The story takes place in Okinawa, where Haruka forms a beach volleyball pair with Kanata. Kanata, who couldn't handle the pressure put on her by her short height, had given up on beach volleyball already but is convinced by Haruka to step back on the sand once again and aim for the junior tournament.
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.
I love a good CGDCT. If you were to look through all of my favorites and the shows I rank highly you would find a lot of CDCGT that I gave a high score to. I also like sports shows and find them as a good way to get hype and experience the highs and lows of competition without the negative ramifications of death or other dark results like with some shounen. A pairing between the two seems odd and when combined with the echii tag there are a lot of distinct parts that are mixed together. And while I think it can be done
well sadly Harukana Reviece missed the mark.
The show starts off with drama and while I did like the drama it had and the exploration of the characters it provided it did pose a problem. Part of the joy of a CGDCT is the cute meaningless antics that the characters get into and while there were some, there wasnt enough for the genre it was in. Furthermore because the start was drama and the end consisted of 3 episodes worth of one match this led the show to be strapped on time. In fact it pretty much did a time skip askewing a lot the more SOL moments to get to the volleyball.
While the volleyball was good, it made the show feel incomplete. While it talks a lot about the strength of the characters bonds and relies a lot on attachment to the characters, it's hard to get the true feeling of attachment when many of those attachment gaining moments were breezed over. The problem is sports anime tend to be long and focus a lot on moments of high tension. While this can work with CGDCT if they alternate, they both need time in order to shine. And for this combo one cour isnt enough. Not if both peaks are to be fit in well. And while the matches were nicely animated and fun to watch, the tournament structure was boring and really only one match had all of the tension. Not to mention the way that, that match came about was lackluster imo. While the idea behind it was good I felt like it was forced to happen sooner due to time and increased drama more than anything else.
The characters did have some good motivations and the starting idea was great. I liked the development of Kanata, and how she was able to overcome her previous shortcomings and get out of her funk, but the rest of the characters really could have used some more time to focus on them. Their initial characterization was promising but for the show to do what it wanted to do well I feel like more would have been helpful.
Overall there's a lot of good ideas in Harukana Reviece and the fanservice and visuals are nice, but in the end the pacing let's it down and I'm left wishing it had two cours to properly explore its ideas. It's still a good show but ultimately leaves with promise it couldn't capitalize on.
Sports-centric anime are nothing new: For said game, you know the sport, you know the rules, competition ensues and some character development got misfired or screwed hard in the process towards the end, just like a certain badminton anime this season.
For this reason alone, Harukana Receive attempts to add the CGDCT aspect to the sports genre, while giving us the SoL view and despite THAT "Ecchi" tag, there is minimal fanservice to be found (some yuri moments, butt slaps, bouncing boobs and whatnot) that can actually rave wee bits of enjoyment. The end result is an anime that is telling us to just sit back
and relax, and watch this while not taking it seriously. Quite honestly, it's a somewhat competent show that while only bears very minimal similarity towards its male-gender focused cousin (Haikyuu!) in terms of the sport represented (it's volleyball, only on the beach instead of in school), it's pretty much its own story and context while representing the female-gender side.
Harukana Receive is, dare I say, an average generic show with nothing to offer but with its busty-boobie girls that kinda resembled like Keijo!!!!! in terms of storytelling and character development. The only kicker that deviates from the norm is the aforementioned CGDCT light-hearted cliche, where characters spend time practicing and motivating each other through their early struggles to make their time spent worthwhile with improving competency. Nothing groundbreaking, but yet stands out like a sore thumb.
This series tells the story (and progressing growth) of 2 (largely-focused MC) girls :
Haruka Oozora, with said troupe of a transfer student (and you can toss that out by the end of Episode 1 because there's no follow-up) and a total beginner towards beach volleyball;
Kanata Higa, the experienced player and pro-status enough to play at competitions, but her waning confidence setting off the chain of events, that cost her to question her motives for playing the sport and recapturing the passion of beach volleyball once again.
