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A torn wound and a desire. note 

"The human heart is soft, like a fistful of fine sand. So you must be very careful with how you handle it."
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Slow Damage is a Japanese Boys' Love Visual Novel developed and published by Nitro+CHiRAL, making this their fifth work. The first press edition released in Japan for Windows PCs on February 25, 2021, though customers who ordered through the official Nitroplus Online Store received the game on February 17, 2021. Nitro+CHiRAL's scenario writer, Fuchii Kabura, returned to work on this game alongside artist Uiro Yamada, who has been credited as staff on previous Nitroplus titles. The visual novel has been picked up for an official English-language translation by JAST BLUE, which was released on November 14, 2022.

Slow Damage takes place at some point during the 21st century in the fictional ward of Shinkoumi, which is located in Tokyo, Japan and was previously a part of the Tokyo Bay City No. 13 subregion. The country is in the midst of a recession and, in an attempt to resolve these economic troubles, the government repurposed this area as a large-scale casino resort due to its historic prosperity. This ward is governed by the corrupt Takasato-gumi, whose only interest is their own financial gain.

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The story follows Towa, a resident of Shinkoumi who lives his life in a carefree and apathetic manner, showing no concern for his future. The only thing that captures his interest is painting—more specifically, painting the innermost desires of other people.

A manga adaptation illustrated by Misaka Niumu which covers the events of Chapters 0 and 1 from the visual novel began distribution on July 7, 2020 and ran for 11 chapters before concluding in 2021.

Slow Damage also has a spin-off called Slow Damage: Clean Dishes which focuses on a different set of characters but still takes place in Shinkoumi.


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Slow Damage provides examples of the following tropes:

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    Tropes #-D 
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Inverted. Although Slow Damage takes place years after the 2020s, everything about the setting is very much just like the early 2020s in Real Life.
  • Accidental Hand-Hold: There are two instances in Taku's route when he and Towa accidentally touch hands, which causes Taku to flinch and act strange, much to Towa's confusion.
  • Accidental Murder: It was made public news that Maya and Towa accidentally fell down the stairs, which resulted in the former's death and the latter's amnesia. The truth, however, is that Towa accidentally pushed Maya down the stairs while trying to fight off his mother, who was trying to kill him.
  • Accidental Truth: When Eiji starts posting some unpleasant rumors about Taku in his blog, Towa confronts him about it. Eiji brushes it off and shrugs that while he sometimes posts about things that aren't actually true, he assures that the rumors will die down eventually if there is no proof to back it up... except that his posts are a lot more accurate than anyone would like to believe. And since almost nothing slips past Eiji, he may have actually known that he was posting facts all along.
  • An Aesop:
    • There are two ways to deal with past trauma: you decide it no longer matters and focus only on the present and the future, or you confront it and gain closure before moving on. But whichever you choose to do, you still have a chance at a life of peace and happiness with the people who care for you.
    • Everyone is shaped by their past, but it is up to them to shape their own future.
    • It's only human to hesitate and have doubts. But one way or another, you will need to come to a decision since the longer you waver, the more you and the others around you will get hurt.
    • Your gender orientation and your sexual orientation are two separate things. One does not necessarily define the other.
    • Family is important. However, should a parent greatly wrong their child, said child has every right to despise them and renounce them as much as they have the right to give them a second chance.
    • Be careful with what you say to someone. It takes a great deal of effort to say the right things needed to get someone to open up about themselves, but it only takes a few poor choice of words to make everything fall apart beyond repair.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Taku and Madarame are 20 years and 13 years older than Towa, respectively.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Mizuno's real family name is Kirihara, but it's only in the credits where his first name is revealed to be Nozomu. The player will also be informed of his full name in Fujieda's route.
    • The official artbook reveals some interesting tidbits about the characters:
      • Both Toono and Sakaki have tattoos on their backs. While Uiro Yamada never drew how the tattoos would look, they confirmed that Sakaki's tattoo is the image of the Akasagarbha Bodhisattva.
      • While Mei's age isn't specified, she is confirmed to be older than Towa despite them sharing the same height during their time in Euphoria. This has something to do with Towa's stunted growth, likely from the less-than-stellar treatment he was receiving from his mother and his customers alike.
      • The owner of Tajima's used to be a nightclub hostess in her youth and previously lived in the Aoyama district.
      • The owners of Yanagawa Cafe and Tajima's are well-acquainted, even though they're never seen interacting in the game.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The visual novel starts by telling the player of how Japan fell into a heavy recession in the 2020s, though it doesn't specify what year the story is currently set in and deliberately leaves it vague by mentioning that the story takes place in the year 20XX.
  • Anti-Climax: Lampshaded by Madarame in his route when he comments that the ambush on the Takasato-gumi went a lot more smoothly than he had expected.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The player, especially in their first playthrough, will not have an easy time figuring out how to achieve the desired outcomes during an Interrogation. The game itself is even aware of this, since if the player bungles an Interrogation multiple times, they will eventually be offered the option to lower the difficulty. However, in a second playthrough, the game will now show them which dialogue option will increase/decrease the character's Euphoria and Madness levels if they decide to not skip the Interrogations.
    • Upon replaying a chapter that was already completed once, the player is given the option to skip the Exploration and the Interrogation segments entirely.
  • Arc Words: If an Interrogation is successfully completed, there is a key phrase that will confirm to the player whether they achieved Euphoria or Madness with Towa's models.
    • Euphoria: "I see. Now I understand completely."
    • Madness: "You're going to fall apart at this rate."
  • Awful Truth: Everything, and we mean everything about Towa's childhood is filled with nothing but horrible revelation after horrible revelation. This is why Taku doesn't want Towa to ever remember his past as he worries that Towa will not be able to handle it well, and his fears are far from unfounded. When Towa manages to recover his memories in the final route, the truth breaks him both mentally and emotionally that he would have killed himself had Fujieda not stepped in at the last moment and motivated Towa to give life a second chance.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Even in death, Maya gets exactly what she wanted in Fujieda's Madness ending where Towa's mind breaks and her influence takes over, causing him to become another version of her. What the player is certain of is that "Towa" now has Fujieda under his thrall, but what his presence spells for Shinkoumi is left ambiguous.
  • Big Fancy House: The Euphoria mansion is a large estate where everything inside it is of the finest class and quality. Even in its current dilapidated state, anyone who steps inside can tell that it was once a grand and majestic place.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Rei and Taku's Euphoria endings have Towa live a happy and content life with them, though the fact remains that Towa will never learn of his past and come to terms with his childhood trauma, especially in hindsight of The Reveal in Fujieda's route.
    • In Madarame's Euphoria ending, both he and Towa finish off the Takasato-gumi before leaving Shinkoumi to travel Japan and eventually the world, living life as they please. This means that Towa leaves his old life behind, and he chooses to permanently break ties with Taku and Rei and never sees them again.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Given that Slow Damage takes place in what is essentially a Vice City, anyone who has lived there long enough is guaranteed to have a checkered past, one way or another. Even the more morally good characters carry serious hardships which haunt them and bleed into their actions and viewpoints.
  • Bland-Name Product: One of the signs in the Nightlife District reads "Pizza Not" (a.k.a. Pizza Hut).
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The trope applies for Rei, Towa and Taku, respectively. They are also the first three characters of the main cast that are introduced right at the start of the game, since it doesn't take until much much later for Madarame and Fujieda to officially show up.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Zigzagged. Slow Damage is darker and more mature in its portrayal of its themes compared to its predecessor, with elements of both Psychological Thriller and Psychological Horror placed at the forefront of the story. There's also a lot of bodily and bloody harm involved as well, many of which are both narrated and shown in detail. That being said, the gore factor is taken down a few notches compared to the last four Nitro+CHiRAL games, partly due to its more realistic setting. Case in point, there's no disembowelment, cannibalism, bestiality and amputation involved, with the previous games having at least two of them included in their bad endings.
  • Blunt "No": When Ikuina asks Towa if he could be a model for his paintings, Towa doesn't even take a second to think it over before declining Ikuina's request.
  • Body Horror:
    • Rei's Madness ending has him "doll up" Towa with various modifications: he tattoos over Towa's missing eye, bifurcates Towa's tongue, gives him an additional set of stylized scars all over his body, and adds an array of corset piercings across his back.
    • In their "euphoric session", Asakura cuts up Towa's back to sew a pair of white metal rods welded together to resemble angelic wings onto the latter's flesh.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Taku and Fujieda have opposing viewpoints about whether Towa should learn more about his past or not. Taku argues that Towa is better off not knowing about his childhood since what he went through then was nothing short of traumatic, and Towa's mind may not be able to recover once he remembers everything. Fujieda counters that Towa still has a right to know and he's the one who chose to look into his past, his memories are potentially the key to a hidden truth that has been haunting Shinkoumi for a long time, and that even though what he may discover may be distressing, it could still provide him the closure that he had unconsciously (yet sorely) needed. Neither is in the wrong with their arguments.
  • Brawler Lock: Fujieda and Sakaki engage into this at one point whilst fighting each other in the Golden Ending.
  • Breather Episode: Downplayed. Rei's route tackles plenty of serious themes and wouldn't be considered a lighthearted plot by any stretch. But even when taking into account the part where Rei is forced to risk his life in Moneymatches to pay off his father's debt, the stakes in his storyline are nowhere near as high as that of Towa's other love interests. Also, majority of the drama in Rei's story comes from either his father or his inner conflict regarding his identity, rather than from any disagreement between him and Towa, the latter of which there is a great deal of in the other routes.
  • Bridal Carry: In Taku's After Story drama CD, Towa insists that Taku carry him around the house whenever he can, ad it's one of his ways of asking for the other to dote on him. Towa jokingly notes that he also wishes to test Taku's strength as the latter became more fit due to working out during his time behind bars.
  • The Butler Did It: The one who has been sending the mysterious packages to Towa and killing all of his leads is none other than Sakaki. He qualifies as the "butler" in the trope because he is revealed to be Maya's right-hand man, and all of his actions in the final route are his attempt at fulfilling Maya's Last Request.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: This trope is utilized in Taku's Madness ending. Although it's nothing more than a hallucination, the butterflies (and various other winged insects) that Towa and Taku see in their drug-induced haze symbolize the tragic juxtaposition between their shared illusion and the reality around them. At the moment, they feel nothing but bliss, yet their mind and body are slowly rotting away as they descend further and further into insanity.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: It's saying how much of a deadbeat Rei's father is when the normally friendly Junko and Honami are doing their utmost to not beat the shit out of him. Taku is only barely trying to remain polite, but even he's visibly irked and is unable to stop himself from giving the man a subtle jab by telling him to reevaluate how he's doing as a parent. Even Towa is not too fond of him either, to the point of punching the man in the face without warning and dragging him to Rei's final Moneymatch to get it through to the other just how much Rei is risking for his father's sake even though he isn't deserving of such a sacrifice.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: Towa and Madarame's relationship in a nutshell. Towa always gets pissed off whenever he thinks about how Madarame is able to see right through him no matter what, something that has been the case both then and now. And yet it's precisely because of this reason that Towa also finds himself drawn to the other man.
