Another Japanese obsession I cannot wrap my noggin around is the theme café/maid café fetish. OK, I have never been to Japan and I don’t even do the Maid Cafes that pop up at anime conventions. It’s a bit of a culture clash for me. And though this show doesn’t define it any better for me, “Blend S” (“Burendo Esu”), was fun to watch.
“Once upon a time, there was a 16-year-old girl, Maika Sakuranomiya (pom-pom earrings in front), who fatefully opened the door to the ‘Stile Café’ for her first part-time job.” Yeah, it’s much more than that. You see, the “S” café has these folks portray a specific type of person and gives them an “S” designation for it. Left to right:
Hideri Kanzaki, the idol (and that is a guy, who dresses as a girl). Surprise. (Dude look like a lady!)
Mafuyu Hoshikawa, a college student. Sister. (Owing to her petiteness, she plays the ‘little sister’)
Maika, even though she is the sadist, she is Smile. But what a cruel smile it is.
Kaho Hinata, the tsundere. Sweet.
Miu Amano, a dojinshi artist. This is the Sadist.
The two guys in back are, to the left, Kōyō Akizuki, the chef; to the right, Dino, the store manager and owner. The dog is Owner, a stray that was taken in and eventually fobbed off on Dino. The series contends itself with all of these people, working at this place and how wild and wacky it gets, since we do not start off with the full complement to begin with.
The problem with Maika is that she really is a nice person, but between her scowling face and cold demeanor, she is one tough number…..and the diners love it. One episode has them make some kind of concoction and Maika blows it…..and the diners love it. It’s the worst, most painful food to eat….and the diners love it. And when she tries to be nice and kind to them, it hideously backfires…..and the diners love it.
Another problem that arises is that Dino is quite taken with Maika (it’s the black hair), but Maika is oblivious to all of this, even though everyone else is quite aware of the situation. The series is about daily life at the restaurant. The steps that Maika goes through to show people what a sweet and wonderful person she is and how she proves herself wrong is genuinely hilarious. In these situations, it always looks like a half-hearted effort that is always doomed to fail, but she is earnest not to be seen as a monster.
Yes, the rest of the staff knows this to be true, but it never translates out to the customers. And the harder she tries, the worst she fails. Now, there is the aspect that everyone gets along well (and that never really is the case), but it works for this show. I did have a pleasant time with the show, even with my culture clash about the cafes, but it is nice to see a show of this nature that lifts the spirits….even if the service is heartless and cruel.
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah. This one is also a strong binge, as you can see their development and how really strange the whole concept is, brought to fruition. Maika and her Jekyll and Hyde approach is a marvel to behold in all its glory (or is that gory?)
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (They are almost painfully cute)
Plot 8 (Good execution of the tale)
Pacing 8 (Even but solid)
Effectiveness 8 (Grand results, even with the multiple story lines)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Bingeability 9 (As you would come back every day)
Overall 8 (Sweet and sadistic)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Don’t ever come back again!