Café Stella and the Reapers’ Butterflies was released in Japanese by the well-known Yuzusoft on November 23rd, 2019. With the efforts of HIKARI FIELD and NekoNyan, it debuted in English on March 25th, 2022.
As far as Yuzusoft games go, I have to say that Café Stella is definitely a better read than most. Compared to the other titles the studio has released, the plot felt so organic it shocked me.
To summarize, the story revolves around a guy called Takamine Kousei. His life makes a total U-turn after he had a near-death experience, and he ends up working at Café Stella. All things considered, he is pretty satisfied with this turn of events. After all, he was looking for a job.
Beyond being his new place of employment, Café Stella is also where he meets the heroines of the story. We have a grim reaper; a genki girl; the protagonist’s childhood friend; the popular girl from school; and a newly-hired worker at the cafe, who is also a master at sweets-making.
With such a wide variety of girls, everyone should be able to find one to their liking. Some of them are more mysterious than others, but they all have interesting routes, defined by their own issues.
That said, even though the story is better than expected, Café Stella is still falls into the same issues as other Yuzusoft titles. The slice of life segments can turn monotonous and boring if you try to be a completetionist and read every route; the repetitive music doesn’t help either… I found it relaxing at the beginning, but after a few hours of reading, I found myself wishing for something new to listen to.
Warning: There will be minor spoilers, but nothing that would ruin your experience!
She’s also a grim reaper, and the reason Kousei begins to work at the cafe. She actually founded Café Stella herself in order to capture “butterflies” — otherwise known as the remnants of souls that have yet to be delivered to their place of eternal rest. Most people can’t see those butterflies, that’s where Kousei becomes a special case, and which is the reason to even ever meet Kanna. But what happens when Kousei falls in love with this cute grim reaper? Will they have to say goodbye or is their love too strong for anything to separate them?
Kanna is next to Natsume the Yuzusoft communities favorite, and I found out why. Not only is she abnormally hot, but you will also be able to experience her soft side. Her past has been everything but happiness, and being able to live with it as she does just underlines her strong personality.
Natsume is the popular girl from school. She is exactly the kind our protagonist couldn’t ever imagine having a chance at going out with. In addition to that she is a classic tsundere, and being very sharp tounged can make it hard to understand her. Most people seem to think of her as a calm, collected person… in reality she is just unsure of how to express her emotions. She’s also quite innocent, and mentioning even the most slightly sexual thing makes her a blushing mess.
You will soon find out about Natsume’s drinking habbit. This may sound bad at first, but it creates a calming environment for the route and also interesting conversations.
As I mentioned above, Natsume is together with Kanna most peoples favorite Heroine. You can see why if you look at her gorgeous appearance in a QiPao. But this is definitely not all to Natsume. You will get to know about her past and slowly take a precious spot in Natsume-Chans heart~
Nozomi is the childhood friend. She’s cheerful and kind, and is more upfront with Kousei than most of the other girls, due to her past with him. Her father is a priest at a Shinto shrine, and it isn’t rare to see her helping her family by performing shrine maiden duties. She’s also a huge foodie, a fact that makes her insecure about her weight and is always driving her to check the scale.
This route will touch upon the previously mentioned “butterfly” — in this case, apparently a confused spirit haunting Nozomi and causing some issues for her. But that’s only the beginning of Kousei helping his innocent childhood friend who, obviously, always had some feelings for him already.
Her kimonos and miko dresses give her a beautiful appearance, but sadly, that’s not all to Nozomi. At this point I will need to point out some negatives about this route.
At one point in the route, Nozomi becomes unreasonably jealous. You may think being jealous is a good sign, as it says that she is deeply in love with Kousei, right? No. It makes her look weird. This is something I experienced myself, but also heard many Yuzusoft fans complaining about. In addition to that, the route feels stretched out. Midway through I just wanted Yuzusoft to get to the point. This makes this route probably the least recommended one out of all.
Mei’s a straightforward, athletic girl who likes to keep things simple. She’s a former member of a swim team, and has a childish side that comes out particularly in her love for stuffed animals.
Mei’s route is built around her supernatural power to see the previously mentioned “butterflies”, but that’s not all — Kousei can see them too. To be more exact, Mei can make them “disappear”… but what’s the catch? Other than Kanna, Mei doesn’t know a thing about those butterflies being actually souls of deceased people still lingering in the world. The problem is: those souls can cause heavy mood swings for others in their day to day, hence her making them disappear improves the mood of the people who attract these butterflies. Sadly, she got into a fight with a good childhood friend because of her ability. As Kousei lends her a helping hand, they slowly fall in love.
Mei’s route felt pretty short compared to the others, but with Yuzusoft, that’s actually a plus. The more Yuzusoft tries to make a story complex, the worse it gets. At the same time it wasn’t the most creative thing I’ve read. Again, I wished it to end a bit faster than it did, even considering it being short already.
Suzune, the sister of Kousei’s best friend. A reliable girl when it comes to work, but a total slacker once she’s off the clock. The only exception to this rule is sweets — she takes the making of them very seriously, and you’ll never find her efforts half-assed when it comes to their preparation. She may look very young and fragile, but out of all the heroines she is actually the most grown up and reliable one. This is (as bonus route usually are) the shortest one and won’t take you long to finish.
I won’t go into too much detail here, as I can’t show anything spicy. That being said, the majority of the 18+ scenes are enjoyable. Sadly, some of the scenes aren’t the most proportional when it comes to the girls’ anatomy, and I was incapable of ignoring that. Because of that, it was hard to fully enjoy the rest of the content. But, besides that, the H-scenes do meet the usual Yuzusoft standard, so if you enjoyed previous Yuzusoft titles, rest assured.
I’ve never had an issues with Yuzosoft’s art, and Café Stella is no exception. Whether it’s the sprites, the backgrounds, and (with some notable exceptions) the H-scenes, I was quite happy with the art.
Yuzusoft has great artists, so I can only praise them for their continued good work.
Café Stella is definitely one of the better Yuzusoft games I’ve played. As usual, the characters are unique, and you won’t be forgetting them easily. That being said, I unfortunately can’t give the game a higher rating than a 6/10.
I’m sure you may be wondering, How did you come to that conclusion after praising so many different aspects of the game? My complaints here mostly come down to things: the music, which should be much better for a company as prominent as Yuzusoft; and the sheer number of slice of life segments. To be clear, the writing of the individual segments isn’t the issue — there’s just way too many of them.
In addition to these complaints, I’ve got to mention the proportion issues in the H-scenes. This really shouldn’t be an issue for as big a company as Yuzusoft, especially since they are targeting the 18+ market. I’ve noticed several instances where, let’s say, the right boob was a good deal bigger than the left. That just isn’t something that should be happening in a VN like this.
It all comes down to a lack of effort and attention to detail, I guess. If small developers from the early 2000s were able to create masterpieces in every single aspect, why can’t Yuzusoft?
Despite my complaints, this is still the highest I’ve rated any Yuzusoft game I’ve played so far. And, if you aren’t put off by any of the flaws I mentioned, maybe you’ll fall in love with Café Stella more than I did.