The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Japanese Animation

At This Point, We’re Basically Playing Head-to-Head: Harukana Receive Episode Eleven Impressions and Review

“The hardest choices require the strongest will.”
“I think you’ll find our will equal to yours!”

―Thanos and Doctor Strange, Avengers: Infinity War

Claire recounts her reason for challenging a Kanata whose heart and mind is fully back in beach volleyball: after they’d lost previously, Claire and Emily befriended Kanata and Narumi, training frequently together. However, when Kanata’s resolve faltered, Claire’s drive to beat Kanata on even footing faded away. Back in the present, Kanata is playing for keeps, and together with Haruka, manages to win the second set, bringing the game to a draw. The final set is a first-to-fifteen, and Kanata decides that they might be able to use the wind direction in their favour. Winning the coin toss, Haruka and Kanata take to the upwind side of the court, where Haruka manages to surprise Claire and Emily with top spins in her serves and spikes. However, Claire and Emily catch on and turn the game around. Fatigue begins setting in, and when Haruka smashes the ball into the net, Claire and Emily come within one point of winning. Even at the brink of loss, Kanata remains collected: she’s realised that Claire and Emily are likely also at their limits, and with this knowledge, she and Haruka score twice, bringing the game to a draw. In its penultimate episode, Harukana Receive shows that moments in beach volleyball can be made to fill the length of a full episode and, despite the focus on one match, can nonetheless hold enough emotional intensity to keep viewers focused throughout the entire episode: it is clear that while they might be friends, Claire and Emily have their own reasons for wanting to come out victorious, and so, with a single point deciding the outcome of their match, it now boils down to whichever team has the strongest will to do what is necessary to win, and what is driving this will.

With only a single episode remaining, Harukana Receive has been simultaneously a pleasant surprise and conventional throughout its run; conventional in its portrayal of friendship, sportsmanship and life lessons, Harukana Receive surprises in how it is able to present beach volleyball in an engaging manner, showing the milestones in Haruka and Kanata’s journey in beach volleyball. It is the case that Harukana Receive is very inconsistent in its progression, but having considered that Kanata and Haruka begin playing in a clumsy manner and advance to playing smartly, and how the anime’s depictions of this are deliberate to reinforce this notion, it is conceivable that the inconsistencies in the passage of time are also intentional; Harukana Receive elects not to show all of the path the pair take towards reaching their promise, but instead, chooses to highlight the more pivotal moments in the girls’ journey towards reaching the nationals. The rough spots in Harukana Receive, then, are intended to mirror life itself: it is rarely a straight shot from a starting point to a destination. Sometimes, things occur sequentially and in a manageable manner, while other times, things can threaten to become overwhelming. Aspirations change, become lost and rediscovered. This is the tumultuous nature of life, and while perhaps confusing from a narrative perspective, Harukana Receive utilises it to show that the slower moments in life can be as critical as the higher-paced ones in shaping individuals: something like a day spent shopping for swimsuits or introducing a younger student to a club is counted as meritorious of exploration to the same extent as a tense showdown between Éclaire and Harukana.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Readers are forgiven if they imagined that this post for Harukana Receive was the same post as last week’s; I do feature many screenshots that are quite similar in composition and colour, after all. As the second set progresses, Harukana put on an impressive showing. The episode opens with a flashback, although I am not particularly keen on showing these again because I’ve already used the screenshots elsewhere.

  • Both Éclaire and Harukana are dead set on winning and make their intentions clearly known to their opponents. This determination, a battle of wills, is what prompted me to select the page quote, which is sourced from an exchange between Thanos and Steven Strange on Titan. At this point, I also admit that because Harukana Receive is very easy to predict with respect to plot progression, I’ve been able to determine which quote to use for the upcoming episode, and here, I will note that for the finale, I will be drawing a line from Captain America: Civil War.

  • Claire’s competitive nature means that when met with fierce resistance from Harukana, she begins to lose her cool. In practise, doing something while riled usually results in a loss of concentration, further decreasing performance and increasing frustration in a positive feedback loop. I know this feeling well; of late, frustrations with work has caused me to see a decline in efficiency and precision. I am making more typos and clicking on the wrong thing while working, and the slowdown is absolutely infuriating.

  • As soon as this assignment is over, and I wrap up a few things on my end, I think I will see about taking a few days off to recharge and regroup, which is what is recommended when performance starts taking a hit. This experience has definitely been challenging and exasperating, but like all experiences before it, has also been very instructive: I feel as though I’ve aged a year in the past month alone. Back in Harukana Receive, Haruka and Kanata celebrate after winning their set.

  • Marissa watches her daughters taking on Harukana in a live-streamed match on her iPad with a glass of wine. The time zone difference suggests that she’s back in America: Okinawa is fifteen hours ahead of Mountain Time while daylight savings is active, and given the hour, it would make sense that Marissa is living in either the Mountain or Pacific time zones, with the Pacific being more likely, as California has access to some stunning beaches. Having said this, I cannot readily identify where from California Marissa is presently in just by looking at the houses in this scene; Harukana Receive has been very faithful in depicting its locations, but I would imagine that generic suburbia is used here.

  • Narumi and Ayasa’s presence in Harukana Receive was reduced after their first rematch against Haruka and Kanata; eleven episodes and what looks to be a year later, it would appear that they still owe Kanata and Haruka an ice cream. Here, they train for their own shot at the Valkyrie Cup, and express concern for Haruka and Kanata. Deciding to go another round, they feel its best to wait for news from Haruka on the outcome of their match.

  • Because Haruka and Kanata played Narumi and Ayasa in a non-competitive environment, the match between them and Éclaire is likely to be the toughest match they play in the whole of Harukana Receive. Here, Kanata tries to invigorate Haruka: while no direct explanation is given, this gesture, the same one Claire made earlier during the match against Ai and Mai, is likely meant to signify a “let’s do this” outlook.

  • The final set is first-to-fifteen match, and on the coin toss, Harukana come out ahead. Rather than taking the first serve, Kanata chooses to pick the side of the court they start on. With Harukana Receive very nearly over, Haruka and Kanata’s respective heights never really seemed to have been much of a concern to the extent that it really impeded them, and it turns out that initial guesses, that Kanata would come to find her own way to play beach volleyball effectively, indeed came to pass.

  • Kanata’s understanding of environment factors and their ability to influence play is reminiscent of the romanticised version of Chinese politician and military strategist, Zhuge Liang, who is to have credited to be able to predict the weather from natural patterns in Red Cliff. Using his knowledge, he was able capitalise on foggy conditions in order to deceive Cao Cao’s army, covering his sailing a fleet of boats covered in straw men and goading them into firing, providing his army with a hundred thousand arrows. Later, Zhuge determined that south-eastern winds would be conducive towards using fire to torch Cao Cao’s navy. While Kanata’s understanding of the weather is not used to quite the same scale, it is nonetheless effective, allowing Harukana an early lead and bolstering their focus.

  • Haruka is quickly able to get the hang of top spins and early on, uses them to give her and Kanata a three-nothing lead. However, Claire and Emily are experienced, and so, manage to close the gap before taking the lead for themselves. Against Haruka and Kanata, Emily and Claire are forced to bring out their best techniques: the match is exhausting on both the body and mind, but Claire remarks later that this is a match she’d wished could’ve gone on for longer.

  • I’m with Claire in that facing off against one’s equals is perhaps the most engaging experiences there are. Dealing with easy things are no fun, but neither is getting one’s face kicked in by things well above their capabilities. Having said this, life is not fair, and people often end up dealing with situations that go over their head. It is with a strong resolve, faith in one’s existing knowledge and occasionally, seeking help, that allows one to really grow.

  • Insofar, Harukana Receive is eleven for eleven in depicting beautiful weather: every episode, from the first to the present, has showcased Okinawa with beautiful blue skies and inviting sunshine. Meanwhile, the march of the seasons in reality is more unkind. The warm summer days have given in to cold, overcast days, and autumn is not even upon us yet. Despite this, a clear centimetre of snow fell in my area, and I am made to bring out my toque and gloves again.

  • Harukana Receive goes out of its way to convey fatigue: as the third set continues, both teams begin making more mistakes in their play. From her comparatively lesser experience, Haruka is hit particularly hard, and she slips in several plays that allow Éclaire to gain a lead that slowly widens.

  • For the viewers’ benefit, Mai and Ai explain some of the things they’re seeing on the court, and while Akari’s doing her best to support everyone, the shifting mood on the court is becoming quite tangible, leading her to worry for her friends, as well. From the audience’s perspective, it is impressive that Harukana has lasted as long as they did against Éclaire, speaking volumes to their remarkable progression.

  • I understand that with twenty screenshots, I am invariably giving up other moments (and their corresponding conversation topics) whenever I feature fanservice close-ups such as these. The point of such screenshots is really to reiterate to readers that I am very much a fan of Haruka, and, were I to be in a gaming mood, perhaps crack a few bad jokes in my usual manner.

  • A glance at my posting patterns this month shows that this is only my third post. Having been firing on all four cylinders almost non-stop since the beginning of August, I have become quite tired, and so, have not felt the inclination to write for anything else. With this being said, Harukana Receive has remained sufficiently engaging for me to find something to say for each episode, and considering my circumstances, I think it is noteworthy that each episode of Harukana Receive has offered something unique and interesting.

  • Throughout Harukana Receive‘s entire run, Haruka has always exhibited a happy-go-lucky, go-getter mindset. Very few things seem to weigh down on her mind, and I wondered if there would come a point where Haruka’s outlook would be tested. While only a minor moment, it turns out that Haruka’s main concern isn’t about being beaten, but rather, letting people around her down. She sheds a tear while apologising to Kanata for having made the mistake that brings them to within a point of defeat.

