Review/discussion about: Blend S
I like to think that I’m an okay kind of dude. So, my opposite alter ego, if I were ever to have one, would be someone downright dastardly. He would perform misdeeds like wearing mismatched socks and inserting a silent “m” at the beginning of every word he spoke out loud.
Such super-evil antics would befit his own motives and contrast my own personality. If I could control this hypothetical alternate self of mine, I could then potentially earn a job at Stile, the fictional maid café of Blend S where the employees’ own personas balance out into a straightforward experience.
People are multifaceted creatures. They have many skills they hone, and they have many thoughts in their brains. They also have emotions and personality traits that “betray” who they “normally” happen to be.
A quiet, solemn person could in fact be a race caller at a local betting arena in his or her spare time. Someone who looks gruff and menacing with a skull tattoo doesn’t mean that he or she cannot collect flowery stamps on the side. No matter the case, the platitude “what you see isn’t always what you get” rings true for nearly everybody on the planet.
Blend S takes this phrase to a dichotomous extreme in the comedy it creates. The staff at Stile roleplay particularly classic styles within the medium: the sadist, the tsundere, the imouto, the onee-san, and the idol. The catch is that their actual personalities are almost the complete opposite. For example, Maika is the designated sadist, but she is the nicest person imaginable. Or there’s Mafuyu, the designated imouto who is really a college student with an unforgiving attitude.
With such contrasts at the show’s disposal, hilarity forms naturally as the ladies engage with their guests and deal with each other. Kaho the “tsundere” will give in to her gaming tendencies, Miu the “onee-san” will punch (rather softly), and Hideri the “idol” will make a lewd hand gesture without fear. By sticking so closely to its premise, relying so much on these huge self-made gaps, the anime not only remains consistent in its delivery but also cycles through a diverse amount of comedy.
Perhaps surprisingly, a large chunk of Blend S takes place away from the café, leading to the slice-of-life label attached to this show. Events at the beach, the mountains, the city, and the parks allow for some variety in the setting and, aligning with the premise of the show, form yet another dichotomy between the everyday happenings abroad and their concentrated shenanigans over at the restaurant.
The core of this anime does not extend a whole lot further, though. Its faint romantic elements merely scratch that lovey-dovey itch. Its episodic nature does not attempt for anything too adventurous. Its meager life lessons, while wholesome, do not have much thematic weight to them.
Altogether, this story about a bunch of silly guys and gals at a local café may not be the most interesting, but its forms a likable-enough comedic base to make this contrast-filled trip at least a stamp worthy of a bet.
ART & ANIMATION
Perhaps its biggest strength, the artistic direction within Blend S provides the anime with the visual niceties and comedic gags it so heavily leverages.
No doubt near the top sit the designs for the ladies in all their cute and colorful splendor. Vibrant eyes entice the eyes, but their frilly maid outfits welcome the audience with open arms as their casual looks once again contribute to the leitmotif of stark contrast which laces this show.
Employing a chibi style at times, squashing and rounding the characters’ features, likewise gets at their silly brand of comedy. Same goes for overexaggerating proportions, “dumbing down” reactions, playfully toying with the movement to fit the needs for a given scene, and even pasting in a literal picture of a giant tuna. Indeed, Blend S switches rather effortlessly between its normal presentation and this fun concoction, demonstrating a keen grasp of timing for its laugh-inducing ventures.
While its grip isn’t as powerful when it comes to its backgrounds and its settings, these find a foothold within the show, too. The backgrounds flit between many shapes, hues, and imaginations for added delight, and the treks to other areas break up the monotony of the rather plain café. Otherwise, these parts let the flashier details in front of them do most of the Blend S talking.
Other elements help, too. Off-camera speech bubbles. Nondescript guests. A nice feel for scene lighting. Wacky visuals for the opening and ending tracks. The soft layout in general. When everything melds together, the anime clearly stands strong, proud of the artistry it touts.
For an anime such as Blend S, it makes total sense for it to put its comedic foot forward for most of its run, granting Maika, Kaho, Mafuyu, Miu, Hideri, Dino, and Kouyou a chance at hilarity. But the anime also tries to avoid the devoid when it comes to having more to say about them beyond the giggles they serve.
For instance, Maika accidentally frightens others with her menacing smile, so her “evil” behavior turns into a source of laughs for the audience. However, she has much more normal traits to speak of. She adores items and locations and people of a foreign status, and her siblings back home look after her dearly as they wish only for the best for their sweet younger sister. So, her charge to get out there and do more to achieve her dreams acts as a neat part to her characterization.
Kaho also earns similar words for herself. Her infectious happiness as she indulges in her favorite games and recreational activities paints her as an energetic and likable lady. Yet she cannot always burst with positivity, especially where her math exam scores are concerned. Thus, the magical-girl-loving Mafuyu steps up to bring her kouhai some guidance, solidifying the friendship shared between the two.
These details, both the funny side and the serious side, bring about a welcome balance for Blend S and its characters. The show can swing back and forth between either, allowing for a lot of silliness one moment and a wave of wholesomeness the next. Granted, neither half is particularly elaborate nor complex, meaning the level of writing and nuance overall cannot exactly be called captivating. Nevertheless, the show does what it can to intertwine these halves, and it fares all the better because of it.
