Ten Count Volume 4 by Rihito Takarai

With volume 4, we’re given Shirotani’s backstory as well as tantalizing hints that all is not perfect with Kurose, either. And in contrast to volume 3, there is less sex and more plot to follow. Readers hoping to understand Shirotani a bit better are rewarded for the wait by several chapters devoted to the event/situation that translated into Shirotani’s mysophobia. But more tantalizing are the hints that Kurose is just as ‘defiled’ as Shirotani.

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Story: When Kurose attempts to be honest with Shirotani after their recent encounter, Shirotani is put off and avoids him for two months. But a chance encounter brings them together again as both have to face the realization that they need each other equally. Shirotani believes he defiles anyone who touches him – that he is irrevocably dirty. But Kurose has some admissions of his own and isn’t afraid to tell the disbelieving Shirotani that he has been and will always be in love with Shirotani from the beginning; specifically because of the mysophobia. But how will Shirotani accept that if it means Kurose only wants one part of him?

Clearly, we have both men trying to communicate, each in their own way. Kurose hinting and trying to tell Shirotani that his desire is due to be just as ‘defiled’ but Shirotani assuming Kurose is saying he only wants him for his mysophobia. Willful misunderstanding has long been the heart of melodrama in this genre (shoujo) but Takarai writes in such a way that it does make sense and isn’t someone being stubborn to the point of stupidity.

We’re building to a love story in here but certainly it is in its very own unique way. This was never about a taboo doctor/patient relationship since Takarai never said that Kurose was acting on his medical background but instead saw something in Shirotani that he himself experienced (a traumatic event).

The backstory of Shirotani’s illness is nicely explained and of course it will be interesting to see if the pertinent parties (his father and father’s young girlfriend) appear in future volumes. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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