I finished my first Collar x Malice route with a bang (pun intended). I played blindly and ended up on Okazaki Kei’s route and I gotta say the man is precious. Weird, but precious.
He’s also the first route in an otome game where I actually got the best ending without using a walkthrough and with the love catch off, so if that doesn’t mean we’re fated to be then I don’t know what will.
Quick Rundown of Okazaki:
From here there are spoilers, so beware!
In the beginning, I found him to be a bit of an enigma at first – equal parts sleepy spacy boy and equal parts capable police officer you can count on. He grew on me throughout his route (especially since I have a soft spot for sleepy boys). Though, he was not someone who caught my eye at first, he is certainly up there as one of my favorite love interests who needs protecting, I swear.
That brings to the issue I wanted to present today: The Christmas Eve scene with Ichika and Okazaki. Out of all the great scenes in Okazaki’s route, this one is perhaps not one of the best.
Before I wrote this piece up, I had talked to a couple friends about this particularly polarizing scene after someone in my livestream called out Ichika for her callous behavior towards Okazaki and his trauma.
As someone who is slow and not confident in her own opinions, I wanted to seek the opinion of others while writing up a post to emphasize the scene and its impact.
I’ll break down the scene first for clarity.
After pursuing an agent named Sanjou Keisuke of the terrorist group, Adonis, Ichika and Okazaki are left injured. Okazaki was left with heavy injuries enough to be hospitalized because he was determined to protect Ichika. At the hospital, Ichika is faced with the fact that Okazaki is really just using her to fulfill his wish to die protecting someone he believes is worth protecting.
Angry and hurt, Ichika cuts off their relationship not wanting to be protected by someone like that. Although she was fine with Okazaki being her knight before, her growing feelings for him leaves her conflicted over his apparent resignation to die. The two don’t resolve their differences until days pass and Christmas Eve arrives.
On December 24th, Ichika and Okazaki are forced to confront their issues with each other after getting into an argument in front of Yanagi’s group (minus Shiraishi). Yanagi, being the father he is, says they can’t move forward with the next stage of their plan against Adonis until Ichika and Okazaki resolve their issues. Oh, yes, and Sasazuka is also there to rudely tell them to take their lover’s spat elsewhere. Always the saint, Sasazuka.
Anyways, they are basically kicked out to talk it out with each other before Yoshinari intervenes with some
KFC fried chicken and other goodies because its Christmas. Armed with Christmas dinner, they go back to Okazaki’s apartment to continue their conversation alone.
Eventually, Okazaki opens up about why he is so deadset on finding a special someone to protect to the death.
I just hate myself for being unable to protect anyone and I can’t forgive myself for being saved.-Okazaki Kei
(I’m copying here Okazaki’s narration and summarizing other parts for clarity).
“A terrorist organization made an assassination attempt on the Prime Minister two years ago. The name of those terrorists was Adonis. The police learned of their plan in advance, so we were on high alert around the Prime Minister. I was still a rookie at the time, but I was also assigned to the Prime Minister’s residence….As was my colleague.
It was strangely quiet that day. My colleague and I were posted in the lobby of the residence, and we were making small talk. The Prime Minister was surrounded by veteran officers, so we didn’t think we’d need to act.
Back then, I was more carefree. The Prime Minister’s schedule, SP deployments, emergency escape routes and contingency plans…We all thought our detailed preparations wouldn’t allow for any mishaps. But…
The anomaly occurred several hours after it had been predicted to happen. There should have always been another SP officer in my line of sight, but I couldn’t see anyone. No one was responding over radio or cell phone. Someone was clearly jamming the communications.
I was sure that the enemy wouldn’t make a frontal assault, no matter how many people they had. A few minutes passed after my colleague left. Suddenly, the sound of a huge explosion rocked me. And, in the next instant, my world was just heat and flames. The walls and ceiling had begun to crumble. We’d allow a terrorist attack to happen”.
Okazaki proceeds to hesitate in saving a fallen man under some debris due to the ever present risk of death. Before he could leap into action, his colleague, Tsukishima, returns to stop him saying the man is beyond help. In the middle of the two arguing, the ceiling above them collapses over Okazaki. Thankfully, he is saved by his colleague, but unfortunately, Tsukishima dies in Okazaki’s place.
Tsukishima’s last words to Okazaki: “It wasn’t supposed…to be like this…This is all your fault…Okazaki. It all went wrong because…of you…Hey…Okazaki. Don’t be like me…As an SP…You find a death that has meaning…To you…”
Okazaki believed Tsukishima died a meaningless death in protecting him as he had gained nothing from dying like that. This is compounded by the fact that Tsukishima turned out to be an Adonis spy.
Although the Prime Minister lived, the SP took the blame for not doing their job properly and Okazaki was transferred and demoted. He went from VIP protection detail to training new recruits up until the events of the game. Even then, he was just assigned to observation duty over Yanagi’s group.
What was he living for? What was he doing to live up to his fallen colleague’s expectations? What was he actually protecting?
Afraid to die like Tsukishima, full of regret, Okazaki sought to find a meaningful death by dying while protecting someone whose life had value. Someone who wouldn’t run away from danger and was steadfast in their goals. Someone he could look up to and be assured he or she could be a vehicle for achieving his wish. Someone like Ichika.
