Collar x Malice – Aiji Yanagi

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Aiji (CV: Masakazu Morita) is a former officer from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police department. He’s the smart, dependable, ossan (who’s total husband material). He typically goes on the roof to smoke and is pretty good at cooking and cleaning.

After Ichika meets with everyone, she wonders what Adonis’ true goal is. She texts Aiji he texts back to her “revenge”. He then asks to meet up with her and they discuss Adonis’ true purpose of the “rebirth of Japan” and “revenge”. Basically, they deem who is “evil” and rightly “judge” them in each X-Day incident. Ichika asks what Aiji’s true purpose for leaving the police and investigating the X-Day incidents is, and he tells her he wants to restore Shinjiku to its original peace. He asks what her purpose is and she says she wants to know Adonis’ reasoning for what they’re doing.

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So the incident where the man is shot and has a timer on his chest occurs. They try to determine why they made it so easy for them to discover the crime scene and only the sent the video to the police rather than the worldwide net. Mineo asks Ichika what she’s investigating, and she says she wants to know Adonis’ true purpose. Aiji is investigating the incidents as a whole so he essentially is her to go guy im exchanging police info. After that, Aiji decides to walk Ichika home but Kei butts in and wants to come along. Aiji keeps telling him to mind his own business but he’s very persistent and even grabs Ichika’s hand and says he wants to know more about her and hopes he’s not a nuisance to her.

Aiji gets tired of this shit and tells Kei to bug off and (not touch his girl) pulls Ichika towards him. Kei says he just wants to get along with him and the others, but he believes Kei has ulterior motives. So Kei finally backs the fuck off and says she must be pretty important to him to be so persistant. Yoshinari then appears lets it slip Kei already knows about them somewhat and they see them both off. Aiji tells Ichika to be wary of Kei since he doesn’t trust him.

Another incident happens where a person is burned to death. These X-Day occurrences are much less planned out than they usually are but since the coins left behind are the same, its not a copycat criminal. The April May incident occured because of mistaken arrests, the July incident was due to a stalker incident, and the August incident was due to online bullying. All which come back to the motive being “revenge” and all have been acted out accordingly. But the two previous incidents were not intially planned by Adonis so suspects were acting of their own accord.

Later that day Ichika visits Aiji on the roof and he admits he didn’t want to involve Ichika in the investigation. The voice through the collar then starts speaking and says if she stopped the investigation, she’d be killed. They go on about their own sense of justice, and Adonis tells Aiji he doesn’t really have the right to judge while indictating something he did in his past. Ichika asks why they picked her for the collar. He says he sympathizes with her justice and will continue to see the potential she has that she hasn’t noticed yet as she continues to investigate the incidents.

That night, Ichika wakes up to Kazuki leaving with his guitar in the middle of the night so she follows him. She calls Aiji to accompany her as well and they follow him to a live stage. There they meet Isshiki who’s part of the band with Kazuki. He’s been practicing in the middle of the night for the upcoming live performance they’re having. When Kazuki sees Ichika there though, he gets super pissed off and runs off. They have no choice but to leave but thank fully Kei tailed behind them so Ichika asks if he can watch over Kazuki overnight while he practices. He says he will on the condition that Ichika exchanges contact information with him so he can talk to her more.

So while Ichika is at work, Mochida tells her that they’ve been accepted into tje investigation team by Minegishi. Which means they have access to X-Day files and they’ll get first dibs on any info they manage to find. She meets up with Aiji after work and tells him that this. She mentions how she’s worried she’ll never get along with her brother, but Aiji promises one day they’ll finally come to an understanding of each other. He apparently has an older brother too and was a complete delinquent (unlike his hardass brother) in school who had piercings and even spoke in slang lmao. Apparently ever since he became an officer he doesn’t contact his family or close friends anymore since he doesn’t want them to get involved.

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Not long after that a little girl who wanted to play in the park gets separated from her mom and bumps into Ichika and Aiji. She calls Aiji “oji-chan” which he wants to deny but he is almost in his 30’s lol. So they hold the little girl’s hand and try and find her mom while she asks if the two of them are a couple lol. They finally find her mom though and depart from her there. When Ichika gets back to work, another X-Day incident occurs and 3 people are pushed off a rooftop. Based on the way the voice in the video spoke, Ichika remembers the girl named Hana who spoke the same way near the live house. They manage to find the 3 victim’s bodies nearby there as well.

