Welcome, all, again. While my last two posts have covered newly released anime projects, today’s discussion will focus on the series Blend-S, a consistent favorite of mine this viewing season which I nonetheless delayed reviewing as I waited for all of its cast to come into play. It is high school student Maika Sakuranomiya’s arrival as a new employee at the themed cafe Stile that really sets our story into motion, we having first watched her get scouted by Stile’s manager Dino specifically for the same disturbing scowl that has thus far kept her unemployed. That scowl has real potential at a cafe that trades on the theme of personality types.
And so Maika finds herself assigned the role of sadist, tormenting her customers with biting remarks, scathing looks, and even the occasional slight that directly affects their orders. Most of this comes difficult for Maika, who actually has an inherently cheerful and friendly personality. Her saving grace while in character is a slight airheadedness that couples well with her frightening glare to create a [thoroughly unintended] sense of menace. Mind you, she does have other complications relating to her new job, most especially her manager’s smothering crush on her–she just has to notice, first. And she’s certainly the only one unaware of it; her coworkers constantly play off the fact, while her two older siblings, both brother and sister, mistake Dino for her boyfriend.
Maika’s coworkers are also assigned workplace personalities–at least the waitstaff (the kitchen staff’s limited customer contact exempts them). Kaho is a fellow high school student who plays the tsundere role but who really enjoys playing video games and visiting arcades. She frequently breaks character to converse with customers about games, but is nonetheless the cafe’s most popular waitress. Meanwhile, Mafuyu is a petite college student who plays the little sister (imouto) role with customers and the protective big sister role with her growing coterie of fellow waitresses. Maika’s arrival adds a third waitress, but Dino soon afterwards scouts and hires a customer named Miu to play the big sister role (with customers), creating quite the delicate balancing act as Miu is actually a dojinshi artist who uses her new position to people watch. And last to the roster is Hideri, an idol character out of whose normal personality a new waitress role is created. Of course, Hideri’s normal personality–and persona–are themselves manufactured in a desperate attempt to escape farm life by becoming an idol. This lot sounds almost as convoluted as the staff of Wagnaria!!, don’t they?
Blend-S has been a joy to watch, and I’m hoping hard for a second season. The title basically says it all, as the different personalities of the staff blend and clash while they interact on the clock and off. Physical comedy and snappy one-liners are braced by several running gags, not least of which is Maika’s complete obliviousness to Dino’s pursuit of her. Meanwhile, the fan service provided (and who wouldn’t expect some, given the formula?) is usually tame but is also served in ample amount. This show has turned out to be one of the most pleasant light comedies of the season, so make sure you don’t miss it!