  • Captain Obvious: Played with. Fujieda, upon being faced with the threat of death, tells Towa that he is euphoria, a statement which Sakaki mocks out of the assumption that Fujieda is stupidly stating the obvious. Towa, however, knows what Fujieda meant to imply with those words.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Slow Damage is a Boys' Love visual novel after all, so it should only be expected that its characters aren't opposed to being in a relationship with the same sex. However, among the main cast, Rei is the only one to be explicitly confirmed as gay. Towa doesn't mind doing it with either sex but highly prefers men over women, Taku had never fooled around with men before (until Towa), it's never revealed if Madarame ever had any sexual relations with women, and even when accounting Fujieda's previous line of work he can only be considered Ambiguously Bi at best. The exact sexualities of some of the supporting characters (such as Kotarou and Mayu) aren't explicitly defined either, with the player only being certain that they don't mind sleeping with other men.
  • Caught the Heart on His Sleeve: When Taku is no longer able to keep quiet about his growing affections for Towa, he stops the latter from going to Toono by grabbing his shoulder. It then takes a bit more prodding from Towa for Taku to confess his feelings.
  • Central Theme: Scars, of both the physical and the mental kind. This is reflected on the stories of both Towa's clients and love interests, respectively, especially Towa himself.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: The game officially starts with the page quote appearing across the screen, accompanied by the image of an hourglass. At first, the line seems innocuous and reflects the nature of the gameplay where one must be careful what to say to reach to a person's innermost depths, as the human heart is no more fragile than sand. However, it becomes a lot more sinister in tone after it's revealed to be Maya's words to Towa about how the human heart can be controlled and manipulated much like how sand can be shaped and molded in all kinds of ways.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Explorations are one of the most important elements of the gameplay in Slow Damage: whenever Towa interacts with any of the other characters whilst walking around Shinkoumi, if the player chooses the correct action, they will obtain an Inspiration— which is a fragment of the response of the character they interacted with. The Inspirations will eventually come in handy as additional dialogue options during an Interrogation.
    • The painting that Towa sees in Tajima's. He wondered why it is even there as it doesn't fit the aesthetic of the shop, never mind the fact that it just features a completely black background. It's actually a bright and colorful painting that Towa saw in his childhood, and is the same painting that inspired him to take up art.
    • The bunny plushie that Towa keeps in his room, which Rei lampshades is not something that someone like Towa would keep around, and Towa himself even wonders why he felt like buying it. It's eventually revealed that it subconsciously reminds him of Mei's bunny doll, the latter of which he receives in a package in Fujieda's route. Said toy would then a key role in Towa's investigation of his past.
    • There's a literal example of the trope in Taku's route. Near the climax, Towa knocks one of the Takasato goons unconscious before taking his gun. It eventually comes in handy later when he uses it to shoot the gun off of Toono's hands before the latter could land another shot on Taku.
  • Cherry Blossoms: In the finale of Taku's Euphoria ending, cherry blossom petals are falling in the background when Towa and Taku reunite after the latter's release from prison.
  • Color-Coded Characters: To summarize, each character has a unique Color Motif based on the color of their Smoke.
  • Commonality Connection: In Fujieda's route, both he and Towa believe that they're like fire and ice, and there's no way that they would ever get along. However, as they get to know each other more, they come to realize that they surprisingly have plenty of things in common. This causes their relationship to improve and allow them to grow closer.
    From the moment I first laid eyes on Fujieda, I was sure that we'd be incompatible. But as it turned out, we had more in common than I ever would have imagined.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Anyone who grows up in Shinkoumi or at least has lived there for long enough has gotten used to the fact that it's a lavish cesspool where poverty is rampant and crime lurks in every corner. It reaches the point that many citizens have learned to turn a blind eye to the danger around them as long as it isn't happening to them.
  • Confession Triggers Consummation:
    • Taku and Rei's Euphoria endings have both love interests admit that they have fallen in love with Towa, which leads to them having sex shortly afterwards.
    • While a confession also happens in Madarame's route, the player must achieve the Euphoria outcome in his final Interrogation before the consummation can happen.
  • Content Warning: The player is greeted with a warning upon opening the game. It starts with the statement that the game contents sex, violence and gore, which is par for the course for all Nitro+CHiRAL games, and follows by saying that the game also has flashing images in case the player is photosensitive. Lastly, the final statement in the warning specifies what mature themes will be referenced in the story.
  • Continuity Nod: In the fourth After Story drama CD (which is the sequel to Fujieda's route), the first track starts with Fujieda suggesting that he and Towa go to the mainland and visit an amusement park. This is a reference to the conversation they had in the short story from the official artbook.
  • Creepy-Crawly Torture: In one of Towa's run-ins with Inada, the latter will tell Towa about how a new drug has been spreading around. Said drug has notably gruesome side effects where the user will hallucinate bugs attacking them both from the inside and the outside, causing them to panic and claw at their own body. The player will get to see the effects first-hand in Taku's Madness ending, and it isn't a pretty sight.
  • Cue the Sun: The very last scene of the Golden Ending ends with a shot of the bright sun in a clear blue sky, signifying the beginning of a new chapter in Towa's life and how he has begun to see the world in a completely different way after his entire conflict with his past is resolved.
  • Darker and Edgier: While still overall colorful, Slow Damage uses much darker colors compared to DRAMAtical Murder, takes place in a city ruled by crime, and is completely front-and-center with its themes of mental trauma, bodily harm and sadomasochism.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: In the climax of Fujieda's route, Towa pretends to be Maya in order to distract Sakaki from killing Fujieda. It's by that point that the player will have to make critical choices that will net them either the Euphoria or the Madness ending, both of which shows what happens whether or not he becomes too absorbed in his performance that he "turns into" Maya for real.
  • Den of Iniquity: On the outside, Euphoria looks just like any other luxurious nightclub. In secret, it was a place where those who were afforded the privilege could fulfill their deepest and darkest desires, no matter what kind of desire that was. And in doing so, they get to have their way with the people held captive there, and children weren't an exception.
  • Destroy the Abusive Home: A variation of the trope occurs in the Golden Ending: the mansion where Towa spent his torturous and harrowing childhood in ends up being obliterated for good. Not by Towa's actions, however, but completely by natural forces, as it was a mysterious explosion (which is assumed to be from gas leak) that caused the mansion to get swallowed up by a sinkhole.
  • Divided We Fall: The Takasato-gumi suffered a massive divide years ago when Sakaki and Toono decided to join forces against Kaga, the latter of whom was likely to succeed Ryuujirou Takasato, as they did not agree with how he wished to run the organization. The same issue happens again later on when Ryuujirou Takasato passes away, resulting in the already-existing rivalry between Sakaki and Toono to get even worse.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: It's rather easy to liken Maya and the establishment she runs to a cult.
    • Every client who goes there has one goal: to achieve happiness. Exactly how? By getting to satisfy their most sinful desires.
    • The children and all other captives that the aforementioned clients subject to their wicked fantasies can be compared to the human sacrifices that a cult would offer for whatever twisted ritual they had in mind.
    • Both Maya and Sakaki, her most devoted supporter, spoke of Mei in an extremely bitter and resentful way because, in their words, she tried to "lead Towa astray" and "corrupt his being". This is eerily similar to how cult members would speak of someone that has either left their group or tried to convince one of their own into leaving.
  • Doorstopper: Slow Damage is one of Nitro+CHiRAL's longer visual novels alongside Lamento - beyond the void, requiring at least 50 to 60 hours to complete the entire game by achieving every ending and acquiring all CGs.
  • Draw Aggro: In the climax of "Chapter 2: Brother", both Towa and Rei are left at the mercy of the Assault Party. Towa sees that Rei is already in bad shape and may not last longer if he's subjected to another No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, so he puts on an aggressive front to provoke Rei's attackers into beating him up instead.
  • Drone of Dread: This is heard throughout the entirety of "Control", which is fitting since the track only plays in the scenes featuring Maya.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • Rumors soon start to spread around Shinkoumi about a new (and illegal) drug spreading around the city. Naturally, its effects are anything but harmless, with those who ingest it end up becoming disoriented and berserk. It's soon revealed that this is no mere rumor, since Taku is blackmailed by Toono into manufacturing the aforementioned drug.
    • Connecting with the above example, the trope is taken to a disturbing conclusion in Taku's Madness ending, where he drugs Towa and keeps him in a basement in a twisted attempt to protect him. While locked up, Towa is administered with psychedelics to the extent that his mind becomes completely addled and he starts to see things that aren't there, namely insects.
  • Dysfunction Junction: It's expected for the cast of a Nitro+CHiRAL game to have their fair share of issues, and Slow Damage is no exception.

    Tropes E-I 
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In the Golden Ending, Maya and Sakaki's plans are ultimately thwarted (with Toono Killed Offscreen). This results in the Takasato-gumi's dissolution, and with the mainland's involvement, Shinkoumi is likely to undergo a heavy reform. Taku and Towa reconcile, and Taku turns himself in to atone for being an accomplice in Toono's schemes. Rei's debt with the Takasato-gumi is no longer an issue, and he plans to make amends with his father. Madarame — who never had any deep-seated troubles in the first place — still lives his life how he wishes, with Kotarou mentioning that the man plans to leave Shinkoumi and travel around. And most importantly, Towa gains closure after remembering his past and resolving all the conflicts involved with it, and finds happiness and fulfillment with Fujieda, someone who understands him, knows and empathizes what he has been through and has resolved to care for and support him every step of the way.
  • Easter Egg:
    • If the player listens closely, they can hear some background tracks from Nitro+CHiRAL's previous works playing in certain areas of the game.
      • Togainu no Chi: At the diner where Towa, Taku and Rei would often hang out and eat.
      • Lamento - beyond the void -: At Krishna, the restaurant where Mizuno works at.
      • sweet pool: At an unnamed bar (besides Roost) where Towa would occasionally drop by for some drinks.
      • DRAMAtical Murder: At the warehouse where the climax of "Chapter 2: Brother" takes place.
    • In Kouou Street, one of the electric billboards features an image of Youji Sakiyama from one of sweet pool's promotional posters.
    • Mayu's room features merchandise of various Nitroplus' heroines such as Saya, Petrushka, Franco il Nero, Miyuki and Aoi. There are Nendoroid boxes for Clear and Mink as well.
