In my review of Secret xxx, I mentioned that I was excited at the prospect of reading the spin-off series focused on the relationship between the main characters’ brothers and, now that I have, I’m thrilled to report that it more then lived up to my expectations! Therapy Game is Meguru Hinohara’s second Boy’s Love work to be published in North America and it chronicles what happened to Minato and Shizuma after they met at the bar in Secret xxx!
Completely heartbroken after his girlfriend leaves him for another man, Shizuma decides to drown his sorrows in alcohol and winds up drunk and crying his eyes out in a drag bar. That’s where he meets Minato, a foul-tempered but extremely sexy man who’s also feeling in need of some comfort. Minato lends Shizuma a sympathetic ear and, before they know it, one thing leads to another and they wind up spending the night together. Minato feels a connection to Shizuma in a way that he hasn’t with anyone else, but the next morning Shizuma has no memory of Minato or what transpired between them the previous night. Hurt and humiliated, Minato resolves to take revenge on Shizuma by making him fall in love with him – all so that he can then dump him and completely crush his heart! But as Minato puts his seduction plan into action, he quickly finds that he’s the one most in danger of falling in love.
Therapy Game is a prime example of a spin-off title that winds up surpassing the original series. It’s sexy and touchingly sweet, just like Secret xxx, but also tells a more focused and dramatic story. It may be a pretty basic “Liar Revealed” plotline, where Minato’s initial bad intentions wind up coming back to bite him, even after he’s had a change of heart, but it’s an effective story none-the-less. I could see the scene where Shizuma inevitably discovers Minato’s plot to trick him coming a mile away, but I was still sucked in by the emotional reveal and subsequent fallout between our two leads and I’m chomping at the bit to get my hands on the next volume so I can see how it all resolves!
Minato and Shizuma are polar opposites in a lot of ways, yet wind up complementing each other beautifully. Shizuma is a straight-forward and serious person who’s caring to the people he loves and honest with his feelings. He accepts his attraction to Minato pretty quickly, despite having previously thought himself to be completely straight, and, even though he’s been hurt by love in the recent past, he doesn’t hesitate to open himself up to love again. Meanwhile, Minato is more audacious and temperamental and, due to a childhood trauma, has major trust issues. He has difficulties being honest with himself about his true feelings, let alone Shizuma, but it isn’t long before Shizuma’s kindness and openness wins him over and he starts to feel like he could give love a chance. They’re super cute together and I love them as a couple! Minato and Shizuma may still have a ways to go before they can be happy together, but I’m eager to see them get there.
While Therapy Game can stand on its own, I do think readers would benefit from reading Secret xxx first. The manga does fill the reader in on any relevant events from the previous series, but Secret xxx provides some additional backstory on the characters, particularly Minato, which I think would be helpful to understanding their circumstances. Also, both main characters from Secret xxx make cameo appearances in this volume, something which will add to the enjoyment of readers who are familiar with them from reading their story in Secret xxx.
Once again, Meguru Hinohara has crafted a steamy and thoroughly entertaining love story that’s completely stolen my heart. If you’re a fan of Secret xxx, be sure to check this series out, you won’t be disappointed.
Final Score: 9 out of 10
For more information on Therapy Game, visit SuBLime’s website.
What did you think of this manga? Did anyone read this without reading Secret xxx first? Let me know in the comments.