Collar x Malice (PS Vita)
Shinjuku turns into a dangerous place as a series of incidents happen every month. The group called Adonis is behind these events referred to X-Day cases.
The protagonist is Hoshino Ichika, a newbie policewoman who does what she can for her job. While in the middle of doing her work, someone attacks her and she wakes up with a collar. Yanagi Aiji, Sasazuka Takeru, and Enomoto Mineo, former police officers who investigate the X-Day cases, found her. They all learned that to remove the collar, they must discover the truth behind the X-Day events before the big day which will happen at the start of the new year. Hoshino has to work with the guys to save her life and eventually, Shinjuku, without telling the police or else she dies.
Collar x Malice is more of a detective story than an otome game, but I still love it all the same. I loved knowing the circumstances around the X-Day and putting the cases together to see the big picture.
The central theme of the game is about Justice. But it is not about the good guys doing “good” things and the bad guys with their evil deeds. It’s more of a subjective view on justice as depicted by all the characters in the story. I loved how Adonis isn’t necessarily the bad guys. They are people caught up in various forms of injustice in society.
This point of view got me thinking about what justice really means. We’ve seen assholes running free, blame-free. Then there are people shunned and humiliated by just existing. But how can you punish the former when they are far out of reach by the judicial system? Or is it better to resort to the old Hammurabi Code, “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”? Meanwhile, let us not also forget that sometimes our old ways teach us and help us mature by regretting our past actions and do something to correct it.
Having said this, I have mixed feelings about the plot. In a way, I feel sad for Adonis. They are mostly, even the leader, a victim of circumstances. I feel sorry for them. They did not even do anything “bad” or hurt people before the events in the game. But I also don’t agree with their method because they’re only spreading animosity. Anyway, I’m overthinking about this, am I not? www
While the story mostly centers around the cases, I adore how the normal lives of the characters are incorporated. For instance, despite the X-Day looming above them, Ichika and co., still manage to drink once in a while, think about Christmas, or mend family relationships. It ‘s nice to see them still trying to live their lives.
On the other hand, the romance moves at a good pace. There is never a time when the characters are suddenly in love. This is why I feel like Ichika suits any of the guys because of the good relationship and strong trust they built. I loved how they help each other, push them forward, and change their overall outlook on life. But still, romance isn’t the main focus of the story. So if you came in, wanting to have raburabu moments with police guys, then you’ll leave disappointed.
Like every visual novel, Collar x Malice relies mostly on choices you make in the game. These choices increase a guy’s trust/affection level (which you can check on the Status page), determines if you are heading in a good or bad end, or part of solving the investigation.
There is also a mini-game where Ichika shows off her shooting skills. I didn’t know that when I started so I let the gunshot just play its own (obviously that was a failure). Even when I did get it finally, I still had a hard time getting the timing right.
You can also experience the investigation part by going around specific departments around the HQ or investigating the crime scenes through point-and-click ala Ace Attorney.
The coolest thing that I found is the gunshot part shown upon clearing a good end. Once there are already four gunshots, the page breaks revealing Aiji’s route. It’s like a big bang to the finale! Also, it felt like a huge bar has been lifted, and everything will finally be revealed.
After finishing Aiji’s route, the Criminal prologue will be available where you’ll know the feelings and motives of each Adonis member.
To get Platinum, you have to get everything including the bad ends. But that’s the thing. With the huge amount of bad ends (it’s like every wrong turn is a bad end lol), the game doesn’t have an ending list which sucks if you aren’t using a guide. So good luck looking for that one bad end you might have missed in whatever route. But beware of using guides as they are a mine of spoilers. I mainly used Choro’s guide and a bit of Fuuko’s for the bad ends. And even then, they’re not spoiler-free since there are choices that might reveal the truth about the suspects. So it is safe to just refer to them when you just need an answer instead of going over the entire guide at once.
Aside from the usual CG list, the game includes a Voice Recorder, Situation, and a Side Story.
The Voice Recorder contains the audio record of the guys’ saying stuff like basic info, hobbies/skills, likes and dislikes, and favorite type of girl. This is my fave Extra as it is fun listening to them talk about themselves. (≧◡≦)
As the name implies, the Side Story is an extra story consists of the monologue of the guy. This is all of his point of view, and the timeline is once they started dating. The Situation part is seeing the guys’ reactions to certain things that happen during their date with Ichika. It starts with meeting time and ends up to when they go home (IF the guy lets Ichika go home (´ ε ` )♡).
I loved the user interface – cool and chic. Instead of the usual dialogue box, the dialogue is usually shown in a speech bubble. As for the characters, everyone here is good-looking. They all look so fab! They also have a range of different facial expressions I enjoyed seeing.
By the way, what’s with the cat theme? Shiraishi and Kei like cats, Adonis’ symbol is a cat, and the image when you start the game (the one with Kei and Aiji side to side) even contains a white cat. Oh, and the interface has a cat too. Does this have to do with Shiraishi’s view on the cats where they are wild and free, unlike us humans who have invisible collars attached to us?
The op and ed songs are both rock-ish, suiting the game atmosphere. Though, not necessarily my fave songs. Most of the songs are okay, but nothing caught my attention. Except for that jazzy bgm played in the restaurant scene. It’s super… jazzy. /bricked.
Hoshino Ichika is a newbie policewoman who got involved in the whole Adonis fiasco after someone put a collar on her.
I didn’t have high expectations from Ichika (thanks to Yurika from TaiAli who sets the bar high), but I enjoyed her character. She is honest with what she feels and calls out the guys if they do something that ticks her off. Well, she can be quite naive at some point but nothing that is off-putting.
