Intro: Adonis, a group dedicated to purging criminals, uploaded a video of gagged and bound police offers to the public in Shinjuku. They were executed a month later in another public video. Desperate to catch Adonis, the police created the Shinjuku Quarantine Act: everyone 20 or older was required to carry firearms for self-defense. With the threat of X-Day approaching, the police are in over their heads. Ichika Hoshino works for the SRCPO department which deals with the public regarding X-Day incidents. She is ambushed one night and a poisoned collar is locked around her neck. To remove it, she must work with a group of ex-cops, but if her collar is discovered or she reveals the wrong information, Adonis will release the poison in her collar and kill her. Who is Adonis and what do they want with Ichika, the woman they claim has the makings fit for them?
*because there’s so many bad ends, I’m only summarizing the last bad end. I’ve played every ending so if you want to talk about them in the comments please feel free.
Final Thoughts below:
Mineo: wears an eyepatch to honor Date Masamune. He used to be a super genki until his senpai Fuji was killed. Since Ichika holds ties to Adonis through the collar, Mineo doesn’t trust her and spends a lot of the route being a precious tsunkun because he’s nervous around girls. Ichika has to tell him she’s doing her best and wants him to be her partner for him to settle. He gets drunk one night so she brings him home and he ends up pulling her down into his bed thinking she’s a pillow and calling her an angel lol. Kei climbs through the window as she’s trying to escape all ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) but he helps her out.
Mineo apologizes the next morning at her house and she invites him inside so he’ll stop saying he has to marry her because he has no idea how far he went rofl. He finds out Fuji was jealous that he was promoted because Fuji wanted to be Senpai 4Eva. Fuji falsely arrested Ogata and Hiro, who were being harassed by a drunk who threw himself into the path of an oncoming train. However, they found the drunk’s blog, where he’d made a post about suicide, and they gathered the suspects were innocent. But their reputations were ruined and Ogata had falsely confessed. At a concert Ichika’s bro Kazuki is in, yandere-Hana whips out a gun on Kazuki because anyone related to cops are EVIL since they hurt her precious senpai Hiro. She brags about killing Fuji and Mineo nearly loses it; they arrest her, but she manages to shoot Saeki. He’s sent to the hospital while Hana loses her memories regarding the murder and the concert. Ogata admits to working with Adonis to kill a stalker and look like the hero, then goads Mineo to meet him alone since he knows he’s going to be released guilt-free. Mineo tells Ichika he can’t bear the thought of the woman he loves getting hurt so he’ll handle it.
Ogata records their meeting, muting it so Mineo looks bad when he punches him. She confesses to him the next morning. Good End: Mineo stages a scene where a man rushes in to kill a reporter as Ogata’s being interviewed about the good deeds he did before he worked for Adonis. He can’t handle his guilt and goes to nice-boat himself with his trusty knife when Mineo grabs it and Ogata is arrested for the 3rd time. Ichika tends Mineo’s wounds and he gives her an early Christmas present, a clover hairpin. They go to the church where she was collared and practice for their wedding lol. Bad End: Ogata stabs Mineo’s arm so she oneshots him. Mineo wanted to save Ogata so Ichika loses her sense of justice for taking a life and quits her job. He tries to stop her from going home while she’s on the train but she can’t forgive herself and leaves.
Donut Demon Takeru: a genius hacker who grew up in America. He loves sweets but his tongue is sharp. When Ichika decides to work with him he refuses and it’s only after she passes his test that he allows her to. He gives her sweets when she does a good job like she’s a dog lol and takes her out to eat while he tells her about how American kids made fun of him cuz he was Asian. Kazuki’s friend, Akito, was a suspect in a school bombing case because his sister was the suicide bomber. One day Takeru’s not at the agency so she goes to his house but he only lets her in after she buys him food lol. She starts to go home but realizes she needs to lock his door. He’s asleep so she tries to wake him but he pulls her into his bed like she’s a pillow and she falls asleep.