So they take Hana into custody and try interrogating her. Unfortunately, Adonis wiped her memory so she can’t reveal any info about them. Even so, all the evidence points to her regardless of her missing memory or not. This also leads them to suspect Isshiki may be involved too so Ichika speaks with Kazuki in order to make sure if he must testify, he speaks the truth because she believes in Isshiki if Kazuki does. So she’s able to mend her relationship with Kazuki a bit after talking with him.

The next morning Ichika visits Aiji on her day off to thank him for motivating her to try and fix her and Kazuki’s relationship. She hadn’t slept or eat that much so Aiji tells her to rest up on the bed in the office while he cooks up something for her (gdi this guy is husband material). So when she goes to sleep she has that same dream again where a black figure is beating some guy to death. She wakes up with Aiji in her face and his hand on her forehead lol. She gets up and he makes her his ossan dinner. Apparently he’s very skillful when it comes to cooking and cleaning since he’s lived alone for a while now. Unfortunately, he refuses to get close to others aka Ichika cause he doesn’t want to endanger those close to him.

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So Ichika starts investigating the June case, where the bomb exploded in the middle school. One of the key suspects are Ryo Sera aka Kazuki’s high school friend. He had a solid alibi though but Ichika tells Aiji she’ll attempt to contact him through Kazuki. So she meets up with him during her break at work in the park. She thanks him for taking care of Kazuki and being a good friend, but he knows she’s really there to meet him because she suspects him. He doesn’t try to hide it though and basically admits he’s the culprit of the June incident. He admits he’s felt guilty over what he’s done and does regret it. So Ichika tries to convince him to surrender, but he doesn’t believe he can atone for his sins since whats done cannot be undone. But Ichika convinces him otherwise and begs him to not betray Kazuki’s feelings. So he finally agrees to turn himself in.

One day the collar starts saying to Ichika that Aiji killed someone and tells her and Aiji to visit the Tokyo Government Building. Ichika can’t believe it, but when she meets up with Aiji, he confirms it himself. So they head to the government building and the voice from the collar speaks up again. 12 years ago when Ichika’s family was visiting Tokyo, Ichika was kidnapped and involved in an incident. She witnessed Aiji beating the guy who kidnapped her to death and was more afraid of Aiji than the other guy. He wasn’t convicted for it though because it was considered self-defence and he was a minor. Aiji admits he basically beat him half to death, but it was out of fear and not the revenge that Adonis plays out.

So after this whole convo a guy pulls a gun on a woman and holds her hostage. Aiji is then given a sort of test on whether he can save the hostage without killing the guy. Aiji starts to loze sight of himself and doesn’t want to risk killing someone again. So thankfully the both of them manage to work together and shoot the gun out of his hand (after Ichika has to convince Aiji to help). Aiji then recognizes Ichika as his partner and when she’s with him she brings out the strength in him.

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The next day, Aiji tells Ichika a similar situation happened before where a person was held hostage while he was still with the police. He wanted to convince the criminal to surrender, but they were ordered to shoot him dead. He didn’t follow his orders though, and was reprimanded for it. But Aiji didn’t want to kill rregardless of them being a criminal or not. So after the chief commander said they’d have no other option but to kill the mastermind behind the X-Day incidents, Aiji left the police and decided he’d find out their motive and solve the case on his own without the help of the police. Aiji thanks Ichika for making him realize to believe in himself. Ichika then remembers exactly what happened the day she was kidnapped.

12 years ago when Ichika started elementary school, a guy in debt kidnapped her so he could use her for ransom money. He kept her chained up in a cathedral and called asking for money in return for her. Aiji happened to pass by and sees her get kidnapped. So he followed them to where he kept her. He tried to help her but ended up getting beat up by the guy and he also ended up kicking the shit out of both him and even Ichika. He finally managed to break free from the chains the guy put on him and took a metal pipe and beat the shit out of him even as he begged for his life. Ichika witnessed the whole thing and ended up being more scared of Aiji than the criminal.

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Aiji didn’t actually kill the guy though, he’s just in a vegetable state and actually visits him often bringing him flowers to ease the guilt he feels. So thats why he joined the police in the first place; to protect instead of hurt and atone for his sins. Ichika tells him that regardless of his sin, he helped her and protected her more than once. He didn’t kill him anyway, so it doesn’t make him a murderer.

