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Cafe Stella to Shinigami no Chou Part 1?

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Clephas

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To be blunt, I might or might not continue playing this game, so I thought I'd go ahead and get my thoughts down now, after finishing one path.  More and more these days, I only play one path of a game before moving on, after all.

Shinigami no Chou is Yuzusoft's latest release, and it is more along the lines of its more SOL-focused games like Sanoba Witch, as opposed to its more plot-focused ones like Dracu-riot or Senren Banka.  As such, the ichaicha and H-scenes are a bit overly long and the common route drags out more than their more plot-focused games. 

That said, this game is an example of what Yuzusoft does best... amusing characters, decent settings, reasonably good protagonists, and a fantasy edge to the whole thing.  In this case, the protagonist turns out to have a 'large soul' that can cause miracles by interacting with the weaker wandering souls (in the form of mystic butterflies), and as a result, when he dies, his wish to live causes time to reverse itself.  The shinigami Kanna, whose job is to guide souls to the afterlife, is essentially ordered by the divine brass to watch over the protagonist to make sure he doesn't harm reality further by creating more miracles, and the solution to the problem is for him to be satisfied with life (romance in other words). 

This game's concept is a bit closer to a nakige than most of their previous games, which tended to be either primarily humorous love-comedies or story-focused with some action (with some exceptions).  The common route supplies some decent cheap catharsis at a few points without going overboard, and Kanna's route, which is the route I chose to do, has some really nice cathartic points in the classic nakige sense (almost Key-style). 

I will say that my primary complaint is that the clothes the characters end up wearing for the larger part of the game (the waitress uniforms) are actually some of the ugliest clothes I've seen in a moe-influenced VN in some time.  I know that is a weird complaint coming from me, but it seriously bothered me that the girls were calling those uniforms 'cute'.  I won't go so far as to say they were repulsive, but they were of a style that lost my interest instantly, lol.

One element that many who are tired of the usual tropes will be happy with is that the protagonist is actually in his third year of college when the story begins, and school is definitely not the focal setting of the game.  The greatest amount of time is spent in the cafe where he ends up working, and, unlike many games where a cafe is the focal setting, it actually manages to be interesting (most 'cafe setting' VNs are either nukige or extremely boring moege with sugary sweet heroines that seem like you might be able to see the sun shining from their eyes due to the hole in the back of their heads). 

Kanna's route is an excellent example of the best way to handle a story of a soul searching for happiness, and I absolutely loved the way the ending was handled, with the relatively extensive epilogue that followed the protagonist and Kanna for at least half a decade after the climax of the path.  That said, since she is the obvious main heroine, it strikes me as unlikely the other paths will reach the same level, lol. 

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