An Italian Otaku with a Heart of Gold
- Episodes: 12
- Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy
- Airing Date: October 2017 to December 2017
- Producers: A-1 Pictures
Blend S Preview (No Spoilers)
Blend S is an adorable slice-of-life anime from the Fall 2017 season, and an absolute joy to watch. It follows the daily lives and exploits of the staff of Café Stile, a restaurant where the waitresses play certain “characters” (like “tsundere” or “little sister”) to entertain the customers. Dino, an Italian transplant and lover of all things Japanese, manages the café and hires a perfect new waitress named Maika to spice things up.
Maika is sweet and kind, despite her face being permanently stuck in a sadistic glare. She puts her all into playing the “sadist” character at her new job, and makes lots of friends throughout her time there. Her growing relationship with Dino is a particular highlight of this show, even more so than the memefied opening theme that may have brought you to this anime in the first place.
Seiyuu name: Tomoaki Maeno
As manager of Café Stile, Dino is responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly. Unfortunately for everyone who works for him, he’s a big dork and frequently needs their help to get the job done. Nonetheless, he’s a kind-hearted young man who genuinely tries his best to make people happy.
But if there’s anyone he tries the hardest to impress, it’s Maika. While he initially fell for her because she represented the “perfect Japanese girl” to him, he eventually grew to love her for her gracious and truthful personality. And since neither of them are very experienced at this whole “flirting” thing, their courtship is filled with endless awkward moments and false starts. But really, that’s what makes it so cute!
Dino Highlights (Spoilers Beyond This Point)
1. The hottest nerd
Don't let the moe art style fool you – Dino is one sexy man. He’s the tallest of the main cast (not that that’s difficult, since he’s the only European in a group of Japanese people) and his signature blonde hair and sweet blue eyes are hard to miss. Best of all, though... he’s a total nerd.
From staying up late watching anime to going gaga over black-haired Asian girls, Dino is a true otaku. Kaho and Akizuki are more into the video game side of things and Mafuyu loves magical girl merchandise, but Dino just loves Japanese culture in general. We can’t help but feel a kinship with him when he gets starry-eyed over fascinating elements of his favorite country.
2. Excitable and passionate
Though the rest of the Café Stile staff may not admit it, Dino is the glue that binds them all together. He may be bumbling and embarrassing at times, but his commitment to the restaurant keeps it successful and the customers happy. He moved from Italy to immerse himself in the Japanese culture that he loves so much, and accomplished quite a lot in the few years he’s been in land of the rising sun.
Dino’s happy-go-lucky nature makes him extra lovable, even when he seems like he has no idea what he’s doing. With the help of Maika and the rest of the staff, he makes the café a fun and inviting place for people to interact with their favorite “characters”. Who doesn’t love a man with passion?
3. Utterly fails at being smooth
Even though Dino truly loves Maika and wants to be with her, his methods for getting her attention... don’t always work so well. He tends to overthink everything, which leaves him paralyzed and unable to show Maika how he feels. And since she’s an overanalyzer as well, his failures at being smooth usually have the opposite effect – causing her to think that he hates her.
Whether it’s cornering her against the wall, picking out matching keychains, helping her with a difficult order, or even walking the dog with her, Dino always manages to mess it up. It’s a good thing that, in the end, Maika seems to realize his true intentions of making her happy.
4. A perfect match for Maika
While Dino is a total Japanophile otaku, Maika is the complete opposite. Hilariously, she’s sick of her own culture because she grew up in a traditional household and wants nothing more than to travel the world to learn about other countries. Together, they make an adorkable couple who never get tired of learning new things about far off places.
Beyond their interests, their personalities also gel well. Both Dino and Maika are kind, considerate people who care about the wellbeing of others. They also share a shy awkwardness that never fails to charm whenever they interact with each other, even near the beginning when they don't know each other very well. And on the kinkier side of things, Dino gets oddly excited whenever Maika activates her sadist mode. Oh my.
5. Patient enough to wait for love
For most anime with a romance plot or subplot, we as viewers want to see it resolved by the end of the series. We want the couple to pour out their feelings for each other, maybe even kiss and hug to seal the deal. So when that doesn’t happen (or worse, almost happens and then stops just short of the big moment), we rend our garments in frustration. But even though Blend S’ final episode doesn’t actually confirm Dino and Maika’s relationship, we still like how the anime ended. Why?
Because Dino realized that he wasn’t ready to be with Maika until he worked on himself more as a person. He tried to confess to her on the group’s ski trip, but she had fallen asleep from the day’s activities and couldn’t hear him. At first, he was mortified, but then he came to the conclusion that it was a sign from God saying that he should become more worthy of his lady love before he expresses his true feelings. For a man in perhaps his early 20s, that’s a startlingly mature response and one we’re surprised to see in this kind of anime. Much respect to you, Dino!
Despite not being the main character, Dino gets his fair share of screen time and character development over the course of Blend S’s 12 episodes. His growing relationship with Maika is one of the best parts of this anime, since it’s clear that they share a special bond that could one day grow into something more. This goofy Italian hunk brightens our day with his smile, and we hope it brightens yours, too.
What did you think of our list? What things do you love or hate about Dino? Be sure to let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!