I also commend Ichika for being able to fulfill all the roles she has within a day. Let’s see, she has a day job which includes taking calls from worried citizens, easing their concerns, and patrolling. After that (or sometimes during her breaks), she goes to investigate the cases. Not to mention, raising the trust/affection level of her chosen investigation partner. On top of everything else, she still manages to do household chores like cooking and taking care of her brother. Mind you, she even has time for drinks. Wow, what a long day. And to think, she does that EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. If it were me, I’d probably just drop dead with all of these. If this isn’t praise-worthy, then I don’t know what it is. (─‿‿─)
Enomoto Mineo previously works as a member of Field Ops Team. He investigates the April-May case in which the senpai he respects is one of the police officers killed by Adonis.
Mineo is the
lackey mood-maker in the detective agency but is rather snobbish towards Ichika at first. Well, he acts like that so that he can mask the awkwardness he feels towards her (or girls in general). Mineo is a real sweetheart once he opens up though! He’s such a big dork most of the time so his route is more of like a rom-com shoujo manga with Ichika as the cool heroine and him as the clumsy hero. I loved this route to bits because it made me LOL a lot of times and it was a great ice-breaker to all the serious stuff going on. ♡＼(￣▽￣)／♡
The overall route feels anticlimactic though. While the other guys in their respective routes do their everything to remove Ichika’s collar, Mineo just sorts his past and leaves the removal up to Takeru. I guess, he doesn’t have that much power or experience for him to find the solution. But still, I hoped he had some influence on working on it.
Sasazuka Takeru used to work with the Cyber Crime division and is the resident hacker of the group. He investigates the August case about the cyberbullying. He is a BIG tsundere so I never really liked him at first. I mean, he spends a lot of time in his high horse plus all the mean things he says makes it difficult to like him. Once he warms up, though, his teasing is more like teasing a friend more than being a bully.
It took me quite some time to get used to Namikawa Daisuke’s voice here because it didn’t match the image that I have of Takeru. His character design looks more like the shota character and not some oresama, tsundere character. That is also probably the reason why it was hard to see him as a potential boyfriend for Ichika. BUT don’t let his appearance fool you because this wakame moves fast if you get what I mean. (*ﾉ▽ﾉ)
Some unfortunate things happen in his route like how Kazuki and Akito’s friendship turned out. I loved their beautiful friendship, so the last part was hard to watch. Also, that frigging criminal who killed Takeru’s mother still walks as if he never killed someone and left a trauma to a poor boy.
For some reason, Okazaki Kei, an SP, guards Aiji’s group. If Ichika decides to go after a case alone, she’ll end up being Kei’s partner.
I have mixed feelings about this guy, I don’t know where to start www. Kei looks innocent and an airhead but remember, LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING. He seems lenient but is actually stubborn. He also has some deadly skills in his arsenal that you wouldn’t want to mess with him even when he is sleeping.
Kei’s route made me sad despite all the cuteness and sweetness he shows towards Ichika. Because despite everything he does, he isn’t really looking at her. He sees Ichika not as a person, but as an embodiment of his ideals.
But prepare your heart because once he realizes his feelings and goes on full dere mode, he won’t stop giving you dokis. That and his cute emojis are to die for. Out of all the character Kaji Yuki voices, Kei takes the top spot.
Out of all the characters, though, I feel like he has more likely to be a yandere than the other guys. If not, maybe a stalker with his Kuroko-like aura lol.
If Kei made me sad, Shiraishi made me bawl. It’s like, no matter what route you take, he won’t get the happy ending we all expect. Or even if he does, it will be hard-earned like suffering -> more suffering -> (hopefully) happy end.
It is sad to learn a bit about his background, his view of himself, and his current situation. But what pained me the most is hearing Ichika’s words after she woke up. The events leading up to that is devastating. But that particular scene? It is heartbreaking. (｡╯︵╰｡)
I’m hoping, begging, and praying for an FD. Shiraishi needs it more than any of the cast. Please also include a clearer explanation of his background because I keep on thinking it more like the institution Nine and Twelve came from in Zankyou no Terror.
Yanagi Aiji used to work at the Investigation Section of the Police. He quit his job to pursue the X-Day cases and know who’s behind Adonis. His route is only available once you have completed all the other routes.
I was taken by surprise by how gentle and cool-headed he is. Judging from the cover art and the character sprites, his constant furrowed-brow expression, and cold stare makes him rather difficult to approach. But when he spoke with such gentleness when he first saved Ichika, I was blown away. I didn’t expect him to be the brother-figure or as Kei noted the father-figure of the group. That is a running joke in the game where various characters call him dad or an ossan. His jiji ways don’t help with his father image www.
Aiji is the perfect husbando. He is reliable in a lot of ways – be it case-solving, housekeeping, cooking, you name it. Only if he’ll stop with his chain-smoking habit. With his cool, calm, and collected personality, he has a lot of unexpected sides. Talk about gap moe! Delinquent Yanagi is alskdjflskf.
Collar x Malice has an array of side characters and each, and every one of them is not difficult to like. Yes, even the members of Adonis.
My favorites are the best girlfriends you’ll ever have – Sakuragawa and Mukai. They help Ichika with her investigation and blowing off steam at work. I definitely love their Shiraishi Eradication Squad.
Ichika’s younger brother, Kazuki, is the most memorable side character for me because I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with him since the start of the game. If you’re following me on Twitter, I was furious about his bratty attitude towards Ichika. But when he mellows down, I just couldn’t hate him ugh. Disliking this cutie siscon was impossible.
Shoutout to Yume and Yssa (and I think Min – in a previous occasion when I was lost on what game I should play) for nudging me to play this because this has become one of my favorite games! I ABSOLUTELY love just about every bits and piece of this. While I played the Japanese version, I hope people playing/have played the English version enjoy this as much as I do. If you haven’t yet, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE? WWW Go get this right away!