  • Kanata is quite unconcerned, and reassures Haruka. When the set resumes, she and Haruka manage to even up the scores, counting on exhaustion to slow Claire and Emily down. Both Emily and Claire have been putting in a considerable amount of effort, counting on their skill and power to overwhelm Haruka and Kanata, but Kanata has evidently picked up on things, and paced herself accordingly. With the ball literally in her court now (this, by the way, is a correct usage of “literally”), Kanata takes control. Her lighter, smaller frame has an advantage here, allowing her to remain swift on her feet where her opponents begin feeling slowed.

  • Writing for Harukana Receive has not been a cakewalk, and I was aware of this coming into the series, since it would be about beach volleyball (something I’m not familiar with), but an additional challenge was introduced with work-related matters, which saw me boarding planes and flying all over the place. I was thus fighting exhaustion for the past few weeks while writing some of my episodic reviews for this series. As a result, of the episodic reviews I’ve done, Harukana Receive has easily been the most mentally-taxing.

  • With only a single point deciding the outcome of this match, and who will go onto the nationals, the tension in Harukana Receive reaches an all-time high ahead of the finale next week. My prediction is that Harukana will win shortly into the finale, and the remainder of it will be the dénouement as the girls shake hands and continue moving ahead in pursuit of their goals. I’ve traditionally done an extra paragraph and ten additional screenshots for finales: Harukana Receive‘s will be no different, as I will use the additional space to cover series-wide thematic elements and overall impressions of this series.

The outcome to this contest of wills is to be settled in the next episode, and as anticipated, even if the outcome is clear, the path taken to reach that outcome has been a thrilling one. Subtle details, from the small grunts the girls make from each receive and return, to shifts in their facial expressions during the match, show that everyone is playing for keeps for their own reasons. The series has proven to be quite a riveting one, and despite slower moments here and there, like life itself, Harukana Receive picks up and slows down to show that both elements are present in life. To depict the series in this manner augments the sense of realism, and entering the last episode, I find myself impressed that what was prima facie a paper-thin justification to eye Haruka ended up being a very clever presentation on the ups and downs, slower and faster moments in life that might feel disjointed or out of place when considered discretely, but in conjunction, come together to give a very specific message on living and discovery. It is a bit surprising that Harukana Receive has reached its eleventh, second-to-last episode so quickly; we are in the middle of September now, and are rapidly closing in on the conclusion of the summer anime season. For the present, one more episode to Harukana Receive remains, and I look forwards to seeing how this series wraps things up following the intense, close match between Éclaire and Harukana.

The One I Wanted to Fight: Harukana Receive Episode Ten Impressions and Review

“You do not truly know someone until you fight them” –Seraph, The Matrix Reloaded

Claire and Emily open the scoring in their first set against Haruka and Kanata, pushing the offensive and coming out to a four nothing lead. However, Kanata remains quite unperturbed, and asks Haruka to have faith in her. A nervous Akari watches from the sidelines, and as the match progresses, Kanata begins picking out patterns from Claire and Emily, allowing her and Haruka to begin closing the gap. The intensity of the match picks up, and Akari decides to perform the shequasar dance, encouraging both teams to perform their best. Emily realises that Kanata plays differently now, but reflects on how her own experiences also count for something: up until now, Haruka and Kanata have played on the assumption that Claire would be the power player, and acclimatised to her actions on the court. However, Emily began taking a more active role in their pair after they’d lost to Kanata and Narumi previously. In the present day, Claire and Emily take the first set, and Kanata expresses surprise that Emily’s taken a more offensive role. When the second set begins, Kanata opens with an offensive receive of her own, and scores the first point, wearing a blazing look of determination on her face. Impressed, Emily and Claire realise that Kanata’s back in full now and they are now playing the rematch they’d longed for since that day when Kanata and Narumi defeated them. Harukana Receive‘s tenth episode is the beach volleyball showdown audiences have longed to see, featuring a much higher degree of skill and dynamic moments than previous matches seen in Harukana Receive.

Whereas previous matches were characterised by inconsistent play, the match between Harukana and Éclaire is fluid, precise and purposeful. Éclaire’s superior overall experience allows them to take the lead over Harukana and overcome some surprises with their skill. However, Harukana does not perform poorly – despite having the disadvantage in experience, they’ve come quite a long way themselves. This is precisely why they were depicted as vanquishing two other teams in such a concise manner: Harukana Receive aimed to show audiences that over time, Haruka and Kanata have learned much, overcome their individual weaknesses and have made substantial progress as a pair. By being able to play against other teams with a degree of finesse, Haruka and Kanata show viewers that they are ready to compete against more experienced opponents, setting the expectations for what is to come when they do finally face off against Claire and Emily. The tenth episode does this very well, and Kanata’s calm, collected manner also helps Haruka to focus: she’s constantly giving subtle reassurances to her, and Haruka is able to keep her head in the game. The match between Harukana and Éclaire also serves to explore the Thomas sisters’ background further: the reserved Emily decided to take on a more proactive role in helping Claire out, and Claire herself is a bit of a hothead who can succumb to pressure on some occasions. It gives the characters more dimensionality and opens the next segments of the match up to more exciting play, as both Harukana and Éclaire strive to win.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This is the deep breath before the plunge: the most intense showdown of Harukana Receive begins with a handshake and a smile. Every fight that I’ve seen involving friends (or former friends) always is thrilling to watch because these are folk who know one another well enough to read one another’s moves. This forces the participants to actively work out ways to counter on the spot to avoid falling predictability.

  • Because we’re back to beach volleyball in a big way in Harukana Receive‘s tenth episode, almost all of the screenshots count as having fanservice is some form or another. By this point in time, however, such screenshots can hardly be said to be distracting: the viewer is likely focused on the match’s progression above everything else. This episode delivers on both fronts: the volleyball is dynamic and engaging, and because we are watching Harukana square off against Éclaire, I’ve also had the opportunity to feature some of the most dynamic and engaging screenshots of the season thus far.

  • A worried Akari looks on: while Haruka and Kanata resolved to do their best earlier, Éclaire firmly control the match in its early stages. While the outcome is going to be a clear one, the episode establishes that the journey it takes to reach the destination will be one that must be earned. While Akari grows concerned for her friends, Mai’s remarks show that she’s still somewhat antagonistic towards Haruka.

  • Given the pacing and speed of this match, I feel that this episode is meant to show the difference between capable players and beginners; if the choice to portray earlier matches as being slower and more restrained was strictly intended to give a point of comparison for later matches, then this was a very clever and well-chosen decision on Harukana Receive‘s part. The manga would not have the luxary of being able to do this, and one of the main reasons why anime adaptations are enjoyable is precisely because motion is added to the narrative.

  • The sound engineering in Harukana Receive has always been of a high standard during beach volleyball matches, but the match between Éclaire and Harukana sees every spike, receive, block and impact with the ground with a highly visceral sound. Claire’s spikes are powerful, but while Haruka and Kanata struggle to find an answer early on, Kanata eventually works out a pattern and with Haruka, they slowly close the distance in scoring.

  • Claire’s main weakness seems to be that she relies primarily on power as a means of overcoming an opponent, and while effective, over time, opponents will acclimatise to things. Haruka stops marveling at the strength in each of Claire’s shots, and concentrates on her own task of blocking shots, and I’ll leave readers with a screenshot of Haruka to marvel at, as well.

  • Both members of the Éclaire and Harukana pair put their fullest efforts into the match; this is the first time we’ve seen the results of the Haruka and Kanata’s training being put to the test by worthy opponents, and for this, the back-and-forth momentum in the match creates a sense of anticipation and urgency not seen in previous matches.

  • Pressure in the match becomes tangible, so Akari decides to lighten the mood up with the Shequasar dance. Despite her reservations about showing this to people out of embarrassment, her willingness to perform it here shows her commitment to her friends. Encouraged by Akari, Haruka, Kanata, Claire and Emily respond with a smile, and Akari relaxes, understanding that this match is about being faithful to one’s partner and focusing on winning for one another.

  • Because the whole of the tenth episode focuses on the pivotal moments of a beach volleyball match that will decide whether or not Kanata is able to fulfill her promise to Narumi (and Haruka), and because these moments are vividly presented, reception and discussions on the episode have been generally positive, even if they have been somewhat limited. I am therefore unsurprised that few have given this series an episodic review: messages and ideas take a few episodes to flesh out, and for me, it would’ve been easier to write for Harukana Receive had I gone with my quarterly reviews.

  • I admit that while a fun episode to watch, the focus on details means that there is less to cover from a thematic perspective; Harukana Receive has further proven to be slightly more challenging to write for, given that beach volleyball is not something I am familiar with. This is why I’ve not bothered with analysing the moves, tactics and patterns the girls employ throughout Harukana Receive: I do not wish to mislead readers because I did not understand something in full.

  • The quieter of the siblings, Emily’s presence in Harukana Receive is a bit more muted when she’s beside Claire, whose energy and spirits tend to steal the spotlight. However, in taking a more active role on the court, her visibility is much more pronounced in this episode than before. It strikes me that excluding training sessions, where the Thomas sisters would evidently hold back and work to teach Haruka and Kanata techniques, we’ve not seen Claire and Emily play with their full efforts previously.

