate his condition. He goes to bed, feeling unable to do anything else, much less make dinner. A concerned Kurose, who hasn’t heard from him in a few days, calls. But when Shirotani suddenly stops speaking in the middle of their conversation, Kurose becomes very worried and bicycles to Shirotani’s apartment, even knowing the other man would be uncomfortable with someone else in his home. Using the spare key, he gain entry to the apartment.

Shirotani and Kurose go to an aquarium together, then arrange to watch a movie at Kurose’s apartment. Of course, one thing leads to another, and Kurose can’t help but touch Shirotani. And then he gives him an unexpected gift which holds a great deal of promise…

With each volume of Ten Count, I think we learn a little more about Shirotani. This time we witness a flashback to his childhood, and we see what he saw that was rather traumatizing and probably the beginning of his germophobia. On the other hand, we haven’t really seen what makes Kurose tick. I suspect there is more to him than meets the eye.

I think these two are really good together, and that they would make a great couple. Shirotani is already making great strides under Kurose’s tutelage. I think he has strong feelings for Kurose that he isn’t ready to express. He wants his touch and he enjoys his touch, but he has a hard time dealing with this knowledge because it also feels dirty to him. I think this all stems back to his boyhood trauma. I’m glad that Kurose established their relationship the way he did, as friends rather than therapist and patient. If it were the latter, he’d have been crossing a line, now they are equals.

Looking forward to the next volume!

Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 2 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 2           

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: November 8, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/glbt/184 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shirotani is devastated after Kurose tells him they won’t be seeing each other any more. He curls up on his bed, and ceases to function, to the point where his boss and his co-worker/friend, Mikami, become concerned. He isn’t answering his phone. Mikami mentions to their boss that the only other friend he knows of is Kurose. The president gives him Kurose’s number and Mikami explains what is going on. Kurose texts as well, but receives no response. When Shirotani finally rouses himself, he realizes his phone battery is dead. After charging it, he discovers a number of messages, including one from Kurose telling him to meet him at the café on Saturday at 2 pm, and he’ll wait as long as it takes. But it’s already 7 pm! Surely Kurose isn’t still there? Shirotani can’t help but go to find out, expecting everything but what he sees—Kurose is there, waiting for him. Shirotani explodes at Kurose, in public no less, then rushes off, forgetting his train pass and his wallet in his hurry. Unable to do anything or go anywhere, he sits in the rain and despairs… until Kurose finds him.

 

Kurose envelops Shirotani in his warmth and explains why he thought he needed to put distance between them—because he realized he was falling in love with Shirotani, and he finds it harder and harder to resist the urge to touch him. They discuss the situation and Shirotani reveals that he wants to keep seeing Kurose.

 

Shirotani arrives at their next scheduled meeting only to discover Kurose not there. He receives a text from him explaining he had to cover for someone at the clinic, and he didn’t know when he can get away. So Shirotani goes to the clinic instead. Alone in the clinic, Kurose, as he has warned Shirotani, cannot resist touching him, kissing his hands… and more. Shirotani is both disgusted and turned on by what is being done to him. They finally decide to meet for the dinner that never was, although Shirotani, as usual, doesn’t eat, but does drink some champagne. Perhaps it’s the influence of the champagne that loosens his tongue when he admits that he’s been thinking all day about Kurose touching him. Kurose tells him to come with him, he wants to take him somewhere he can do even more unpleasant things to him.

 

There is so much going on this volume. It’s obvious that Shirotani is both attracted and repelled by Kurose. The chemistry between these two men is palpable. The one thing that bugs me about Kurose, though, is that as a trained therapist, he has made no attempt to get to the root of Shirotani’s problems. It’s obvious to me that Shirotani has been abused, and he’s never dealt with what happened, which has led to his disgust with and inability to be touched. So far, Kurose is just treating the symptoms, not the disease. I’m worried that at some point, something he does is going to trigger something in Shirotani that might make him worse.

 

I’m sure Kurose has his own backstory, and I look forward to knowing more about both of them. This is not your typical m/m romance, and yet it is very romantic and sexy. I especially appreciate the artwork, and that the graphic scenes have not been erased in any way, as is the case with most yaoi manga. Four more volumes to go, can’t wait!

 

If you like men who are real and not perfect, and real romance, this maybe the manga for you!

 

 

Book Review: Ten Count, Vol 1 by Rihito Takarai

Ten Count, Vol 1   

Author: Rihito Takarai

Publisher: SuBLime Manga

American release date: August 9, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/glbt/178 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Shirotani believes that the whole world is dirty and contaminated. Handling certain objects is difficult for him, at best. Even so, he considers his beliefs to be his problem and no one else’s. But perhaps it’s time to readjust his thinking when he finds himself the cause of his employer being injured in an accident. Through the accident, Shirotani meets Kurose, who makes some very astute observations regarding Shirotani’s idiosyncracies. How does Kurose know? Kurose suggests Shirotani see a counselor and gives him a card, which Shirotani surprisingly keeps.

Not sure why, Shirotani finds himself in front of the address on the card. As he’s standing there, Kurose rides up on his bicycle. It turns out he’s a counselor at the center. He’s glad to see Shirotani there. But when Shirotani attempts to bolt, Kurose suggests that perhaps the two of them can meet, outside of the center, so he can help Shirotani. They end up meeting at a restaurant where they discuss Shirotani’s problem and some of the limits of what he can and cannot do. Kurose has him make out a list of ten actions or activities Shirotani has an aversion to, with number one being the one with the least aversion and so on. Shirotani leaves the number ten spot open, and Kurose says he can fill it in later. By the time he completes everything on the list, Kurose declares, Shirotani will be cured! Kurose assures Shirotani he need never come to the clinic. When he asks about a consulting fee, Kurose says there will be none, as he’s doing it on his own time. When Shirotani asks why he would do that, he’s surprised at Kurose’s answer—he wants to be Shirotani’s friend!

And so they begin with the first item on Shirotani’s list—to touch a door knob bare-handed.

I think the premise for this yaoi series is very unique. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I like the way it handles Shirotani’s compulsions, never making light of them. Kurose is a thorough professional and very understanding. When Shirotani is late, Kurose usually knows why that is, what he’s gone through just to get there. But I think he also realizes he has feelings for Shirotani that he isn’t about to reveal or burden him with while they are in this current relationship of counselor and counselee. Of course I’m hoping that Shirotani and Kurose will become a couple, and I’m hoping that the tenth unrevealed item on Shirotani’s list is to be able to fall in love, and that he will do so with Kurose. Time will tell. There are five more volumes to go, looking forward to reading them.