He freaks out when he wakes up but calms down thinking how cute she is and kissing her forehead. He pretends to be her boyfriend to get Akito alone when he visits her place. They confirm he’s with Adonis when Kei sees him get into a car without a license. He’s listed as a missing person because he’s a minor and can’t be criminally charged. The stress of Kazuki being interrogated and Akito being a murderer is too much for Ichika so Takeru kisses her and says she shouldn’t stress when she has him. She interrogates Souda, a NEET involved in a murder case, who believes he’s god in a game because players call him that. He escapes custody and the players demean him after Takeru demolishes his status. They arrest him again but his memory resets and they discover a chip was put into his neck. Takeru fainted in the gunfight with Souda and says his mom was shot but her killer was never charged and let go-(I doubt the US system would let a murderer go like that rofl). Now he’s afraid of guns, won’t carry one, and wants to ban the Shinjuku Quarantine Act. They find out Akito left Takeru a video where he tries to recruit him to join Adonis because they can give him his revenge as his mom’s killer is now in Japan.
Good end: Takeru discovers a hidden code in the last song Akito gave to Kazuki. Takeru gets the names of the members of Adonis, removes Ichika’s collar, and reveals there’s a traitor in the police. The Adonis boss peeps flee before the police arrive but the grunts have had their memories wiped. The police continue to interrogate them while they work to take back firearms from the citizens. Takeru invites Ichika to Christmas Eve dinner and she frets about their relationship since Takeru doesn’t act different since he kissed her and she likes him. He continues to act like he’s treating her for a job well done but she expresses frustration and he grabs her hand and says she stopped him from joining Adonis. He walks off all JOB COMPLETE but Ichika glomps him from behind and tells him she loves him and he’s all COOL. She’s confused because she thought it was all one-sided and he’s all WHAT I took you to Christmas Eve dinner and you think that’s what friends do?! ROFL so they go home and bang. Bad End: he’s being transferred so he gives her a necklace but they never confess and the game just fucking ends like you couldn’t have texted or called or ANYTHING? M’kay.
be climbing through your windows trying to an SP who’s always smiling and always uses kaomoji in his texts. As they investigate Ogata and Rika’s case, Ichika empathizes with Rika, who’s been stalked and harassed by creeps her whole life. She’s only wanted to experience a normal love life but they follow her and attempt to assault her. The police do nothing so the poor woman goes mad and when Zero, the leader of Adonis, helps her, she joins his cause. Ichika believes she must help Rika confess but Kei warns her she could be thrown in jail for abetting a crime. Rika sees her collar and loses it because she thought Zero was only hers and she tries to kill Ichika.
Kei knocks her out and then points his gun at Ichika. He demands answers but she can’t because if she does she’ll be killed. Adonis doesn’t poison her and tells Kei she’s beneficial to both the police and Adonis. She’s innocent and one wrong move will doom her. A few days pass and he promises to protect her with his life and they discover Sanjou, an ex-cop with ties to Adonis. He’ll give them info if they can protect a cop that will die in a few days. Sanjou shows up all Good job you got me but he splits and they chase him. He says Kei desires death and runs, blowing up the area. Kei shields Ichika and suffers severe wounds. He runs down the hill carrying her and they argue afterward when he admits he offered to protect her because his Disney wish is to die protecting someone. When Kei was a noob, he was assigned the task of preventing Adonis from killing the Prime Minister. A bomb went off and Kei’s colleague sacrificed his life for him. He told Kei to find a meaningful death as an SP then died. Turns out he was the spy that allowed the PM to be attacked but he saved Kei. So now Kei’s dream is to nice boat.
