Harukana Receive

Harukana Receive

Harukana Receive anime cover art
Harukana Receive Cover Art

Overview

Harukana Receive is one of two sports anime I watched this season, though it felt much more like a slice of life anime than a sports anime. The series follows a group of girls who play beach volleyball, and their one friend who cheers them on from the sidelines because she doesn’t have a partner.

As with most slice of life anime, the characters are what carry this series more than anything else. The soundtrack wasn’t anything special, the animation was nice except for when CG was used for the sand particle effects, and the plot was about as basic as it can get.

Haruka, the protagonist, moves to Okinawa and decides to pick up beach volleyball because how hard could it really be? Well, apparently very easy because within one year she’s already competing against the second best team in the country for a spot in the national competition.

At the very beginning of the series we’re also introduced to the number one team in the country so we can see what the end goal of the series is. Haruka and Kanata are beaten by Narumi and Ayasa, and in order to rematch them, they’ll have to make their way to nationals.

The series also conveniently ends after Haruka and Kanata earn their spot in the national championship, so a second season about them competing in nationals is already set up in case it ever gets greenlit. The other sports anime of the season, Hanebado! did this exact same thing.

Harukana Receive is also tagged as an ecchi anime, and while I can see why it has this tag, I don’t really think it fits. Yes, it involves a lot of “artistic” shots of girls in bikinis, but if you’ve ever seen an actual ecchi anime then you’ll probably be able to tell Harukana Receive isn’t really the same.

It’s hard to explain exactly why this series isn’t really ecchi, but I think the best thing to say is that it’s more yuri than ecchi. Not the Citrus kind of yuri though, more so the “girls who are close friends and all the viewers are reading too much into everything” kind of yuri.


Characters

Haruka Oozora is the unexpected glue that holds the rest of the girls together. While this is typically the role the protagonist plays, and so shouldn’t be a surprise, Haruka is actually the outsider of the group, which is what makes her role so strange.

The rest of the girls, have all lived in Okinawa or have been playing beach volleyball for years. Most of them also already know each other and have played beach volleyball together in the past, so there should be no need for Haruka to be so central to their friendship.

But, the power of friendship is important for shoujo anime, and Harukana Receive is no exception. As far as shoujo protagonists go, Haruka is pretty standard. She’s an airhead, but she has a big heart, just like Usagi from Sailor Moon or Akko from Little Witch Academia.

When playing beach volleyball, Haruka defends close to the net due to her height. While she’s certainly capable of playing offensively and in other positions, blocking is her primary role since it’s something her partner, Kanata can’t exactly do.

Haruka’s partner and cousin is Kanata Higa, who is surprisingly short for a volleyball player. Maybe there are a lot of short volleyball players, but that seems like a fairly substantial disadvantage to me. However, Kanata more than makes up for her height with her skill.

While she typically covers the back of the court and saves anything that makes it passed Haruka, she’s also a highly offensive player. Despite her height, she’s able to spike the ball over the net, but typically resorts to a different move referred to as a “pokey.”

In the past, Kanata was the partner of Narumi, who is now one of the top two players in the country. I really don’t understand how the Kanata/Narumi combo ever worked out considering they’re both short, but I guess they just never blocked.

Next up we have Emily and Claire Thomas, twin sisters who are also beach volleyball partners. Emily and Claire are considered the second best high school beach volleyball pair in the country, only bested by Narumi and Ayasa.

When they were younger, Emily and Claire were beaten by Kanata and Narumi, and the four of them were all trained together by Emily and Claire’s mother, who is a professional beach volleyball coach. These two were also the founding members of the beach volleyball club at their school, although it wasn’t official until Haruka, Kanata, and Akari joined.

Emily typically plays a supporting role on the court for her sister, Claire, who is a more offensive player. Their personalities also match up with the roles they play on the court, as do their character designs. To tell them apart, remember that Emily wears glasses and Claire usually has her hair in a ponytail.

The next pair is Narumi Tooi and Ayasa Tachibana. These two are from a different region of Japan (I forget exactly where), but because of this they aren’t actually members of the beach volleyball club with the rest of the girls. Instead, Narumi and Ayasa serve as the primary rivals for the other girls.

They’re the rivals of Emily and Claire because they’re the one team ranked higher than them, and they’re the rivals of Haruka and Kanata because they were their very first opponents. As I mentioned previously, Narumi used to be partnered with Kanata before she went on a beach volleyball hiatus.

If Harukana Receive ever gets a second season, I would expect Narumi and Ayasa to become more important characters. For now, however, their main function is just to be the end goal for Haruka and Kanata, as well as to throw some drama into the mix for Kanata’s character.

Emily Thomas, Claire Thomas, Haruka Oozora, Kanata Higa, and Akari Ooshiro from the anime Harukana Receive
Emily, Claire, Haruka, Kanata, and Akari

The final character is Akari Ooshiro, who is possibly the most underrated character in the series. Akari’s dream is to become a famous idol, and for some reason she believes that becoming a beach volleyball star is the best way to make her dream come true.

However, none of the other girls in the beach volleyball club are willing to partner up with her because they already have partners. Akari also has no experience whatsoever with beach volleyball, but that doesn’t seem to be a real issue since Haruka didn’t either.

In the end, Akari decides to be the club manager, much like Elena in Hanebado! However, unlike Elena who elected to be the club manager from the start, Akari does this because she otherwise wouldn’t get to be a member with the rest of the girls. Poor Akari.

Akari is also famous in Okinawa due to the fact that she was a child star who was featured in a drink commercial. This childhood fame is likely the reason she dreams of becoming an idol.

The first fun fact about Akari is that not only is her bikini covered in frills, but it also has a single garter which doesn’t hold anything up. The second fun fact is that she’s obsessed with protecting her skin from the sun, even to the point of wearing full-length clothes on the beach.

Conclusion

Harukana Receive may deserve a 6, but I ended up giving it a 5/10 for a number of reasons. First, while it looks nice most of the time, it’s not exactly the most engaging series out there. The three tags it has on MAL are ecchi, slice of life, and sports, and it’s nothing special compared to the rest of the anime in those categories.

The drama is average, the plot is predictable, and while I liked watching it, I was never looking forward to the next episode like I would for a good anime. If you enjoy slice of life anime, then this may be a good series for you, but for me, slice of life anime are typically carried by the characters or comedy, and Harukana Receive doesn’t deliver on either.

The OP for Harukana Receive is available here.

What did you think of Harukana Receive? And who was your favorite of the girls? In the end I enjoyed Akari’s character because of her quirkiness, but Haruka may still be my favorite.

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