That night Ichika gets a letter and package from Akito containing a USB stick. She lets Takeru decrepit the data and they find out a lot about Adonis and even their hideout. Aiji also figured out Shiraishi was a spy from Adonis since he was the one who left the rescue letter. The prime minister’s son is also involved with Adonis and was part of some religious cult along with his mother. So Ichika decides to try and narrow down the suspect who put the collar on her neck with Aiji on the roof. She figures they must be male, since they carried her to the church. It also would probably be someone who wouldn’t bring up their family much. So after much thought and narrowing down, they came up with the person being Saeki (you literally have to input his name and tbh I couldn’t figure out any other candidate lmao).

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Ichika suddenly gets a phone call from Saeki and he asks he says they should go out for drinks together and talk about their “justice”. She kinda freaks out and can’t believe it. Aiji calms her down by hugging her and tells her to not look away from the truth. So after accepting the fact she thanks Aiji for helping her move forward and confesses she loves him. It catches him off guard though and he just kinda responds in a “what” manner before he let’s her rest in his bed lol. That night, the detective group is contacted by Mikuni Rei to meet up with him privately.

The next day, Ichika goes to work with Kei who’s keeping an eye on her. She sees Saeki and can barely talk with him at all. He says she seems sick so he takes her out of the office and when he’s alone with her, he drops the act and says they should go some place else in a world where their ideals will come true. Kei comes out and aims his gun at Saeki. He injects the poison from her collar and it paralyzes her. Saeki tells him to put his gun down and leave him be or he’ll kill Ichika (I don’t really get how this can happen in the police station and no one notice?? And come on I’m sure there’s cameras).

Meanwhile, Aiji and Takeru go to meet Rei. He confirms that Saeki–or rather, Yuzuru (his given name) is indeed, “Zero”, the one pulling the strings with the X-Day incidents. But over time, the original ideals of the X-Day plan changed, and Kei no longer supports his ideals. Apparently there were a certain “2 targets” for the June bombing incident but Saeki involved more necessary and it caused more death than needed. Shiraishi was a spy, but not all that involved in the X-Day incidents. He was a mere pawn that did as he was told. So he promises to cooperate in order to stop Saeki and his plans as well as remove the collar off of Ichika. On the condition that his fellow Adonis members are allowed to escape.

The next morning Ichika wakes up in her room since Kei took her there after she collapsed with the collar’s poison. She’s still decides to go to work that day but Kazuki is aware something is going on. She can’t tell him but promises she’ll protect his future and will come home safely. So when she heads to the police station and Kei acts as her bodyguard and accompanies her. She texts Saeki to meet on the roof and he responds right away. She starts asking him what his goal is and he says that he wants to make their soiled country reborn anew. He even tells her to shoot him since that way she can prevent more victims, but she tells him she won’t shoot him because it won’t solve anything and she wants to know the truth from him. After that, he knocks her out and kidnaps her all in front if Kei who’s helpless to stop him.

Kei calls Aiji to let him know Saeki abducted Ichika. He convinces Shiraishi to do something of his own will instead of taking orders like a doll and show him where Saeki’s hideout is. Meanwhile, Takeru makes preparations for infiltrating Adonis’ hideout. And when Ichika wakes up, she’s at Adonis’ hideout. Saeki begins to explain to her his ideals of a country of peace where no criminals are able to dirty the country (he basically thinks like Light Yagami lmao). He chose Ichika because he became interested after hearing her ideals and how she had such a pure view on justice. He believed that she was the perfect experiment and the way he judged her was “correct”. She denies that his way of thinking is wrong and he goes on about how the sorrows of people treated in an unjust manner shouldn’t go unheard and he accepts all sadness like a vessel (or so he puts it). Apparently his whole X-Day plan for January is to purge all criminals with the same collar Ichika has placed on her neck.