He confesses to her in Yanagi’s office and Takeru tells them to gtfo because Ichika isn’t in the mindset to find Adonis. So they watch scary movies at his place and she gives him her mind. Adonis threatens to kill Okazaki if she doesn’t come to them so she tries to deceive him when he visits. They bang and he knows she’s going to Adonis so he follows and tells her not to go because she’s his reason to live. I ❤ this scene Sanjou challenges Kei to Japanese roulette or something. Kei wins so Sanjou removes her collar and detonates the place. They run into Mikuni, the PM’s son. Good End: they work together to shoot all the enemies but Mikuni gets one last shot. Ichika shields Kei and he races her out of the place begging her not to die. Mikuni tells Zero to escape, who mocks him for not understanding the point of Adonis. I guess he kills him but we never find out. Ichika lives but scares Kei by telling him she loves him because he thinks she’s dying. He’s pissed when he visits her but he can’t stay mad when they realize they have a future. She kisses him and all’s great. Bad End: Ichika gets shot no matter the end lol but it’s a KO and Kei is about to shoot himself but remembers how much she didn’t want him to die. Just as he resolves not to, Zero shows up and taunts Kei before fucking shooting him to death.
Despair Shiraishi: YOU DESERVED BETTER! A profiler who gets on the nerves of Mukai so badly she set up the Shiraishi Bashing Coalition. The only requirement to join: a burning hatred for Shiraishi. Sakuragawa hates him because he tricked her into eating natto so now he’s her sworn enemy until death lol. When they visit Takeuchi, a witness to a colleague who nice boated herself, Shiraishi botches the investigation with his insensitivity and Ichika joins the SBC. He of course happens to be listening to all their salt about him. Ichika’s so embarrassed she downs his drink when he plops down next to her. His drink was super strong so she passed out and when her friends tried to unbutton her collar to get her some air, Shiraishi told them he gave her a hickey and if they didn’t want to see it to leave her alone. Ichika swears nothing happened so she has to dig up some dirt on him for the SBC. She offers to cook for him and when he leaves the room she starts looking through his stuff. He’s so pissed he kabedons her and says she can’t save the world with words. She calls him a heartless doll and decides she’s done with his ass. He gives her animal crackers as an apology and she buys him macaroons in return.
Shiraishi asks to go back to Takeuchi with her where he apologizes and praises Ichika. The SBC corner her because they believe she likes him. She says she doesn’t and he happens to walk in and hear so she runs after him and grabs his coat, saying she doesn’t hate him. Because other women have tried to confess to him, rumors start. They go to the roof where he tells her he likes her but then changes the subject, confusing the crap out of her. Shiraishi is actually a spy that Adonis injected into the police. He was raised as #14 which is why he names cats by number. When he starts having feelings for Ichika he freaks because he’s supposed to be an unfeeling machine so his failure to come to terms with his FEELS clashes with his mission and he tells her he’s bored with her. She goes to his house and he refuses to be reasonable and proclaims this will be their last talk together. She grabs his tie and blasts him for his shit and he finally stops his FEELS tug-of-war and works with her again. Back to the case, Takeuchi turns herself in to protect her “children.” She used to work with Uno sensei at a free school (kind of like for delinquents or outcast kids) and one of Uno’s students, Hachisuka, was the son of some actress. He uses his power to threaten Uno sensei, whom he had a crush on. She refused but Hachisuka’s fangirls make her life hell and her own staff wouldn’t do anything because MOMMY PAID THE SCHOOL -__- Uno couldn’t handle it and stabbed her husband who shielded their kids. She killed herself and her kids were passed from relative to relative and abused.
These kids are Shion and Suzune, who avenged their mother after Takeuchi explained the truth. They kidnap one of the fangirls, Souko, and torture her to death. Ichika figured out Souko could help with the investigation but they find her corpse and locate the kids in the park about to nice boat. She shoots the gun out of Shion’s hands and they explain everything. They go back to Takeuchi and Shiraishi tells Ichika to stay at his place. He makes her take a bath and attempts to cook for her. He’s never done this before so when he comes out with this burned omelette, Ichika’s so moved by his kindness she cries herself to sleep and wakes up next to him. She realizes she’s in wuv with him and he suggests they go on a date–to see stray cats. Adonis cockblocks saying they’re coming for Ichika. They bring Kazuki to Yanagi’s agency to protect him and promise a Christmas party. Shiraishi shanks the PM’s son and Minigeshi says you defend him you’re toast. Shiraishi kidnaps Ichika and tells her he doesn’t care about her but she’s all why you always lying. He says he killed everyone for her because Zero will take off her collar if she does what he wants, which is to shoot Shiraishi. They run and Ichika tells Shiraishi they’re in this together. Zero strolls in like a chill mofo. Good End: Ichika shoots him but he poisons her. Shiraishi gets the antidote in time but she goes into a 3-month coma and can’t remember him or anything that happened. He takes her outside to see Yanagi’s team and her bro for Christmas and on the roof her memories return. They kiss and promise to wait for each other cuz he has to go to jail….Bad End: She decides to stay with Shiraishi the “doctor” and never leave the uguu cage of wuv.
