by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Blend S ?
Blend-S returns to its usual café setting this week, and somewhere along the way it also gets back into its comedic sweet spot. Some minor variations prove to be more effective than last week's big changes in location, starting with Dino's overzealous decorations for a “jungle café” event. Once the crew finally escapes all the tropical foliage, their waitress personas are put to the slightly nefarious use of stalling for time while Maika and Dino shop for ingredients. Other comedic highlights include some rare slip-ups from the café's most seasoned veterans and the delightfully demoralizing sight of Maika accidentally making a child cry. All in a day's work, I suppose.
Whether by design or coincidence, the jungle event serves as a nice correction to some of last episode's mistakes. Part of the issue with the beach and river excursions was that they did away with the show's customer interactions in exchange for a change of scenery. This week's effort is a much better compromise, as it provides some fresh visuals without abandoning that key element of Blend-S's comedic formula. As simple as it sounds on paper, the recurring joke of everyone getting lost among the plants is presented well enough to earn some laughs. Mafuyu's monkey outfit is an amusing surprise, and Miu's banana antics match up well with her shamelessly inappropriate personality. Even if a couple of jokes fall flat, there's enough fun content to make the scene worthwhile.
In a welcome departure from the recent pattern, the show follows up on this initial success with other good ideas. With Dino and Maika out in search of strawberries, the other waitresses deliver some strong comedy in their attempts to steer customers away from items that require the missing ingredient. We're already familiar with their false personas from previous episodes, so it's the circumstances that make this bit entertaining. Mafuyu, Kaho, and Miu all use their characters to influence what people order, and the humor comes from being in on the joke while the customers are blissfully ignorant. There's something fun about twisting the usual priorities away from providing good service, and the scene lasts just long enough to deliver its jokes without wearing out its welcome.
Dino and Maika's shopping trip starts out on the weak side, banking too heavily on the overplayed routine of Dino desperately wanting to spend more time with Maika. Things eventually pick up as Maika's accidental sadism is unleashed on other people at the grocery stores, leading to making a little kid cry. It's a small escalation of Maika's usual routine, but it definitely one-ups everything else she's done so far. This also sets up a mildly charming moment where Dino reaffirms that Maika is welcome at Stile just as she is, only for the show to switch right back into comedy mode as his effusive praise lands him in the back of a police car. Much like the crying kid, this is a clever escalation of the usual pattern of Mafuyu or Akizuki joking about calling the cops whenever Dino goes overboard.
The episode closes out by setting the stage for a new character, and Blend-S actually goes out of its way to justify the need for another waitress at Stile. Having too many customers for the current crew to handle is a simple but convincing excuse, and it makes for more satisfying storytelling than just adding someone new for the sake of variety. It also lets us see what happens when the girls start to slip out of character in front of customers, and their efforts to cover up those mistakes are pretty darn funny.
It feels like Blend-S has gotten its groove back in this episode, as the show tweaks and expands on its core formula instead of just tossing up new ideas and hoping that some will stick. The more focused approach allows for sharper execution, which makes the jokes funnier and less predictable. I'm a little worried that another character introduction will derail some of that momentum next week, but for now we have a full episode of Blend-S playing to its strengths. Considering how uneven the ride has been recently, I'll take whatever improvements I can get.
BLEND-S is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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