A blessed slideshow in which criminals are judged.
Police who ignore people, vague laws, peace that only exists in theory, and formless justice...
You've heard the cries of the people harmed by all that malice, haven't you?
Collar × Malice is a PlayStationVita Visual Novel developed and published by Idea Factory. It was released on August 18, 2016 in Japan and on July 28, 2017 in North America and Europe. A fandisk, Collar × Malice -unlimited- was released on July 26 2018 in Japan.
Collar × Malice is set in Shinjuku, Tokyo during tumultuous times. A terrorist group known as Adonis has taken it upon themselves to administer justice on the tainted Japan. Adonis instigated a series of brutal incidents referred to as the "X-Day Incidents," where they execute those they deem unjust before publicly explaining why their target deserved to die. Each incident is counting down to the final "X-Day," which they claimed would lead to the rebirth of Japan. Fear stirred by this terrorist group led to Shinjuku quarantining itself and adopting an open arms policy, where anyone and everyone could own and use a gun. This only caused tensions in Shinjuku to escalate further.
Ichika Hoshino, the protagonist, is a rookie police officer working under the Shinjuku precinct. Despite having done nothing wrong, Ichika was attacked and collared by Adonis. She was quickly made aware that the collar has a poison delivery mechanism that could be engaged at any time, but Adonis quoted her as a "sympathizer" that they were more interested monitoring than they were merely executing. Ichika must now investigate the X-Day Incidents with a group of five men of various, suspicious backgrounds. Both her life and the fate of Shinjuku are at stake.
Her motley group of suitors and teammates include:
- Takeru Sasazuka, a hacker with a sharp tongue and a sweet tooth.
- Mineo Enomoto, a Fiery Redhead who is a former Field Ops member and often the butt of jokes.
- Kei Okazaki, a cheerful Special Police officer who seeks something worth protecting.
- Kageyuki Shiraishi, a police profiler who enjoys reading people and poking fun at them.
- Aiji Yanagi, a reliable ex-cop who left the force to become a detective and pursue Adonis.
The visual novel contains examples of the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Ichika Hoshino embodies this in all her routes.
- A Day in the Limelight: There are three new special episodes in Collar × Malice -unlimited-. Each episode featuring Kazuki, Minegishi, and Yoshinari respectively.
- Adult Fear: When it was revealed that Zero, the one who collared Ichika and led Adonis, was not only someone who she knew, but someone that she had trusted. The statistic that those who assault you are the ones you know rings true.
- Affectionate Nickname: Sasazuka calls Ichika "Stupid cat"/"Baka neko." Okazaki calls Ichika "Kitty"/"Neko-chan." Enomoto calls Sasazuka "Cyber-seaweed head."
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: Adonis is quite good at dishing these out. This does not include those who joined willingly after a bit of manipulation.
- In Okazaki's route, Adonis threatens to harm Kei Okazaki unless Ichika joins them.
- In Sasazuka's route, Adonis offers to help him achieve vengeance and release Ichika from her collar. If he does not have high enough affection for Ichika, Sasazuka takes the collar off of Ichika, says goodbye, and disappears, presumably having accepted that offer.
- Anyone Can Die: A direct symptom of being a visual novel with dozens of bad ends.
- Big Bad: Zero, the leader of Adonis. His civilian identity is Yuzuru Saeki.
- Bittersweet Ending: Disregarding the bad ends available in the game, Shiraishi's ending. He turns himself in for him crimes, but Ichika is left waiting for the day he gets out of jail.
- Bland-Name Product: Leaf (LINE), Math Donut (Mister Donut), Micino (Which looked similar to Samsung by model)...
- Brainwashed: Kageyuki Shiraishi was apparently No.14 of the many orphans taken in by Adonis and raised to obey their orders unconditionally.
- By-the-Book Cop: Played straight by some side characters, but subverted by those who strive to be this but come to realize that you sometimes have to bend rules in order to get results.
- Calling Card: Adonis always leaves behind a Roman numeral counting down to X-Day and a unique coin at the scene of their crimes.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Although it's packed full of suspense and mystery, this is still an otoge with a beautiful cast to pick from.
