Bad ends are everywhere in Collar x Malice. Almost immediately after Adonis, the terrorist group, places the life-threatening collar around the heroine’s neck, you can run into one. She meets her superior in the police department, Masanobu Mochida, and has the option of hiding what happened or telling him everything. Choosing the latter causes Adonis to inject her with the lethal poison and the game to end. What a buzzkill, right?
There are more bad endings than good ones in Collar x Malice. Sometimes, the decisions have immediate reactions. Deciding to take a shortcut home early in Mineo Enomoto’s route will have you stumble into one of Adonis’ X-Day situations and be killed by one of the people you would have investigated if you had picked Takeru’s route. Others build up. In Takeru Sasazuka’s story, you can make it to the end and survive, but unfortunately leave a lot of things unsaid due to your choices. But what makes this visual novel special is the range of endings. Even in this paragraph, the two examples represent different kinds of regrettable results.
Let’s use them, and a few others, to explain how important Collar x Malice’s bad endings can be. Some of the more abrupt ones tie into situations that you’ll investigate in other routes. The heroine is killed by Manabu Souda after identifying herself as a police officer after seeing him attack a women being assaulted by man. In Takeru’s route, where they are looking into the MMORPG X-Day murders, the two investigate Manabu, leading to his arrest. In the first bad ending in Kageyuki Shiraishi’s route, the heroine comes upon Rika Sugawara crying for Zero and is killed by her after (again) identifying herself as a police officer. However, in Kei Okazaki’s route, the two characters spend quite a bit of time talking to the former stalking victim and learning about the impact it had on her life.
This means that some of the bad endings help expand your knowledge of the X-Day situations, their victims and their perpetrators. In each of them, you can see firsthand people suffering or causing suffering. We see exactly how desperate and determined people are. Rika has essentially been driven mad by the experience, getting a warped perspective on what love is. We catch a glimpse of that with Kageyuki, but really understand what happened by heading down Kei’s path. Manabu essentially believes himself to be a god, some sort of justified warrior, and we see how that impacts his actions in Mineo’s route. But then, in Takeru’s story, we see how easily he becomes undone.
If a bad ending isn’t offering new insight into minor characters and their motivations, then it is helping you learn more about the men you may be pursuing in Collar x Malice. Many of the bad endings for a character’s route show what a character may be capable without the heroine’s influence. Mineo’s impulsiveness is showcased in one of his bad endings. In the case of Kei, we see the depths of his devotion and loyalty. He has three bad endings where his attentiveness is on full display. We gain a greater understanding of these heroes through these abrupt events.
It is weird to say a bad ending may be a rewarding thing, but that is exactly what happens in Collar x Malice. With each character having at least five bad endings occurring in their storylines, they have to do more than deliver an admonishment for inappropriate actions. Instead, they help us learn more about the game’s world and characters. Someone might even start to look forward to and search for them, so they can better understand everyone they encounter.