  • That Haruka and Kanata are able to prevent Éclaire’s lead from becoming insurmountable, then, is an impressive achievement in and of itself. This is less a consequence of skill, and more a matter of progress and effort. Because the progression of time in Harukana Receive is quite uneven, and that the girls are mentioned to have moved up a year, the match here is anywhere from a half-year to a year since Harukana Receive first started.

  • In the name of balancing out the screenshots, I figured it would only be fair to also have a Kanata moment. With ten episodes in the books, each of Kanata, Haruka, Claire, Emily and Akari are unremarkable on their own: it is when they are learning and laughing together that Harukana Receive is at its strongest. It is for this reason that I regard series differently depending on their setup with the protagonists. Series with a single central character must work to make this individual relatable and interesting, while series with several central characters must focus on creating plausible, engaging interactions amongst the group.

  • Lessons about partners and teamwork are firmly entrenched in the girls’ minds at a young age: Marissa reminds her daughters that an effective beach volleyball pair involves both players stepping up, after Emily remarks she’s okay with playing a support role for Claire; Emily looks up to Claire as a role model, but Marissa notes that having Claire out front means invariably, superior opponents where both partners can step up will best them.

  • These opponents end up being Narumi and Kanata, and while Claire is devastated by their loss, it turns out that losing also helped Emily realise she needed to step up. While Claire prefers playing an offensive role as Emily does defense, when the moment calls for it, Emily is willing to do what it takes to help win. Stepping up and making the sacrifice play is a central part of teamwork, although I remark that teamwork does not entail doing someone else’s job for them, either. During this flashback, Claire’s voice actress, Atsumi Tanezaki, delivers one of the most authentic-sounding “what”s in the history of anime in response to Kanata’s remarks that beach volleyball is determined by the skill of the pair, not the individual.

  • My favourite “what” moments in any movie, however, still belongs to Jeff Goldblum’s performance as Thor: Ragnarok‘s Grandmaster, after Thor manages to smoke the Hulk in the Contest of Champions. Like this fight, I was too busy enjoying the moment in Harukana Receive to be cheering for anyone. The Contest of Champions in Thor: Ragnarok ultimately ended with Thor taking control of the battle with lightning, before the Grandmaster intervened, so when I hear Thor say that “[Hulk] didn’t smash anything, I won that fight!”, I’m inclined to think that is a fair assessment.

  • On the topics of various movies that I enjoyed, the page quote for this Harukana Receive episode comes from The Matrix Reloaded, when Neo meets Seraph and is asked to prove his worthiness to speak with the Oracle. When Neo asks why Seraph does not simply ask his identity, Seraph replies with the quote above: traditionally, it means that one discovers more about another by seeing how they are in a difficult situation or conflict than they would otherwise, and in the context of Harukana Receive, I found that Haruka and Kanata learn more about Claire and Emily by taking them on in beach volleyball than they have previously.

  • The first set ends with Éclaire taking the lead, and Kanata expresses surprise that Emily’s taken on a forward role as the situation calls for it. However, in the process, Claire’s become pretty riled: ever-drive by a desire to triumph and win, Claire can become frustrated when things go sideways for her. The reason why Éclaire succeeds is because Emily is there to reassure her and dial things back some for her. Conversely, we’ve yet to see Haruka and Kanata exhibit any major pressure so far, which means that the upcoming episode will almost certainly see the pair face their most trying times in the series yet.

  • We are moving into the final two episodes of Harukana Receive, and I am brought back to memories of Girls und Panzer, whose final two episodes stand among the best I’ve seen. For the remaining two episodes, I am anticipating that I will be able to write about this series as I have previously and publish Friday evenings. With this post in the books, I am going to focus my efforts towards completing the Tides of War assignment in the Battlefield V open beta, which unlocks a special dog tag: I was absent for a day of the beta, but in the two hours I’ve got so far, I’m almost done with the assignment.

  • In any other anime, Kanata could be said to have an awakening of sorts, and will be fighting full force for Haruka and her own promise. Claire and Emily look forwards to what’s coming, having long promised to face Kanata again, and my prediction from last week still stands: Kanata and Haruka will win in a very close game, although the outcome this time will be that Claire and Emily are proud to have been able to both play at their hardest against a worthy opponent and bring their friend back into beach volleyball.

Harukana Receive has been inconsistent in places with its pacing and development, sometimes focusing on minor elements in great detail, while at other times, skipping over things and leaving audiences to accept that there is a certain bit of magic happening behind the scenes. In spite of this, where it counts, Harukana Receive is consistently good in conveying emotional intensity during each match; especially amidst a match amongst friends, the stakes are high, with each team exploiting their knowledge about one another’s strengths and weaknesses to gain the upper hand. However, emotional intensity and friendship are not mutually exclusive – the match sees Harukana and Éclaire being impressed with one another’s performance, and the girls also learn more about one another in ways that they could not under more relaxed conditions. Like Akari, audiences will find it difficult to root for one team or the other, and moving ahead into the penultimate episode, I am certain that a fantastic showing awaits all viewers, as one team must vanquish the other in order to fulfil their dreams in a thrillingly close match that will be quite suspenseful to watch.

This Is How I Feel: Harukana Receive Review and Reflection at the ¾ mark

Stephen Strange: “I went forward in time, to view alternate futures…to see all the possible outcomes of the coming conflict.”
Peter Quill: “How many did you see?”
Stephen Strange: “14 000 605.”
Tony Stark: “How many did we win?”
Stephen Strange: “One.”

Avengers: Infinity War

While Haruka and Kanata train tirelessly ahead of the qualifying competition for the Valkyrie Cup, Akari learns that owing to a lack of participants, only one Okinawan team will participate in the Valkyrie Cup. She hesitates to tell Haruka and the others of this news, fearing that the beach volleyball club will disintegrate from the pressures of competition, but after a call with Ayasa and Narumi, Akari decides to let the others know. Haruka, Kanata, Claire and Emily are not particularly worried about the news, and Akari gives everyone matching scrunchies, before they resolve to put their efforts into the qualifying tournament. On tournament day, the girls run into Mai and Ai: Ai’s become a post-secondary student and is helping out as a referee. Haruka and Kanata set off for their first match, as do Claire and Emily. With their training, Kanata and Haruka put on a strong performance and advance to the next round. After this match, they run into Youna and Kanna Aragaki, sisters who had faced off against Claire and Emily previously on the court and saw defeat. Vowing revenge, Haruka announces that they’ll have to best her and Kanata first, since that’s who they’re slated to play in the second round. Kanna employs a top spin in her spikes, and Akari feels that the two seem to be playing against Haruka entirely. As the match progresses, Kanata asks Haruka to place her faith in her, and when one of Kanna’s spikes gets past Haruka’s block, Kanata is able to receive it, allowing Haruka to send it back over the net and scores them the match point. Kanna and Youna resolve to return, and Haruka and Kanata march towards their inevitable match against Claire and Emily.

Three-quarters of Harukana Receive is now in the books, and things have accelerated wildly towards the march onto the Valkyrie Cup; by now, Haruka and Kanata have improved their play substantially, leaving the playing field open for exploring notions of sportsmanship, friendship and the strength of one’s word as the series marches into its final quarter. The focus of the ninth episode lies predominantly in Akari’s fear of having to watch Harukana play against Éclaire: although Harukana Receive has only seen Akari join the beach volleyball club recently, Akari’s concern about her friends shows that in the time that she has spent with them has been very meaningful to her. This fear leads her to worry about delivering news of the two pairs having to face one another to reach the nationals, and Akari decides to get in touch with Ayasa, who tells her that being honest with Haruka and the others is best. Narumi appends that everyone will understand that in a competition, there will be a victor and vanquished. Akari is able to thus put her feelings into hand-made scrunchies for everyone, and as it turns out, the prospect of having to face one another has little impact on Haruka, Kanata, Claire and Emily. They simply resolve to do their best and see what happens, thanking Akari for looking out for them. That everyone approaches things with this clarity is meant to reiterate that the bonds among everyone are such that the prospect of competition has done nothing to diminish the strength of their friendship. When the time for the competition arrives, both Harukana and Éclaire score victories in their matches, setting the stage for friends to compete against one another on the court. Their friendship will now be set aside for the moment, as both of Harukana and Éclaire will be playing for keeps to fulfill their own aspirations. However, regardless of how the match turns out, each of Claire, Emily, Haruka and Kanata will come out all the stronger, and closer together than before.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The progress that Haruka and Kanata makes becomes apparent by the ninth episode, once Claire remarks that she’s come quite a way in blocking. Exposure and experience are among the more effective of the conventional teachers: constantly doing something eventually turns it into a reflex. For molecular biologists, knowing the names and structures of all twenty amino acids comes as intuitively as a software developer might know their way around a particular stack. In Harukana Receive, things that Haruka might’ve had to think about now come to her much more quickly.

  • The endless energy and cheer that Haruka and Claire bring into Harukana Receive is quite infectious: I am constantly driven and encouraged by people like these in reality. Being a bit of an introvert myself, extroverts who bring positive energy to the table also motivate me to push myself harder and do better – Emily and Kanata similarly draw encouragement from their more energetic friends. This is why Emily refuses to play with anyone other than Claire: despite Claire trolling her in various ways, the fact remains is that when things get serious, the two sisters know how to work together.

  • When Akari receives word that the Okinawa qualifying tournaments will only send one team out to the nationals, she struggles to bring news back to her friends, worrying that things might become strained should Éclaire be made to play against Harukana. Having found it difficult to make friends, Akari’s worries are quite natural; she’s worried about losing everyone, rather similarly to how Yuzuki wanted to put her friendship with Komari and the others in writing during the events of A Place Further Than The Universe. However, like Yuzuki, Akari learns that genuine friendships are not conditional, nor are they contingent on a little competition.

