Collar x Malice

collarxmalice

Company: Otomate, Aksys, Idea Factory

Purchase Collar x Malice

Synopsis: The X-Day countdown began in April with a broadcast on the screens in Shinjuku. What followed were a string of crimes, month after month, leading to the government to quarantine Shinjuku and repeal the weapon ban. Ichika Hoshina is a low ranking cop who spends her day listening to the complaints and concerns of the trapped Shinjuku residents. On December night, she responds to an emergency call from her superior and upon arriving at the scene is immediately rendered unconscious. She wakes up in a church with a poisoned collar around her neck. The X-Day perpetrators, Adonis, say that they will be observing Ichika’s justice and urge her to come to them by X-Day. When a group of detectives come to save her, Adonis claims that she is one of their sympathizers and urges them all to seek the truth behind the X-Day incidents.

MC: Ichika Hoshino, age 21, is a rookie cop who moved to Tokyo from her family’s inn in the countryside to pursue her dream of joining the police. She lives in her apartment with her younger brother, Kazuki, who is living with her while he attends high school in Tokyo; both of them are unable to meet with their family due to the quarantine and the relationship between them is stressed to say the least. At work Ichika is part of SRCPO, a division created since Shinjuku was quarantined with the purpose of listing to the concerns and complaints of the public in regards to X-Day, they also patrol. Ichika has been settling into her position and has  been making strides towards her goal of becoming a good cop; she has even overcome her fear of using a gun to become a crack shot. Ichika is always happy to help others and wishes for the people of Shinjuku to be able to return to their peaceful lives. She has a knack for dealing with the elderly and children.

Guys: 

  • Aiji Yanagi: The owner of the “detective agency” and a former police officer in Unit 1. He’s reassuring, calm, quiet, and never fails to step in when arguments get too heated. He’s basically the dad of the group. This role in the investigation is processing all the information collected by the others.
  • Kageyuki Shiraishi: The director of the Field Support unit (basically CSI) and a talented criminal profile. He likes cats, and only bothers with things that interest him. He is in charge of the September and October cases.
  • Kei Okazaki: A member of the SP unit (bodyguard) assigned to “protect” Yanagi’s group. Acts like a smiling airhead but is extremely stubborn, especially in regards to getting his job done. Even though he seems to always be around, Yanagi’s group considers him a nuisance and do their best to keep him out of the loop.
  • Mineo Enomoto: A former officer in the Field Ops division. His boisterous and flamboyant attitude masks his awkwardness and pure nature. Enomoto is in charge of investigating the first X-Day cases from April and May.
  • Takeru Sasazuka: A former officer of the Cyber Crime division. Sasazuka is a talented hacker with an abrasive attitude. He’s a returnee from America and love sweets so long as they are not traditional Japanese flavors. He is investigating the August incidents.

Impressions: Collar x Malice is the best otoge I’ve play in a long while. Ichika is an excellent MC. She might be inexperienced, but she is good at what she has been trained to do and she pushes herself to exceed; and honestly, how weird would it be if she was able to easily solve cases that the entirety of Japan’s police department is unable to crack. Ichika has a firm sense of justice and a high degree of empathy so she is able to understand the motives of criminals, but she never excuses the crimes they’ve done. The best thing is that Ichika is a very active participant, even though she can’t prevent things from happening to her she tries her best to do what she can do.

I found the love interests to be great as well. They’re interesting and diverse, each with their own reason for involving themselves with the X-Day cases that tie deep into their characters, much further than anything having to do with Ichika. They’re a rowdy bunch and that paired with the awesome cast of minor characters (A+ supporting cast, I love them) things get very loud and very fun. Although I wish they would all wear their jacket correctly (especially Okazaki because seriously how does his coat even stay on).

The plot has vibrant cast is key to offsetting the serious nature of the plot, and make no mistake, the plot is very serious, there’s murder, bullying, stalking, suicide, police corruption and basically all of Shinjuku is being held hostage. Nothing but murder is on screen, but it’s still heavy subject matter, and the MC takes her time considering what is happening around her and what she might have to do as a person who carries a gun.

There is a shooting mini-game which is not at all riveting but is at least intrusive. There are couple of extras, the best of which is the short story, but I also enjoyed the “Voice Recorder” which is a voiced profile and “Situation” which is a couple of scenarios throughout a day-long date between the MC and her love interest. There is thankfully a history function, for all your replaying needs, and, paired with the ease at which you can see how your answers are affecting the relationship meter, it is super easy to get the endings you want even without a guide (unless you are trying to get all the bad endings for the trophy)

In addition to the good endings, each route has about 5 bad endings throughout the route (one of them involving getting killed by one of the executors unimportant to the current route), and a Tragic Love Ending which happens at the end of the final chapter if the love meter isn’t high enough.

