While the first volume of Ten Count was about Shirotani and Kurose orbiting around each other, this second volume definitely focuses on the relationship. Takarai isn’t looking for a romance so much as an exploration of a different kind of dom/sub relationship. It’s graphic, yes, but more in a sensual than vulgar manner. And while it is easy to get into the story, thinking about it after may leave a bit of an uncomfortable feeling about the nature of their relationship.
Story: Shirotani withdraws after Kurose opts to not see him further. When Shirotani’s coworkers appeal to Kurose to find out what happened to their missing colleague, Kurose realizes he can’t quit the vulnerable Shirotani cold turkey. But it also means that he will continue to push and then exceed Shirotani’s mysophobic comfort boundaries – from eating in public to erotic pursuits.
Most of the book is about Kurose gently but inexorably knocking down Shirotani’s walls. Readers will likely see one of two results: Kurose in a selfish act of seducing a vulnerable Shirotani or Kurose helping Shirotani leave the lonely self exile toward a more normal and shared life. As such, it is either Kurose helping Shirotani to heal or Kurose grooming a new partner. This duality can make for very interesting takes on the story.
The art is quite lovely and the story understated and nicely presented. Yes, the believability (read: ethics) about the whole set up is fairly suspicious. But then again, this is a manga so how much realism is to be expected anyway? Note that this is one of the more graphic sexual manga despite the sensual nature of the story. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.