So first off, the elephant in the room lies in the story, which isn't really compelling to warrant proceeding episodes, because of a certain scriptwriter: Touko Machida. Her works include the cheap knock-off that is Dive! and the decently-made Akashic Records, to which the stories feel somewhat rushed and/or missing some plot pointers that leaves more questions than answers unanswered. Even going in with the first few episodes, the resemblance to aforementioned series clearly shows, and that doesn't get any better with proceeding episodes, right until the final moments of the series. But this is still an effort that's worth somewhat better than how Keijo!!!!! did.
As for character development, there are a few and then some.
Main girls duo Haruka and Kanata (that's why said title is called Harukana) are basically plot pointers, the anchors to show us viewers that they are not just stepping stones by the others who are willing to see them that way, and persistently with their step-by-step building-up of efforts, they made it count towards the end while having some light Yuri moments with each other.
The supporting cast are the direct contrast to Harukana: plot movers along a not-so-aggressive storyline.
Narumi Tooi, once worked with Kanata as junior pros before Kanata lost her footing and made Narumi become another Ayano (losing at the finals). Unwilling to forgive her partner and (somehow) reasoning with Kanata's progress that she was "too harsh" on her and simply couldn't take her on after the whole fiasco. And with time comes healing, and finally, recognition that both herself and Kanata are polar opposites.
The Thomas sisters, Claire and Emily, the example to follow and Harukana's coach before the next competition arc. This part is easier to discern as hard work makes up for the amount of talent that they have, winning competition after competition and offering both girlish MCs constant practical tips and tricks before the direct confrontation at the end of the series (spoiler alert...).
Last but not least, the somewhat late addition to the team, Akari Ooshiro, a high-school idol that's famous from a certain CM that comes forward to join the 4 girls for the school beach volleyball club (of which not surprisingly there's no progression to it thereafter), and is there to maintain good relations between Harukana and the Thomas sisters, and why not albeit learn some beach volleyball as well!
Overall, where there's good moments, the bad moments reside in as a ripple effect that not everyone has sweet rosy lives to deal with, and the repercussions (or stakes) are significant towards the growth of others, blemishing all that passion into something that will either make or break the characters.
The one thing I am able to give credit for this show is with the insane amount to detail for both the art and animation. This is studio C2C's comeback work in over 4 years as the lead studio (other than co-production with Satelight for SukaSuka in Spring 2017), and credits to director Toshiyuki Kubooka from the expertise of his work on the Berserk: The Golden Age trilogy of movies. The attention to detail from the beautiful, gorgeous and striking 2D background art scenes, to the clean CGI volleyball movements and sand-hit markings from the matches, just makes this appealing to the quality elitists like myself for good art and animation. But as we all know, one good area doesn't make up for the rest of the shortcomings of this show.
The music however, it's really meh, hell, I thought it could be better. Most VAs (with the exception of Claire's VA, Atsumi Tanezaki) are new and upcoming seiyuus, especially Kanata's VA (her very first TV anime work). Despite all that, the light-hearted aspect of the show makes the OST more appealing to those who just want to have a laid-back experience. I think this is a decent job done as it pretty much describes the series in the utmost generalist of terms.
Despite that insane "low" score from MAL (which I think is a lenient joke), is it a great watch though? Hell yes it is...only if you don't see this at face-value, and adding to that, the fanservice intensity, of which there are few.
Harukana Receive is not a show for everyone, with its minimalistic approaches yet solid animation production that divides the audience all around. If you can put up with the rushed storyline and yet watch the characters grow from strength to strength, I say go for it, it's a good time.
Haruka Kanata... meaning Far Away. Typical duo or pair character in Japan, not only in anime. Gonna put it short.
For Ecchi tag anime this is not even close to bare minimum for ecchi, the tag function because of most of setting place and main event mostly at the beach since focus on volley beach sport.
Harukana Receive sadly is one of those mainstream anime sport, of which?
The "Aiming to the top or the best" sport anime. Physical advantage main character, Highly skillful with short body main character, rivals who happened to be ex-partner or close friend, and super demon coach arrived to train the team.
in most of sport anime... except Harukana Receive has some drama in it.
Despite all, this anime is decent, watchable, and quite enjoyable... though not enough for me to recommended it others.