It wouldn’t surprise me if Blend S turned out to be an innocuous CGDCT show and so far, it hasn’t done anything thought provoking with its premise. Still, this show is shaping up into a very entertaining one. I’d dare say it has the potential to becoming one of the better CGDCT shows of 2017 (and let me tell you, there’s been a lot this year).
There is something amusing with how much of an otaku rabbit hole Stile is. Not only does the customer base largely consist of young male otakus (with some fujoshis on occasion), most of the staff are clearly otakus themselves. Even Kouyou, who I originally assumed was the straight man (and he still kind of is), turned out to be a massive yuri fanatic. And unsurprisingly, everyone’s first world problems happen to revolve around it. Kaho needs more video games, Mafuyu wants cosplay materials (that admittedly do look cute on Maika), Dino has a figurine wishlist, and Kouyou wants the cafe to attract female customers (for yuri moments obviously). It’s especially evident in the competition the Stile staff holds during the third act of the episode. Everyone wants something that satisfies their hobbies and thus the contest is serious business for them (though I don’t get why Dino has a stake since he’s the manager and probably has money to burn…).
Strangely, Blend S hasn’t really come across to me as a show about otakus and that’s probably due to the fact that the protagonist is as oblivious to that kind of pop culture as humanely possible. You know Maika is innocent when she asks Kouyou what yuri is and Kouyou very carefully explains it as “when two girls are close”. I don’t even think Maika was aware that her idea of eating sweets with Kaho was more or less indulging Kouyou and Dino’s otaku interests (Kaho probably did but I think she was in on the plan for the free food). And unlike the others, Maika isn’t terribly interested in anything material (or in Kouyou’s case, fantastical). She simply wants to save up to study abroad (a pretty long term goal) and even though she wins the contest, she’s content with just being able to work with Mafuyu in a fun and atypical way.
Even though Maika is perhaps the most normal person in Stile, she does fit into its ecosystem a bit too well. However unintended it may be, she really does pull off the sadistic act. I just love how her smile is 100% earnest and yet, paired with her eyes, she really does look sinister. Even funnier was when her custom parfait was a complete mistake but because she’s so convincing as her archetype, the customers think the parfait is part of her act and buy it up anyway. I would say that Maika could easily play the sadist without even trying, and that could indeed be the case, but I’d be denying all the effort she’s exercised so far. She’s clearly gone all out with this job; it just so happens that her effort leads to success in ways that weren’t her intention.
On top of that, it does seem like Maika is getting along with everyone at Stile. There’s admittedly a degree of clumsiness or awkwardness to her words and actions. If Dino and Kaho didn’t know her too well, they’d probably would’ve taken offense when Maika blurted out that she wished Dino stayed asleep while she (unintentionally) sat on him or when she tried to pull Kaho’s stained shirt off so that she can wash it. I sometimes wonder if Maika is like this because she didn’t really socialize all that much in the past. If her scary eyes made it difficult for her to get a job, I can imagine that she had trouble making friends as well. In that sense, it makes me even happier when I watch Maika’s time at Stile. For all her faults, she’s just trying to be as earnest and sweet as possible and thankfully, her co-workers recognize that.