Finally, we’ve reached the man of the hour: Yanagi Aiji. Whether we like it or not, he is the poster boy of Collar x Malice and it really shows in his own route. Please say you don’t like it because I don’t mind having this man all to myself.
Alright, I’m joking. Still, I really loved this man and how his route progressed. Guess you can call me basic for loving the poster boy.
Quick side note: I’m not the type of otome fan to say the poster boy route is the canonical route. I believe all routes can be canonical. Though I’m aware otome adaptations may say otherwise…
Anyways, interested in my other Collar x Malice appreciation posts? Click below on the name of your love to see what I say about them:
Enomoto | Okazaki | Sasazuka | Shiraishi
Basic info on Yanagi:
Reasons why I love this man:
1. His Voice
Not Yanagi having the same voice as Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach one of my favorite childhood anime and having the same voice as best waifu of Genshin Impact: Thoma.
Sorry, but I had to. Actually, with Morita, I’m not too familiar with other roles that he’s done. I also wonder if he is in anymore otome games because so far I have not seen him in any other otome I’ve come across. Granted, I am new to this genre so I could have missed him. Still, I really want to see more of Morita in otome games since I really liked his performance as Yanagi.
2. His Facial Expressions
Don’t get me wrong, all of the guys have great facial expressions especially Enomoto when he’s freaking out, but for some reason I loved Yanagi’s the most. Particularly times when Yanagi just looks like he doesn’t want to be there, it’s wonderful looking at how dismayed or disgusted he looks.
I just think this man just wants to try to have the least amount of drama in his life as possible. He is a 28 year old man that already acts like he is 68 and tired of life. Same Yanagi, same. I mean, even the little girl above calls him uncle. Yanagi, there’s no lies there.
3. Speaking of Expressions, I Love How He Looks, too
It’s time for me to be shallow and admit that I really like Yanagi’s design. Yes, it’s arguably the simplest of the love interests in the game and a bit generic with the black hair and brooding look, but let me have this guys!
Okay, I hear what this person is saying about canon bois, but please…what’s so bad about brown and blacked hair male leads? Okay, some variety would be nice.
Actually, if you asked me what my favorite hair color in a man is, I would say black. What can I say? I just really like the deep as the darkest night color on my men. Black is just too classic.
Though, I’ll admit, when I first saw the love interests in CxM, I was actually attracted to Enomoto’s appearance more and I still do love how he looks, but Yanagi also takes the cake.
4. Speaking of Appearances, When’s the Delinquent Look Coming Back, Yanagi?
Okay, I figure a delinquent look on a 28 year old man wouldn’t look as good on him compared to when he was 16, but I’d still like to see it for the giggles. Also, Ichika was so funny when she found out about Yanagi being a former delinquent. The way she imagined such a stereotype of a delinquent with the piercings, the baseball bat, motorcycle riding through the school hallways and more had me in stitches. Not to mention, she had the boldness to ask him to talk like how he used to in his delinquent days and poor Yanagi was all in a fluster.
That aside, I just like how he looks at 16. He had some piercings that I wouldn’t mind at least one of them coming back. I guess seeing the CG of Yanagi at that time also helped. Don’t mind the fact that he nearly beat a man to death right before we see him in all his bloody delinquent glory.
Yeah, I’m a horrible person.
5. His First Meeting with Ichika (Long section incoming!)
On the topic of delinquent Yanagi, let’s talk a bit about his first encounter with Ichika. In the beginning when Ichika is first rescued in the church, Yanagi acts like this isn’t the first time they met. A small part of Ichika also realizes that she’s seen those sad eyes before. Turns out they have, of course.
I have to say I really do like the backstory between Ichika and Yanagi despite how tragic and bloody it was (and traumatising to Ichika).
For those that don’t know what happened, though I assume you do if you’re reading this post, Ichika was kidnapped when she was child (~9 years old). She was separated from her parents and a young Kazuki and taken by a strange man, but not before she made brief eye contact with a boy who happened to be passing by. Of course, that boy was Yanagi who followed them to a church – the church that Ichika would once again wake up in after being collared 12 years later.
Unfortunately, Yanagi’s initial attempt to rescue Ichika doesn’t go so well as the strange man easily subdues him and chains him up along with Ichika. Then, he violently assaults the two of them to the point that they’re both beaten unconscious.
Once Yanagi wakes up, he is wracked with guilt. He let kidnapper beat the both of them and he had failed to rescue Ichika. Desperate and frightened, Yanagi forces himself out of his chains, takes the metal pipe he brought with him and brutally attacks the man over and over again. They provide a CG of Yanagi in the midst of attacking this man and honestly, it is a bit disturbing. I did find Yanagi a bit scary in the CG.
