There is a trend people may have noticed in Japanese games. It is a phenomenon known as red oni and blue oni. In Japanese folklore, there would always be two different kinds of oni, one who was red and one who was blue. Various elemental qualities and personalities became associated with the type, with the red oni being a fiery and passionate man of action and the blue oni being more calm, logical and stoic. The concept became pervasive, with such pairs appearing in all sorts of media. Collar x Malice, Aksys and Idea Factory’s latest visual novel, gives people one of the clearest examples of the red oni and blue oni dynamic. In so doing, it helps people better understand the notion.
This happens through two of its characters. Once our heroine becomes involved with the Adonis and X-Day investigations, she finds herself working on a team alongside Mineo Enomoto and Takeru Sasazuka. The former used to be a part of the police department’s Field Operations Unit, a group that would be on the street investigating major cases. The latter was a member of the police’s Cybercrime Prevention division. The opening moments immediately set the two up as the red oni and blue oni, both visually and professionally. Everything is laid out ahead of us. There is no dispute over what personality type each character represents.
At a glance, you can tell which Collar x Malice is which. Mineo is a red-head, while Takeru has pale blue hair. Their name tags above the text box show their affiliations, with Takeru’s name always set against a powder blue background and Mineo’s against a crimson one. But even if dozens of games with people possessing unnatural hair colors have dulled you to this rather obvious reference, their facial expressions show who they truly are. Mineo is expressive and passionate, showcasing every extreme. Mineo is far more reserved. Even when an occasion causes him to lose his composure, he has a chillier demeanor.
Mineo and Takeru’s personalities exemplify the red and blue oni personas. Mineo is passionate. He is prone to flowery speeches. I mean, he even wears an eye patch in honor of Date Masamune, a legendary hero from Japan’s Edo period of history. He’s unquestionably strong and wild, but in an open and genuine way. More importantly, when the situation calls for it, Mineo can be dependable and responsible. Takeru, meanwhile, is a collected and calculated individual. He is rather cool towards everyone, punctuating his silence with blunt statements that get to the heart of a matter. He’s exceedingly intelligent. However, there is a side to him. We witness him ‘’break” very early in Collar x Malice, going so far as to choke our heroine. Each one is a typical red and blue oni.
Their roles on Collar x Malice’s team make good use of their red and blue oni personas. Mineo is on the streets. He’s actively visiting crime scenes and investigating situations. He charges into situations and, even though the group trusts him to contribute, he obviously isn’t the smartest member. Still, his strength and enthusiasm has its place. Meanwhile, Takeru is the sort of analytical mind you trust for hacking purposes. He’s organized and quickly thinks things through. With his help, the detectives have a better chance of unexpected insights into Adonis and the collar around the heroine’s neck. Their natures and specialties make the team stronger.
With Collar x Malice, we get to see the red oni and blue oni dynamic in action. We see how each personality type acts in various situations. Their strengths and weaknesses are completely on display. Through these interactions with other people and one another, we are able to see how these foils play off of one another and further the story. Most importantly, it is set up in a memorable way. Once people learn what the red oni and blue oni structure is like and see it in action in Collar x Malice, they will never forget and easily be able to see the influence in other forms of media.