  • Encouragement from Ayasa leads Akari to create a solution of her own: she crafts scrunchies modelled after the Hibiscus flower. Akari chooses the flower in Harukana Receive to symbolise treasuring of memories: the yellow Hibiscus is indeed a symbol of friendship and happiness. The flower also represents a perfect wife in North America, and in China, the flower signifies transient glory or success in the moment. It is a well-chosen flower for what Akari wishes to convey with it, and after hand-crafting scrunchies, she finds her friends wrapping up their practise by evening.

  • The passage of time in Harukana Receive appears very inconsistent: slice-of-life anime tend to follow a very steady and slow progression of events, allowing viewers to really slow down and take in the moment. This holds true for many Manga Time Kirara series, but Harukana Receive seems to be the exception on first glance, with things jumping forward in time and then depicting some moments in great detail. Because Harukana Receive is meant to show the girls’ development over time, the series consciously chooses to highlight milestones in their growth, which, similar to how real life can be, occur in irregularly-spaced intervals.

  • After Akari breaks out in tears and Claire consoles her, Haruka joins the party and happily declares that everyone will remain friends. Her actions dissolve some of the tensions of the moment, and are a constant reminder to audiences that at the end of the day, Harukana Receive is intended to be, first and foremost, about friendship, promises and themes that are standard to Manga Time Kirara series. The series is serious where it needs to be, but otherwise, is a very light-hearted one that does not warrant getting into lengthy disagreements with others about. On this note, I will be, on request from readers, be doing a post on 2016’s Captain America: Civil War as an example of where the serious co-exists with the comedic and the elements in the film that merit more serious discussions than, say, Harukana Receive.

  • The last time I saw a group of friends with matching scrunchies was in Wake Up, Girls! – I had compared Harukana Receive negatively to Wake Up, Girls! previously on account of the CG, but because this moment was so jarring and out of place, one cannot help but wonder if this was deliberately done to capture the anime idol feeling from something like Wake Up, Girls!. For its shortcomings, I greatly enjoyed Wake Up, Girls!, as it was a plucky anime about overcoming adversity. While there were more tears than strictly necessary, and the animation is famously bad, it’s got heart.

  • The total spanking count in Harukana Receive goes to a total of three when Claire hits Kanata’s lower half, eliciting one of the most adorable squeals and reactions I’ve heard in a while. While earlier episodes gave the impression that this was going to be common, Harukana Receive has been remarkably disciplined with this. Notice here that the girls are wearing competition tops over their standard tops: frills would indeed make it difficult to keep them in place, and their bright colours makes it immediately apparent as to who’s who.

  • Haruka and Kanata run into Ai and Mai; Mai’s lost none of her edge and can provoke the normally easygoing Haruka, while Kanata and Ai end up being exasperated at their friends’ immaturity.  I’ve not read the documentation for Ai’s height as of yet, but she seems slightly taller than Haruka. Despite this, Haruka is never frustrated in her presence the same way she reacted to Marissa. By this point in time, Ai’s become a post-secondary student and is a referee: Haruka and Kanata are now in their final year of high school, as well.

  • Haruka and Kanata’s first match results in a victory, although because the specifics were not shown, it stands to reason that it was a fairly pitched battle. I will address one of the elephants in the room that has appeared in discussions elsewhere, and this is the near-total absence of men in Harukana Receive. Aside from Kanata and Haruka’s grandfather, who appears briefly without any speaking roles, male characters do not have any sort of presence in Harukana Receive. This is the polar opposite of a vast majority of first person shooters, which have traditionally had all-male casts and is, from what I gather, a major point of contention for the upcoming Battlefield V. I admit that, if Battlefield V has a customisation system sophisticated enough to let me play as Kanata, that would hilarious, since I would have a smaller hitbox.

  • While some folks of old would be tempted to wonder about population dynamics in Harukana Receive, I have a simpler explanation that does not involve ecology or anything of that sort. The absence of males in this series is probably an artistic choice, rather than a practical one. Strange it may be, it’s not impeded the narrative in any way as of yet, and so, I see no need to look at the population traits in Harukana Receive and then attempt to prove that it would not work in the real world using a modified version of Conway’s Game of Life. Males exist in the series, but simply aren’t present. Moving away from this topic, I have a feeling readers would enjoy this still of Claire: this should make up for the Claire screenshot shortfall I mentioned last time.

  • Kanna and Youna are sisters who have faced Claire and Emily previously. Walking into the competition with a chip on her shoulder, Kanna holds out a declaration of revenge that is tantamount to a glove slap. While Claire welcomes a good challenge, it turns out that Kanna and Youna are set to face Haruka and Kanata first. Haruka steps in and states that a shot at the Thomas sisters will necessarily entail going through them first. A part of the fun in Haruka’s personality is how quick she is to accept challenges, and her occasional immaturity, which makes her a more credible character.

  • One of the most amusing aspects about animation in Harukana Receive is the notion of level of detail, or LoD. In computer graphics, LoD refers to increasing or decreasing the complexity of geometry and shader detail depending on the camera’s distance to an object, and this is done to optimise resource usage: there is little point in rendering an object and then keeping it in memory if a user is not going to be looking at all the details. In Harukana Receive, details on the swimsuit bottoms have inconsistent levels of detail – Claire and Emily sport a colourful diamond pattern, and these seem to be properly rendered, but the stripes on Youna and Kanna’s swimsuits seem to change in weight and number depending on the scene.

  • Outside of the junior tournament, this is the first time we’ve seen Haurka and Kanata play together in the competition setting, and by this point in time, the advances the pair have made since their first game. While slow motion shots are still being used, they show the girls as having a much more dynamic range of motion, indicating that Haruka and Kanata are comfortable with utilising a wider range of techniques now to keep the game going.

  • It would prima facie seem that Ai and Mai put up a more impressive showing against Haruka and Kanata than do Kanna and Youna, but one must recall that Kanata and Haruka have progressed substantially since their participation in the junior tournament, at least reaching a level of skill such that they can win over other teams. At one point during their match, when facing Haruka, Kanna briefly sees herself taking on Claire; this visual indicator might also be seen as hinting to viewers that Haruka’s play-style has evolved into a bit of a hybrid between Claire’s and Kanata’s.

  • The teams that face Éclaire get schooled, and audiences are meant to think that Claire and Emily have no trouble with defeating local teams. This creates a sense of anticipation: while audiences have seen Claire and Emily play against Haruka and Kanata, the lack of a competition and the attendant emotional weight of the match means that we have yet to see Claire and Emily going all out. With Haruka and Kanata wanting to win to help Kanata fulfil her promise to Narumi as Harukana’s raison d’être, the series foreshadows that the match will be titanic in nature from an emotional standpoint (I personally feel that from an animation perspective, we will be treated to more of the same).

  • In the match’s final moments, Kanna manages to get a spike through that bests Haruka’s block. However, Haruka is not worried: as Kanata has promised, she will be there for Haruka whenever needed. Utilising the way of thinking picked up from their time spent training under Marissa, the two move as one, and Haruka sends the ball over the net, scoring the final point that wins Harukana the match. Owing to the focus on Haruka, I find that this match was depicted in detail to show how far Haruka has come since the earlier episodes.

  • I’ve heard that some folks wish for Kanata to get a bit more of the spotlight, as well; I imagine that Kanata’s growth is more related to interpersonal components rather than beach volleyball, and we’ll have a chance to see Kanata excel as she strives to fulfil her word to Narumi in the upcoming episodes. As a result, I now will explain the page quote: Infinity War is remarkably quotable, and today’s quote comes from a dialogue in the film after Stephen Strange uses the Time Stone to explore outcomes against Thanos, seeing only one among the fourteen million six hundred and five where they prevailed. It is logical, then, that all of the illogical decisions made for the remainder of Infinity War must be leading up to this one outcome. The number of outcomes in Harukana Receive are not quite as numerous, but because of how prominent Kanata’s promise is within the narrative, it is not difficult to see the outcome of the match between Éclaire and Harukana.

  • This post is very nearly in the books, and my schedule for the upcoming while is a bit clearer: I will be flying out once more for work in the first week of September. Consequently, I will be delayed in watching and writing about the tenth episode, which is one I look forwards to seeing. As I have done before, I will aim to publish a discussion for it before the weekend is over. Subsequently, I am likely to be able to write about episodes eleven and twelve as I have for the others. Harukana Receive‘s been an interesting ride for me in more ways than one – doing episodic reviews while flying around all over the place is not a trivial feat, and bloggers who can do so have earned my respect several times over.

  • The last screenshot I will feature for this post will be one that I’m certain readers will find aesthetically pleasing – this twentieth screenshot marks the end of the talk, and with it, the end of August, as well. Tomorrow, we will be entering September, and looking back, this summer’s disappeared in the blink of an eye. I would’ve wished it lasted longer, and that I had a few more lazy days to do nothing, but the flow of time is relentless. It suddenly strikes me that three quarters of Harukana Receive has aired, and that we are very nearly into the final quarter of 2018, as well.

