Service with all kinds of style!
What They Say:
Smile! Sweet! Sister! Sadistic! Surprise! Service! We are Stile!
Tsundere, Imouto (little sister type), etc. are only a few of the personas that the café waitresses play out here. The new hire, Maika, is asked by the store manager to play none other than the super sadist!? As she becomes devoted to her work, her super sadist persona blooms unexpectedly… Everything is a treat – even being stomped on – in this outrageous working comedy.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo in the uncompressed PCM format. The series is one that’s fairly straightforward as a slice of life property with some mild louder moments that works well for what it is. The show is pretty even when it comes to the dialogue and even the overacting moments, of which there are plenty, don’t really push the highs or lows too much. What we get is something that’s easygoing and smooth as it does its mild movements over the forward soundstage. There’s not a lot of directionality but we get some good moments for that throughout. Dialogue is clean and clear and we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are split evenly across the two discs with six episodes per disc. Animated by A-1 Pictures, the show has a strong visual design with the restaurant filled with lots of details to the background to give it a realistic feeling while the character designs have a lot going for them in a similar way, especially just in the variety of it all that we don’t always get. It’s a higher end production with its design and that gives us some strong fluidity in a lot of scenes and it’s very playful throughout, including regular outfit changes that helps. There are a lot of fun scenes with the way it goes as busy as it does at times and the whole thing has a strong solid feeling to it, especially with such a great color design used. Particularly when it comes to the characters. It’s a great looking release that’s hard to imagine it could look any better.
The packaging for this release comes with a soft slipcover that uses some nice artwork on the front with the manager and Maika together looking all cute and comfortable with each other. Setting them on a table with sweets nearby is a cute way to work it and I like the logo that has a really fun little restaurant feeling about it. The back of the slipcover works the same overall design but brings in the rest of the cast. Both sides work the red and white color designs very well and it stands out in an appealing way. The back breaks down the summary of the premise, a look at the production credits, and the technical grid, which isn’t too hard to read with the black on red in some decent lighting. The case inside is a clear one that gives over the four panels on the front and reverse side to individual character pieces from the Japanese releases with solid color backgrounds. Each shows their personalities well and it looks great while delivering what we’re looking for from the original run. The included booklet has a really neat cardstock to it that looks great as we get individual character pages in full color, a look at the food from the show, and a couple of pages highlighting the original full-sized Japanese cover artwork.
The menu design for this release is a fun one as I was expecting a static menu but got a pretty nice active one. With a small pinkish red strip near the bottom where we get the navigation, the design for it uses a lot of floating panels of characters coming in and out of it with all kinds of widgets thrown around for good measure. It’s colorful and the movement is pretty great with how it plays out, making for the rare kind of menu that you can leave running for a bit and enjoy. The navigation is straightforward with easy to access episodes and extras that has a good flow to it, though I’m not too much of a fan of the front.
The extras for this release are solid as we get the clean versions of the closing sequences, of which there are a few, as well as previews that were streamed online ahead of each episode. There’s also several promos and commercials included that were used to promote the show and its release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga of the same name by Miyuki Nakayama, Blend-S is a twelve episode anime series that aired during the fall 2017 season. The show was animated by A-1 Pictures and has a similar feeling in design to a few other shows they’ve worked on, such as Servant X Service in being a really well designed and animated workplace comedy. The manga itself began in 2013 and has four volumes out so there’s not a lot of material overall, which is why it goes for the short stories with some longer segments in each episode as it draws from the four-panel source material. These can be hit or miss when it comes to adapting it but Blend-S works well because the central ideas are solid.
The series follows as its primary character Maika, a sixteen-year-old girl who is looking for some work. She’s a pretty outgoing person overall and as we learn she’s pretty well-adjusted as well but she has a pretty dark look about her with her fine hair and just the way everything is framed with her. Where she lucks out is that someone has seen how she looks and needs her for the restaurant he runs, Cafe Stile. Each of the waitresses there bring out a different kind of trait and Maika fits that sadistic side well with her looks and she can lay into a customer just as well as she proves early on. When she does the half-eye look and gets intense with her words, the customers looking to have someone being a little sadistic to them are delighted.
The manager, a twenty-six-year-old man named Dino that’s referred to as Manager throughout is definitely fun. He’s basically someone that’s totally into the Japanese life as seen through anime, which means he likes the anime girls, figures, and watches a lot of late night anime which makes opening on time or getting enough sleep a difficult thing to accomplish. What we also get is him being really, really, attracted to Maika and uncertain how to make that happen. Let’s ignore the age thing for the moment and the work thing… aww, you can’t ignore that. There are all kinds of problems with this relationship but it’s how the show rolls and you kind of have to go along with it. His attempts at trying to express himself with her later in the show is fun while the discovery period early on that he really does like her is amusing as well. But that background issue of age and work just leaves me cringing a bit and again wishing that more anime and manga would “grow up” in a way.
Unsurprisingly, we do get other people working there that add their own color to the show. Kaho is a year older than Maika and she’s the game-playing blonde with some assets to her who fits the tsundere role for the cafe. She’s fun and has some good growth along the way, including working hard at studying with some help and achieving her goals, but we also get the start of a romance between her and Koyo, who is a few years older than her. The two don’t really start coming together on this until toward the end but their dynamic is fun to watch and they provide some good balance with other characters. They’re able to give us more relationship material to slowly work with since the rest of the cast are pretty much unmatched throughout, leaving them to just have fun as an ensemble piece.
And they are fun as we get Miu, a dojinshi artist looking for inspiration that she gets through the work and some of the trips they take. We also get Mafuyu, a college student that’s doing her best to earn a little extra money and takes to most of the girls because of her desire for a little sister. The other interesting character is Hideri, a young man who works as a waiter in the restaurant but because of his good looks dressed as a girl. He flips depending on the situation between being manly and girly and that leads to some comical situations with the customers at times and sometimes with the rest of the staff. The group dynamic is familiar for those that have watched shows revolving around cafe workplaces before and it’s definitely solid here with lots of little in-jokes and the characters personalities played right for both growth and laughs.
But that’s also kind of the thing about Blend-S. It does stick to the familiar in terms of overall structure as we see a beach episode by about the halfway mark and then a ski/snowboarding trip for the finale that involves a hot spring and lots of fun there. Most of the episodes focus on little workplace interactions and the growing understanding of each other and that does work – albeit not in a marathon session kind of way. There’s the usual run of understanding how the place works and seeing lots of little one-off bits involving the waitresses living up to their various types, some are more subtle than others in a lot of ways. Maika’s sadistic side is definitely fun though it takes the odd turn here and there with her actually wearing the bondage gear, which cements Manager’s interest in her I’m sure.
With sisters, sadists, gamers, and glasses, the cafe in Blend-S is one that’s never too busy but has plenty of traffic to keep everyone employed and happy. The show works a familiar workplace comedy design to it that makes for a lot of smiles and quite a few laughs just in the dynamic and the way it can shift gears to something intense quickly. It’s a show that I think works better in smaller doses than taking it all in at once but it’s also a show that really does draw you in with its design. I like all of the characters as they have their own moments and some good growth throughout that makes me wish it would really advance things in a big way. It’s a fun show that fans of will really like here as we get a great looking presentation and a solid package to pull it all together with.
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Web Previews for episodes 2-12, Trailers and Commercials, and all 6 Textless Ending Variations
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: November 20th, 2018
Running Time: 280 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.