The Chainsmokers Yanagi: unlock-able canon boy who gets to Ichika first when she’s been collared. His route is a chapter longer than the others but considering the events of the route, had less content in my opinion. Especially so when the two major things that needed to happen was learning Yanagi’s past-which was quickly explained-and taking care of Adonis. It starts off really one-sided on Ichika’s side so it was harder for me to see the fact that he liked her back because the dude is so private about his feelings until the romance starts. She recognizes his gaze but can’t remember why. Ichika has recurring nightmares of a monster killing some guy in a church as she lays chained to the floor. Being the true end, all of the cases from before are solved very quickly or mostly figured out by Ichika and the others to isolate the cases that Yanagi’s working on. Yanagi’s a chainsmoker (not attractive at all imo) who wants to return Shinjuku to how it used to be. He was a delinquent and now is the dad of the group. Adonis hints that he did some bad shit and Ichika may join them when she finds out.
Turns out she was kidnapped by some guy who was trying to sell her to pay off his debts but a younger Yanagi saw him take her and followed. The guy beat them both and terrified, Yanagi beat him with a pipe. He almost died and now is in a coma so Yanagi visits him frequently because he feels guilty for destroying his life-BUT HE DESERVED IT. He beat a child and tried to sell her! He quit the force when he was punished for not shooting a guy who took a hostage because he didn’t want to kill again. He wanted to find the mofo who began Adonis and rounded up the gang. Shiraishi tells Yanagi he was the one who planted the letters and he’s a spy then goes MIA. They find out there’s a lot of discord in Adonis and the PM’s son Mikuni meets them to bargain for their freedom. If they let them escape, (since Akito turned himself in and gave Ichika a USB with all the member’s names, their location, etc.) he will remove Ichika’s collar. To my disappointment, I figured out who the guy who collared out Ichika was (and the leader) the MOMENT we met him…Saeki Yuzuru. Like man he’s hot af and he seems pretty swell, but he’s a psycho murderer….Yanagi helps her through a few questions to realize who her enemy is and the mofo calls her the second she realizes who it is. Yanagi holds her until she collects herself and she confesses her feelings to him. WHEN DID YOU FALL FOR HIM!? Sakei tries to kidnap her at work but Kei stops him. He paralyzes her and Kazuki gets super worried and they bond. BUT IT AIN’T OVER SON.
Saeki kidnaps her the next day in front of Kei! Yanaji almost flips a table and thanks to Takeru and Shiraishi, infiltrate their base and rescue her. Kei shoots Saeki and he just walks like nothing happened holy shit. They get her collar off and Mikuni explains that Saeki’s mom had some illness #kdramacancer and as she died she twisted Saeki’s mind to feel the sorrow in the world. So the poor guy grows up and believes he needs to purge the world of sorrow. By killing people with malice in their hearts. He wants Ichika because she’s like a cat: they fight to survive no matter their circumstances. In the “Criminal” epilogue IT GETS WORSE. The cult they were involved in let their dad, the PM, manwhore himself to no end and Mikuni is related to Saeki. Because Sakei was an unwanted kid, he was never registered as a kid of Japan so he doesn’t exist (which is why he had a clean record) so his mom-the PM’s wife-named him Saeki and slowly went insane because they were locked up in the cult underground. She died and Saeki started hearing voices of the victim’s of Japan and vowed to help them…*sobs* Of course he’s still doing bad shit so gotta stop him. Ichika and her gals are drinking on Christmas eve and they convince her to text Yanagi so he comes over and they leave them alone. She pretends to be drunk to snuggle against him and outside he kisses her and confesses. Good end: They meet Saeki at the church where it all started and she stops him from killing Yanagi and nice boating himself and he’s arrested. Loved the music in this scene 😉 They celebrate and Yanagi gives her an engagement ring ❤ but of course Mineo be peeping cuz he’s gotta up his game and Yanagi punches him. Cue awesome ending song and in the epilogue they go on dates. Bad End: Saeki shoots Yanagi so she shoots and kills him. She goes MIA while Yanagie searches for her.