- Central Theme: Justice, but whose justice is the right one? Malice, and how someone can righteously stand up to it.
- Compelling Voice: Adonis whether it's because he's making An Offer You Can't Refuse while threatening you through your collar or microchip... or because you're one of the many orphans they took in and brainwashed to obey unconditionally.
- Cycle of Revenge: Practically dropped by name multiple times in the game as the main reason Ichika and Yanagi oppose Adonis' thinking. If Adonis kills a wrongdoer to avenge someone, the victim still has family and friends who will want vengeance against Adonis. A cycle of hatred then begins. The Big Bad reveals that this is intentional, since all those that are killed in the cycle are those with malice. In the end, only good, righteous people will remain.Yanagi: What is the end game if you kill everyone who has ever hurt someone else.
Hatred leads to more hate. Sorrow breeds sorrow, and that just causes more of the crimes you loathe.
Hatred can never disappear, nor will sin. You'll just be running in circles.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Literally everybody.
- Determinator: Several characters exhibit this, but most notably Ichika Hoshino. If not for her burning determinations, half the progress made on the case in any route would not have occurred.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Zero, the mastermind behind Adonis, turned out to be the protagonist's carefree friend since several years back.
- Downer Ending: Just about all the bad endings.
- Easter Egg: When identifying the ringleader of Adonis, you can type in "OTO" for the first name and "MATE" for the last name to get a small reaction from Yanagi.Yanagi: Who is that? Police?
Ichika: Someone I thought might be the ringleader...No, never mind. I was wrong.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Where Adonis was hiding.
- Empathic Environment: Oddly enough, Yanagi's route is the only one with any changes in weather, despite all the routes happening on the same timeline:
- Enemy Mine: In Yanagi's route, Mikuni Rei offers himself to aid the group to stop Zero. Yanagi accepts.
- FaceHeel Turn: Collar × Malice -unlimited- includes a new story mode where Ichika joins Adonis 2 years after the promised X Day from the first game. Branching from Yanagi's bad end where he was killed by the Big Bad and Ichika joins him.
- Fiery Redhead: Mineo Enomoto.
- First-Name Basis: Ichika often enters this with the guy whose route she is in once she's earned sufficient trust and affection points. However, she never reaches first name basis with Shiraishi.
- Forgotten First Meeting: Between Yanagi and Ichika.
- Guide Dang It!: In Sasazuka's route, choosing to say that "Shooting" is your talent over "Cooking" always leads to a bad ending way later on, despite neither choice affecting your trust level with Sasazuka.
- Golden Ending: Huge spoilers ahead. Yanagi's ending, without a doubt. Not only were the X-Day Incidents solved with no loose ends and its perpetrators jailed, all of the other character's main struggles and insecurities were addressed and solved. Ichika alone could only solve the character's problem in his respective route, which leaves the remaining characters unfulfilled. A combination of Ichika and Yanagi leads to fulfillment for everybody. Okazaki managed to protect people he found worthy and dropped his Death Seeker attitude. Mineo Enomoto managed to find resolution and rediscover justice. Sasazuka faces his past desire to kill for revenge and reinstates the Swords and Firearms Control Law. Shiraishi discovers his emotions and fights his brainwashing. Even Kazuki ends up talking to his parents about his musician dream.
- Gratuitous Latin: At the beginning of Yanagi's route, the latin phrase "Fortuna vitrea est; tum cum splendet, frangitur." appears. It means "Fortune is made of glass; at the moment when she glitters, she breaks."
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The protagonist's first name can be changed from Ichika, though her last name is fixed to be Hoshino.
- History Repeats: In Yanagi's route. At least to Yanagi himself, that the event of how he found Ichika after she was collared is reminiscent of their Forgotten First Meeting 12 years ago.Yanagi: This is... just like that other time.
- Humans Are Bastards: Hence the Cycle of Revenge Adonis is thriving off of.
- I Work Alone: In the common route bad end, Ichika realizes that nobody in Yanagi's group trusts her and decides that she cannot trust them with her life in turn, and thus works on her own. Unfortunately, she fails. This is the fastest ending for the player to realize that Ichika cannot get to the bottom of the X-Day Incidents alone.
