by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Blend S ?
Blend-S shifts its focus back to the core cast this week, and boy does it make a difference. Between Mafuyu's comments on the subject of romance, Kaho's desperate attempt at passing a math test, and Akizuki's unwilling makeover, this whole episode does a better job of playing to the show's strengths than last week's effort. All of the major storylines have at least a few amusing moments, and Blend-S even manages to explore a more sentimental tone from time to time.
Things start off with a bit of character development for Mafuyu, as her swift rejection of a customer's romantic advances prompts the rest of the Stile crew to talk about relationships. The conversation itself is mostly comedic in nature, and some of Mafuyu's blunt responses are pretty funny. More importantly, it sets the stage for a more introspective scene as Mafuyu walks to work the next day. We're given the sense that while she may not be in the market for love, she wouldn't mind connecting with someone on a personal level. Enter Kaho, who's staring down the barrel of a do-or-die math test. The two of them have some good chemistry as they begin their coffee shop study sessions, with Kaho's unfocused energy balancing out Mafuyu's low-key maturity. It's nice to see both characters getting something out of their interactions, and this storyline hits the sentimental side of slice of life comedy that Blend-S has had trouble finding in previous episodes.
The friendship between Kaho and Mafuyu also works on a purely comedic level, with Kaho setting up most of the jokes and Mafuyu providing the well-timed deadpan reactions. It's a pretty standard formula for a comedy duo, and the delivery here is good enough to take advantage of the natural flow from premise to punchline. Even if it's easy to tell where many of these jokes are going (of course Kaho's tablet is going to be full of games, and of course she's going to hate black coffee), most of the fun comes from watching Mafuyu try to get through each study session without hitting Kaho on the head. Considering how often Blend-S has stumbled in pursuit of more complex ideas, this approach of keeping things simple may be its best bet going forward. Put two well-matched characters together, give them a situation to deal with, and just let the humor come through naturally.
The makeup scene in the Stile dressing room is perhaps the weakest part of this episode in terms of comedic impact. Its one highlight is the initial shock of seeing Akizuki's face once Mafuyu completes the makeover, and that's essentially a one-and-done sight gag. Aside from that, this scene's main reason for existence seems to be its frequent sparkling closeups of the girls in full makeup. I'm not sure if that technically qualifies as fanservice, but it does fit a similar formula of spending screen time on eye candy. To its credit, the scene does at least fit into the larger theme of Kaho trying to act more mature by following Mafuyu's lead. When the weakest scene still makes a couple relevant points, it's a good sign for the rest of the package.
On the whole, this is a welcome turnaround for Blend-S after last week's dud of an episode. It has a “back to basics” vibe, as the show puts most of its energy into making a simple premise work well. It's fun to watch, and we learn a bit more about two of the central characters along the way. As much as I appreciate creative ambition, a genre title like Blend-S needs to get these fundamentals figured out before it can get away with more complicated setups. This is a good step toward that goal, a reminder that this can be quite an entertaining series when it stops getting in its own way.
BLEND-S is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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