by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Blend S ?
It's ponytail day at Café Stile, and even the guys are (reluctantly) hopping on the new hairstyle bandwagon. Akizuki might look like a total doofus, but it's Maika who causes the biggest commotion. Her hair becomes a dangerous weapon when it's tied in a ponytail, but the static electricity that results from taking it down turns her into a terrifying Medusa lookalike. After the café closes for the day, Kaho and Akizuki get a little too caught up in their mobile games and end up getting locked in the break room during a rainstorm. Meanwhile, Maika catches a cold in the rain and ends up missing work. Dino and the girls stop by her house for a visit, but they're totally unprepared to meet Maika's eccentric older siblings.
While it may be limited to jokes about everyone's hairstyles, this episode's opening scene is arguably its funniest. Dino and Akizuki's sad attempts at ponytails are delightfully pathetic, and they look more like antennas than a deliberate styling choice. Maika's hairdo provides some satisfying slapstick humor as she accidentally whips Dino in the face with it, and her static-induced Medusa look is a hoot as well. This kind of comedy works well for a show like Blend-S, as it allows the series to fire off a bunch of quick jokes without upsetting the slice of life vibe. There's nothing wrong with taking a simple concept and running with it, especially when the delivery is on point.
Unfortunately, that momentum doesn't really carry through to the rest of the episode. Kaho and Akizuki's late night lock-in should have provided plenty of comedic material, and it feels like the show is winding up for a big punchline throughout the scene. The problem is that we don't get a satisfying payoff after all that buildup. There's a soft jab at mobile games based on idol anime, a couple of quick riffs on the characters' hobbies, and a predictable burst of pandemonium when Dino returns to the café. These bits inspire the occasional chuckle, but none of them have enough comedic impact to make the scene worthwhile. The premise of having two characters locked in a room is common enough that Blend-S could have easily played with the audience's expectations by taking things in a surprising direction. Instead, it follows the usual formula with underwhelming results.
We end with a group excursion to Maika's house, which allows the show to bring back her sister Aika and introduce her brother Kouichi. Both of them are overwhelmed with joy upon learning that Maika has made actual friends at work, and their initial reactions are pretty funny. Once they assume that Dino is Maika's boyfriend and start bombarding him with unwanted hospitality however, the scene starts to drag. Maika has had her “accidental sadist” routine down to a science for a while now, so having Aika and Kouichi imitate that same routine inevitably makes their version seem weak by comparison. In case we needed a reminder of how much better the genuine article is, Maika rises from her bed to deliver the episode's last laugh. Much like the break room saga before it, this sequence isn't so much bad as just bland. It's easy enough to watch but easier still to forget.
Blend-S simply spends too much of this episode settling for obvious jokes. It does a fine job with the cutesy slice of life stuff, but it seems to hold back whenever there's an opportunity to really embrace the characters' quirky personalities. If I'm going to watch a comedy about a café full of oddballs, then those balls should be as odd as they can get. This show has all the pieces it needs to be riotously funny, so it's frustrating to see it settle for being passably entertaining.
BLEND-S is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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