With Haruka and Kanata facing the toughest opponents they’ve played since Narumi and Ayasa, where both Emily and Claire will be going in with nothing less than their best, the upcoming episode of Harukana Receive will be an intense one. While Haruka and Kanata have improved beyond recognition as a pair since the series started, Claire and Emily have the advantage of experience in their corner. They are not opponents to be taken lightly, and so, the tenth episode will likely see the onslaught that brings out the best in Haruka and Kanata. This is their story, after all, and as such, while it is clear that Kanata and Haruka will prevail, the path it takes to reach that point will be a difficult one. This is the only outcome that allows for the narrative to move on, to allow Kanata a shot at fulfilling her promise, and so, while the result is predictable, as with every slice-of-life anime before it, Harukana Receive‘s greatest strength is showing the process it took to get there. Even knowing in advance that Haruka and Kanata will have to best Claire and Emily to make this promise possible, what I look forwards to watching most will be just how intense of a match that will ensue in the upcoming episode. Showdowns between friends are powerful in fiction: to watch people who understand and know one another fight each other creates a highly suspenseful, thrilling moment that keeps audiences on the edge, especially if there is an emotional component as well. Well-known showdowns in fiction have been the subject of no small discussion: from Obi-Wan and Anakin fight on Mustafar, to Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes squaring off against Tony Stark, such moments have always been powerful from a cinematic experience, and so, with the stakes in Harukana Receive known, one has to wonder if something like beach volleyball can command the same level of anticipation from viewers.

MythBusters meets Makoto Shinkai: Addressing Myths Surrounding Kimi no Na Wa (Your Name)

“This is the show. It’s like four minutes of science and then ten minutes of me hurting myself.” –Adam Savage, MythBusters

It has been two years to the day that Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name premièred in Japanese theatres – the film was counted a veritable masterpiece by some and saw overwhelmingly positive reception in the days following its launch, for its exceptional visuals and a coherent, moving story that ended up being very satisfying to take in. Your Name was screened internationally to acclaim, and around the world, the film was lauded as being one of Shinkai’s strongest. However, as is the norm for anime dealing with such a broad range of topics and themes, numerous assertions, and the occasional untruth, sometimes arise. In this post, the central aim will be to deal with some of the more persuasive, and occasionally blatantly false, claims surrounding the movie. There are four that particularly stand out, and I will, as Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have done for MythBusters, I will be methodically going through each of the five claims and determine whether or not each holds any merit. As with MythBusters, each claim will end up in one of three categories: something that is “confirmed” holds weight and is backed by substantial evidence, oftentimes, from the authors, producers or staff themselves. A claim that is “plausible” is one that may hold true given observations seen in the work itself, and “busted” claims are those that either lack substantial evidence to indicate they are true, or else stand in contradiction with observations seen within the work itself. Below, I explore each of the four myths surrounding Your Name, and with my particular brand of exploration, offer insight as to what I found the outcome of each assertion should be.

Taki and Mitsuha’s meeting is undeserved

From a certain perspective, the happy ending that Taki and Mitsuha ended up receiving in Your Name came across as contrived and unearned, and that a superior ending would have been for the two to walk by one another without anything else occurring. For these individuals, their fateful meeting at the film’s end diminished their experience, who feel that neither Taki or Mitsuha have genuinely earned their ending:

My big problem with the happy ending in Your Name.[sic] is that it felt too contrived. I felt that neither Mitsuha nor Taki earned their happy ending, which relied heavily on an implausible deux ex machina. I felt cheated, because the Shinkai went for a cliched conclusion, and that cheapened the impact of the drama for me.

I dislike happy endings in my choice of fiction, in general. I think happy endings are a lie that people actively seek because they can’t accept the shitty mess that is real life. I think good endings are the ones which realistically portray the cost of all their characters’ actions and why, in the end, the choices were worth it, despite what they gave up in exchange.

Individuals further argue that reality is not about giving people happy endings and in some cases, have even gone so far as to say that Makoto Shinkai had intended to write a distance-themed ending similar to that of Five Centimeters per Second. However, throughout Your Name, the image of the red ribbon is very prevalent. This red ribbon of fate, as it is commonly known, is meant to symbolise being bound together by some force beyond our comprehension. In conjunction with the persistent and forward use of braided cords, as well as notions of musubi, or, a coming together of, it is clear that Your Name aims to speak to notions of connection. Something has brought Taki and Mitsuha together, and for better or worse, causes their lives to be intertwined in ways that they had thought impossible. Using extraordinary circumstances to speak about love, Shinkai’s use of symbolism is meant to suggest that love works in enigmatic ways.

  • Before I go further into this discussion, I address the page quote: it’s meant to set the stage for the tone of this post, where a few sentences of it show what the reality behind some claims are, and the rest of it is me making wisecracks about some of the beliefs. Now, we formally begin, and I open by mentioning that all of the happy couples that I know state that their meeting was happenstance, and that once they’d met, something convinced them that this was what they were looking for. This is the fate, 緣份 in my tongue, 運命 in Japanese, that my parents say drive relationships. The complexity of love is such that it is likened to the supernatural, and Your Name definitely strove to convey that there is a degree of magic in love and relationships, as well as how some people meet.

  • Thus, to say that it was deus ex machina that brings Taki and Mitsuha together, and that neither of them “earned” their happy ending is indicative of someone who lacks understanding of what love is. Your Name‘s ending is by no means clichéd because the film was setting up the possibility of a reunion with its symbolism, and the ending audiences got shows that some occurrences in life, though beyond our ability to fully comprehend, can work out in peoples’ favour. Optimistic, open-minded individuals accept things as they occur, making the most of their moment, while pessimists tend to leave their heads in the sand, oblivious of the world progressing around them.

  • The payoff at the end of Your Name comes as a stroke of fate precisely of the sort that bring people together: had Your Name aimed to set up an ending similar to Five Centimeters per Second, Shinkai would have dispensed with the focus on cords, braiding and the red string imagery that is so prevalent in the movie. Willfully ignoring the symbols in a film and attempting to force one’s own opinions into them, contrary to Shinkai’s application of the symbols, is to suggest that Shinkai’s intentions are irrelevant. In this case, the quoted individual asserts that the theme of Your Name is that the “vague yet aching sense of clinging to memory underpins the entire point of the movie”.

  • This is wrong: Shinkai had previously covered the dangers of clinging onto memories and a shadow of one’s desire through Five Centimeters per Second. Takaki falls into a depression and breaks up with a girlfriend because he was not able to live in the present and appreciate where he was, longing after an idealised fantasy. By comparison, while Mitsuha and Taki continue to feel as though they are forgetting something, both continue moving ahead with their lives, graduating from school and transitioning into their occupations. Besides suggesting the individual quoted misunderstood Five Centimeters per Second (which does not romanticise waiting for the impossible), it is clear that the individual in question missed the point of Your Name, as well.

  • I’ll close off by remarking that to be so dismissive of happy endings is to hold a pessimistic outlook of humanity and the world – while there are plenty of reasons why people might be pessimists, I am of the mind that online, most people hold a pessimistic, or even nihilistic worldview for the sake of attention. As such, folks who make broad, sweeping statements about their lives in response to one film are doing so without any concrete basis; perhaps they simply cannot accept that their life lacks colour and purpose, and so, are quick to write off any happy endings as being inconsistent with their worldview, rather than making a conscious effort to change themselves and their outlook.

That the two come together in the end, then, is the culmination of these signs and their experiences. Had Taki and Mitsuha missed one another, it would completely contradict what Shinkai had intended to go for – this would show that no amount of effort, natural or supernatural, could accommodate love. Aside from yielding a highly unsatisfactory ending, having the two pass by another would defeat the sum of the symbolism, betraying the audience’s expectations. Five Centimeters per Second had Takaki consciously choose not to worry about whether or not the woman at the train crossing was indeed Akari, precisely because it indicated Takaki’s willingness to move on, to let go of his past. No indicator of divine intervention was given in Five Centimeters per Second, and distance was meant to illustrate that Takaki had lost sight of why he was in love to begin with. The same cannot be said for Your Name, where conscious decision to act on a feeling and pursue it, coupled with a bit of supernatural influence, allows Taki and Mitsuha to come together. As a result, Your Name could not have been successful with any other ending.

Verdict: Busted

The film is an allegory for the March 2011 Tohoku Earthquake

March 2011 saw one of the most powerful earthquakes to strike modern Japan: this earthquake was followed by a devastating tsunami that ravaged the Tohoku region, and also resulted in the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which is second only to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 in terms of severity. The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster wiped entire rural towns out and created an exclusion zone around the now-derelict power plant; the impact on Japanese communities, both rural and urban, was strongly felt. Being located along the Ring of Fire, and being in the path of typhoons means that the Japanese are no strangers to natural disasters. Stoically accepting their fate and making the most of their circumstance, forces of nature are the focus of many Japanese films: people always wind up rising to the occasion and surviving. Because of these elements were quite obvious, many news outlets assert that this film was meant to be an allegory for the response to and aftermath of the Tohoku Earthquake; the imagery is very strong, with scenes of wreckage surrounding Itormori as great in scale as the destruction wrecked by the tsunami, and the eerie silence of the twin-craters captures the subdued, almost supernatural feeling in an exclusion area. However, it would seem quite far-fetched to say that the events of the Tohoku Earthquake directly influenced Your Name – after all, Your Name is ostensibly a love story.

  • When the Tohoku Earthquake occurred, I was in the middle of the second undergraduate year, and news of the disaster was all over the news: I was waiting for organic chemistry lecture to begin and was reading about the events as they were unfolding. The scale and scope of the disaster were unknown at the time, and it was only later that the reach of the devastation became known. I donated to relief efforts, and time passed; the earthquake faded to the back of my mind as I busied myself with summer research.

  • Two years later, the Great Flood of 2013 hit Southern Alberta, bringing the disasters to my doorstep. The Bow overflowed its banks in the evening of June 20, and forced an evacuation of the entire downtown core, as well as communities surrounding the city. I saw for myself the power of rising waters and donated to relief efforts: the recovery was astounding as people came together to overcome challenges. The fact is that natural disasters are a part of our world, and for better or worse, people will find ways to recover and continue living.