Takeru manages to disable the traps and hack fake footage into the cameras so Aiji, Shiraishi, Mineo, and Kei all infiltrate Adonis’ hideout. Meanwhile, Rei enters the cathedral area where Ichika and Saeki are. He asks him to stop his massacre of a plan and doesn’t understand why he changed because his ideals never did. Saeki tells him that it’s because Rei never understood him he chose Ichika instead. So Rei aims thr gun at Ichika and says that in that case, if he kills her, he should stop his madness. But before he can do anything, Aiji and co. run in and stop him. Kei shoots at Saeki and manages to graze him before he runs away saying they can’t stop the X-Day from happening. At this point, Ichika gives the okay for them to investigate her collar and they manage to release it. A bomb is set off though so they have no choice but to escape as well. As they’re running a ceiling collapses and is about to fall on Ichika but Kei takes the hit. So an injured Kei is carried by Mineo out of the hideout.

Rei Mikuni is arrested but Saeki is still missing along with Shiraishi. They talk to Rei in order to get a clue as to where Saeki is. He reveals that Saeki’s mother died 10 years ago because of an illness (but also because she was driven mad and forcefully kept isolated by a guy who just tossed her aside). That’s what triggered the sorrow Saeki would often feel from other people. He wanted to put an end to it all so Rei’s mother’s religious cult turned into the terrorist group “Adonis” with Saeki as the leader. Rei thinks his beliefs have changed but Ichika believes that he was probably always the same before, it’s just his mindset was corrupted.

On Christmas eve, 8 days before the scheduled X-Day, Ichika goes out drinking with the girls. They pretty much force her to call Aiji since she said she confessed to him and he still hadn’t given her an answer. So he calls him to the tavern and they have some drinks too before leaving together. On their way back Ichika decides to confess again to Aiji and hugs him. He can’t deny his feelings any longer though cause he kisses her and says he’s in love with her too. They go back to the detective office and are greeted by everyone having a Christmas party. They manage to figure out Ichika and Aiji have a thing going on too after Aiji kisses her on the cheek to confirm it lol.

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So over the course of days before January 1st aka X-Day, Ichika and Aiji visit Okazaki in the hospital. Thankfully he’s recovering but goes on about how he was prepared to die and Aiji whips him into shape and tells him not to risk his life so easily like that again. After that, Ichika gains documents from Takeru to look over and Aiji manage to work on calling each other by their first names. So a day before the X-Day, Ichika figures out Saeki must be waiting for her in the church where he placed the collar on her. She and Aiji head there and Saeki greets them. She knows he wants her to stop him by killing him but she refuses to do so. She tells him that people can’t live in the ideal world he wants. So they have a shoot out and Ichika manages to shoot Saeki in the leg. He tries to pull a gun on hjmself, but before he can, Ichika shoots his shoulder which makes him drop his gun. He’s then arrested by the police and Aiji tells him its impossible to rid the world of sorrow since its sorrow that makes someone stronger and learn from their mistakes.

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After that, Ichika and co. have a party to celebrate stopping the X-Day. Literally the whole police crew appears, and when Aiji goes up to the roof to have a smoke, Shiraishi is there. He says he’s going to surrender to the police since his role is done and Aiji makes him promise to come back. So Ichika and Aiji watch the sun rise as they bring Shinjuku back to the way it was. Aiji shows Ichika his Christmas present for her, which is a ring. He promises to always stay by her side and thanks her for believing in him. Their moment gets interrupted though by Mineo and friends who were spying on them. Aiji smacks Mineo and everyone laughs lol.

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In the epilogue, Ichika and Aiji go on a date and talk about how happy they are that they can spend time together with such a normal way of life again. They go to Ichika’s house and she wants to cook for him cause she doesn’t feel she’s good enough or something. But Aiji’s all “Oh imma show just how I love you” and kisses her against the wall (ughguu) and makes sure she knows he loves her.

In the tragic love end, Ichika ends up killing Saeki since he shoots Aiji a few times. After that, she goes MIA and Aiji has been looking all over for her but still can’t find her.

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In Saeki’s end, Ichika is kidnapped by Saeki and when she wakes up, she finds he killed Aiji, Shiraishi, Mineo, and Kei. He starts to actuallly convince her his world is the correct one and now that she understands sorrow, they can build their new world together. So he outstretches his hand and Ichika grabs it and is somehow brainwashed into believing (after seeing all of her friends dead) that his ideals are correct. It’s a pretty shitty situation (since all of her friends are dead lol) but I actually found this ending really interesting and it made me really want to see a sort of “bad end” outcome with Ichika and Saeki. I think it’d make for an interesting route if they make a FD (which I’m sure they will make a FD tbh). I don’t think it’d be unrealistic though?? I actually thought he was too handsome to be just a sub character when I first saw him.

