OWLS Strength Blog Tour: Shirotani’s Mental Fortitude and Helping Hand (It’s OK to Need Help Sometimes)

Hey guys!

Welcome back to another OWLS post. It’s been awhile so I thought I’d go over what OWLS is, just in case anyone reading this is a newcomer. Back in December, a couple bloggers thought it’d be cool to team up and create a blogging group (credit for idea goes to OGZ) that did monthly blog tours (credit to Arria) where we would promote acceptance in the community for all individuals via anime and related fandoms

I think a lot of us mentioned that we didn’t just want to promote tolerance for minority groups, but acceptance. Personally, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on certain matters and learn from my fellow bloggers about theirs.

Our first tour was in January and we talked about Disruptors, which I think is one way to describe OWLS. Since then we’ve completed 4 tours and we’re now on our 5th one! And each time I think we’re getting better at what we set out to do

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This month our topic was “Strength” and even before we sorted out the actual prompt, I knew what I wanted to talk about. But when I sat down and started to write, I felt like my idea didn’t really fit what we were going for:

For this tour, we will be exploring anime characters that have overcome adversity due to a personal insecurity or physical weakness. It is these type of characters that many anime fans may identify as role models because fans are able to feel empathetic towards these characters’ struggles and insecurities

Because I already talked about Kyoko for the Sanctuary tour, I guess that means I can’t talk about her for this one (or you know, if I did, it would just end up as a repeat of the other). Instead, I thought I’d talk a little bit about a boy’s love manga because I’ve just been itching to talk about one for this tour since forever

Warning, SPOILERS for Ten Count (and remember this is a yaoi so as much as there’s all this great content, there’s also some very-yaoiesque stuff too)

Shirotani & Mysophobia

I honestly have no idea why I picked this series up. I want to say it might have been curiousity over the whole mysophobia topic and how it was going to be portrayed. It may also have been the art and how beautifully it’s done. Whatever the reason, I really feel like Ten Count is one of those boy’s love manga that you should check out if you like the genre. Yes there’s lots of smut, but it talks about a topic that we don’t really get in BL titles and does it in an interesting way

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Ever since the beginning I’ve always felt admiration for Shirotani. Having developed mysophobia at a young age (after someone Despicable said something Terrible), Shirotani has lived his life afraid of contamination, afraid of contaminating others, and afraid of being true to himself.

It’s only after he meets Kurose (and snaps at him) that he finally decides he should probably do something about his insecurities. Seeing that his mysophobia was so far along that someone else noticed his habits and are pointing them out to him, plus feeling the guilt of not helping out his boss when he was in a traffic incident makes Shirotani try. But I really believe it’s because Kurose was there and took notice and offered an alternative that Shirotani even thought of another possibility

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The thing about Shirotani is that he’s acknowledged that he has a problem and he’s actively trying to find a way to get better. He decides to go along with Kurose’s idea of jotting down 10 things he’d like to do during his treatment. The things he does seem like they’re easy (touching a doorknob, eating food from a restaurant, grabbing a book from a bookstore) but the way that he sees them and considering his condition, are really tough and important. There are times where we see he just doesn’t want to keep going but after some encouragement and patience, he manages to complete a handful of tasks (AND he ends up writing in the 10th item, which he’d left blank at first)

The 10th item is supposed to be something he believes is impossible to accomplish

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We see that words from the people he cares about both put him in his current state but also help him. If it weren’t for that Despicable person (whose name I honestly just can’t remember), he wouldn’t have mysophobia. And if it weren’t for Kurose’s encouragement and patience (plus stubbornness), Shirotani wouldn’t have accomplished as much as he did. We even get to see what happens when we take Kurose out of the equation, which is Shirotani falling back to some of his old habits, especially since it’s so early in the therapy

He did have others that cared about him, like his boss Kuramoto and his friend Mikami, but they weren’t really the same. In a way they just accepted how Shirotani was living his life. They were worried about him, but they never tried to actively help him out. Kurose, on the other hand, was just a stranger passing by and was able to immediately tell that Shirotani had some trouble. He became a part of Shirotani’s life and that’s why I think things worked out better between them

There was someone that Shirotani could depend on and felt comfortable enough to finally state what he wanted

Realistic Depiction?