You know, when you die…that’s it. Nothing more. You can’t talk while looking into someone’s eyes like this, you can’t hold hands or laugh or cry…Everything is gone. You have nothing.Hoshino Ichika
As a few people have pointed out to me, Ichika’s response to Okazaki opening up about his trauma is…not great.
Although, Ichika shows some sympathy and contentment at finally understanding Okazaki’s dying wish, she is still determined to hold onto her own wish of wanting to keep Okazaki alive.
Ichika eventually admits that at first she was fine being protected by Okazaki and using him to further her own goals in solving the X-Day cases, but as her personal feelings grew so did her desire to live together with Okazaki. She goes as far to say that she’d be fine if someone else died protecting her, but she wouldn’t be able to live with herself if it was Okazaki. It’s here that she confesses her love for him.
Unfortunately, this still doesn’t get through to Okazaki who says he can just find someone else to die for. This sets off Ichika who calls him stupid for being in such a hurry to die. She proceeds to passionately find things around Okazaki’s apartment that he will miss like movies and sweets – small things that will force him to want to live.
This is intersparsed with some cutting dialogue from Ichika that reproaches Okazaki and his wish to die through such quotes like the one above. Some other ones are:
“Dying while protecting someone is just cowardly. You’re not fulfilling any duty.”
“If you live, you can protect many people. Neglect that, and you’re a failure as both SP and police officer.”
“After you die, I’m going to forget all about you, fall in love with someone else sane, and I’ll actually be happy. Maybe I’ll fall for Yoshinari, or maybe I’ll choose Yanagi. That’s none of your concern, right?”
“Then why don’t you rage against death and live life?! Why don’t you show me that you have the guts to protect me until I die of old age!? Th-Then, maybe you can actually call yourself a real SP officer!”
Some of the dialogue above can be triggering to some especially those who relate to Okazaki, I think. At one point, before she was aware of what she was doing, Ichika slaps Okazaki. In her anger and frustration over the stubborn Okazaki, her emotions burst out in a physical assault. She wants Okazaki to love her like she loves him. She wants to live together forever with him, but death is all he seems to think about.
How do you convince someone to live who has wanted death for a long time?
I want to preface this section by saying that I have only played Okazaki’s route in Collar x Malice. Thus, I don’t know how Ichika is like in the other routes. This post is strictly an opinion of Ichika in Okazaki’s route. I have heard some good things of her in other routes like Shiraishi’s but I have no personal experience with that so I can’t say either way.
I grew concerned about this particular scene after realizing for some people that Ichika’s words and actions were triggering due to their own personal issues. For one to open up to someone about a deep rooted trauma or issue only for it to be downplayed or belittled is off-putting. Include a slap and acerbic words on top of that can make things worse.
As someone who doesn’t think much of my life and hold the value of others’ lives more highly, I relate to Okazaki heavily. Changing someone like that, would not be an overnight occurrence, at least when it comes to me. Everyone is different, of course.
Ultimately, I feel this is tough. Too paint Ichika as a complete villain (or asshole as one person put it), I feel is a bit harsh but I also understand why someone would call her that. Understandably, she is trying to get the man she loves to cling to life again and to stay by her side forever. She is emotionally charged in this scene, in a way that is detrimental to her rational side of thinking.
Still, the slap and some of her words rubbed me the wrong way as I felt that was being too harsh on Okazaki who was vulnerable and easily swayed by Ichika’s words. I didn’t like how Okazaki put himself down in the midst of Ichika’s response. I think calling himself selfish for one thing was right and wrong. This may be a bit controversial but I do believe he was selfish for involving another in his wish to die as he didn’t think about the other person’s feelings at all. Okazaki himself admits this and even says that he didn’t view Ichika as another human being at first, but as a vehicle or tool to fulfill his wish.
But at least he recognizes this and is remorseful over it. I would say that’s the only thing I find Okazaki guilty for. Calling him selfish for wanting to die is another more convoluted matter entirely.
Okazaki apologizing for the “stupid things” he said or accepting the slap when he could have dodged it, as even Ichika notes, just make this scene sadder to me. In the end, he does give in to Ichika’s words and living with her becomes his new wish. That’s great, but I feel the events leading to it could’ve been taken in better steps.
If someone more sensitive or naïve had been the receiving end of Ichika’s words, I’d fear for their mental and emotional well-being afterwards. People who are similar to Okazaki usually don’t respond well to being told a wish similar to his is selfish or being forced to confront the things or people they’d miss in life. I also believe that even if one changes for the better, relapses can happen. Changing the mindset of someone in Okazaki’s position can be difficult in the long-run. Though again, I can’t speak for everyone.
(I also have not played Collar x Malice Unlimited obviously and I don’t know if this particular issue is revisited at all in Okazaki’s route in that game).
In the end, those are just my thoughts. Could I have done a better job? To be honest, I don’t think so. I am awful at articulating my thoughts and not confident in my words. Actually, I feel I’m too similar to Okazaki because Ichika’s words didn’t resonate with me as somewhat off until she slapped him. Yet, even I think a more compassionate approach would have been better.
What are your thoughts? Was this scene fine with you guys or do you think it needed some tweaking? I would like to know more people’s thoughts on this scene if I could.
Stay tuned for more otome-centric posts like this one! If you haven’t already, take a look at my overly long and convoluted Hakuoki post where I reviewed Kyoto Winds and Edo Blossoms. Or not, up to you.
Thanks for reading and take care!