Speaking of balance, Dino, Kouyou, and eventually Owner round out the crew even more. The two men ensure that the show (for the most part) avoids pigeonholing itself into the cute-girls-doing-cute-things (or CGDCT for short) genre, and the cool dog brings about different ways in which the anime can approach its interactions. In either case, they inject diversity into the group, leading to a better form for the anime overall.
Not everything goes well for Blend S, for it unfortunately succumbs to poor decisions that diminish certain characters and their impact. Specifically, Miu, Hideri, and Dino fall further on the wayside than perhaps intended. Miu ends up oddly absent for a lot of the later parts of the season. Hideri is introduced a tad too late to have a meaningful presence despite the interesting role. And Dino, with his fixation on Maika, can tread into strange or eyebrow-raising territory often (despite playing it up for laughs here and there).
So, much like the story, the characters may not be the most interesting bunch the medium has ever seen. However, thanks to their good comedic fun and their lighthearted connections, they give this show another passable part to own.
MUSIC & SOUND
The audio elements within Blend S also deserve some praise right alongside their visual brethren.
And it starts with a string of six words: “Smile! Sweet! Sister! Sadistic! Surprise! Service!” These lyrics swept through a large swath of the Internet outside of the anime community when they spawned a meme craze of “S”-related proportions.
Such catchy and fun content must certainly count in the show’s favor, and the remainder of “Bon Appétit♡S” (the title of the song itself) is no slouch either. The blaring trumpets elevate the piece onto a grand scale. The multiple female vocalists add lots of deliveries and flavors. The instrumentation in general – sweeping piano keys, claps, drum patterns – quicken the pace for higher energy. And the various switches to musical beats and flow keep the song light and dancing. It all combines into a big ball (or, more relevantly, a sphere) of fun worth jamming along to again and again.
The original soundtrack also has a lot of appeal. Its piano tunes flit and laze about as appropriate for those chaotic and mellow times. Acoustic guitar and electric guitar fill the air with a bittersweet sound during those emotional moments. Accordions and bongos incorporate a foreign feel to go along with its foreign motif. And the xylophones, the flutes, and the violins allow for stronger musicality in general.
A set of swell voice-acting performances also pop up in Blend S for both the men and the women. Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Kouyou stumbles forward in his embarrassment and frustration; Atsumi Tanezaki as Miu soothes the ears with her sultry tones; and Sora Tokui as Hideri uses a somewhat androgynous inflection to fit the character as well as can be.
The only real “letdown” is the ending track, “Detarame na Minus to Plus ni Okeru Blend Kou”, since it doesn’t quite reach the same level as the other musical or sound-related aspects. Not that its multiple vocalists, guitar segments, and twinkling chimes fail to get at a cute song. The dreamlike, happy composition of the tune helps, too. But it does lack that same intrigue or nod-in-appreciation factor that most everything else achieves.
Still, after listening to each offering, Blend S no doubt caps off its production values with nice audio elements and direction, giving it more clout to its signature.
As a mega-fan of moe, this anime was right up my alley.
My two big favorites were Kaho and Maika. Kaho was a bundle of joy that made me all smiley and jubilant as she made up songs and reacted in earnest. As for Maika, she was a kind and sweet girl. So, seeing her always try her hardest to put her best foot forward, regardless of the inevitable misunderstandings which plagued her efforts, had me liking her determination and sincerity.
Other funny interactions and moments also kept the entertainment going. Hideri was almost always a hoot when present, Mafuyu wasn’t afraid to lay on the harshness when required, and Miu got overly into debauchery due to her writing background. For the most part, the anime gave its characters and its events the room to shine, and that glow made my time with it all a likable one.
To be fair, though, the show isn’t very exciting or noteworthy, given its not-all-that-unique setup. It also doesn’t leave much of an impression after the fact. And it could possibly be argued that it went on a tad too long as the outcomes rarely deviated from expectation. Still, it sustained its cuteness and its jokes throughout its twelve episodes, making me laugh in the process. At the end of the day, I must give props to the show for that.
Blend S reaches that slightly above-average line. The episodic content and the silly characters may not be the most memorable imaginable, but the strong audio elements and the even stronger sense of visual comedy boost it one espresso higher. Alongside its consistent entertainment value, mthis manime mgets ma mpassing mgrade.
Story: Fine, dichotomy abounds in this slice-of-life outing, featuring a handful of grounded events and not much else
Art & Animation: Great, the looks, the reactions, the movements, the backgrounds, and the details stir into a hearty stew of comedic artistry
Characters: Fine, Maika and the rest of the staff have their funny and serious sides, lending to some okay back-and-forth, but Miu and a few others fall by the wayside on occasion
Music & Sound: Good, the OP bursts into meme history, the OST and the VA performances rock, but the ED doesn’t quite step up to their same level
Enjoyment: Fine, cute and likable and fun but refrains from standing out otherwise
Final Score: 6/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review.
If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3