#1 Maid Cafés are weird
I am personally not into the whole maid craze, but I do find it a fascinating branch of anime and otaku culture. That enough people got really into frilly maid outfits that businesses saw fit to start cafés where you are exclusively served by girls wearing them is just… wow. How do these kinds of crazes even happen?
Even if I am not into them myself, I have enjoyed plenty of anime that revolve around them. On this very blog we covered the excellent Tokyo Mew Mew and I also really enjoyed Kaichou wa Maid-Sama! back when it aired in 2010. Blend S is another anime that focuses on a maid café, which is run by an Italian otaku and has each girl roleplay a famous character archetype from otaku culture. There is the loving, little sister, the ever-upset tsundere, the seductive older sister, and as viewers we get to laugh at these familiar tropes while also getting to see what these girls are actually like when they go off duty.
The cast of characters quickly forms bonds and becomes a team that has good chemistry together and is entertaining to see, both within and outside of the café. Add in some cute outfits and tasty-looking meals, and the maid café genre is one good anime richer.
#2 The misunderstood protagonist
The story of Blend S revolves around Maika, a smart and friendly girl that wants nothing more than to travel abroad and learn about foreign countries. When she meets Dion, the Italian owner of the café, they have an immediate click. When Maika then goes on to bomb another interview, she finds herself at Dion’s café, who quickly offers her a job instead.
Maika’s problem is that she unintentionally glares at people. Even when she is happy and enjoying somebody’s company, she has a look in her eyes that makes people fear for their lives. Dion sees the potential in this and recruits her to play the role of the sadist in his café, even though Maika would really, rather play anything else. Even then, her attempts to be nice to the customers often end up backfiring, which is then interpreted as yet another fantastic act of sadism on her part.
Maika is a really fun protagonist to center on, because we both want to see her get better at playing her sadistic character for the café, as well as see her take control of it so that it doesn’t happen unintentionally. At the same time, her dream of traveling abroad is an interesting and realistic goal for an anime character of her age, which I also found enjoyable.
#3 The risque comedy
Blend S isn’t exactly an ecchi anime, but it does feature a lot of jokes and scenarios that are more brazen than you’ll find in typical comedy anime. One story will have a customer leave behind a hentai doujinshi that everybody sneakily tries to read, another will have the staff train Maika to become an S&M dominatrix, all of which is of course very sexual, but presented in such a way that it’s more hilarious than, you know, “exciting”.
After Mitsuboshi Colors turned out to be a very unamusing anime, Blend S felt like a breeze of fresh air. I was consistently amused and the flavor of comedy was much to my liking. Compared to other maid anime like Maid-Sama! I also appreciated there was less “creepy” comedy, with customers behaving unruly or harassing the staff. Instead, all the customers are supportive and friendly, giving Dion’s café a lovely atmosphere.