  • Empathic Environment: In Fujieda's route, there are two times when an emotionally harrowing scene takes place during a heavy rainfall.
    • The first time in which Towa suffers an episode after his mind's active attempt to repress his traumatic memories causes him to flee in distress to the park where he encounters Fujieda... to which he attacks the other man in a fit of blind rage.
    • The second time is when Fujieda learns the full details about Euphoria and what happened to Mei Yuzuki, and is consumed with despair before he vents his rage at Towa via an Anguished Outburst before violating him out in the open.
  • Erotic Asphyxiation: In one of their sex scenes, Madarame starts to choke Towa in the middle of the act, though this only arouses Towa even more.
  • Every Scar Has a Story:
    • Some of the scars on Towa's body aren't simply for decoration or due to his love for pain— they are intrinsically tied to his past. The most remarkable scars on his body, such as the one across his torso or the incisions on his shoulder blades, were inflicted by Ikuina and Asakura themselves years ago, respectfully; although neither ever realizes this even though they are fascinated by those same cuts on Towa's body.
    • When Towa sees Fujieda's scars, he realizes that there's a lot more to the man than he first assumed. Fujieda later admits that he thought the same when he first saw Towa's scars and already felt back then that they may be more similar than they realize.
  • Evolving Credits: Once the player starts Fujieda's route, the opening sequence will soon play like always. But if one pays close attention, some things are changed: the love interests are introduced using different sprites and some of the CGs used are different from before. Lastly, the color of the back of the pocket watch changes from gold to crimson, and the visage reflected on it is no longer Towa's, but Maya's instead.
  • Evolving Title Screen:
    • Whenever a day ends in-game, it's marked by the game title swiping across the screen. The title color, which is red at first, will eventually change to the Color Motif of any of the love interests that Towa will end up pursuing: orange (Taku), yellow (Rei), blue (Madarame), or white (Fujieda). In Fujieda's case, however, there's an additional change of color as the story progresses. Halfway through, the white text soon gains a tinge of red, before completely becoming the same shade of red used in the common route.
    • After the player finishes at least one route, Towa's pocket watch will show up as an additional menu option that will allow the player to access the CG gallery, the background music tracks and all other bonus content. Then once the player has gone through Taku, Rei and Madarame's routes, the dolls at the far left of the screen will move to the center as yet another option for the player to "pursue the truth", a.k.a. play Chapter 0, which serves as the prologue to either Fujieda's route or the common route.
    • With every route the player completes, the black painting on the center of the title screen gains more colors, and the entire screen also becomes brighter and more riddled with psychedelic colors. Once Fujieda's route is completed, the title screen undergoes a permanent change: the background of the screen (which is Towa's room) is now white and well-lit, and the painting's true appearance is now revealed. To add, the music that plays in the menu by default is changed from "Nightmare" to "Joy", the latter of which is similar to the former but with the absence of the female vocals.
  • Exact Words: When Fujieda asks Towa if he saw the contents of his memo pad, Towa nods, which earns him a mean look. Towa reiterates that he saw it, not that he could read it, since the notes were ciphered.
  • Expy:
    • One could see some resemblances between Taku and Motomi upon first glance. They're both the oldest of the main cast, they're men of science (or medicine, in Taku's case), and they easily come across as the most put-together love interest, what with being the reliable and friendly older figure. For bonus points, they both have a CG where they are pointing a handgun at someone. However, that's where the similarities end. While the Older and Wiser archetype really does apply for Motomi, even with his inner conflict regarding Nicole Premier, Taku's case is a lot more complicated, and he's more emotionally vulnerable than anyone would assume him to be. He's also the first mature-aged love interest who's the resident Yandere of the main cast; by contrast, the role would always go to the youthful and naïve one in the previous games.
    • It's easy to see how both Kotarou and Mayu are similar to the Executioners. Both are recruited by criminal organizations to serve as their muscle to hunt down anyone who either owes money to the Takasato-gumi (in Kotarou and Mayu's case) or has broken the rules of Igura (in the Executioners' case). However, Kotarou and Mayu are much sharper tools in the shed than Gunji and Kiriwar, both of whom are dangerous albeit really Dumb Muscle. They are also on amicable terms with Towa throughout the entire game, whereas the Executioners are a pair that Akira has to avoid running into at all costs.
    • An Affably Evil Wild Card who aids the Big Bad's actions in their plans purely for amusement's sake and out of curiosity in seeing what might happen next, then decides to aid the protagonist one last time when the Big Bad's plan fails? In this regard, one can see how Eiji may be alike to Virus and Trip, though putting aside his love for explosives, Eiji is definitely not sociopathic like the latter duo.
  • Fairytale Motif: The lyrics of "Shinjirou", the theme song for Fujieda's Madness ending, makes allusions to The Little Mermaid, especially at the part where the singer talks about them and the person they're serenading to dissolving into foam.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: In "Chapter 2: Brother", Rei saves Mizuno when he sees the latter beaten and left for dead in the streets. It turns out he just rescued the very ringleader of the Assault Parties, and ends up becoming a victim of not one, but two of their beatdowns.
  • Fast-Forward to Reunion: After Taku is sent to jail, the epilogue gives a brief description of what Towa had been doing in the following year before he and Taku meet again when the latter is eventually released.
  • First-Person Perspective: The English release of Slow Damage is narrated in first-person, although the original Japanese release made use of third-person narration.
  • Fisticuff-Provoking Comment: When Towa confronts Rei's father and asks if he knows what his son's been doing to pay off his debt, the older man's response shows how unsympathetic he is to his son's plight even though it was brought about by his own screw-ups. When he tries to deflect the blame once again, Towa is irritated enough to deck him in the face mid-sentence.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing:
    • Any player can get the inkling that things will go south the moment Eiji shows up in Sakaki's apartment and rambles on about something coming in handy while putting on a gas mask.
    • The venomously hateful tone in Sakaki's voice whenever he would speak of Mei makes it rather obvious that he played a direct hand in her death before he outright confirms it to Fujieda moments later.
  • Flower Motif:
    • As discussed in the game, every batch of flowers that were anonymously sent to the clinic has their own unique meaning. With each new delivery, the meaning of the flower seems to connect to the meaning of last flowers delivered; thus it soon becomes obvious that whoever is giving the flowers is sending a message to its intended recipient. For details, the first set of flowers delivered is pink gerberas, which symbolize "sublime beauty". The second is red geraniums, which carry the meaning of "I'm happy you're here." The third is purple pansies, which stand for "You're all I can think about." This, combined with the blue rose that Ikuina gave to Towa to express his sentiments of having his "dream come true", lets Towa realize that Ikuina is the one who's been delivering all of those flowers.
    • Uiro Yamada's official illustration of Towa in celebration of White Day 2022 shows him being showered with different flowers from his love interests, such as calendulas (Taku), goldenrods (Rei), gentians (Madarame) and jasmines (Fujieda). Additionally, an official art of Fujieda for White Day features the latter carrying a bouquet of blue milkweeds.
    • In the official calendar for Japan's fiscal year of 2022 (April 2022 to March 2023), one of the artworks shows Towa and Fujieda in a field of kochia (summer cypress) bushes. Kochias are known for changing color from green to red during autumn, which is likened in Japan to a maiden's blush, which is why kochias carry the symbolism of "full honesty from one to another" and "blessed lifestyle", both of which can be associated with a married life. In the fourth After Story drama CD, as Towa and Fujieda take a walk in a kochia field, Fujieda makes a suggestion to Towa that, unbeknownst to the former, comes across as a marriage proposal.
  • Food Porn: Whenever the game shows a CG of food, the food in question is always drawn and rendered in mouthwatering detail.
  • Forced Prize Fight: The rules of a Moneymatch are similar to a regular Deathmatch, but the participants are only those who owe a massive debt to the Takasato-gumi, and there's an additional rule in the game where the winner gets rewarded with a large sum of prize money while the loser gets killed and disposed of.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Some of the characters' wardrobes (or at least their inner shirts) visibly show the outline of their torsos. This is especially the case with Junko and Honami, with their shirts clinging tightly to their bodies that the player can see every muscle.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • If Taku's route is taken, Fujieda ends up working for Toono instead of Sakaki, whereas he still works for the latter in the other three routes. And in Madarame's route, he decides to return to the mainland instead. None of these small but discernible changes are ever given an explanation.
    • Whether or not Towa lets the unnamed vampire drink his blood to his heart's content is crucial in establishing how the plot of the game officially starts in the following month of November, which will consequently determine whether he will receive the mysterious package containing relics of his past or not. If he doesn't receive the package, the plot will progress to "Chapter 1: Fraise"; otherwise, the plot will jump straight to "The Last Chapter: Equal".
  • Four Is Death: In the Croquis, which serves as a codex for the game's characters, Maya is the only character in the fourth page. The number four is recognized as an unlucky number in Japan because the word has the same pronunciation as the word used for "death", hence the numbered placement of her info in the codex represents not only the fact that she's already deceased but also her very presence served as a great source of misfortune not only to Towa but to many of the other characters.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Towa himself is the Leukine. As for his love interests:
      • Phlegmatic: Taku is a reliable and sensitive man who looks out for other people.
      • Sanguine: Rei is extroverted, friendly and expressive, as well as the most openly compassionate.
      • Choleric: Madarame is an unpredictable rebel who plays by his own rules and loves a good fight.
      • Melancholic: Fujieda is serious, professional and always focuses on the task at hand. Even people in-game have described him as having an uptight demeanor.
    • Between Towa's models, Ikuina is the Sanguine, Asakura is the Leukine, Mizuno is the Choleric, and the unnamed vampire in the prologue is the Melancholic.
  • Frame-Up: Kaga was killed by Toono when the infighting within the Takasato-gumi reached its breaking point, but the murder was pinned on Madarame.
  • Freudian Trio: Between Rei's three Deathmatch teammates: Junko is the Id, being the most outspoken and the one who gets easily emotional; Honami is the Ego, as they're also expressive but not to the same degree as Junko; and Arata is the Superego, since they always keep calm and is never seen losing their temper.
  • Ghost City: Downplayed. District A is essentially an abandoned area surrounded with desolate buildings all around, but it's also why it's the designated area for Deathmatch fights.
  • Golden Ending: Fujieda's route is the true route of the game, but it can only be unlocked after the player has completed the good endings of all the other love interests.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: In both an Exploration and Interrogation, the player has to choice whether Towa will give a "Positive" or a "Negative" answer, and the nature behind both answers runs along the lines of this trope, since every now and then Towa will need to shift the tone he uses whilst talking to the person in order to get the desired outcome.
  • Gratuitous English: The opening theme and some of the ending themes include some English words in their lyrics. Madarame's ending themes are sung entirely in English.
  • The Great Depression: Japan had fallen into a massive recession in the 2020s after their hosting of the Olympics ended in utter failure.
