It seems like every year has to feature at least one anime series that revolves around a café and its employees. To be fair, the genre often proves to be rather popular, so it’s not unreasonable for similar series to pop up again and again. Blend S just happens to be one such series and is airing during the Fall 2017 anime season. Is it worth picking up?
The episode covers Sakuranomiya Maika’s daily life as a 16 year-old girl who involuntarily sports a mean look in her eyes whenever she attempts to smile. Wanting to study abroad using her own hard-earned money, Maika fruitlessly looks for a part-time job until she ends up being accepted as an employee at a particular café called Stile. However, it turns out that the café expects the waitresses to adopt specific personas or traits, which leads to Maika being told to act like a sadist due to her natural glare. With her fellow co-wokers being a cheery gamer girl who has to pretend to be a tsundere, a petite and snarky college student who has to act like a younger sister, and an Italian chef who is a borderline otaku and who gets a bit too excited over the girls, Maika is sure to experience interesting times as a waitress at Stile.
I kept thinking of a few older anime series as I watched the first episode of Blend S. The series definitely reminded me of Working!! because it also primarily took place at a family restaurant (which is somewhat similar to a café), because it featured a male character who is very attracted to at least one of his female co-workers, and because it was also produced by A-1 Pictures.
The concept of a character who has a “resting mean face” also brought Inu x Boku SS to mind since Shirakiin Ririchiyo initially struggles with the same problem as Maika. The fact that Maika has to pretend to be a sadist, which is often shortened to just be S and thus explains the title, helps with the association since there was a rather memorable supporting character in the former series who loved talking about masochism and sadism.
Furthermore, the characters in all three aforementioned shows act goofy or quirky to a degree. Unfortunately, that might prove to be off-putting for some viewers who may dislike the inherent “weirdness.” But the characters in Blend S, save the Italian otaku, all have reasons to behave in such an exaggerated manner – it’s all for work! And while the waitresses could be considered to act “tropey,” they’re certainly not one-note considering how their natural behavior is very different from their assigned roles. If the series continues to develop in a specific way, the series might be considered to be some sort of commentary about the masks individuals have to don in order to function in society, but it’s more likely that the waitresses’ mandatory acting will just be played for laughs.
Other than Dino, the Italian otaku who almost seems to not understand the concept of personal space and who gets an excessive amount of nosebleeds, the series has been rather enjoyable thus far. Seems likely that Maika will end up becoming interested in Dino according to the OP, however, so that could make or break the series for you. The comedic timing is on-point and not too many characters were introduced in this opening episode. There’s going to be other girls showing up according to the OP, of course, but I am hoping that the series continues to show that they know what they’re doing and will not overwhelm us with a flood of new challengers / characters.
Maybe – Fans of Working!! and Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka? (and other anime series revolving around cafés) should try watching Blend S. Similarly, fans of Inu x Boku who enjoyed watching a girl struggle with having a “resting mean face” while being surrounded by a cast of quirky characters should consider Blend S. So far the series is an amusing comedy (well, romcom judging by the OP) that isn’t overly offensive and isn’t afraid to be self-aware by having the waitresses conform to specific character archetypes, but I do believe there’s potential for the series to be more than just yet another “Cute Girls Doing Cute Things” show. But even if that expectation is left unfulfilled, Blend S should be a fun watch from what we’ve seen in this first episode. It doesn’t hurt to dream big, though.