by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Blend S ?
After delivering two solid episodes over the last couple weeks, Blend-S was starting to look like it was on a roll. Unfortunately, most of that momentum disappears in this episode. With the Café Stile crew up to full strength and ready to rumble, the story wanders off on a pair of uninspired detours. Things start off with Maika finding an abandoned dog, who ends up living with Dino since no one else can take the poor pooch home. Maika starts baking cakes and cookies for Dino in order to thank him, but her older sister misinterprets this as a sign of budding love. Aika visits the café to check things out in person, and the sudden scrutiny proves to be more than Dino can handle.
From beginning to end, this episode is light on comedic impact. It never quite figures out where it wants its storylines to go, and that lack of direction makes it difficult to set up any big jokes. The dog, which Maika names “Owner,” doesn't have an obvious purpose in the series apart from disrupting Dino's sleep schedule. Owner isn't adorable enough to fill the cute animal mascot role, nor is he enough of a pain in the butt to make anyone's life humorously miserable. Apart from using a clever method to get Dino out of bed in the morning, Owner is just a normal dog that does normal dog stuff. It sounds kind of odd to hold an animal to the same standard as a human character, but any addition to this show's cast needs to add some new comedic material in order to be worth their screen time. Until Blend-S figures out what it wants to do with Owner, he's basically just a big fuzzy prop. There's potential here, but it hasn't translated into results yet.
On a similar note, Aika fails to impress in her half of the episode. She comes across as being a bit spacey most of the time, but she's not absent-minded enough to get any big laughs out of her antics. We also see a crazier side of Aika when she gets the wrong idea about why Maika is crying at the end of the episode, and this shifts her into a different role as a murderously overprotective sister. The problem with these two parts of her personality is that they mostly operate independently of one another. There's humor to be found in a character who alternates between being sweet and homicidal, but delivery is everything in this genre. In order to make that premise work, Blend-S needs to have Aika bounce violently back and forth between her two moods instead of just using the contrast to set up a single joke. What it has at the moment just isn't polished enough to be funny.
As these two minor characters step into the spotlight, the main cast inevitably gets pushed aside. Most of the Stile employees are limited to providing commentary on this episode's events, and that plays against this group's strengths. Characters like Mafuyu or Hideri are at their best when they can get right up in the viewer's face and steal the scene with an outrageous line of dialogue. When they're sitting on the sidelines and chatting about whatever else is going on, those zany personalities lose their spark. The leading cast goes to waste in this episode, and their substitutes aren't able to deliver the same level of entertainment.
What irks me most about this episode is that it comes at a time when Blend-S was finally getting its act together. With Hideri's introduction complete, this should have been the point where the series stepped back and let the café crew do their thing. The Owner and Aika storylines aren't terrible when viewed in isolation, but I can't help being disappointed by their timing. Instead of getting to see the series flex its comedic muscle, we have to watch it fumble around in search of new material.
BLEND-S is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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