  • Guide Dang It!: All of Nitro+CHiRAL's previous works made use of a straightforward binary choice system in their gameplay. On the other hand, Slow Damage's choice system is more complicated and is essentially divided into the Explorations and Interrogations. Whenever the game gets to an Interrogation, where Towa has to converse with a character and get them to open up about their secrets, it's never clear which choice will lead to the good ending, the bad ending, or result in a Non-Standard Game Over, as the goal in each Interrogation will always differ and one's advantage in achieving the desired outcome will vary based on the decisions the player has made prior to that point. The tutorials even make sure to warn the player that the choice system can and will be tricky.
  • Harmful to Minors: Right as the player starts up the game, they're warned that Slow Damage features child abuse. Rei suffered physical and emotional abuse from his father when he was in middle school after his sexuality was exposed. Fujieda and Mei were horribly treated by their parents, with the scars on Fujieda's body as proof of the torture they inflicted. However, it's Towa who gets the lion's share of the trope, as his mother would allow all kinds of people to torture and rape him to their hearts' content and showed no remorse when she had his Only Friend killed because said friend inspired him to run away.
  • H-Game: It wouldn't be a Nitro+CHiRAL visual novel if the protagonist didn't end up having sex with any of his potential love interests at some point.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Played with between Towa and Rei. While Rei knew Towa since middle school, they never interacted and Towa didn't even realize that he and Rei attended the same school at the time. Nevertheless, the topic comes up a few times in Rei's route and near the end, Rei admits that he had found Towa attractive since he first saw him.
  • Holding Your Shoulder Means Injury: Taku falls victim to this trope twice when he gets shot by Toono on his left chest and later on his right shoulder.
  • Hostage Situation:
    • In Taku's route, Towa is taken captive alongside Taku by Toono to be used as leverage in order to force Taku to complete his assigned task within a tight deadline.
    • In both Madarame and Fujieda's route, Taku is abducted by Madarame in the latter's attempt to lure out Towa.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Slow Damage has some of the characters be upfront about sex, and the game has a lot more sex scenes than in any of Nitro+CHiRAL's previous works. Even the After Story drama CDs have two sex scenes per love interest, whereas in DRAMAtical Murder, each sequel drama CD has only one sex scene for every love interest despite having a runtime that's twice as long.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: In the climax of his route, Taku is given the opportunity to pull the trigger on Toono. He ultimately decides against it, stating that while they're both shitty people, he refuses to stoop down to the other's level.
  • I Gave My Word:
    • A dark example of the trope occurs in Taku's Madness ending. Taku demands that Toono let him and Towa go back home once Taku finishes making the drug, which he promises to do so in three days. Toono agrees, and once Taku completes his task, Toono has them driven back to the clinic without any further trouble.
    • In Rei's route, Sakaki challenges Towa to a game of poker under the condition that he'll pay off Rei's debt in full if Towa wins. When Towa does get the upper hand, Sakaki keeps his end of the bargain.
  • I Have This Friend: When Fujieda is questioned about his relationship with Mei Yuzuki and why he's looking for her, he responds that she's a sister of his friend and that he's acting on his friend's behalf... except that he is actually referring to himself.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: In one of his rants about his sad excuse of a father, Rei starts pounding his fists against the floor to let out his rage. Later on, Towa is overcome with the urge to take Rei's hand and kiss his bloodied knuckles, most likely as a means to console the other man and express his affections to him.
  • I Know You Know I Know: When Towa finally agrees to paint Ikuina, he subtly lets Ikuina know that he figured out what the other has been doing to the people who would pass out on the streets.
    Towa: If I get blackout drunk tonight, you'll nurse me back to health, right?
  • In Love with Your Carnage: After seeing Rei fight his opponent in a Moneymatch, Towa finds himself overcome with lust at the sight of Rei's passion for fighting, which reminds him of his own love for violence.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Whether the player chooses Taku or Rei's route, when Towa visits Roost after recovering from his "euphoric session" with Ikuina, Towa will always notice an unusual customer (Asakura) sitting in the corner. But depending on the chosen route, he may or may not have the opportunity to interact with Asakura.
    • No matter the route taken, Madarame will always launch an attack on the Takasato-gumi.
  • Interface Screw: The player may notice that the screen occasionally flickers in some scenes. While it looks like a graphical bug at first, it becomes obvious that the flickering only happens whenever any of the characters says the word "daijobu" note . The true route eventually reveals why: the word is a severe Trauma Button for Towa, which makes the flickering an Ominous Visual Glitch.
  • Interface Spoiler: A mild variation: reading the content warning from start to finish will warn the player early on of what will eventually be featured in the plot of each love interest's route.
    This game contains references to child abuse, rape, human trafficking, suicide, self-injury, medical malpractice, drug and alcohol abuse, and gender dysphoria.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Even though they're at least 20 years apart, Taku and Rei are close and always look out for each other. They're close enough that Rei calls Taku by his nickname, and he's the only one besides Towa to do so.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • The fact that Madarame is introduced as one of the main characters in Slow Damage already establishes that he's not really dead in spite of countless characters in-universe talking about he had supposedly kicked the bucket. As a result, the suspense is focused on when Towa and the others will find out for themselves that Madarame is still alive.
    • Even before the final route gets unlocked, the dreams that Towa gets in the other routes aren't that subtle in hinting to the player that Towa's relationship with his mother is anything but a positive one. As a result, all the player is left with to guess are the details which explain exactly how and why.
    • It becomes obvious to the player that Mei Yuzuki isn't Towa's younger sister when Taku confirms that Towa's real name is Haruto Sakuragi. One can also figure out that she is actually Fujieda's younger sister when Fujieda has a breakdown at the park after learning that she's truly gone. However, Towa doesn't pick up on either fact until some time later.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: It happens a lot in Slow Damage, and we mean a lot.
    • Ikuina's "euphoric session" has him and Towa slice each other up and get aroused at the sight of the other's wounds, although they never actually do the deed and simply have fun with the cuts on the other's body.
    • Kirihara's "euphoric session" has him engage in a bloody and brutal brawl with Towa. With each punch they deliver and receive, they find themselves more and more excited that they get a hard-on, even though they never technically engage in sex.
    • In Rei's Euphoria ending, Rei asks Towa to fight him in a duel as his way of coming to terms with who he really is. Once they've dished out enough punches and are too exhausted to keep standing, they both find themselves turned on from the experience, to which they consummate their Relationship Upgrade shortly afterwards.
    • Madarame's route exercises this trope most often compared to the other routes. Even before the climax, most of his sex scenes with Towa involve them exchanging brutal punches shortly before getting it on. In his Madness ending, they have intensely rough and bloody sex while attacking each other with a knife. Even the After Story drama CD set after the good ending confirms that they still often engage in rough play; but by then, it's completely consensual and not as brutal as before.
  • I Will Wait for You: In Taku's Euphoria ending, Towa vows to wait for Taku and true to his word, he did nothing but paint and draw portrait after portrait of Taku until the day he's finally released from prison.

    Tropes J-O 
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Taku makes a twisted attempt of this on Towa, as he doesn't want to develop drugs for Toono but he knows that if he attempts to back out, Toono will put Towa's life in great jeopardy; hence Taku decides to make things quicker and easier for Towa by being the one to personally end his life in a Mercy Kill. But in the end, he can't go through with it.
  • Last-Name Basis: In contrast to Taku and Rei, Madarame and Fujieda are addressed with their last names by both Towa and the narration.
  • Last Request: Before she died, Maya asked Sakaki to see to it that Towa would succeed her. She meant this in a very literal sense as she wanted Towa to follow in her footsteps and take over her in more ways than one.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice:
    • At one point in Taku's route, he will suddenly attack Towa with a scalpel to which the player has to help Towa talk Taku down via an Interrogation. No matter what choices are made, at the end of the Interrogation, the player will have to choose whether Towa will defiantly look at Taku (Positive) or just passively accept his fate (Negative). The trope is eventually subverted since either way, Taku realizes that can't bring himself to kill Towa.
    • Halfway through Madarame's final Interrogation segment, the player is suddenly given the option whether to have Towa continue asking Madarame more questions or to stop. If the player wishes to get the Euphoria ending, they have to choose the latter.
    • In Fujieda's route, if the player makes the right choices in the last Interrogation, Towa will visibly struggle more with remembering who he really should be. As far as the player is concerned, the last clue the game leaves them with is Maya's words of "It's okay". But then, they're suddenly presented with yet one more clue, which is what's needed to achieve the Euphoria ending: Towa himself.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Towa asks Sakaki about Madarame in Fujieda's route, Sakaki declines to answer because he no longer sees the point in beating a dead horse. In Madarame's route, the player finally gets to know more about Towa's history with the Takasato-gumi — which plays an important role in the route's plot. In Fujieda's route, however, it no longer does and is instead put on the back burner. This, in turn, reflects Madarame's diminished role in the final route, as Madarame himself shows up for only one scene and is only mentioned a few times before and after his appearance.
  • Left Hanging:
    • If Rei's route isn't taken, it's left uncertain whether Rei will ever be able to sort out his issues with his gender identity or not. While the matter with his father is settled in Fujieda's route, that's the only conflict from his side that's confirmed to be resolved.
    • In any other route aside from his own, it's up to the player to guess if Fujieda will ever find out the truth about his sister's disappearance even without Towa's help.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Taku's flustered reaction after he helps get Towa off makes it obvious that he would rather not talk about what just happened either now or ever if possible.
  • Limited Animation: Slow Damage is a visual novel, so it makes use of still body sprites; although unlike Nitro+CHiRAL's previous works, Slow Damage has the characters' sprites blink on occasion, and their mouths move whenever they talk.
  • Linear Visual Novel: Downplayed. While the visual novel has Multiple Endings, the player doesn't really get to decide how the plot unfolds up until the climax of each route. The most control they have is over what Towa will say to the other characters at certain points in the story, either to get them to tell him what he wants to know, or to help them get over their issues or exacerbate their inner insanity.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • When Towa and Rei have sex for the first time, Towa realizes midway that Rei had never done it with anyone before. Towa decides to affectionately poke fun at Rei with a teasing comment]], which the English localization translates to "Congrats on the sex". However, the words that he used in Japanese ("童貞卒業おめでとう") would actually translate to "Congratulations on graduating from your virginity".
    • In his epilogue, Fujieda mentions that he and Towa walking on the beach together could be their first "collaborative effort" in reclaiming the childhood they never had, to which Towa asks Fujieda if he realized what he just said. What's missed here is that the word Fujieda uses for "collaborative effort" (共同作業) is often reserved for something that married couples do, which Towa (but not Fujieda) caught on.