  • As heartbreaking as natural disasters are, they can also bring out the best in people. In the case of Your Name, Makoto Shinkai likely utilised the impact event to show the resilience of the human spirit, specifically, that even when people are separated, powerful positive emotions can prevail over this. As a result, the inclusion of Tiamat’s collision with the surface is likely meant to reinforce this notion, and the film is unlikely to have reached the hearts of so many viewers had it chosen to focus on a strictly comedic or realistic approach.

  • The Itomori disaster is ultimately a central aspect of Your Name, although it is the human aspects that are ultimately the most important to consider: Your Name shows both an effort to make a difference in the presence of existing knowledge and also, how people endure and move on following disasters. I did not cover the topic to any extent in my original review beyond a short blurb about it, as I felt the disaster to be less critical at the time, but looking back, with the knowledge of why Shinkai added it, in retrospect, it is clear that my original review is missing the mention of the strength of human resilience and spirit that being aware of the disaster piece brings out.

  • Beyond this, however, the general themes and messages of my original Your Name discussion remain quite unchanged. I wrap up this section’s screenshots with the remark that there’s an eerie beauty about the destruction surrounding Itomori. The exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl and Fukushima are similarly places of contrast, although they differ from the fictional Itomori impact crater in that the presence of radioactive particles and emissions make them much more dangerous places to be in.

As it turns out, Makoto Shinkai himself stated in an interview that the earthquake had a profound impact on him. In the days following, he travelled to Natori in Miyagi, and saw there a scene of total juxtaposition: above was a beautiful blue sky, peaceful and serene, and below, the ruins of towns, farms and roads. Realising the scale of the destruction, and that it just so happened that this area was made to bear the full brunt of the tsunami, Shinkai felt that natural disasters could happen anywhere, at any time. This was the raw strength and beauty of nature, and so, Shinkai wondered, if one could be given the power of foresight against a disaster, what would one do? What could one do? As time passed, and Shinkai returned to Natori, he saw the town rebuilt. The same ocean that had shattered the city years before was now back to being a part of the background, beautiful and majestic. This contrast in nature inspired Shinkai, and into his love story, he weaves powerful disaster imagery to show that nature is beautiful, terrible and above all, fair. In his story, Shinkai hopes to remind audiences that disasters are forgotten with time, but people should nonetheless be more mindful of the awesome strength that is nature. In doing so, just as news outlets have found, Your Name is indeed an allegory to the Tohoku Earthquake. Using stunning visuals and a central human element, Shinkai subtly informs viewers to never forget about the duality of nature, but also, the strength of the human spirit to make a difference.

Verdict: Confirmed

Your Name and The Garden of Words are set in the same universe

Yukari Yukino was one of the protagonists of The Garden of Words, where she had fallen into a depression as a consequence from stresses of her work and became increasingly isolated until Takai entered her life. Metaphorically helping her walk again, Taki’s influence on Yukari is a positive one, and Yukari resumes teaching in her hometown on Shikoku Island. Yukari is seen again in Your Name, this time, as a teacher in Itomori. Kana Hanazawa provides the voice to both incarnations of Yukari, and so, with this overlap, viewers have been compelled to try and show that The Garden of Words and Your Name are set in the same universe, using Yukari’s presence to indicate that this is indeed the case. However, Yukari’s presence in Your Name is only because Makoto Shinkai was interested in reusing her character for the film as a bit of a call-back to his earlier film, and partially in jest, so he could work with Hanazawa again. In addition, Shinkai carefully includes dates to indicate that the Yukari of Your Name and the Yukari of The Garden of Words are not the one and the same, which is to say that The Garden of Words and Your Name are set in different universes.

  • If this blog post were to be done in a MythBusters episode, this particular claim would occupy the fewest number of minutes in that episode and be the one myth that could be tested entirely in the M5 Industries warehouse. Further, if Jamie and Adam were to replace me, then they would probably say that this is one of the myths that can be tried at home. The basis for the notion that Your Name and The Garden of Words are in the same realm stem from the fact that Yukari is present in both worlds.

  • Using the calendars on Taki and Mitshua’s smartphones is the quickest and easiest way to determine that the universes are quite different. September 10 fell on a Saturday in 2016, and in a blink-and-you’ll-miss it moment, Mitsuha is seen writing a journal entry dated Thursday, September 12. A glance shows that September 2013 has this occurrence, which also lines up with frequent mention of “three years ago” in Your Name. Yukari did not leave Tokyo until September 2013 in The Garden of Words, but in Your Name, is a teaching in Itomori in 2013.

  • There is one more subtle detail that should be sufficient to convince the reader that Yukari of The Garden of Words and Yukari of Your Name do not exist in the same universe. The first is that Shinkai had strictly adhered to realism in both Five Centimeters per Second and The Garden of Words. In Your Name, however, Itomori is a fictional town, and magic is at play in Your Name.

  • So, short of the Space and Time Stones being present in Your Name (and there most certainly are not), it is not the case that Yukari of The Garden of Words and Yukari of Your Name are the same Yukari, and moreover, these two realities are completely different. The details seen in Your Name, so deliberately chosen to reinforce this, are present to remove this ambiguity, and small details like these merit rewatching Your Name.

  • I remember that shortly after the film became available in North America, some wondered why Mitsuha did not feel something was off about their timelines based on what version of iOS they were using. Short of looking at the system settings, I argue that there aren’t enough differences between iOS 7 and iOS 9 for the average user to differentiate. iOS 7 saw the introduction of Apple’s Flat UI, which gives iOS a more modern, streamlined form, and it was a dramatic departure from iOS 6 and earlier versions, which had skeuomorphism in its design.

Looking through the calendars of The Garden of Words, Yukari writes a letter to Takao dated February, 2014, indicating that when she mentions returning to her hometown for September, she is referring to September 2013. The time that Yukari and Takao spend together, then, is between June and August of 2013. In Your Name, there are numerous stills of Taki and Mitsuha leaving daily journal entries on their mobile devices. From Taki’s perspective, he sees everything from 2016: September 10 was a Tuesday in 2016. However, inspection of the frames when Mitsuha leaves a journal entry behind show that it is 2013 – September 12 was a Thursday in 2013. Consequently, it is reasonable to suppose that Mitsuha first begins switching consciousnesses with Taki in the summer of 2013 from her perspective. During the phenomenon, Yukari is clearly seen teaching classes in Itomori. There is a direct overlap in Yukari’s teaching Mitsuha’s classes in Itomori and teaching Takao’s classes in Tokyo. Since it is impossible for an individual to have omnipresence in the absence of additional elements, practical evidence in Your Name and The Garden of Words, coupled with Shinkai’s remarks about Yukari, indicate that both movies have a different instance of Yukari, and so, could not be set within the same realm.

Verdict: Busted

Understanding and a profound familiarity of the Man’yōshū is mandatory to enjoyment of the film

Your Name covers a myriad of themes, from the ethereal and powerful nature of love to the juxtaposition of beauty and indifference in natural phenomenon. The film’s broad appeal comes as a consequence of the narrative’s breadth – a diverse audience enjoys it because there’s something in this film for everyone, including linguists and cultural anthropologists, who would find the references to the Man’yōshū highly enjoyable. The Man’yōshū, literally “Ten Thousand Pages Collection”, is renowned as being a comprehensive collection of Japanese poetry dating largely between 600 and 759 AD. In particular, the Man’yōshū is counted as being a very extensive collection of poetry containing traditional Shinto values, as well as aspects of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Written in a sentimental tone, the Man’yōshū‘s contents are further important from a cultural perspective, offering insight into an older Japanese written system, known as the man’yōgana. This system, though cumbersome, utilised Chinese characters in both phonetic and symbolic roles, and is counted as the forerunner of the modern kana systems. It is therefore unsurprising that there is a romantic appeal surrounding the Man’yōshū; it is quite fitting to draw on these well-known elements for a work of fiction. However, there are some who suggest that there are hidden thematic elements in the film, and that it requires a specialised mindset for one to truly appreciate Your Name. These individuals posit that Yukari’s references to Man’yōshū provide insight into Makoto Shinkai’s intentions more succinctly than do imagery and overarching themes elsewhere in the movie, and that further to this, one must adopt a strictly academic perspective towards the film before they can begin appreciating all of the nuances within the film:

“Kimi no na wa” is one of those films, like “Kotonoha no Niwa” -and a TV series like “Kuzu no Honkai” is as well- which can continue to provide entertainment for years. Not everyone will appreciate the connection but they have the same seeds for a lot of their symbolism. The benefits of tracking those down can be sown for an even better understanding of so many stories. Grounded with the same roots. Never ending homework but of the fun variety. While throwing me miles out of my depth, “Man’yōshū” also continues to provide foundational knowledge which in turn inspires further exploration and the formation of a never complete but ever expanding baseline for understanding. Someone who followed the hints provided by the creators of “Kuzu no Honkai” on a weekly basis and stuck with delving into them to the end will walk into a “Kimi no Na wa” screening better prepared for the emotions and symbolism they’re about to witness on screen. I came here, in part, to say that I think they have a lot in common.

  • I expect that this myth would be the one that generates the least amount of resistance by the time I reached my conclusion: the vast majority of viewers will not be watching Your Name with the intention of writing a graduate thesis about it. Your Name is intended to entertain, not instruct, and as such, one should not need a serious background in Classical Japanese to get Your Name any more than one needs an understanding of British folklore and medieval witchcraft of Europe to enjoy J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.

