by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Blend S ?
Just when you think Blend-S is on an upswing, it pulls itself back down again. The series focuses on romance in this episode, but the storylines it comes up with aren't terribly impressive. The main characters manage to get upstaged by a dog when Dino and Maika take Owner to the park, and a game of fetch leads to some literal puppy love. Akizuki and Kaho fare a bit better in a segment of their own, where Akizuki struggles to apologize for making a bad day worse for Kaho. The spotlight shifts back to Dino and Maika towards the end of the episode, with Dino's attempt at emulating a classic romance trope backfiring in a predictable manner.
The park segment highlights a key issue with the show's lead duo. While Maika and Dino both bring some comedic material to the table, the chemistry between them hasn't really improved from the start of the series. The age gap continues to make any genuine romantic tension feel awkward, and the humor in their interactions tends to follow the same outline every time. Dino gets all worked up over something insignificant, Maika crushes his dreams without realizing what's going on, and they both reset to where they started. The only real saving grace here is Owner, who finally contributes some worthwhile material to the series through his lovesick crush on another dog at the park. It's the kind of cute, silly side story that works well in a slice of life comedy, and it helps develop Owner's personality beyond “ordinary dog.” Still, the fact that he's able to outshine the supposed main characters with such a simple routine doesn't bode well for the bigger picture.
The episode's middle segment pulls off a clever trick by having Akizuki act like an actual tsundere character around Kaho, who pretends to be one at the café. It's a fun use of the show's basic premise, but even here it feels like Blend-S is just delivering the bare minimum necessary to keep the audience entertained. There's not much to this segment beyond its core gimmick, and once again it takes a supporting character (in this case Hideri) to pick up some of the comedic slack. Part of the problem is that the whole sequence does little to advance the relationship between Akizuki and Kaho. They essentially just circle back around to their initial status as friendly coworkers by the end, and a deliberate lack of romantic progress can only be used as a punchline so many times before it gets old.
Finally we have the “cornering” storyline, which plays on the old cliché of having a character back their romantic interest up against a wall in a moment of heightened romantic tension. Of course, with Dino being a wimp and Maika being too much of a space case to figure out what he's trying to do, it's obvious from the outset that this isn't going to work out for Dino. As inevitable as that failure may be, Blend-S still takes a while to let things play out. Had it gotten the obvious joke out of the way sooner, it would have had an opportunity to play around with the premise in more creative ways. Instead, it settles for only hitting the easy target and calling it a day. A good comedy should be able to do more.
As has been the case in other episodes, this isn't so much an issue of Blend-S pursuing genuinely bad ideas; the series just seems to lack the creative spark it needs to take its humor beyond a basic level. Last week's episode worked because it held its focus on Mafuyu and Kaho long enough to deliver some fresh content. By wandering from one storyline to another, this episode deprives itself of the time it needs to develop any of its three setups into a satisfying payoff. The overall impression is one of a show stuck in a holding pattern until its finale.
BLEND-S is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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