  • Love at First Punch: Towa and Fujieda's official first meeting has Towa (who's not in the right state of mind at the time) viciously attacking Fujieda out of the blue... and they still end up together. By the time of their Relationship Upgrade, they even lampshade how things were completely different between now and when they first met each other.
    Towa: You know, it's funny. Not that long ago, we were punching each other.
    Fujieda: We didn't know better. It's not our fault.
  • Love Epiphany:
    • In Taku's route, Taku realizes that his feelings for Towa may start to run deeper than he realizes when he saw Towa nearing death after Asakura's "surgery". Towa also realizes that Taku has begun to mean more to him when he felt cold with fear at the thought that Taku died after the latter took a bullet meant for him.
    • Rei has had a crush on Towa since middle school, but that crush grows into a more serious kind of affection in his route after he sees Towa protecting him when they got captured by the Assault Party.
  • Love Father, Love Son: According to Toono, Taku was in love with Maya, but decided to settle for Towa because he's all that's left of her. However, Taku denies this and says that he had no feelings for her whatsoever.
  • Madness Mantra: In Taku's Madness ending, Towa repeatedly screams and cries in both agony and pleasure about the insects that he's seeing crawl out from inside him as a result of the drugs Taku gave him. According to the narration, this tends to happen often.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places:
    • In Taku's route, his first sex scene has him help get Towa off in the first floor of the clinic; though he does lampshade that they were in a rush as Towa was insanely in heat, and they continue where they left off in Towa's studio. The second time around, they consummate their relationship on the floor even though there's a bed nearby. There's also the fact that they're having sex even though they're still under Toono's captivity, and thus are risking getting caught.
    • Averted in Rei's route, where both of his sexual encounters with Towa happen in their bedrooms. While they make out in the open in their second sex scene, they do stop themselves before things get too risque and only resume once they return to Rei's bedroom.
    • Towa and Madarame get it on out on the open in the Deathmatch Area shortly after beating the shit out of each other and getting turned on from the violence. This isn't the last time, as they get frisky in an alley in the After Story drama CD.
  • May–December Romance: The trope applies for Taku's relationship with Towa if he is the chosen love interest, as Taku is 20 years older and is therefore old enough to be Towa's father.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • While it doesn't happen in the same route, there is a piece of dialogue which is essential to helping the player get an understanding of the core of Towa's character. In Taku's route, Taku refuses to be rough with Towa during sex, reasoning that Towa seeks the violent treatment not for the pleasure, but as a means to be punished. Fujieda says something similar in his own route when he and Towa discuss their pasts and how it made them become the people they are today.
      Fujieda: By accepting the trauma others inflicted on you, you desperately cling to the last shreds of your personal autonomy. Cutting yourself was a self-destructive impulse— a punishment for being worthless.
    • In the epilogue of the Golden Ending, Towa asks Fujieda if he's fine with them living together since Towa still suffers from nightmares even after he had dealt with his trauma, and he wonders if that would burden the other man. Fujieda answers that he had already prepared himself for that outcome, and Towa remembers when Fujieda made a similar statement when he told Taku that he's ready to face the consequences that may come from uncovering the truth about Towa's past.
  • Meaningful Name: The chapter focusing on the love interest's stories are named as such for a reason:
    • "Nostalgia": Towa and Taku have known each other since the former's childhood. Consequently, Taku is the one who would always check on Towa whenever the latter gets sick or injured. As their relationship develops further, Towa reflects on how every time Taku examines him and worries about him, it would remind him of the past and of how Taku's presence would always make him feel safe.
    • "Contradiction": Rei has struggled with his identity, since despite his interest in men and his effeminate looks and manner of speech, he doesn't truly feel like a "woman" like many mock him to be, and it was said mocking which led him to think that he might actually be born with the wrong body.
    • "Immutable": The word is essentially Madarame's entire character in a nutshell. He is a Wild Card who follows no one else's rules but his own. As the word also means "unchangeable", it also reflects how between the years Towa last saw him and now, the man has not changed one bit.
    • "Equal": This describes Towa and Fujieda's relationship. At first glance, they look like they have nothing in common. But later on, they realize that there's more than meets the eye as they both carry physical and mental scars that are surprisingly similar to the other's own. This allows them to eventually come to an understanding that allows them to bond and engage in a relationship of mutual support and affection.
  • Mouth To Mouth Force Feeding:
    • In Taku's Madness ending, he administers a drug to Towa through a kiss.
    • Madarame does this often to Towa in his route due to the latter's refusal to eat or drink anything out of spite for his current situation as Madarame's captive.
  • Multiple Endings: Besides the Non-Standard Game Over that can be achieved if the player either makes the wrong decisions during Ikuina, Asakura or Kirihara's Interrogation or lets Towa sleep with Kotarou or Mayu, each of Towa's love interests has a unique bad (Madness) and good (Euphoria) ending, respectively.
    • For Taku:
      • Madness: Taku feels that no matter how hard he tries, he will never be able to save anyone, so he should focus on protecting only the people he holds dear and disregard all other scruples. He then keeps his end of the bargain with Toono before trapping Towa in the basement of his clinic, drugging him on a regular basis to ensure he wouldn't be able to escape, with the drugs causing Towa to get addicted and start seeing grisly hallucinations.
      • Euphoria: Taku comes to terms with his guilt from failing to save his mother, and he and Towa open up about their burgeoning feelings for each other. Afterwards, they plot to disrupt Toono's plans, and succeed with Eiji and Lisa's assistance. After Toono's arrest, Taku turns himself in to atone for what he had done under duress, but because of his circumstances and his cooperation with the authorities, he's given a light sentence and is even let out a year early due to good behavior, and the route ends with him and Towa reuniting.
    • For Rei:
      • Madness: Unable to find a resolution on who he really is, Rei pays his father's debt and cuts ties with him afterwards, but continues to participate in Moneymatches. He uses the prize money to pay for a lavish apartment where he keeps Towa as a prized doll of sorts, performing all kinds of body modifications on him. Towa consigns himself to his fate, not minding being treated like a plaything.
      • Euphoria: After confessing everything to Towa, Rei resolves his identity crisis. Towa helps clear Rei's debt through a poker game with Sakaki and watches Rei win his final Moneymatch. After that, Rei's father has an epiphany and wishes to turn over a new leaf; while Rei is skeptical, he does accept his father's attempts to make amends. Rei and Towa later begin to travel around Japan together with plans to go overseas in the future.
    • For Madarame:
      • Madness: Towa is still unable to comprehend the kind of person Madarame is, much to the latter's disappointment. While their plan to assassinate both Toono and Sakaki ends in success, Madarame unexpectedly takes over the syndicate and rules over Shinkoumi with an iron fist. Towa stays by Madarame's side as his right-hand man and lead enforcer. Both Towa and Madarame are still entangled in a brutal and sadomasochistic relationship, and Towa wishes to kill Madarame even if he can never go through with it, and Madarame looks forward to the day when Towa does take his life.
      • Euphoria: Towa finally understands that Madarame harbors no secrets or deep-seated issues, so there is no need to look deep into his character. The next day, they ambush the Takasato-gumi and Madarame shoots Toono dead while Sakaki is Killed Offscreen. Towa decides that he can never return to his old life and cuts ties with Taku and Rei for good before leaving Shinkoumi with Madarame to travel to foreign lands, with the two living a free and unbridled life together.
    • For Fujieda:
      • Madness: To stop Sakaki from killing Fujieda, Towa pretends to be Maya, but he gets too carried away with the impersonation and Maya's influence eventually takes over his mind. Sakaki is killed shortly after, while Fujieda loses consciousness. Fujieda is rescued by Taku and Rei, but they found no signs of Towa. A week later, Fujieda returns to the Euphoria mansion and encounters Towa, before realizing that Towa is technically alive but is no longer himself, having become Maya in everything but form. Even then, Fujieda can't bring himself to abandon Towa and resolves to keep Towa close and watch over him.
      • Euphoria: Towa remembers who he really is, and the confrontation ends with Sakaki meeting the same end that Maya did. With both Sakaki and Toono dead, the Takasato-gumi dissolves and the mainland authorities step in, signifying that Shinkoumi will never be the same again. Towa and Fujieda set out to find any remaining truths they have yet to discover about Towa's history, and Towa, having finally found closure with his past, resolves to cherish his life now with Fujieda by his side.
  • My God, You Are Serious!: When Rei rants about how his ordeal with his father's debt is straining him both mentally and emotionally, Towa suggests to Rei with a straight face to "get him off" as a means of destressing. Rei wonders if Towa is trying to joke with him, but Towa casually says that he isn't, which then flusters Rei.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight:
    • While it's not officially a rule, bringing firearms or any other kind of weapons in a Deathmatch is unanimously frowned upon, and anyone who's caught trying to do this gets lynched.
    • In Rei's route, some members of the Assault Party crash a Deathmatch and attack the other fighters... whilst stealthily hiding a blade or any other sharp weapon in their hands so as to easily get the upper hand. When they go against Rei and his teammates, they end up with their faces meeting the pavement.
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: In Taku's route, whilst eating at a diner, Rei notices that someone's been sneaking glances at him and Towa while pretending to read the newspaper. However, neither of them could see the man's face and the person just ends up leaving a minute later. Afterwards, the incident is never brought up again and the man's identity is never revealed, though it's strongly hinted to be Madarame.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • By killing Mei, Maya ended up sealing her own fate once Towa found out and rebelled against her as a result, leading to the fight that ended in her death via Staircase Tumble.
    • Delivering Mei's signature bunny doll to Towa ended up catching Fujieda's interest when he notices it, to which Fujieda inadvertently starts intercepting Sakaki's plans for Towa.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Mei was killed because she tried to help Towa escape from his mother.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction:
    • Taku isn't all that amused when Rei teasingly suggests that the anonymous flower deliveries are from a patient who has a crush on Taku, especially since the patient is supposedly a man in his fifties or sixties.
    • When Towa realizes what Mayu wants them to engage in some roleplaying during their hook-up, Towa is completely unimpressed and refuses to play along, only reluctantly agreeing to putting on a wig.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: There are two distinct art styles used for all the characters that show up in the visual novel. This allows the player to discern who are integral to the plot and who serve only as background characters.
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • If the player screws up an Interrogation, the game abruptly ends and the player has to replay the segmentagain.
    • A more unique variation of the trope happens if the player has Towa take up Kotarou or Mayu's offer for a hook-up, resulting in the two "Funny" endings of the game.
    • In Rei's route, it's actually possible to have Towa lose against Sakaki in their poker game, which happens near the finale. Before their match, they agreed on the following conditions: if Towa wins, Sakaki will pay off the remainder of Rei's debt with no strings attached. If Sakaki wins, however, Towa will need to follow one order from him. But even if the latter scenario happens, the game ends before anything is revealed and the player needs to go through the segment once more and have Towa win for the plot to progress.
