A Letter to Rihito Takarai: Author of Ten Count

Dear Rihito Takarai,

Thank you for writing Ten Count and allowing me and many readers to follow the romance story between Shirotani and Kurose. I never expected to fall in love with the characters and their journey, but I did.

When I first eyed Ten Count on Amazon, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was looking for a similar romance story after I finished Yuri on Ice, and I read a few, but they weren’t as strong. So I searched on Amazon, and I looked for similar stories, and I saw that Ten Count was the top bestseller. I read the summary and was unsure at first. The love story between a man and his therapist, that’s unprofessional and unethical. So I avoided it until curiosity took the best of me.  I typed it in on an online manga reader that I use and read many of the chapters within a day and a half.

I was entranced.

The relationship between Shirotani and Kurose is a fine line between what is appropriate and inappropriate. Yes, Shirotani does not pay therapy from Kurose, which makes it non-professional, but I wonder if it’s still okay for a therapist to offer their services for free, even if it’s towards a loved one. Despite these questions I had, I felt for the characters, in particular for Shirotani.

Like Shirotani, I have OCD, and it too has also taken over my life. It has made me hide from the world and prevented me from doing things that I wanted to do because I wanted the obsessions to go away. It also has made me feel alone, similar to how Shirotani feels.

My favorite part of Ten Count is the longing between Shirotani and Kurose when they are apart, especially in the beginning. When Kurose cuts off the therapy, Shirotani is at a loss. Kurose brought out the best side of him, and now that there is no therapy, Shirotani crawls back into his shell. I could see it in Shirotani’s face that he has grown fond of Kurose and enjoys his sessions with him at the local cafe. Likewise, I can see it in Kurose’s face that he misses Shirotani. Yes, this longing creates drama and tension for the readers to read more, but it works.

My other favorite part is the gradual build up of Shirotani and Kurose’s relationship. Many stories similar to Yuri on Ice and Ten Count often rush into sex, but Ten Count doesn’t. It explores the back story and trauma of Shirotani and Kurose and how it shapes them. Examples are that Shirotani has OCD because he witnessed an affair that his father had with a student, and the first person who cared about Kurose was someone who had OCD.

The story has helped with my stress and mental health because it allows me to escape. It shows characters who are awkward, flawed but are still positive. It allows me to partake in the longing and love that characters have for each other, which is the best part.

Even though the series is fictional, it’s touching. I cannot give enough praise for Ms. Takarai.