Manga Review | Therapy Game by Meguru Hinohara



This review will contain spoilers for the and anime series Therapy Game. While the manga may vary slightly from all other forms of media, it may have similar story elements and could be considered spoilers.

Trigger Warning: There may be references to excessive drinking, break ups (not between main characters), slut-shaming, sexual assault, cheating (not between main characters), homomisia, manipulation, body-shaming, child abandonment, child neglect, suicide, exotic animals as pets, child abuse, violence, murder, PTSD, mental illness, invasion of privacy, parentification, divorce, blood, self-deprecation, gossiping, and , as it appears in the manga.


This is the sequel series for Secret XXX, and it's highly recommended that you read that title first before coming to this one.

Minato is out for revenge. While out at a gay drag , Minato was comforted by a drunken and heartbroken Shizuma. Shizuma, though in tears after being cheated on and dumped, felt compelled to comfort Minato, who was sad that his brother was finding love and moving on in life without him. Charmed by the sweet young man, Minato decided to take care of him, leading to them having a steamy night in bed. The next morning, Shizuma calls out for his ex, only to have Minato respond. The sweet and loving Shizuma is suddenly standoffish and embarrassed, admitting he remembers nothing about their night together.

Feeling bamboozled, Minato is furious and embarrassed. He had been vulnerable with Shizuma, only to be forgotten entirely. His initial goal is to scare Shizuma off. But Shizuma wants to take responsibility for anything he did to Minato, which presents a much more satisfying opportunity for revenge. Minato fully intends to take Shizuma up on his offer of taking responsibility, and over time, he wants to drown him in love and affection, wrap him around his little finger, only to break his heart.

What Minato doesn't anticipate is Shizuma stealing his heart in the process.


Once again, the art is stunning. However, I don't think the cover art for the first volume does the artwork in this series the justice it deserves. Minato's shoulders look hella padded, and Shizuma looks demonic or like an evil elf. It's still pretty, but it's just not quite what is reflected in the story itself. Regardless, if you loved Secret XXX, then there is no doubt you will love the art in this. Minato is gorgeous and much more refined than he was in the previous story, which is to be expected. But my boy Shizuma is heavily dog-coded, unlike how he briefly appeared in the original series. I love the cat-like, dog-like couple dynamic, which this embodies perfectly. I adore this artist, and this series is just one more representation of why.

Cover art for Therapy Game Volume 1 by

While the story does have some fluffy moments, it is not what I would generally describe as such. Compared to the previous title, it comes nowhere near as sweet. But, for me, that isn't a bad thing. It delves deeper into Mito and Minato's past, only hinted at briefly in Secret XXX. It really hones in on how the trauma of their past affected both Minato and Mito, which I appreciated, as it could have easily focused solely on Minato and left Mito out of it. From the beginning, Mito was very protective and motherly to Minato, something neither experienced from their mother nor their father, who were more preoccupied with their personal lives than their children. It's nice to see further development of their relationship as brothers, as it really fleshes out why they interact the way they do in both the prior title and this series.

But what I didn't expect was the route the background took for Minato. It's clear from the prior work that Minato and Mito look nothing alike, something that seemed like nothing more than a narrative device to create a foundation for the perceived cheating segment, and we do see that reoccur in this series, but it turns out Minato looks just like his mom, something that haunts him. His mother was cruel and selfish, committing suicide publicly in front of her child's school just to get back at her husband's family. But even before then, she took out her anger and rage on her children, blaming them for her husband's infidelity. Minato sees so much of himself in his mother, creating an intense fear of himself, worrying that cruelty and selfishness might manifest within him one day. It helps explain his cagey and distant personality, as he uses it to put space between himself and those trying to get closer to him. He does this, in part, to protect himself, fearing he might end up hurting someone so badly they hurt themselves or become someone like his mother. But that's only the very surface of his fear and trauma. He also wants to protect others from the person he suspects he might become.

But we ultimately see that those aspects of his mother that he desperately tries to distance himself from manifest in other ways, such as when he defends Shizuma from his friends by burning the guy and setting up the cruel bet for revenge, to name a few. I like that he isn't portrayed as someone so unlike his mother that it's impossible for him to ever become her. He is like his mother in many ways, and he does end up hurting people because of that, but even with those similarities to his mother, he is Minato first and foremost. His mother had no problem tying herself to someone and punishing anyone she felt deserved it. She would never have distanced herself from the one she loved, fearing she might hurt them. She would never have apologized for punishing someone, whether they deserved it or not. Minato is similar to his mother, but Minato can recognize his shortcomings and actively tries to make himself better, both for himself and for others, and I love that.

I also love how his perception of love and what it does to people leads to why he initially fell for Shizuma. Shizuma, after being cheated and dumped, much like Minato's mother was, was heartbroken and upset, but he was still willing to comfort someone else. Shizuma is the antithesis of everything Minato saw love was growing up, which is why he was willing to be touched and grow close to Shizuma. He could feel safe knowing he was with someone who wouldn't try to hurt themselves or others due to heartbreak but gave love openly and willingly despite their pain. When it's revealed why Minato refuses to fall in love or grow close to anyone, it's clear why he would let Shizuma in. Shizuma would never end up like his mother, which perhaps means Minato himself would never end up like his mother. Rereading the early chapters with that information brought so many tears. It's a very powerful reveal.

One thing I have to mention is how much I hate that the ex-girlfriend hangs around. I understand she helps Shizuma and wants to protect him, but she is painfully annoying, but the fact that she cheats on him before ending their relationship certainly doesn't help. This section highlights how nice of a guy Shizuma is, which I love, but I hate that the ex gets any attention whatsoever after how cruel she was to him. That aspect makes it appear like he's a doormat, but he's anything but that. He has no problem cutting off his friends when they start making bigoted comments about his relationship with Minato, and he leaves Minato when he finds out their relationship started from a cruel bet. Shizuma is a gentleman, an excellent big brother, and a kind dude, but a doormat he is not. I think the ex still hanging around does his character a bit of a disservice. Granted, I just generally hate her, so that could just be on me. This is a very minor point in a very interesting series, so don't let this dissuade you.


I love this series. I wouldn't say it's as much of a favorite as its predecessor was. I love Minato and Shizuma, but they're not Shohei or Mito. However, it's still a favorite all the same. Be warned, this is not the fluffy bunny smutty story the previous title was, and it delves much deeper into trauma and PTSD, but it's for that reason that I heavily recommend this one. It really rounds out Minato's and Mito's characters, has some lovely character growth, smutty , and some beautiful art. It's not always fluffy and sweet, but it's still such a treat. If you're not bothered by the warnings, please give this a go. It's so worth it.

Have you read Therapy Game? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

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