It’s not another Norn9, but it sure as heck isn’t a good localization either.
I believe it’s critical that translations are taken seriously. Especially when you as a consumer are purchasing a product from a big brand name known for professional video game translations. Other games do have their occasional typos or lines that aren’t translated correctly, but considering how niche the otome genre is in the west, it’s crushing to see that the ones that are brought over are frequently plagued by bugs, localization issues and so on and so forth. Furthermore, no patches are released to fix these issues. Why would I pay top dollar for what should be a proper localization by a professional company when this is what they sell?
As otoge fans, we need to demand quality because we’re paying good, hard earned cash for them. Although nowhere near the cost of an import, they’re still expensive. It’s not wrong to point out flaws in a product that is clearly unfinished when we’re paying for it. Doing so can improve the project, show companies we won’t settle for a half-assed localizations and will help avoid disasters like certain “attempts“ in the past. You deserve better.
Let’s take a look at just some of the many issues I encountered during my time with Collar x Malice.
These are just a select few.
What is Justice?
CxM is one of those otoge that did really well with Japanese audiences and fans who imported the game overseas. It’s been advised that eager fans wait for the English release by those who’ve already played the game because the kanji was so difficult. I think Aksys and Idea Factory are doing a great job in selecting titles. They aren’t sticking to simple romance. All of their picks have been those that performed well overall and are a mixture of a strong narrative and romance. As such, even people who aren’t otoge fans can enjoy them. CxM happens to be one of those otoge that focuses heavily on discovering the identity of the person who collared Ichika, the terrorists of Adonis, and putting a stop to gruesome murders in a future Shinjuku cut off from help. The romance isn’t a strong part of this game, but the romance that does develop is seamlessly interwoven with the plot. Love doesn’t make the characters weak. It serves as a mirror for them to see their flaws and improve themselves. It feels natural because of the harrowing events and close quarters and long hours they are forced to adapt to. A common symbol of the game is the cat and what significance it poses for the leader of Adonis. I think it was a nice touch, considering their ideals.
Heroine: “Everyone has their own invisible collar. Betrayal, despair, frustration…nobody knew when they might be attacked by unfair malice…But you couldn’t lose your faith.”
Every MC has their own strengths and there is no better strength, only what suits the character. I really hope more players understand this as it’s easy to become frustrated at the MC when she doesn’t do what you want her to. They’re not the player. Even self-inserts can’t perfectly predict what the player would do. Ichika is her own character-and she needs to be for this story. She’s a rookie cop who didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life until she realized that a simple act of kindness could mean the world to someone. She’s dedicated her life to protecting the city and her brother, Kazuki, whom she has a strained relationship with. I really loved how there was a strong emphasis on family and how they can be difficult but they’re worth it. Ichika is targeted for her ideals and the friends and family around her help her grow and face her greatest enemy. She had her moments of insecurity, uncertainty, fear, and etc, but she handled the situation so well. I would’ve been killed instantly. For a rookie cop who’s whole life and more is placed in jeopardy, she really held her ground.
System: If we could only have Skip-To-Next-Choice! Easy to navigate. Can adjust affection levels to play around with certain chapters to achieve different endings. Dictionary was very helpful and the recordings for each case was handy.
Art: Gorgeous! I really loved it and really want the art book.
Music: The very last song was the only one that really grabbed me. Each piece fit the scene and I’m sure others will find the OST to be really great. The op and ed songs were really good choices. I loved how the ending song crept into the closing scene.