In the middle of this severe beating, Ichika wakes up and witnesses the terrible assault to its end. Ichika’s memories right before the event are fuzzy, so she doesn’t remember Yanagi coming in to try and save her.
Probably due to how strikingly harrowing this scene is, initially Yanagi beating the man with his pipe is the only fragment of her kidnapping that Ichika remembers in her adulthood. Heck, Yanagi is seen as just a formless black monster in her nightmares at first as well.
Eventually, after the cries of the man die out, Yanagi stops beating him and goes to unchain Ichika and asks if she’s okay. She doesn’t answer as she is flooded with fear of this being, this monster who stands in front of her. Seeing her fear, Yanagi asks if she is scared of him to which she nods. It’s at that moment that he realizes the magnitude of what he’s just done along with the fact the girl he came to rescue sees him as the bad guy now. Before he can try to soothe Ichika further, she passes out.
Presumably, Yanagi brings her back to her family but as for Ichika, her memory of the event ends after she faints.
It’s a rather long memory and one that is really better experienced firsthand than through my secondhand account. I just felt really awful for the two of them. Ichika for having to be separated from her family and assaulted at such an age where the trauma still stuck with her into adulthood.
And Yanagi who just wanted to play the vigilante and rescue her but ended up being seen as a monster instead. Not to mention, he has to live on with the guilt of taking a life, if not physically than mentally as the kidnapper never awoke from the coma Yanagi put him in. 12 years on, and we see Yanagi still visits him in the hospital.
The only good outcome of this was that it led to the two meeting again and healing through each other in Yanagi’s route.
On a lighter side note: What was Yanagi doing outside that day Ichika was kidnapped? Shouldn’t he have been in school? My headcanon is that being the delinquent he is, he was skipping school and hanging out in Shinjuku Garden just chilling before he witnessed the kidnapping. Maybe he was even sneaking a smoke? The truant.
6. His Route Wraps up X-Day and Reveals the Truth
I mean, this is a given since Yanagi’s route is locked until you play through everyone else’s route. Once you start his route, the game already expects you to know most, if not, all about the previous cases and will quiz you on some past cases so be prepared! Don’t wait too long to do his route or you may not remember specifics that you need to.
We also finally look into finding out who Zero is, as if we didn’t already know who it was since the beginning. I’m serious, I already knew who it was since the common route. Still, it was nice to finally confront Zero and learn the reasons for why Ichika was collared, why X-Day, and why the betrayal.
It’s just gratifying to finally reach the end and on a blind run, it feels even better to wrap up such a long overarching story after stumbling and falling through such a trippy game.
7. His Birthday Coincided with Me Finishing the Game
I spent months on this game and felt bad about taking so long to stream the game, so when I got to Shiraishi’s route, I buckled up and dedicated a week to just streaming his route. It was during this time that I learned Yanagi’s birthday was coming up soon. I decided then to do my last Collar x Malice stream on his birthday no matter where I am on his route.
So on September 5th, which coincidentally was also Labor Day here in the states, I started on chapter 5 of Yanagi’s route and streamed until the end. It took me 9 hours – by far my longest stream ever, but I regret nothing. It was a fun stream, if not a bit stressful since I didn’t get the good ending at first and it was a bit worrying on where exactly I went wrong (turns out only 1-2 of my answers were wrong, ahhh, so close).
But I triumphantly finished his route with a warm heart and a very empty stomach as I can proudly say I starved myself for this man.
8. His CGs Made my Heart Flutter, I guess
I sound a bit uncertain because I’m actually surprised at myself. I mean, I loved the CGs of the other love interests as well and found them cute, funny, adorable, great, etc. but for some reason a lot of Yanagi’s CGs left me in a bit of a tizzy. I don’t think I ever had a stirring of a physical reaction to any of the CGs except for Yanagi’s. Why? Not sure myself but I certainly can’t deny the dazed like feelings I got when some of these CGs popped up.
I guess I’m finally experiencing the true otome experience as a newbie in this genre. Someone send help please. I’m not ready.
And that concludes my Collar x Malice appreciation posts! I will apologize here if I sounded a bit weird here and there and if my grammar wasn’t the best. I will admit that I’m not feeling too well as I type this but I hope you enjoyed this post and checked out my other appreciation posts!
As for Yanagi, I hope this post made you have better feelings for this man. I think poster boys (I THINK that’s what you otome folks call them), or the main lead of the game tend to have not receive as much love like the other love interests since they’re seen as the canonical love interests.
It sucks, but I also understand why folks may not care for them as much especially if they love one or more of the other love interests a lot more than the “canonical” one. Heck, I’ve seen someone say Zero is the only one who deserves Ichika. What a statement. But I also respect other people’s opinions, so love who you love.
And I’ll keep Yanagi all to myself, thank you~ Joking…or am I? (I am).