Image source: TVアニメ『ブレンド・S』公式 on Twitter

Obviously all of the characters in Blend S are weird by any standard definition of that word. Yet, when we think about it, aren’t we all weird in our own ways? And don’t we seek out workplaces, clubs, and social circles where our weirdness is shared with others? If we judge the characters in Blend S by the company they keep, it really begs the question: If everyone is just as weird as you, are you really weird anymore?

Image source: TVアニメ『ブレンド・S』公式 on Twitter

Blend S is about the staff of a cafe called Stile. Stile isn’t just any kind of cafe, as it serves a particular type of customer. It is a maid cafe, to an extent, but “maid” isn’t actually the draw for the type of clientele who chooses to visit. Instead, every member of the staff plays a character different from themselves. Initially we follow Sakuranomiya Maika (who is actually a very kind person) who keeps failing to obtain a job because she doesn’t understand her expressions come off as mean and insulting. She finally does get a position at Stile, because the manager is searching for an employee to play the “sadist” character. Maika is the perfect fit, although it’s not because she wants to be able to do so. 

Blend S Is About A Maid Cafe Where Every Girl Plays an Anime Stereotype

By Japanese standards, which are much more conservative and restrictive in many ways than one can glean from pop culture media (especially anime and manga), there’s not a single member of Stile’s staff who isn’t an oddball in some way. The manager is the most obvious and immediate social outsider because he is not ethnically Japanese, but rather Italian. He’s also clearly an extreme Japanophile, which can sometimes be pretty creepy. But given that he’s surrounded by nerds just as nerdy as himself, he seems far less odd in comparison. Ironically, in many ways, he is quite culturally Japanese, especially when it comes to the subculture of anime fandom which he shares with several of his staff members. He’s not an outsider at all within Stile.

Image source: TVアニメ『ブレンド・S』公式 on Twitter

Maika, shockingly, is probably the most “normal” of the group, and by her own claim, she’s not normal at all by normal social standards. Yet in comparison to the rest of her coworkers, she seems pretty average. The initial humor derives from the fact that her “resting sadist face” and general expressiveness is no reflection of her intent or desire. She’s just really, really, REALLY bad at communicating her actual feelings. In truth she’s extremely gentle, kind, affectionate, and earnest.

Yet she absolutely does have her own strange fixations like every other character in the series. If Roma, the manager, is a Japanophile, then Maika is a “xenophile.” Raised in an overtly, and perhaps unnaturally, extreme version of a Japanese household, Maika is obsessed with anything non-Japanese, but often only in an ironically very Japanized perception of what is foreign.

The other characters are much easier to explain: They are all, bluntly put, otaku. I would hope, if you’re reading Anime Now!, that you know what an otaku is (and you may even consider yourself to be one). It’s a term for an extreme fan, and in the west, has taken on the meaning of specifically an anime or manga fan. In addition to her manager himself (Roma stays up all night watching anime even though he knows he shouldn’t), her coworkers Kaho, Mafuyu, and the latest additions of Miu and Hideri.

Kaho, who plays a “tsundere” character (pretending not to like the customers she actually likes) is the most blatant and obvious of the group when it comes to a generic or generalized fandom. She’s a huge video gamer, loves watching anime, and reads fan published comics (known as doujinshi). She has a lot in common with her coworkers and their clientele.

Image source: TVアニメ『ブレンド・S』公式 on Twitter

Mafuyu, on the other hand, is very private about her weirdness—usually. Sometimes it comes out. She’s a very specific type of otaku, interested specifically on one major magical girl anime. While the term otaku has branched it to be very generalized and generic, in Japan it really did have a much narrower definition. Fandom in Japan has been historically related to extreme fandom of one very particular thing. Mafuyu manages to come off as fairly normal, even amongst her coworkers, because there aren’t many opportunities for her to expound on her fandom. In comparison to someone like Kaho, she seems relatively mundane (but isn’t). As viewers, we know the truth, because we see her at her most fangirl-ish.

The two most recently introduced characters also have some some fairly interesting backgrounds. Of the two, Miu, who plays the “older sister” character, is by far the most extreme compared to all of the characters. Mild-mannered by initial appearance, she’s actually a pornographic doujinshi artist. Her interest in the cafe is the most puerile. While she is there to work and feels she is less likely to be judged, she is also very interested in taking ideas from the absurd situations her coworkers find themselves in. Specifically, she is interested in exaggerating the relationship between Dino and Maika in order to more easily write her original erotic manga. And it turns out that Stile’s chef, Akizuki Koyo, is actually her biggest fan (his own fandom is yuri, or girl/girl relationship, tropes). Hideri, who we don’t yet know much about, appears to be a “boy” who wants to be an “idol” and plays the very much female idol character. I’m going to be careful about how I refer to Hideri, as Hideri’s true gender identity is still very much in the air.

With these kind of coworkers, I think we can safely toss the idea of “weird” right out of the Stile’s window. Honestly, this group is one that works extremely well together, and they aren’t individually weirder than any other member of the group. Together they create their own normalcy, and ultimately, isn’t that all of us really want?

Blend S can be watched subtitled on Crunchyroll.

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