by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Blend S ?
This week's episode closes out the season for Blend-S without any big surprises. A ski trip offers the Stile crew a chance to get out of the café, and it also sets the stage for a big confession from Dino. He proclaims his love to Maika, but she falls asleep before he can get the words out. With the door to romance closed yet again, all that's left is for the cast to offer up some final reflections. It makes for the kind of inconclusive finale that's all too common in slice of life comedies.
The ski trip suffers from the same set of problems that plagued previous outings, such as the river and beach storylines. In taking the characters out of the familiar café setting, Blend-S seems to lose its way in terms of comedy. Most of the jokes just go through the standard genre motions, with characters proving to be either surprisingly skilled or shockingly awful at skiing and snowboarding. The problem that these outdoor excursions keep running into is that once the cast is out of the café and their waitress personas are stowed away, there's nothing to distinguish Blend-S from any other mediocre comedy. Neither the writing nor the delivery is strong enough to make up for the loss of the series' core gimmick.
After a brief interlude of hot spring fanservice, the episode moves on to Dino's last big chance to declare his feelings for Maika, resulting in a lot of buildup for a pretty underwhelming payoff. It's obvious too far in advance that Maika is on the verge of falling asleep, so there's no element of surprise when we discover that Dino's confession has fallen on deaf (or unconscious) ears. If Blend-S had done less to telegraph this outcome or played with the audience's expectations by delivering a last-second twist, this could have been a funny scene. Instead, I spent the whole time waiting to laugh instead of actually laughing.
Finally, we have the obligatory “a lot happened this year” reflection scene, which is at least a step up from the rest of the episode. Dino's stories about recruiting Kaho, Akizuki, and Mafuyu are genuinely amusing, and I wish these flashbacks had been given more time to play out. This scene also lets Blend-S lean on the idea that all of these quirky characters have a place where they can be weird together. While this theme ended up on the back burner for much of the season, it remains a simple and effective way of delivering some instant warm fuzziness.
If nothing else, this episode fits in neatly with the series as a whole. It's easy enough to watch and gets a couple of things right, but there's just not enough substance to make it all worthwhile. Even in its good moments, it feels like BLEND-S is lacking the spark of creativity it needs in order to stand out. It did leave me wanting more, but only in the sense of wanting more entertainment out of what I'd just watched.
Blend-S has been a frustrating show to follow, partly because it was by no means a hopeless case. The premise had potential, and it occasionally shone through in a handful of strong episodes. The series just never seemed capable of following up on its successes, and too many of its good weeks were followed by thoroughly underwhelming ones. That inconsistency was compounded by a somewhat awkward tone that was too dirty to be cute but not unhinged enough to be outrageously funny. If Blend-S had just found a groove that worked and stuck with it, it might have been a neat little genre entry. Instead, it's all too easy to write this one off as an also-ran.
BLEND-S is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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