Characters: I like all of them! Perhaps it was due to the stress of my classes but I couldn’t completely fall in love with any of them. I do have a favorite ^^ and I think all of them were entertaining.
Let’s get this out of the way. I like Takeru as a character. Not as a love interest. Ichika’s character didn’t develop much when she was paired with him and unlike a lot of people, I didn’t find her constantly insulting her intelligence endearing in the slightest. Especially considering he’s a genius hacker and she’s a rookie cop who was dumped into this awful predicament. He did provide lots of needed comic relief, his snark was lovely, and his love of sweet things was a cute quirk. His route was interesting and there were a few moments that I liked between him and Ichika, but I really disliked him constantly insulting her. Yes, he does this to everyone but to someone he’s supposed to be in love with? No thanks.
Mineo was alright but he should be the first character you play since he adds little to the plot and Ichika barely gets development.
Kei was an unexpected favorite of mine. He has some slight yandere tendencies near the end but thank goodness he wasn’t one. Ichika really took charge here and showed what she could be capable of and I liked how she refused to grant him his selfish wish. Most heroines would just let their ikemen do whatever because he’s bae but not Ichika. Kei was adorable and I’d love to play his route in the FD.
Yanagi is the canon boy and I liked him. At first I was really worried at how one-sided it was but he came around. His route seemed to be a rehash of the previous routes and then some new content. I really liked the development with finding out the truth but man I really need the fandisc for romance. It seemed a little rushed to be honest. If his route was a little more about him I might have placed him a little higher. Still, I think he’s great and out of all the guys, he’s perfect husband material.
And my favorite turns out to be the route of DESPAIR aka Shiraishi you deserved better. Ichika took control this route and this was her strongest role.
I was pretty interested the moment I saw him because dat luscious hair. After serious soul searching, I’ve realized I have a type and it’s like so:
A gentlemanly persona/ unique style + DESPAIR+ pure heart + Epic Love =
YOU’RE ON MY BAE LIST
I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THE SUFFERING HIS ROUTE WAS. He deserved better and I sincerely hope the fandisc delivers because that was painful to go through. He’s a precious cinnamon roll and I hope you love him as much as I do.
Route order for plot unveiling (you have to unlock Shiraishi and Yanaji)
Unanswered Question: SPOILER! How did Adonis wipe the memories of those working for them??? It wasn’t explained other than the chip but like….how?
Overall, I really liked the game but I never fell in love with it. It has great writing, character development, and it’s clear the writers spent a lot of time mapping everything out. Well, there are some bad ends that contradict a certain character’s goals but the rest was pretty spot on. I really liked how we got to see things from the guy’s pov. I liked how Ichika developed, but she doesn’t do much in Mineo or Takeru’s routes, unfortunately. She did the most in Shiraishi’s and did pretty well in Yanagi’s. Yoshinari is the most precious thing ever and I wish he had a route.
The game discusses the evil in fighting evil and if you are interested in this or Japan at all, I’d also check out the movie Confessions by Kanae Minato. You can also pick up her book which was translated into English. In Japan, if a minor kills someone, they can’t be charged for their crimes and a lot of what happens in Collar x Malice regarding the law and evil mirrors a lot of what Confessions discusses. It was even listed as required reading material in Japanese schools. I highly recommend it not only for the social commentary and the failure of the Japanese justice system, but a look at one of the most badass female characters who takes revenge for her child who was murdered by her own students. If you want an anime similar to this, the closest I can recommend would be Psycho Pass and maybe Bokurano. If you want another otoge with a similar dark atmosphere, Bad Apple Wars is releasing this month. Code Realize and Nightshade both do fantastic jobs at managing a gripping narrative and romance with great heroines.
*Credit for CGs goes to hinami because my macbook has no usb ports of any kind to allow me to upload my CGs.
What did you think of Collar x Malice? What otoge are you looking forward to?
*Wanta copy? Please use my link to support this blog. I really appreciate it!
If you like what you see please follow or share. Thank you!