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Thoughts: I surprisingly liked Aiji more than I thought I would. He reminded me a lot of Kagami from Psycho-Pass (both the same age, chain smokers, and detectives that leave the police!!) and his route was the most suspenseful because of the whole reveal and all that. I definitely want a FD with this guy though cause I think after all the drama they endured, they need some more romance moments. One thing I found unrealistic though was the whole mind erasing part. It’s not like this game has many supernatural elements but the fact that their memories could be erased with some chip was too unrealistic when you take into account the way the story had been going. It’s not like it ruined the plot or anything but when the criminals were caught and suddenly their memories are erased since they’re on the verge of spilling the beans after getting caught, it seemed like a cheap way out so they absolutely couldn’t reveal the truth. But meh, that’s just me.

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Music: It’s the same composer who did Amnesia and many other games but the soundtrack was pretty nice. I also like how in the menu it has a different image depending on the track you choose. My favorite track was definitely the last one, Noah’s Ark? I think it was called.

System/Visuals: The system was fairly simple, actually. There were trigger modes where you literally just shoot within a certain time frame. Also a detective search sort of system where you search different items. I was fairly disappointed there weren’t animations for the sprites, though. I figured since Amnesia did, this game would too. It makes the game feel more immersive, imo. Not only that but the heroine didn’t have a sprite either which was also kind of a let down too. I’m not sure what makes them decide to give sprites movements but I think they should add it for every game tbh. It’s not like this is an old PC visual novel. On the vita, things like that aren’t hard to utilize.

Overall (non-spoiler) Thoughts:  Ahhhh, I really liked this game. If I had to pick a game of the year, I’d definitely pick this one (Sorry, KBO). The characters were so likable, the story was interesting, and I love stories involving the police and mysteries (maybe this is why I love Zootopia so much).  I really liked the “revenge” theme too, there’s not many otome that have the same sort of mystery, detective-type of atmosphere this game has. I’ll admit being a visual novel, reading some of the detective discussions were kinda boring, but it did make for an interesting story and I liked hearing about the details of the cases. I really liked the sort of message it gave too. Lately, there’s been so many shootings in the States and lord knows the gun laws should be much more strict (like Japan). Which is literally why Takeru moved back to Japan because of America’s damn gun laws (though he came back to gun laws being lifted in Japan). But even Japan knows and they are telling us through an otome game that America’s gun laws are shit and people aren’t rightfully arrested for the crimes they commit. Obviously Japan’s crime rate isn’t as nearly as bad as the States, so I feel like this message is really for North America. Aside from that, I can see why certain characters did what they did. I didn’t sympathize with all of them, but there are a certain few I really felt bad for (those two twins especially). It was centered a lot on the story rather than the romance, which wasn’t bad because honestly, they make FDs for the games that have really good stories cause they didn’t have enough romance scenes.

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So do I think this game will get a FD? Yes, I truly do. From what I’ve seen the sales were pretty well and I think??? better than Nil Admirari (which got an anime AND a FD). But I’m totally calling it now and I for sure think this game will get both an anime adaption announcement and a FD next year (I definitely think this game would make for a great anime if done right). Either way, Aksys is localizing this game and I think it’d definitely be one of the best–if not the best, otome game of the year. Mainly because the story is very immersive and if you like stories like Psycho-Pass or Death Note this game has a very similar vibe. Especially the  whole “revenge on criminals” part and how Japan is suddenly a dystopia because of the whole crisis.  It really does make you question the justice system and how some people don’t get the justice they deserve. I actually sympathized with some of the criminals (some, not all) because not everyone is like Ichika (refusing to kill) and actually would prefer if certain people were dead because of the things they’ve done. It’s a pretty controversial subject but overall, I think this game has a strong message. And revenge is a pretty interesting concept, so if done right, it can make for an interesting story. Like seriously, even if you don’t like otome games, please play this game. Anyway, I do think this game will be well received in the west, so thanks for reading my long ass review of it.  Takeru still ended up being my favorite though, can’t beat moe donuts. (ノಥ益ಥ)ノ ┻━┻

2 thoughts on “Collar x Malice – Aiji Yanagi

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