The order I played the routes while playing blind is:

Kei Okazaki > Takeru Sasazuka > Mineo Enomoto > Kageyuki Shiraishi > Aiji Yanagi

But the order I recommend is:

Takeru Sasazuka > Mineo Enomoto > Kei Okazaki > Kageyuki Shiraishi > Aiji Yanagi

I definitely, definitely recommend that you play Collar x Malice if you have a PS Vita, and if you haven’t yet bought it consider purchasing it through my affiliate link here or at the top of the page.

Favorite Guy: Kei and Mineo

Favorite Route: Yanagi

If You Like This Game Try: 

Advertisements

Ukyo

ukyo

Plot Summary: The MC wakes in her room and confirms things like the date and her name by looking around her room. She heads over to her university to see if it can spark any of her memories, but at the front gates she encounters a man who tells her not to enter the campus and also asks if she recognizes him.

What I think of him: Ukyo is mysterious. He can be found sleeping on the ground in public places, but no one really knows where he lives or how to contact him. He seems to drift around town and always seems to be around. Ukyo frequently talks to himself and what can be overheard often doesn’t make sense and/or conflicts with things he tells other people, while other times he gives forwarnings of accidents that happen in the future; Ukyo frequently mentions a “him”. While Ukyo seems to have a gentle and timid demeanor he frequently warns the MC to be wary himself.

Nickname: None

Charm point: He really wants to be close to the MC even though he knows he shouldn’t.

Cuddle, kiss, or push down: Embrace, without fear on either side.

Would have eloped with: No one

Most enjoyed: Ukyo’s conflict is excellent and really apparent. You can really feel how much he wants to be near the MC and at the same time you can see how hard he is pushing himself to maintain some distance. Additionally, you the reader have the advantage of having read the other routes so you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the impending storm to hit, and it just keeps getting put off until you are breathless in anticipation. Excellently written route.

Least liked: The MC does the absolutely stupidest thing at the end of the route. Ukyo tells her to not do this specific thing, and then once he’s gone she runs out against his wishes. Orion follows behind her screaming about what a bad idea it is the whole time and she almost dies several times and presses on even though she has every opportunity to turn back. It is really, really stupid, and even the MC seems to realize it once everything is over.

Worth the price of admission?: There were a lot of grammatical errors in this route. I don’t typically notice these type of things because I’m not perfect either, but there’s only so many random numbers in sentences (possibly in place of punctuation) and incorrect pronouns that even I can stomach. This was a pretty big downer for what I found to be an enthralling route.

It was just so great to see everything come together in the way they only can in the final route; all those perfectly foreshadowed loose ends tied up. I especially got a kick out of seeing everyone working at Meido no Hitsuji. Overall an excellent note to end on and well worth not only the (discounted) price of the game, but also slogging through the slow moments in some of the other routes.

 

Recommended routes: 

Toma

toma

Plot Summary: The MC tumbles into the world of Diamond and ends up collapsed on the street. She is rescued by Toma who immediately triggers an import memory for her. Unfortunately, her progress is immediately ruined by Toma checking her into a hospital for a few days. Toma seems to be close to the MC and know a lot about her, but he tells the nurses at the hospital that he isn’t the MC’s boyfriend. Added to that, the MC’s planner is full of meetings with someone named Ikki.

What I think of him: Toma seems gentle and considerate. He’s responsible but doesn’t see anything wrong with doting on and spoiling the MC; his number one preoccupation is taking care of her. Toma’s a popular guy but shows no interest in the women who hit on him. Ikki says that Toma seems like a the ideal boyfriend, but he’s actually a handful. Shin says that Toma is cowardly and egotistical.

Nickname: None

Charm point: He’s going to do what he thinks is right even if it makes the MC hate him (though that is what he fears the most)

Cuddle, kiss, or push down: Just be together

Would have eloped with: 

  • Ikki, because he’s just trying to be a good friend
  • Shin, because he’s worried about the MC and tries to help her out

Most enjoyed: This route is mesmerizing to read, in the same way that you can’t look away from a car wreck. I remember getting to a certain point in the route where the MC sleeps a lot and the light clicking on in my head, and whispering to myself, voice full of awe and shock, “oh shit”. This route took me on a wild ride. And by the end of it I could only agree that the MC in this route was a perfect partner for Toma (and that was something that I didn’t think I was going to say while I was in the thick of things).

Least liked: As much as I love to read these routes, this is an unhealthy relationship that I can in no way condone it as a real life idea. Until a certain reveal I was wondering how I could accept the MC being with Toma, and even though I got there it doesn’t make this route any less problematic or disturbing.