  • If, we supposed that Shinkai had intended Your Name to be a movie requiring a background in Classical Japanese literature to appreciate, then the film would’ve spent more time going over the blackboard. Instead, the blackboard is shown very briefly: aside from acting as foreshadowing for viewers who do have the background in Classical Japanese literature, the film does not directly go into details line-by-line. Instead, there are numerous landscape and cityscape shots: the time lapses are impressive and show how far animation has come since Shinkai’s early days. The presence of jaw-dropping visuals, however, are unlikely to be sufficient to convince those who are dead-set on forcing an academic approach to this film.

  • Quite frankly, it is no business of mine if people want to do a graduate thesis on Your Name – they’d have a helluva time finding a graduate supervisor willing to do such a project, and encounter similar difficulties in securing the requisite, for starters. With this being said, I do not wish for people to read through piles of meaningless purple prose online and then come away feeling as though they’re missing something from Your Name: often, people will do this to satisfy their own egos and intimidate others, rather than present novel ideas for a discussion amongst peers. Those with the most convoluted thoughts are those who have the least meaningful things to add, as the quoted individual for this section illustrates.

  • There were two other myths that I would have liked to bust. The first is that that a power line dividing the moon in two has symbolic meaning (allegedly, “heartbreak or broken fate”). However, with the art-book “A Sky Longing For Memories” never mentioning this, and the fact that this image actually has no meaning, this myth would not be a satisfactory one to bust, being quite short. These shots are intended to be establishing shots only, bringing to life an environment, and beyond this, does not hold any relevance to the narrative. The second is that couples will get more out of Your Name than single folk, but this is also obviously false, and would make for some uninteresting discussion.

  • My original Your Name post was quite lengthy and featured an even hundred screenshots, but even this was insufficient to cover all of the moments in Your Name. With this being said, in the two years that have passed since the film began screening in Japan, I think that all of the conversation that can be had about Your Name is exhausted. There will be screenshots I do not imagine I will have a chance to use, but things are what they are. I note the goal of this exercise is to take a closer look at existing beliefs about the movie, rather than a revisitation, and so, the screenshots were chosen to be (somewhat) relevant to what was being discussed.

A film is not intended to, and should never, force its viewers to do “homework”. It should be evident that any film demanding its audience to possess a degree in Classical Japanese, folklore, linguistics or culture would not be particularly enjoyable to watch. Doubtless that there might be interesting aspects in Your Name drawn from the Man’yōshū, they do not form the focus of the film: had Shinkai chosen to conceal his themes behind aspects requiring uncommon knowledge, audiences would not have found the film enjoyable. The reason why Your Name was so successful was that it broadly touched on a range of topics, packaging things up in a film with stunning sound and visuals, and finally, concluding in an immensely satisfying manner. As such, it is evident that without having the requisite “foundational knowledge” and a preparedness to seek out the symbols in the film, one can nonetheless enjoy the film to a considerable extent. In fact, it should be clear that while Shinkai may have drawn from the Man’yōshū for his films, the stories and themes in Your Name (and The Garden of Words) are his own – Shinkai draws from his own experiences to create a story, and it is disingenuous to suppose that there is enough of an overlap between his works and the Man’yōshū such that the latter becomes required reading to understand Shinkai’s intentions. One does not need to “[follow] the hints provided and [stick] with delving into them to the end” ahead of watching Your name to be “better prepared for the emotions and symbolism they’re about to witness on screen”; this is a load of bullshit. Numerous viewers have enjoyed the film without the requisite knowledge that is supposedly mandatory to enjoy the movie; as the large, diverse audience have decisively shown, there is no wrong way to enjoy Your Name except for one: the belief that declares academic perspectives as being necessary and sufficient to experience the film properly. With this myth being firmly busted, it is my hope that people do not accept those verbose, purple prose-filled passages as resembling anything even remotely relevant to Your Name.

Verdict: Busted

Closing Remarks

The broad themes and messages in Your Name means that discussion on the film’s subtler aspects are only natural, but there are occasions where conversation strays away from the realm of facts and towards speculation. This post was intended to take a look at some of the assertions surrounding Your Name. In this round of myth busting, I cover four widely-known queries that are invariably raised after watching Your Name, and through a bit of discussion, find that three of the four claims are “busted”. That is to say, there is evidence to show that the claims made about Your Name are merely thus. One of the claims turned out to have merit, and this revelation gives additional weight and meaning to Your Name. I’ve found that appreciation for a film usually comes from hearing insight into what motivated the creators to create the film in the manner that they did, and also from being able to relate to the film in a manner. While post-modernist thought supposes that the audience’s interpretation should be held to at least the same weight as the author’s intent, deviating from this may leave an individual with an inaccurate understanding of the same film, or even a diminished experience. While we are on the matter of a diminished experience, I note that this post lacks the same excitement as a conventional MythBusters episode. Instead, I’ve addressed a few long-standing queries about Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, and ultimately find that, regardless of whether one might agree or disagree with my verdicts, the fact is that Your Name is a worthwhile film to watch.

I’ll Keep Our Promise: Harukana Receive Episode Eight Impressions and Review

Silent darkness creeps into your soul
And removes the light of self-control
The cave that holds you captive has no doors
Burnin’ with determination
To even up the score

—John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, Hearts on Fire

After introducing herself to Haruka, Marissa immediately sets about teaching Kanata and Haruka to approach beach volleyball as a synergy between two individuals. Through an exercise where the two are two receive her spikes, Marissa reminds Haruka and Kanata that even with a mastery of the fundamentals, the effectiveness of a team boils down to how well the two players can complement one another on the court, working together what a single player cannot do alone. With practise, Haruka and Kanata manage to receive one of Marissa’s spikes. The girls continue training under Marissa’s tutelage, and Akari receives training of her own. With Akari joining the beach volleyball club, their club is reinstated, as well. New Year’s is soon upon Okinawa, and the girls visit a temple, wishing for luck in the upcoming year and for success in their desire to play at the Nationals. Haruka learns from Ayasa that she and Narumi are on a layover in Okinawa, and prompt Kanata to drop by the airport before they check in. Barely making it to the airport, Kanata shouts out to Narumi that she has not forgotten their old promise to reach the Nationals, but that this time, she’ll be playing alongside Haruka. Narumi holds up her pinky, acknowledging their promise, before departing. Similar to the seventh episode, Harukana’s eighth episode is focused on slower-paced character development; training is punctuated by the ever-familiar reminder that in beach volleyball, the pair matters more than the individual, and Marissa’s remarks that a beach volleyball pair is, in her words, similar to a married couple reinforces the idea that there’s a closeness amongst partners that allow them to be strong where the other is weak, and support one another to the extent that two act as one. A glimpse of this is seen during their training: formidable Marissa’s spikes might be, Kanata and Haruka learn that together, they can act in ways that would be impossible alone, and moving ahead, can put their faith in one another with greater conviction than before.

Half of episode eight deals with training, and the other follows the girls pushing Kanata to reach Narumi on New Year’s Day. Prior to their sprint to the airport, the girls wish for the best in the upcoming year, draw fortunes and write their goals on an ema. These acts accentuate the similarities between Claire and Haruka, as well as Emily and Kanata. Claire and Haruka simultaneously desire to win the tournament and draw spectacular fortunes, while Emily and Kanata pray for safety and draw moderate luck for the new year. Akari, still the newcomer, draws terrible luck, and earlier, while the girls share their wishes, remarks that there are many similarities within the group, as well. Akari’s fitting in quite well, but her presence does seem to have a lonelier feel to it: Haruka is partnered with Kanata and gets along with Claire like peas in a pod, while Emily plays her best beach volleyball with Claire and is on the same plane as Kanata. As Harukana Receive continues, one hopes that Akari will find her place in the sun amongst the closely-knit beach volleyball club, but in the meantime, she’s still a part of a larger group, and when Haruka learns that Narumi is at the airport, Akari motivates Kanata to go meet her before she and Ayasa leave, mentioning that beach volleyball and its potential to bring people together is what led Kanata to approach her. Being a new member, Akari is able to see things from a new perspective and reiterate things to the others, which gives everyone the motivation they need to go see Narumi off, and ultimately, Kanata is able to communicate to Narumi that their promise is still on.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’m not too sure how many more weeks remain on my current project, so it will be the case that there will be at least half of the remaining Harukana Receive posts that do not come out on the same day as the episode. With this being said, I will still aim to make these posts of a passable quality. Haruka is shocked to encounter someone taller than herself; eyeballing the image puts Marissa as being around 5’11 or so (180 cm): she hugs Haruka as a way of greetings here. Envy soon turns to relaxation, and Haruka enjoys the moment. Marissa addresses Akari by her nickname, and Akari immediately works out that it must’ve been Claire who’d made things this way.

  • I imagine that readers have grown accustomed to fanservice in my Harukana Receive posts, but seeing as the eighth episode is remarkably restrained on this, save for when Marissa pulls off her sweater ahead of training. To offset this, I figured that I will offer fanservice in another form for folks who read through the figure captions in full. Seeing Marissa’s abs elicits a sense of joy in Akari, who immediately longs to know Marissa’s “secrets” in keeping fit. However, there is no real secret: maintaining the discipline and will to constantly train is about all there is to it.