    • Fujieda's route has two Madness endings. While one Madness ending is naturally saved for the climax, the other can be achieved early on when Towa recovers his memories about Mei but is not able to get the words out (as a result of the player forcing Towa to speak rather than letting the words come to him), and his mind ends up shattering completely.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: After spending a few days as Madarame's captive and remembering more bits and pieces about his past, Towa no longer feels content and safe when he returns to his old home at Murase Clinic and feels that he has become a Stranger in a Familiar Land. The restlessness eventually eats at him and Taku's reluctance to tell him the truth becomes the final straw for him to return to Madarame.
  • Not Me This Time: When Towa notices that the bunny doll is missing, he immediately confronts Taku about it since he had already caught Taku burning one of his packages and believes that Taku is acting behind his back again. Taku denies taking the doll, and Towa observes from his Smoke that Taku isn't lying. This lets him realize that it was Fujieda who took it.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing:
    • By the time the player gets to Madarame's final Interrogation, they have already gone through the same sequence with many other characters, to which their goal is to give the right questions and responses until they can get to the person's most deep-seated desire or scar. But with Madarame, it soon becomes obvious to the player that no matter what option they take, if they question Madarame too many times, they will always net his Madness ending. This is because halfway through the Interrogation, the player must opt to not have Towa prod Madarame any further. This reflects Madarame's mental state; unlike the others, he has no secrets or hidden desires to speak of, so there was nothing about him to unearth in the first place.
    • In the common route, the player usually gets a Non-Standard Game Over by letting Towa get carried away with having his "models" enact their darkest desires on him. Therefore, it would be expected that they would have Towa be more cautious in his encounter with the vampire in Chapter 0 note  to avoid the same outcome. However, the player is actually required to achieve the Madness outcome and let Towa have the vampire go overboard in sucking his blood, as this key choice will then cause the progression of the plot to lock onto Fujieda's route; otherwise, the story will reset back to the events of the common route.
  • No, You: Near the end of Taku's route, an exchange making use of this trope occurs during the leads' final confrontation against Toono.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ikuina becomes alarmed when Towa hints to Ikuina that he knows he's the culprit behind the sudden cases where people who pass out find themselves with a cut the next day.
    • Taku, Junko and Honami are justifiably horrified when they realize just how much Rei (or rather, his father) owes the Takasato-gumi.
  • Ominous Crack: The credits for the love interests' Madness endings feature cracks of their respective signature colors showing up in different patterns in the background. This symbolizes the fractured minds of either Towa, his chosen love interest, or both of them.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: An music box theme plays in the background of the menu screen and is accompanied by a One-Woman Wail, giving off sense of eerie unease. Appropriately enough, the track is named "Nightmare", and it's also heard every time Towa suffers from a bad dream. On the other hand, its voiceless counterpart, "Joy", is a lot more innocent, if still a bit solemn, and sounds no different from any other children's song one can imagine being played in a music box.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: "Resolve" has a pipe organ playing in the background, helping set the atmosphere as the stakes of the plot rise to its peak in the climax of Fujieda's route.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: When Towa confronts Fujieda about the bunny doll that he stole, Fujieda counters that the toy doesn't belong to Towa as the owner's name is clearly written on it, but Towa denies seeing anything. It turns out that Towa's repressed trauma was blocking out the name from his sight, and once he fully remembers Mei, he recalls his memory of holding the bunny doll; but this time, it's engraved with her name.
  • One-Woman Wail: Some of the tracks feature this. This trope is actually used as a plot point, since all of these tracks have something to do with either Maya's influence on Towa or Maya herself.
    • "Nightmare", true to its name, plays whenever Towa has a nightmare. Every nightmare he has involves his mother to some degree, be it because of something she did or something she allowed others to do to him. It's also the default background track that plays in the title menu, but is soon replaced by its voiceless counterpart, "Joy" upon completion of the Golden Ending. This symbolizes how Maya's psychological hold on Towa vanishes once he Towa learns about his past and finally comes to terms with it.
    • "Teasing" and "Desire" play whenever Towa engages in an Interrogation with another character, and it was Maya who taught Towa how to coax and compel other people with words alone.
    • "Maya", "Control" and "Resolve" all play only in Fujieda's route, where Maya's role in the plot finally comes to light.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Played with. Towa only agrees to become Toono's swain to give himself more freedom, which would allow him to better plot his and Taku's escape. However, Towa takes the opportunity to provoke Taku and see how he really feels about Towa by claiming that he accepted Toono's proposal purely because he didn't see any downsides to it.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: In Taku and Rei's routes, the player has the chance to let Towa hook up with either Mayu or Kotarou if their Euphoria levels are high enough prior to their run-in. If they do so, however, it results in a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Organ Theft: The Takasato-gumi has no qualms with killing any debtors who try to escape or refuse to pay up is because the organization would still be able to collect the money they're owed by selling the debtors' organs in the black market.
  • Out of Focus: While Taku and Rei are still mentioned often, they fade away almost entirely during the second half of Madarame's route.

    Tropes P-T 
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Taku and Rei have known each other for a long time. But in spite of Rei's sexual orientation, they're no more than friends and there's no hint of any romantic or sexual tension between them.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: When Towa has yet another nightmare in Taku's route, he soon senses a comforting presence in the dream. When said presence starts fading away, Towa wakes up while asking for it to not go.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Everything about the plot can be traced back to when Mei Yuzuki was killed, which soon enraged Towa into rebelling against Maya. This led to their scuffle which ended with Maya being pushed down the stairs, and the rest is history.
  • Police Are Useless: The narration even says as such early on, partly because there are way too many crimes in Shinkoumi for them to properly deal with them all, and partly because their authority means nothing compared to the Takasato-gumi's.
  • The Power of Friendship: Just when all things seem lost for Rei in his final Moneymatch, Taku, Junko, Honami and Arata arrive at the last minute to cheer Rei on and tell him to stand up and keep fighting. Even Towa joins in on the rousing, giving Rei his Heroic Second Wind.
  • Psychological Thriller: What makes Slow Damage a dark story is how it vividly portrays the emotional and mental trauma the characters go through and how said trauma affects their actions. This is especially the case in Fujieda's route, where one of the main conflicts is Towa trying to come to grips with his Dark and Troubled Past, which threatens to affect his mental state for the worst.
  • Questionable Consent:
    • In Rei's case, it's downplayed. The first time Towa offers to help Rei relieve some stress through sex, Rei gets flustered and quickly turns down Towa's suggestion, something the latter accepts. Later on, Towa again offers to help Rei "ease off". Despite Rei's embarrassment, he doesn't outwardly reject the offer and even goes up to Towa's room when the latter invites him. Rei also doesn't make much of an effort to resist when Towa makes his move, and Towa even notes that he would have backed off had Rei really attempted to push him away.
    • In Taku's route, Towa gets drugged with something that also happens to have strong aphrodisiac effects. Towa then comes onto Taku and demands that he satisfies him, or else he'll go outside and ask others to help him out, which causes Taku to reluctantly concede.
    • Zigzagged in Fujieda's case. When he assaults Towa in a fit of rage and grief, he clearly intends to rape Towa in an attempt to traumatize him. However, Towa had already been long accustomed to being treated in such a manner, so he ends up enjoying the experience instead.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: In Fujieda's route, Towa lashes out at the sight of his own face smashes his head against the mirror when he begins to remember more and more details about his mother. Naturally, both times end with him getting bad cuts on his forehead.
  • Railroading: After Towa feels that he can no longer return to his old life and decides to return to Madarame, the player then has to direct Towa to Madarame's hideout via an Exploration. If they try to pick any location that strays from the path heading to District A, Towa will stay where he is, remarking that it's a waste of time. Consequently, each wrong option will disappear from the menu until only one destination remains.
  • Real-Place Background: Kouou Street is heavily inspired by the streets of Shinjuku.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Every time Towa suffers a nightmare, his dreamscape always takes place in a scarlet background with undertones of black. This is because he spent his harrowing childhood in a room that was scarlet from ceiling to floor.
  • Red Light District: Most of the sex workers can be found in the Nightlife District, although there are still prostitutes roaming the other districts of Shinkoumi.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: This trope is prevalent between Towa and any of his love interests. Whoever is the Red Oni and the Blue Oni, respectively, depends on both the relationship and the circumstances the pair are currently in.
    • The eccentric and violence-loving Towa is the Red Oni in contrast to Taku, whose sensible personality makes him the Blue Oni. But once Taku's problems start to invite more and more danger to both himself and Towa, Taku starts to become the Red Oni instead as his emotional state becomes more turbulent and unstable. Consequently, Towa's cold and logical personality turns him into the Blue Oni as he helps think of how to get both himself and Taku out of their messy situation.
    • While Rei, like Taku, expresses both exasperation and worry for Towa's life choices, his expressive personality makes him the Red Oni as Towa's calm and stoic demeanor causes him to fit the role of the Blue Oni this time around. Even when Rei's deep-seated issues begin to surface after he's encumbered with his father's debt, their roles are never reversed.
    • Reflecting the colors of their auras and in turn, their relationship dynamic, Towa is the Red Oni to Madarame's Blue Oni. Madarame never loses his cool even once and always maintains his dominance in any situation. On the other hand, Towa is unable to keep his emotions in check whenever Madarame is involved and as they rekindle their relationship in a most unconventional way, Towa starts to become more like his Hot-Blooded self in the past.
    • Where temperament is concerned, Towa's uninhibited nature automatically makes him the Red Oni to Fujieda's serious and straight-laced Blue Oni. The more they learn about each other, however, they start seeing themselves in the other and Towa realizes that there's more to Fujieda than his image as a cold and unfeeling professional. As the plot in their route progresses, their roles would switch every now and then until the finale, where they fall somewhere in between with each other.
  • Revenge by Proxy: After his Anguished Outburst upon getting confirmation of Mei's death, Fujieda assaults Towa in the park as an act of Misplaced Retribution. Maya, the person responsible for Mei's murder, is already long dead; and in a moment of irrational rage and despair, Fujieda lashes out at the next person who he believes is just as responsible by association alone: Maya's own son.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Whenever a player starts a new chapter in any route, an introductory scene plays. Said scene consists mostly of a few moving pencil sketches and a voiceless narration. But if the player goes through that chapter a second time, the narration becomes voiced, since by then it's already obvious who was speaking. The only exception is the very first opening narration from when the player starts the game from scratch, since it's only in Fujieda's route that the player realizes that the speaker is Maya. Only then will the player finally hear the voiced version of her lines.
