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Blend S

The Fall anime season has ended and sadly, this also means that Blend S has finished airing as well. The quirky comedy was one of the few titles that I managed to fit into my packed schedule and I'm glad I stuck with it as it aired. It has kept me thoroughly entertained through a busy semester at school. And to think I picked it up in the first place only because of the abundance of memes the opening theme song spawned. For those of you wondering what the show is about, think Working!!, except the setting this time around is a cafe with each waitress having a specific facade instead of a family restaurant.

I firmly believe that a strong cast is required for any slice-of-life anime, regardless of whether it has an overarching plot or not. Fortunately, Blend S delivers in spades. The waitresses at Stile have two personalities effectively, the facade they put on for work and a vastly different one once the uniform comes off, except for a very special Surprise later on. The waitresses are introduced at a steady pace, with reserved and cheerful Sakuranomiya Maika being scouted by the cafe's manager Dino in the first episode to play a sadist no thanks to her innately nasty glare. She joins the bubbly Hinata Kaho, who ironically fills the tsundere archetype. College student Hoshikawa Mafuyu, doujin artist Amano Miu and high-schooler Kanzaki Hideri round out of the rest of the wait staff. Akizuki Koyo, the cafe's chef and Kaho' high school schoolmate, completes the ensemble.

Unfortunately, Blend S isn't a perfect anime and it shows during the episodes that aren't set in Stile. There is little opportunity for the girls to show off their dual personalities and the reliance on running gags or tropes to generate laughs would wear out even the most easily entertained viewer. This was especially apparent by the final quarter, with only one of three episodes hitting the mark for me. As entertaining as the cast was, seeing Dino or Koyo fumble in their romantic advances could only squeeze that many chuckles out of me. On the other hand, the episodes that were set in Stile had me in stitches. I even re-watched several episodes and clips because they were that funny.

Several standout moments include the waitresses fully utilising their character archetypes to convince the customers to order items they recommended, buying time for Dino to restock the pantry and fridge. Another one would be Mafuyu rejecting a customer after he confessed to her, while in character. I was simultaneously laughing and cringing. And of course, Hideri's introduction episode took the cake and Tokui Sora's voice acting had a huge part to play in that. Her wide vocal range came in handy, for those of you who're curious. I really wish that more time was spent showcasing various situations in the cafe, like Working!!!, rather than the various jaunts they had out of Stile.

At the end of the day and despite the problems it had, Blend S was one of my favourite titles this Fall and I'll eventually make time to re-watch the entire season. It was the perfect stress reliever and a great way to unwind during the weekend.

Written by ET

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