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I don’t have mysophobia and I don’t know anyone who has mysophobia, but I think there’s some realism in what we see in this series. Personally, I have issue with opening doors with my hands. I tend to use my leg to help open a door and cover my hand with my sweater’s sleeve, but I also wouldn’t panic over having to use my hand if need be. But I can see it happening to someone else. I’m sure that a lot of people don’t go to certain restaurants because they worry about sanitation even when technically, the restaurant should be in good shape if it’s running (I’m so there on this)

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All of the items that Shirotani wants to accomplish feel real and they’re things that we can probably relate to on a certain level. The only difference is that Shirotani’s condition makes it worse for him and I really like how the manga shows this visually

Even the whole sexual stuff (what do I call it? sexual exploration? awakening?) is just Shirotani finally coming to realize what he wants. As a kid he’d been called disgusting for something his body naturally reacted to. Sexual activity was something taboo to him and to finally have the chance to explore and get comfortable in his own skin is believable.


When I wrote up my post for Sanctuary, I mentioned that it was something that had to come from within. To be at peace I felt like you had to mentally be okay with yourself. With strength I’m falling into the same mindset. Yes you can have physical strength but having that mental fortitude to admit you need help, find help, and actively try to better your situation is something that requires a lot of strength

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In Shirotani’s case, he wants to get better and he takes the steps needed. His tasks, while simple sounding, all require a lot of effort on his part. Sometimes it takes him just the one try to get the door open, sometimes he gets himself sick from trying to ride a train, and other times he just needs to try a couple times

And like most stories that we read, it’s okay to get help and rely on others. I think that’s something that we often forget about when we’re trying to take on tasks like this. We’re not alone, someone is always willing to help out and a lot of times it starts with a stranger who later becomes your best friend (or more in Ten Count’s case)


Wow I feel like I keep failing at these. It’s probably a sign that I should write them sooner but I seem to like to suffer. I’m not sure I got all my points across or even well since I feel this is a shorter post than normal, but hopefully I got something done correctly (lol)

Don’t forget to check out Nick’s post over at Chasing Japan (OWLS Tour: When It’s OK For A Man to Cry) and Kat’s this upcoming Friday (about Clannad)!

To keep up with OWLS updates, follow our Twitter account and/or Official Site

 

14 thoughts on “OWLS Strength Blog Tour: Shirotani’s Mental Fortitude and Helping Hand (It’s OK to Need Help Sometimes)

  1. Crim, I love your post, so far this is my favorite OWLS post this month (shhh don’t tell everyone else LOL). This is the perfect topic for this months tour, especially since it is Mental Health Awareness Month!! Shirotani’s struggles throughout the series with his mental health is truely commendable, compulsive disorders like mysophobia and OCD are difficult to manage and have a huge impact on the way people live their lives. I studied mental health in school and I can honestly say that this is by far one of the most realistic depictions of mental health that I have seen in a manga (BL or otherwise). The way the author describes his condition both visually and through the dialogue is fantastic!!

    You killed it Crim!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • omg i got senpais approval!! #CRIES i seriously had NO IDEA what i was going to write about. i felt like this month had an easier topic but i left it for last minute + busy day so i was panicking. then i saw ten count on my shelf and was like hmmm, maybe i can write about that, so i did. i’m glad it came out ok :”D

      i know nothing about mental health but when i read it i just really liked how it was portrayed, especially the art and the whole contamination thing. plus i saw some of the things in ten count that could apply to me but at a milder condition so thats what made it realistic to me. i also don’t think i’ve ever read other manga that deal with this condition so i’m glad that 1)i found this and 2)that it’s being done in a BL manga. it’s different

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL When it comes to BL and Yaoi, you are the senpai XD Girl, you knocked it out of the park!!

        You did a great job of talking about Shirotani and his illness. I love it when authors take the time to accurately depict health conditions, because like you mentioned, it allows readers to see a bit of themselves in the narrative.

        Liked by 1 person

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  6. This has been on my to-read list for quite a while now because I loved the mangaka’s other works. The art is beautiful. It’s been recommend to me by others before, but it was only when Naja published his manga review on manga.tokyo that I started it. I’m not marathoning it as usual because sometimes the chapters are too uncomfortable that I needed time to digest what I just read. I think this is one of the manga that I need time to slowly read and enjoy. This is a great series to discuss for this blog tour. Like you, I don’t have mysophobia but I can just imagine that a big fear like this takes tremendous strength to overcome. Shirotani is still in the slow process of overcoming it, and it’s such a forward and backward type of journey. There are many obstacles in overcoming a fear. Great tour post, Crim. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I really, really, REALLY need to read this series! This is the second time I’ve heard about this story (the first time from Naja) and each time I become more intrigued by it. I love how you used this story to define strength. It’s hard to recognize a problem we are having and even hard to address it. Awesome post Crim!

    Liked by 1 person

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