- Kill Em All: In several bad ends. Also recall that some bad ends lead to X-Day occurring, which hints at either the death or voluntary isolation of those in Shinjuku.
- In one of Shiraishi's bad ends, where Ichika is tortured into becoming an agent of Adonis that kills everyone in Yanagi's team one by one, save for Shiraishi.
- In one of Yanagi's bad ends, where everybody dies chasing after a kidnapped Ichika due to traps in the underground tunnel;
- Laser-Guided Amnesia:
- Adonis implants a chip in every single one of its executors. If the executor is taken into police custody, their memory of anything that has to do with Adonis and their revenge is wiped. The rest of their memories remain.
- In Shiraishi's good end, the protagonist loses all her memories after taking down Adonis. She recovers from it, the trigger to restoring those memories being Shiraishi saying that he's happy to see Ichika stay the way she is.
- Love Redeems: Played straight in all of Ichika's routes, where her love leads each of them to undergo heavy Character Development that deals with their main struggle. Meaningfully averted in Yanagi's route, where the power of friendship and trust takes precedence.
- Meaningful Echo: "It's fait accompli." in Yanagi's route.
- Meaningful Name: Zero whose goal is to reduce the world to nothing due to there being no true good malice-free humans in the world.
- Multiple Endings: There's a good ending for each of the five characters and several unique bad ends. There are 2 bad ends in the common route, 7 in Yanagi's route, 5 in Okazaki's route, 6 in Enomoto's route, 6 in Sasazuka's route, and 5 in Shiraishi's route.
- Non-Standard Game Over: All the bad endings.
- Omega Ending: Aiji Yanagi's route is only available after finishing all the other routes. His route is also the Golden Ending.
- Police are Useless: The sentiment that led to the April Incident. Combine with The Bad Guys Are Cops.
- Power of Trust: In some routes, it all comes down to blindly placing your trust in someone that hasn't quite earned it, including the protagonist. Otherwise, no progress would be made. This is particularly prevalent in Yanagi's route.
- The Profiler: Shiraishi, in title and actuality. Also Yanagi, but only in ability.
- Properly Paranoid: Many of the characters Ichika encounters are rightfully paranoid when meeting her or when first discovering the collar. Logically, Adonis must have taken an interest in her for a reason.
- Public Execution: The April X-Day Incident featured a video of four policemen being executed while wearing animal masks.
- Race Against the Clock: With the clock counting down to X-Day.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mineo Enomoto is the Red to Takeru Sasazuka's Blue.
- Relationship Values: The game tracks the trust and, when that's full, the affection values of the guy whose route you're on. Having one that's too low can lead to bad endings.
- The Reveal: Done quite dramatically when the Big Bad was revealed to be Saeki through an interface for entering text.
- Slave Collar: Essentially what Adonis put on the protagonist. Although she still has free will and can investigate as she pleases, she does so knowing that she can be killed the moment she does something Adonis disagrees with.
- Switching P.O.V.: One of the mechanics of the visual novel. It passes the point of view among the protagonist, the guy whose route she is on, the police, and Adonis to give a full view of the mystery.
- Taking the Bullet: So many times in the bad and good routes of this police drama-esque game that this is better organized by characters.
- The Many Deaths of You: Several bad endings involve the death of the heroine.
- Unwitting Pawn: Most of Adonis' executors fall under this, since Zero seems willing to dispose of them whenever necessary.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Adonis wants to enact justice and erase sorrow, but takes it to the extreme.
- The co-leader of Adonis wanted to enact justice in place of those that the justice system has failed, but Ichika considers it a step too far to murder.
- The main leader wanted to eliminate all sorrows in humanity, which sounds great in theory until you realize he plans to do so by essentially eliminating all humans.
- Where It All Began: The church where Ichika was collared and rescued is also where Saeki meets her at the very end.
- You Lose at Zero Trust: Making the wrong choices and neglecting to gain the trust or affection of the person whose route you are on will always lead to a bad end.