Worth the price of admission?: This route is a doozy. It’s different enough from the other routes that it oddly feels like breath of fresh air, especially after Kent’s super sweet route. It also serves as a great bridge going into Ukyo’s route, because it makes you wary of Ukyo (which is what Ukyo wants). Kind, big brother Toma lures you in with his sweetness and then before you know it you can’t put the game down because you just need to know what happens next. And strangely enough, after the happy ending I felt like everyone was going to be okay.

Recommended routes: 

Kent

kent

Plot Summary: The MC wakes up in her room and searches her apartment at Orion’s behest. She find out basic information like her name and the date. On her cellphone she discovers a plenitude of contacts but only five messages, which read either “good morning” or “good night”, and they are all from one person, Kent. Then she receives a new message from Kent requesting that they meet. When they meet, the MC discovers that Kent is her boyfriend and that they are apparently in the middle of a fight.

What I think of him: Kent is logical to the extreme, and curt and unsociable to match. Kent is sharp tongued with little filter and a lot of stubbornness. Because he acts like a computer the only person Kent is close to is Ikki, and Ikki proceeds to give Kent crazy love advice which Kent doesn’t follow sometime because it is too forward.

Nickname: None

Charm point: He’s trying so hard to reconcile his need for logic and the love being illogical

Cuddle, kiss, or push down: Hold hands, with Kent blushing the whole time

Would have eloped with: No one

Most enjoyed: How Kent and the MC’s relationship develops and how Kent grows as a character because of it. Since Kent and the MC’s relationship is young and because Kent keeps mentioning how the MC actually hates him, the MC spends a lot less time trying to figure out their relationship and a lot more time actually getting to know Kent. This works out well since Kent is quirky and delightful and the MC getting amnesia actually help him when it comes to getting closer to the MC and understanding his feelings.

Least liked: So this is a minor thing, and I sort of understand it, but what Kent did wasn’t really as big a deal as Kent made it seem. Maybe I’m just a detached person in general, but when the reveal happened I was like… that’s it? Of course with the MC saying what she did I can see how the social inept Kent came to the conclusions that he did, but as a reader I was slightly underwhelmed.

Worth the price of admission?: A good character and a solid story make Kent’s route the best of the game (narrowly beating out Ukyo because of the latter’s abundance of grammatical errors). There’s just something really heartwarming about watching this awkward beanstalk of a man (Kent’s height is mentioned several times) learn how to bend and accommodate someone else in his life. I think the tweet I posted while playing this route sums it up best:

Recommended routes: 

Ikki

ikki

Plot Summary: The MC wakes up alone in her room. A quick search provides some basic information, like confirming her name, the date, and the fact that she lives alone. Then she receives a phone call from a contact named “Ikkyu” who asks her out on a date. But when Ikki is late in picking her up, she leaves the apartment to look for him and finds him flirting with a crowd of girl that have surrounded him.

What I think of him: He’s handsome and a ladies man if only because he he hates to disappoint girls. He’s very vocal about how he thinks women should be treated. Even though he’s an ordinary guy, he has a rabid fanclub, and he has never managed to hold on to a girlfriend for longer than three months. Even though Ikki is generally a nice guy, perverted things occasionally slip out of his mouth. He has seductive eyes and never fails to draw a crowd if he isn’t wearing sunglasses.

Nickname: Ikkyu

Charm point: He likes a girl who will talk back

Cuddle, kiss, or push down: Kiss, because that’s when he’ll know that you have feelings for him

Would have eloped with: No one

Most enjoyed: I like the reason for the MC and Ikki’s relationship (pre amnesia). Both of them want someone and it is a little more complex than them just liking each other. I especially like that the MC took the initiative to start things off and wasn’t letting Ikki walk all over her to the point that he was panicked over her change in attitude caused by her amnesia (a cool and collected guy like Ikki needs to experience some panic).

Least liked: I spent a lot of the route wondering why the MC started dating Ikki and why she was continuing to go out with him. Even though I found the answer to the former to be pleasing, I spent a good part of the route wishing the MC would dump him. This was compounded by the MC thinking in the beginning that she wouldn’t go out with a guy like Ikki (before she meets him) and that if Ikki was like that playboy outside (who was Ikki) she would dump him. Unfortunately, even though she says that she never follows up, and to me that makes bring up the possibility that she would entirely pointless.

Worth the price of admission?: This route was frustrating for the most part. Orion says several times throughout the game that he doesn’t want to leave the MC until he’s sure she has someone she can trust to help her. Ikki doesn’t prove to be trustworthy until near the end. This is due in large part to the fact that the kindness and consideration he shows to the MC in private is completely different to the indifference he shows her when there are other girls around, and there are almost always other girls around which makes his private side completely pointless in the broad sense. As I said, the end wraps things up nicely and I came to terms with everything and even began liking Ikki, but that doesn’t heal all my pain from the earlier part of the route.

Recommended routes: