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Harukana Receive Anime Cover

Score: 6.73/10

Synopsis

In beach volleyball, there is no room for aces. To achieve victory, each player must find their one, irreplaceable partner that they can rely on in the court of sand. At least, that is what Haruka Oozora learns on her first day in Okinawa after moving in with her grandmother and her cousin Kanata Higa. While touring a nearby beach, Haruka stumbles upon some girls practicing beach volleyball and is quickly invited to join. This friendly practice game suddenly turns into a match when one of the girls, Narumi Tooi, notices Kanata approaching the court. Although the two suffer a devastating defeat, Haruka finally realizes the reason for her cousin’s quiet and distant behavior. Kanata and Narumi used to be an exceptionally talented beach volleyball duo, until Kanata quit due to her short height causing problems for Narumi. Now, with the Junior Tournament just weeks away, Haruka must learn the intricacies of competitive beach volleyball and help Kanata overcome her crippling anxiety towards the sport that she once used to love. [Written by MAL Rewrite]

Harukana Receive does something really special within its 12 episodes. A show with outstanding characters as well as terrific matches. But most importantly it portrays the true elegance and beauty of beach volleyball. Although less about the “Xs and Os” of the sport, it does something that makes you relate and resonate with the passion and intensity the sport can be.

Starting off, the story is pretty straightforward. Nothing to write home about. But it works. It allows each character regardless of their screen time to shine. It is definitely a character driven show.

The characters are an absolutely gem. Every single one you meet is an absolute delight to watch. They are all add something to the cast (although some more quickly than others) It is a debate on who the “MC” really is, but for the most part, it follows Haruka and how she grew both as a volleyball player and as a person throughout the show. She was a typical scrub when things started out, but the way she and many others matured was amazing.

OP and ED are solid. OST really shines in the middle of matches though. Art style is pretty good. Excellent use of closeups and pan outs in matches. As for the ecchi element, it is prevalent, but never takes away from the moment.

Can’t recommend this show enough. Never a dull moment as every scene feels like it is building towards the finale (which was absolutely excellent) A ton of comedy in here as well. This show is just about having a good time. Don’t expect convoluted drama or anything similar. It is the bonds of the characters as well as terrific beach volleyball that make this show a must watch of the 2018 Summer season.

It’s easy to dismiss a show like Harukana Receive at first glance. Look at the key visual, read the premise, and check out those preview promotional material. What do you see? If the answer involves girls in bikinis playing beach volleyball, then you would be 100% correct. As a competitive sport, Harukana Receive takes the idea of beach volleyball and transforms it into a meaningful competitive story to tell. Since its serialization in 2015, the manga has received only moderate attention but had enough value to be licensed in North America. I rarely ever heard of people talking about the manga though so I assume most people coming into this show to be fresh. I’ve only read parts of the manga but it shouldn’t be hard to realize what the show will be about. The obvious is the show will be composed entirely of beach episodes. However, if we take a deeper dive into this anime, then it should also be recognized that Harukana Receive is a very character driven story. Every episode pushes the characters to new heights and this series isn’t shy to bring out their best. The title “Harukana” is a portmanteau of two of the main characters in this series – Haruka Oozora and Kanata Higa. It makes sense too considering the significance of this character pair and their journey to become volleyball superstars. In the beginning, Haruka is fascinated by the beaches of Okinawa. It doesn’t take long for her to embrace the love of volleyball as she decides to team up with her cousin, Kanata. The first few episodes easily establishes the story’s premise and is easy to understand from the characters’ perspectives. We learn about both characters and their motivations. Haruka is presented as a very open minded girl and easy to make friends with. This is in contrast with Kanata, who shows a more reserved personality and keeps much to herself. Through flashback details, we learn that Kanata used to be an experienced volleyball player until a traumatic event caused her to resign. It is not until present day that Haruka is able to convince her to return to the sport again. The two makes an interesting pair because the way they supplement each other – Haruka’s height and Kanata’s experience. To say the least, his character pair will no doubt spark curiosity on how far they can make it in the big leagues. Throughout their journey, Haruka and Kanata also meets formidable rivals. The most prominent of these include the pair – Claire and Emily Thomas. In many ways, I see a parallel similarity between them to Haruka and Kanata. For instance, Haruka and Claire both possesses a playful personality with a very open mind. It didn’t surprise me that they quickly became friends either. Kanata is also similar to Emily as they have a more quiet nature and tends to be more reserved. Nonetheless, the show portrays the relationship of these four characters with friendship, rivalry, and respect. Deeper down into the story, we also meet other character pairs such as Narumi/Ayasa and Akari/Mai. The show makes it clear that some of these competitors are extremely talented such as the case with Narumi. Their accomplishments inspires Haruka to improve while also bringing back Kanata’s motivation to succeed. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t fully develop them enough and only gives us a glimpse of their potential. In other words, it’s not easy to get attached to the supporting cast compared to the main pair of Haruka and Kanata. Luckily, the Thomas siblings makes up for the void as they get a decent amount of screen time. The character chemistry they bring into the show is infectiously entertaining. Even their mother makes an appearance and through flashbacks, viewers will understand how they became the characters they are today. As a 1-cour show of only 12 episodes, it became a bit obvious that the anime had to make room to reserve for the plot. It’s unfortunate to say this but 12 episodes really isn’t enough to explore the show at its fullest. The tournament arc featuring Haruka and Kanata only shows their improvement as players but doesn’t fully capitalize on their potential. While the series does a decent job at making us care about the characters, not all of them really get their time to shine either. This issue could have been resolved if the anime had been 2-cour but alas, it was not meant to be. I also have to mention that the show can be a bit niche if you’re watching this for the wrong reasons. It’s very lighthearted with plenty of comedy and gags but also moments with emotional drama. In other words, Harukana Receive may appear to be a walking fan service but there’s much more to just the hot girls in swimsuits. If I told you Okinawa is one of the most beautiful places on Earth today, you’d probably point fingers and name something else better. However, I will say that Okinawa is extremely well crafted with the vibrant colorful sunny atmosphere and realistic sandy landscape. The aquatic ocean also feels real that injects more of the Summer feeling. As this show aired during Summer 2018, it’s a perfect place to be. To get the more obvious out of the way, every character in the show will be in swimsuits for a good majority of the time. There are some episodes that characters spend in casual wear but most of it will be on the sandy beaches of Okinawa. What does this mean? It basically means that you’d better get used to seeing ass, boobs, and curvy bodies on your screen. It doesn’t help that the camera seems to always focus on the character’s bodies too so get used to that. There are even comedic gags where some characters slap another’s ass as a way of expressing their personalities. Still, it’s definitely also a good idea to keep an eye on the body movements of the show during the volleyball matches. Every movement in the show feels important whether it’s a dive, block, or close save. It emphasizes character teamwork that’s as real as it gets. In fact, I would say the character pairs in the show are portrayed much more than just partners. They feel like are destined to be together whether it’s Haru-Kana or the Thomas siblings. As colorful as the show is on the surface, also be prepared to be dazzled by the energetic soundtrack. It creates the sensation of being in the sunny fields of Okinawa. Every match in the show also gets an enhanced experience with the OST matching its intense momentum. The theme songs are also catchy that emphasizes on character pairings. Last and certainly not least are the character voice mannerisms. Characters like Kanata and Emily really bring themselves to life and it’s easy to accept them who they are. Harukana Receive seems like a deceptive show that glorifies fan service and makes it look like an eyecandy for the male audience. However, if you look beyond the skin and swimsuits, it’s easy to see how well this show works with its ideas. Do be aware that as a show with just 12 episodes, it will feel incomplete. And also, some characters will feel less likable than others. However, I would definitely recommend adding this show to the watchlist. It’s not easy to make a show as a walking fan service but Harukana Receive does more than just being sexy.

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