    • When the narration explains how Shinkoumi came to be, the game shows an image of five shadowed figures, all of whom are the most important members of the Takasato-gumi. Players can recognize the person on the center as the group's founder and the two men on the right as Sakaki and Toono. However, the identity of the two men on the left are left a mystery. Once the player has gone through Madarame's route, they'll eventually recognize the other two as Madarame and Kaga.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: The countless residential buildings in District E are built in such a short amount of time because plenty of safety protocols were bypassed during construction. This makes them relatively unsafe to stay in, especially since earthquakes and sinkholes are commonplace in Shinkoumi.
  • Running Gag:
    • Every time Towa is asked if he needs anything, he will always reply by asking for cigarettes and alcohol— a request that Rei and Taku will always firmly decline.
    • Either Towa, Kotarou or Eiji mention how freakishly sharp Mayu's eyesight is every now and then.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Because of his debt to Toono, Taku is forced to create a dangerous drug that Toono intends to distribute around Shinkoumi. In Taku's route, Toono decides to get better assurance of the man's compliance by drugging Towa and eventually holding him hostage.
    • Rei is placed into a difficult situation after he learns that he has become a debtor thanks to his father: either he rejects the deal and lets his father be killed, or he participates in Moneymatches to earn the money needed to pay off the debt. No matter how much Rei hates his father, he cannot go through with letting his old man die. Then it turns out he was actually informed that if he refused to pay his father's debt, his father would be allowed to resume his old job of human trafficking. Rei finds this too deplorable to allow, hence he chose to pay the debt by fighting Moneymatches.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Towa and Rei are a straight-sex example of the trope, with Towa being the pragmatic one and Rei being the lively and friendly one of the duo. While Towa is no wimp in a fight, Rei is obviously more physically active given his frequent participation in Deathmatches.
  • Sanity Meter: In an Interrogation, the player has to keep track of both the Euphoria and the Madness levels of the character that Towa is speaking to. The character's "Euphoria" is represented by the sand in the hourglass at the right side of the screen, whereas their "Madness" is shown through a jagged staircase-shaped opening at the background behind them. The tutorials at the beginning of the game explain in further detail what the player should do to succeed in an Interrogation.
  • Saying Too Much: When Mizuno visits Rei in the clinic, he mentions that he knew about how Rei got attacked shortly after the Christmas party at Roost. However, only a select few were informed of that, causing Towa to start suspecting Mizuno and his connection to the Assault Parties.
  • Scenery Porn: Every part of Shinkoumi, from the lavish districts down to the abandoned ghost towns, is given life through the gorgeously detailed artwork in the CGs.
  • Schmuck Bait: The last Interrogation in Fujieda's route makes it glaringly easy how to achieve the Euphoria and Madness endings. Once the player has progressed far enough, to get the good ending, all they need to do at the last two prompts is to not pick "It's okay." The option's description is even drawn over with distorted red lines to highlight how picking this choice is a terrible idea. Likewise, in the final Last-Second Ending Choice given to the player, it becomes obvious which choice leads to either ending.
  • Screw Destiny: Maya planned for Towa to succeed her, and made it her Last Request to have Towa fulfill what she believed is his fate as her replacement/reincarnation. In Fujieda's route, Sakaki concocts a plan to make this a reality. In the Euphoria ending, Towa refuses to let his mother define his life and his identity, and tells Sakaki (and by extension, Maya) that they can go shove it.
  • Second-Face Smoke: In one scene in the common route, Towa blows a huge puff of smoke at Taku's face to mess with the older man. In the After Story drama CD, Towa does the same thing again.
  • Secret Relationship: Even a year after Towa and Taku get a Relationship Upgrade, no one else realizes that they're an item, not even Rei.
  • Secret Room: The storage room in the clinic makes way to a basement where Taku does the more morally dubious jobs assigned to him by the Takasato-gumi. And in that basement, another door leads to a room where Taku keeps Towa prisoner in his Madness ending.
  • Secret Test of Character: Towa exercises some Tough Love on Taku in the After Story drama CD by challenging Taku's resolve and forcing him to come to a decision about what he really wants to do with his life.
    • Taku expresses his worries about whether he should resume his job as a doctor or not, feeling that after everything, he no longer has the right to perform the duties of one. Towa then cuts his own hand without warning to see if Taku is committed to his words.
    • After an argument, Taku returns home to find Towa all bruised up. Towa lets Taku assume that he slept with someone else for a moment to rattle the older man into being upfront about his truest feelings.
  • Sequel: The After Story drama CDs show what happens after the events of each love interest's route in the game.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: The After Story drama CD covering the aftermath of Madarame's story takes place in South America.
  • Sex Equals Love: Towa has a reputation for his promiscuity, but all of his sexual affairs are purely physical and he has no intention of seeking an emotional attachment with any of his partners. Naturally, this changes once Towa enters a relationship with any of his four love interests, where for the very first time, he experiences having sex for intimacy's sake.
  • Sex for Solace: A positive spin of the trope is used in Fujieda's route. Towa and Fujieda admit that their (proper) first time together isn't really them consummating as much as it was them licking each other's wounds from all they had been through after finding out the truth about Towa's past and about Mei. However, they are able to find comfort with each other, and only with each other, because of their similar circumstances, and it's obvious that feelings are beginning to blossom between the two. For extra points, after they sleep together and confide in each other about everything else, they agree to engage in a relationship when Fujieda proposes for them both to "support each other".
  • Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny: In Fujieda's Madness ending, Fujieda knows that Towa is no longer himself and his mind is more broken than ever, with Maya's influence fully taking control of his actions. Despite knowing this, Fujieda is unable to resist Towa's allure when the other seduces him.
  • Sex Is Violence: This is a recurring theme in the visual novel, since to Towa, sex and violence are two sides of the same coin. Similarly, some of his partners, specifically his models for his paintings as euphoria, find pleasure in either the physical violence itself or something different in form but equally macabre and brutal in essence.
  • Sexual Karma: Kotarou and Mayu's endings would not be called bad endings, since all that happened was that Towa hooked up with either of them, and the entire affair was mutually consensual. Even then, their endings are still a Non-Standard Game Over because it potentially affects how the rest of the plot might play out, and since Towa has yet to get together with either Rei or Taku at that point, the encounter further reinforces Towa's stance on preferring casual sex over a committed relationship.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend:
    • Whether it was because he managed to find out that much about Towa or just made a correct guess from what he observed in their interaction, Fujieda asks Towa if Madarame was his ex-lover, which Towa curtly denies even though Fujieda actually hit the nail right on the head with his question.
    • While Sakaki is introduced early on as a friend of Towa's mother, it's only in Fujieda's route just how deep their relationship ran. Towa even spitefully asks if Sakaki slept with Maya, though the older man is offended at the suggestion and denies it.
  • Shoegazing: All three ending themes sung by THE ANDS ("arlequin", "inside out", and "after all") are shoegaze tracks.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of the symptoms of a Deadly Drug that has recently been spreading around Shinkoumi is getting hallucinations of bugs crawling under one's skin, which is very reminiscent of a certain Hate Plague from another visual novel.
    • Whilst it is also likely to be a coincidence, Slow Damage isn't the first work that had two people surnamed Sakuragi and Sakaki, respectively, meet their deaths after falling down the stairs. Of course, there's no cosmic curse involved in Slow Damage, but still.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: In the Golden Ending, Towa gives a curt and cold reply that sums up how he feels about everything that Maya had done to him then and everything that Sakaki had attempted to do to him now.
    Towa: I'm not going to become Maya.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Anyone in Shinkoumi who has incurred a large enough debt is implanted with a chip called a "webtag", which would allow the Takasato-gumi to monitor their movements and ensure that they do not leave the city. If they attempt to escape, they will be hunted down and killed.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Towa is a heavy smoker, and has the tendency to take a drag after a round with whoever he ends up sleeping with.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: At one point, Towa and Fujieda attempt to get their pursuers off their trail by running in separate paths at Kouou Street. Because the background track for that area is chosen at random, there's a chance the player may end up hearing the "Mint" song, which doesn't fit the mood of the scene at all.
  • Staircase Tumble:
    • Maya died some time after taking a nasty fall down the stairs.
    • Sakaki meets his end by falling down the same set of stairs in both the Euphoria and the Madness endings of Fujieda's route. However, the way his death plays out is a little different in both endings: he unwittingly falls to his doom in the Euphoria ending; whereas Towa pushes him down in the Madness ending.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Deconstructed. When Taku tells Towa of why he's indebted to Toono, Towa tells him that if he hates being in his current situation so much, he can just throw in the towel. Of course, doing so is easier said than done, as Taku's anguished reaction clearly indicates.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • In Rei's route, no mention is made of what happens to the Takasato-gumi, hence it is likely that the organization never underwent any dissolution and things in Shinkoumi remain as they are.
    • Downplayed in Taku's route. It's directly stated that after the mainland's investigation in light of Toono's crimes, the situation in Shinkoumi will no longer be the same as it once was. However, the Takasato-gumi still remains intact.
    • By contrast, the trope is completely subverted in Madarame and Fujieda's routes. With both Toono and Sakaki's deaths, the Takasato-gumi's collapse is an inevitability and the mainland's intervention spells irreversible changes for Shinkoumi.
  • Succession Crisis: After the death of the Takasato-gumi's founder, it's left unknown who will take his place. The two most viable candidates are Sakaki and Toono, and neither of them get along with the other, which means that the entire organization is currently divided. It only gets worse when it becomes more likely that Sakaki will be the next leader.
  • Suddenly Shouting:
    • After Towa and Taku have a heartfelt conversation, the moment is interrupted when Towa is summoned. Taku tries to stop Towa and always speaks in a quiet and strained voice when he tells Towa to not leave and to stop "serving" Toono, only to raise his voice out of the blue when Towa stoically reminds him that he can't do anything to resist his situation.
    • When Sakaki expresses his consternation about Towa remembering Mei alongside Maya, Towa retorts by asking if it's because Towa would then remember how he loathed Maya for what she did to him. The question causes Sakaki to abruptly shout in outrage at Towa's defiance towards her.
  • Surprisingly Good English: Both of Madarame's ending themes are sung in English. The lyrics of both themes are grammatically sound, and are also sung with impressive fluency.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In Taku and Fujieda's routes, even though Towa is in a happier place after getting together with either of them, there are still nights where he suffers from nightmares. Whether he gets the chance to confront his past or not, just because he's currently in a better state of mind doesn't mean the trauma left behind by his childhood is bound to go away in an instant.
  • Take Your Time:
    • During an Exploration, the player can go to all other available areas in any order they wish before moving to the next checkpoint.
    • Subverted in an Interrogation. The player only has a limited number of "turns" to ensure that the character's Euphoria stays within a passable level up until the player has to select a Clue to end the Interrogation. Otherwise, they get a Non-Standard Game Over.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • A near-fatal version of the trope occurred in the past. In the shootout that cost Kaga his life, Toono attempted to shoot Madarame as well. Towa intervened in the last second and lost his right eye in the process.
    • In Taku's route, Taku jumps in right before Toono could shoot Towa dead, and he ends up with a wounded chest.
  • Talking in Bed: After Towa's final (in-game) sex scene with any of his love interests, both of them spend the aftermath having an intimate conversation on the bed.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Both Towa and Fujieda make it clear that there's no positive feelings between them, but they are also aware that they'll get their answers sooner if they work together. However, as they get a better understanding of each other later on, their cooperation starts to become more of a sincere joint effort and less of a reluctant alliance of convenience.
  • There Are No Therapists: Many are left suffering from the devastating effects of Japan's economic recession but are unable to find any legitimate therapy anywhere. This is lampshaded early on in the game when Taku and Rei converse about how the patients they tend to would often vent about their problems in the clinic because there's nowhere else for them to safely confide their troubles to.
  • Those Two Guys: Three, actually. Whenever Kotarou, Mayu or Eiji are seen on their own, Towa would sometimes lampshade the trope by asking where are the other two; to which any of them will reply that they're not together all the time.
  • Tongue Suicide: After being taken captive by Madarame, Towa attempts to bite his own tongue off, preferring to die now than stay as someone's prisoner for another second. Madarame quickly catches on, however, and is having none of it.

    Tropes U-Z 
  • The Unreveal: In one of the extra segments covering Madarame's route, Towa asks Madarame about the gunshot wound on his arm from before. Madarame mentions that he got it during one of his raids in the Deathmatch Area, but he doesn't go into any further details about who shot him. However, the liner notes hint that the attacker was Mizuno/Kirihara.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee:
    • In Taku's route, Eiji concocts a plan that would allow Towa and Taku to escape the Grand Palace Hotel with the evidence they need to convict Toono. Eiji doesn't reveal what his plan is, but Towa guesses that it involves bombs, which he ends up being right on the money about.
    • In Madarame's route, the plan to both spook Toono and ambush the Takasato-gumi during the succession ceremony is discussed in detail to both Towa and the player. The former plan goes off without a hitch, and the same goes for the latter regardless of whether the Euphoria or the Madness ending is achieved.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: The hedonistic and uninhibited Towa and the austere and prudish Fujieda eventually get together in the latter's route. That being said, the trope is deconstructed as it's revealed to the player beforehand why Towa behaves the way he does and just what kind of depths Fujieda harbors. Both of them also realize that while they appear to be like yin and yang on the surface, they find that they actually mirror each other in more ways than one, such as the kind of scars that they carry and the losses they suffered at their parents' hands.
  • Violence Is Disturbing: Even in a setting where crime, poverty and violence have become the norm in Shinkoumi to the point that the people living there have learned to just live with it, any unusual incidents where multiple victims suddenly gets cut up or beaten to half-death are still regarded with grim urgency.
  • Walking the Earth: Towa ends up traveling the country and/or going overseas with Rei and Madarame in their good endings.
  • We Can Rule Together: In her final message to Towa, Maya tells Towa that they're both capable of holding the world in the palm of their hands if they wished it.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • Igarashi reveals that there was a time when Toono and Sakaki were on better terms, but their relationship irreparably soured after Kaga's death.
    • In Madarame's route, Towa's relationship with both Taku and Rei becomes strained after Ikuina commits suicide, with the latter two worrying that Towa is starting to go overboard with his work as euphoria. This, combined with both Madarame's return and The Reveal that Taku had been keeping secrets from Towa the entire time, causes Towa to feel that he no longer belongs in his old home. This leads him to permanently burn bridges with Taku and Rei.
  • Wham Line:
    • In his route, Madarame reveals something about Taku that was hinted at in the latter's own route.
      Madarame: (to Towa) That man is lying to you. After your lost your memories as a kid, he filled your head with lies. Supposedly so you could have a happy life without any bad memories... but regardless, you've been living a lie.
      (after Towa confronts Taku over what Madarame told him)
      Taku: After the accident, you looked so dead inside... so I gave you some new memories. I'd make up happy stories and tell them to you over and over. But surely there was nothing wrong with that. What you didn't know couldn't hurt you.
    • Fujieda reveals that he's been asking around about Towa because he suspects that Towa's artist name, even if it was only suggested by Rei, is no coincidence.
      Fujieda: Did you know there was once an establishment called Euphoria? When I first learned of it, I thought it was interesting, since it's the same name as you.
      • Hasegawa would soon explain just what kind of business was going on in Euphoria, and in turn, the number of nightmares that Towa had about being helpless and frightened whilst at someone else's mercy.
        Hasegawa: Maya-san always said she started Euphoria in order to provide true happiness to her customers. But in reality... it was an evil corporation designed to enable their dark desires. They were equipped to fulfill any need. They even kept minors onsite.
    • At least once in each route, Towa would mention having a younger sister... something that Fujieda casts doubts on when he looks into Towa's history.
      Fujieda: Several Takasato associates have stated for the fact that you're the leader's son. That much is essentially verified, even without official records. But no information on your sister, which means... You are the only one who seems to remember she existed.
    • While Towa knew that finding out more about his past wasn't as simple as it seemed, Eiji hints to Towa that there's something else grander in scale waiting for Towa once he finds out enough.
      Eiji: Do you know who it was that made Shinkoumi so interesting in the first place? It was Maya-san. That's why I agreed to help Sakaki with his secret plan. I want to find out what will happen to this town in the wake of the second advent of Maya-san.
    • As far as everyone is concerned, Towa and his mother got into an accident and fell down the stairs. But Sakaki reveals that what happened in reality is slightly different from what Towa was told.
      Sakaki: (to Towa) You killed Maya. You were the one who pushed her.
  • Wham Shot: While changing from their rain-soaked clothes, Towa goads Fujieda into undressing right in front of him. While he only wished to mess with the other man, Towa finds himself at a loss for words when he sees that Fujieda's body is similar to his own— riddled with all kinds of scars.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Given what Taku is revealed to be dealing with thanks to his debt to Toono, the player is left guessing what happens to him at the end of Rei's route, since absolutely no hint is given in either the epilogue or the After Story drama CD, as Taku doesn't show up in the latter at all.
    • Although Madarame's own route explains why he never showed his face to Towa in both Taku and Rei's routes, it's never confirmed what became of him in the end of the latter two routes, where neither Toono nor Sakaki get assassinated and the Takasato-gumi doesn't end up collapsing. One safe guess is that Madarame decided to just leave Shinkoumi afterwards.
    • It's unknown what happens to Asakura in Rei and Madarame's routes since he's still struggling with the rumors of him being a pedophile and his desire for salvation from an "angel", neither of which gets resolved in the routes where he and Towa never cross paths.
    • In Taku's route, Asakura came close to performing what would have been a near-fatal surgery on Hayato had Towa not arrived at the last moment. Therefore, the player is left wondering whether Hayato still manages to escape that fate in the other routes where Towa doesn't encounter Asakura.
    • It's never known what becomes of Rei's father in Taku and Madarame's routes since he still is saddled with a huge debt, yet there's no hint in either route of Rei being troubled by anything involving his father or the Takasato-gumi.
    • After the events of "Chapter 2: Brother", Nakamura was sent to the Takanokuchi Medical Office. He's never mentioned after that, so whether he manages to recover or not is left unconfirmed.
    • After Mizuno's fistfight with Towa in Rei's route, the narration states that he got sent to the hospital some time later, but there's no hint of what happens to him afterwards. The most likely outcome is that he's either arrested or executed. In both Taku and Madarame's routes, either Eiji or Inada confirm that the Assault Party was dealt with offscreen; although what happens to Mizuno/Kirihara specifically is still left ambiguous. It's only in Fujieda's route that his fate is revealed when Eiji tells Towa that Mizuno died in a hit-and-run accident, which turns out to have been staged by Sakaki. That being said, if the player looks through the developer's notes, they'll learn that no matter what, the younger man will always end up dead at either the Takasato-gumi or at Madarame's hands.
    • The unnamed vampire's fate is left unknown in the common route, although it's highly likely that he didn't end up killing himself like he did in Fujieda's route. What further supports this possibility is that whether Sakaki puts Maya's plans into motion or not depends entirely on whether the vampire will commit suicide after his run-in with Towa, to which it doesn't in the common route.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Towa is on the receiving end of a calling-out a few times, mostly from Rei.
      • Rei verbally gives Towa what for when he learns that Towa spurned Ikuina's floral offerings, and demands that he apologize to the other man.
      • In Madarame's route, Rei reprimands Towa in an anguished voice when Towa refuses to return home in spite of his better judgement.
    • Towa himself lashes out at Taku when he finds the other man attempting to burn the contents of a delivery addressed to him, even giving Taku two hard punches in the face for it.
  • Where It All Began:
    • In this specific example, the trope is less about where and more about who it all started with. Ikuina and Asakura's twisted desires came to be because they were coerced into cutting up Towa when they were younger. Years later, if either of them gets to have a "euphoric session" with him once again, they finally find closure with their deep-seated frustrations.
    • Towa spent most of his childhood in the Euphoria mansion. It's also in that same place where he and Fujieda settle things once and for all with Sakaki (and, by proxy, Maya's ghost) in the climax of the true route.
  • Working Out Their Emotions: The Takasato-gumi permitted Deathmatches in Shinkoumi because countless citizens are struggling with their lot in life and need to vent out their frustrations in some way, and it turns out that pummeling someone is a good way of doing that.
  • World of Technicolor Hair: Some of the characters have realistic hair colors, but others stand out with their hair that's colored either pink (Rei), red (Taku and Megumu Kirihara), white (Kotarou), blue (Eiji), green (Honami, Mizuno and Inada) or purple (Roost's manager).
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: During their confrontation, in an attempt to make a final taunt, Sakaki tells Fujieda that he's the one who took Mei's life under Maya's orders.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In Fujieda's route, Sakaki forces Towa into a difficult situation: either "transform" into Maya or let Fujieda die. In response to this, Fujieda tries to reach out to Towa with only a few words to remind him that he's his own person and not a clone of his mother.
    Fujieda: You are euphoria.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: Played for Drama in Fujieda's route when Towa confronts Taku about hiding his past from him and presses him for answers. Even though it further earns him Towa's wrath, Taku refuses to budge, resolutely replying that there are some things Towa is better off not knowing.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: The trope is Taku's reaction word-for-word when Towa is in so much heat from the drug that one orgasm is not enough to calm his urges.
  • You Meddling Kids: While Fujieda and Sakaki face off in the climax, the latter gives a furious rant about how the Yuzuki siblings would always get in the way both then and now.
  • You Monster!: Fujieda is completely enraged when Sakaki reveals that he's the one who killed Mei.

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