  • Up until now, spikes in Harukana Receive have been depicted normally, with motion lines and blur. To set Marissa’s spikes apart from the others, and to emphasise the differences between the girls’ capabilities and that of an experienced player, Marissa’s spikes leave a glowing trail behind them. They are fast enough so that Haruka and Kanata cannot even begin reacting to them. Harukana Receive presents the physical elements to a much lesser extent than the mental aspects; sports anime would typically depict both the mental and physical aspects in equal measure, so seeing Harukana Receive focusing on psychological aspects reinforces the idea that from the audience’s perspective, little is to be gained by considering the technical elements.

  • The point of this exercise, as it turns out, is to get a pair used to playing with one another: even when faced with what appears with overwhelming force, what allows a pair to succeed is communication and trust between the two partners. With their objectives better characterised, Haruka positions herself up front, with the aim of slowing the ball down to a point where Kanata may receive it. Once the girls know what needs to be done, the rest is a matter of improving on technique, and after several more attempts, they manage to succeed in sending the spike into the air, in preparation to be returned.

  • Marissa remarks that the closeness amongst two members of a pair is not so different than being married: in her words, “pairing with a partner is like getting married, in a way“. Her words here makes the distinction of saying that beach volleyball pairs are similar to rather than being equivalent to a married couple; I’ve received feedback here that I’ve not been adequately acknowledging yuri in Harukana Receive. The reason for this is that I have nothing substantial to say about yuri, in the sense that even if I were to mention it, there’s very little I can do with it beyond making Thor Ragnarok-style jokes about it: I don’t think that I could properly tie it with the narrative, relate it to contemporary Japanese social norms or its significance in modern Japanese literature. It would be discourteous to readers to pretend that I know more than I do, so I shan’t step into that realm.

  • Marissa’s words are those of a professional’s: the whole point of sport is working as a team, and whether or not a team has two members active on the court, or eleven on the field, the same basic concepts hold true. Working together to create space, close distances, make opportunities and ultimately, score points, seeing good teamwork in sport is very inspiring. For instance, in a hockey game, players on a team truly playing together will skate and position themselves to create good plays. Such teams will clearly have the initiative, and I’ve found that a team whose players are constantly moving about while on the offensive is much more likely to win a game than the team whose players are stationary.

  • Even when they were younger, Claire still retained a very cheerful and optimistic outlook, while Emily was much more reserved and prone to worry. Following their defeat at the hands of Kanata and Narumi, Claire and Emily would befriend one another and train together. Lessons about defeat and failure in the realm of sports very much apply to life: a critical skill is being able to lose or fail gracefully. This ultimately boils down to accepting that there will be another opportunity, that what transpired is valuable experience, and that the world is quite large.

  • Humility is perhaps the most valuable lesson to be learned from losing: the very best accept that they aren’t the best, and simply strive to keep learning and pushing their limitations. These people are less worried about winning and glory, and more concerned with finding their best, understanding that their best is the consequence of cooperating with the best. Humility applies to every discipline, including software developers. I am well aware of my limitations (for one, my mathematical background and theory of algorithms are very weak) and so, appreciate the fact that in software development, there is an opportunity to work with people who are both more experienced and with different backgrounds than my own, since that helps me learn.

  • In between their training, the girls share a moment together at the same ice cream shop that Haruka and Kanata visited after their first time playing together earlier in the season. Eight episodes into Harukana Receive, I’ve yet to see a rainy day in the anime: Okinawa’s rainy season runs from early May to June, but the rainfall is intermittent, and for the most part, weather in the summer is very pleasant. This stands in stark contrast with the weather back home: Calgary has broken a record for the number of smokey hours on account of the forest fires raging in British Columbia. It’s been smokey for the whole of August so far, and this has done a number on my lungs.

  • While I had originally anticipated the episode to have focused on training, it turns out that only half the episode is really about training. However, there is indeed a training montage in this episode; despite lacking the emotional intensity of Rocky’s training in preparation for his match with Ivan Drago, the fact that a montage is present shows that the girls are indeed preparing for their efforts to enter the Valkyrie Cup. The girls exercise and practise together, and Kanata drills Haruka on theory, as well as hand signals. Downtime is also shown, along with the girls moving through their school year.

  • As a consequence, it was appropriate to feature an opening quote sourced from Rocky IV‘s Hearts on Fire, one of my favourite training songs of all time. Montages are typically used to condense a process such that moments relevant to the narrative can be shown in greater detail: the whole point of the final stages of Rocky IV was to show Rocky’s grit and determination against a grim, seemingly indestructible opponent, and so, the training leading up to this was placed into a montage to remind audiences that coming into this fight, Rocky has prepared to the best of his ability, while at the same time, showing that his opponent also enters the fight with the intent of destroying Rocky. Harukana Receive only shows things from one perspective, and while their training montage is much more relaxed, audiences should similarly gain the impression that Haruka and Kanata improve under Marissa’s coaching.

  • While the others are much more conservative in their dress style, Claire is bold and chooses apparel that leads her to stand out in a crowd. Time flies, and it is January now. However, going purely from the screenshots alone, one could not make this assessment: January temperatures in Okinawa average around 17°C, which is roughly the average temperature of a September day back home. It suddenly strikes me that I give all of my units in metric here on this blog: to my readers from the United States, I must apologise: I grew up with the metric system, and measure almost everything in metric, except for height and weight, for which I use the Imperial system. I am reminded of this because in the past few days, speaking with folks from the United States, I gave temperatures in Celsius, resulting in confusion.

  • In Cantonese, 凶 (jyutping hung1) is pronounced the same as 空 (the kanji in Haruka’s family name), lending itself to another phonetic joke with Haruka’s name. 凶 (Kyō) translates to misfortune in Japanese, similarly to its meaning in Chinese, and it is a common joke for people to receive these during the New Year at a shrine. Emily reassures Akari that this means things can only look up, and while other series often have a cruel laugh at the expense of the characters who receive 凶, Harukana Receive spares Akari, who recovers her spirits and buys an ema for everyone to write their wishes onto.

  • While her swimsuit might not show otherwise with its frilly design, it’s clear that Akari’s figure is “いいスタイル”. “Style” is one of the false friends in Japanese, and while we tend to refer to a good style as something with good aesthetics, whether it be UIs or the design of a building, in Japanese, “style” is synonymous with being sexy. It is always a thrill to read about false friends, which occur when two similar-looking or sounding words have completely different meanings. The incorporation of English into Japanese (Wasei-eigo) has resulted in some interesting false friends, and to the best of my knowledge, false friends in English and Chinese are rare owing to the differences of origin between the two languages: I can’t think of any off the top of my head.

  • When Haruka receives a phone call from Ayasa, and attempts to encourage Kanata to hit the airport so they may see her off, Kanata initially hesitates. Akari steps up to the plate and convinces Kanata otherwise, and Marissa shows up to give everyone a ride to the airport. With its distinct red roof, Haruka and her friends visit the Naminoue Shrine to pray for success in their upcoming year; overlooking Naminoue beach, Naminoue Shrine was founded in 1890 and is counted as the main shrine of the Naha prefecture. It was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa and underwent reconstruction in 1953, with new buildings constructed in 1993.

  • Marissa’s driving is nail-bitingly dangerous; having grown up with her driving, Claire and Emily brace themselves for a ride that leaves Haruka, Kanata and Akari frightened. A glance at Marissa’s route shows that she takes the long way around: after getting stuck in a traffic jam besides a Eneos gas station along Prefectural Route 221 (Emcos in the anime), the girls decide to leg it to the airport. It’s a 4.0 kilometer distance in total, and one could jog the distance in within half an hour if they were in reasonable shape (8 km/h is the average jogging speed, and 13 km/h is the average running speed; the girls are above-average in fitness, so they likely run more quickly than this): the girls are shown running underneath the monorail track as they close in on the airport, indicating that they did not make use of the Okinawa Monorail system.

  • I would suppose that taking the monorail would be rather less dramatic and diminish the emotional intensity of the moment: that Kanata and the others choose to run to the airport, spurred on by their desire to get their feelings across, intentionally shows the strength of how Kanata feels about her promise to Narumi. As well, Haruka and the others also feel strongly about supporting Kanata, to be running with her all this way. For folks wondering how I worked out the locations, the process was simple: once I found Naminoue Shrine, I looked at the bridges over the Kokuba River that could lead to Nara Airport. Using the bridge Kanata is seen running along, I looked over the bridges crossing the river and concluded that Prefectural Road 221 running over the river was most similar to what we saw in Harukana Receive. From there, it was a matter of tracing the path of least resistance between the Eneos gas station and the airport.

  • Kanata cuts it very close, managing to catch Narumi and Ayasa just as they prepare to cross over. Here, Kanata shouts out that she’s never forgotten their promise to her. In a tense moment, it looks as though Narumi dismisses Kanata, but mere seconds later, Narumi wordlessly holds her pinkie up, indicating that she’s heard Kanata and recalls their promise. Narumi’s never been particularly great with communication, and this is one of the reasons that led to the miscommunication between her and Kanata.

  • It is therefore expected that as Harukana Receive reaches its conclusion, the tension between Narumi and Kanata will be resolved: beach volleyball bringing people together does seem to be a strong contender for the anime’s main theme, and I cannot imagine a more suitable ending for Harukana Receive than having a proper, heart-to-heart reconciliation at the series’ end. For the present, however, Ayasa and Narumi depart, and the upshot of this is that we’ve now seen a more confident, determined Kanata. She is able to seize the opportunity with encouragement and reach out to Narumi once more.

  • This simple gesture shows a change in Kanata, and while Haruka might have been responsible for setting about the start of this change, it is really the culmination of everyone’s support that makes a difference. On the whole, it feels that Kanata is more of the central character in Harukana Receive: compared to her at the beginning of the anime, Kanata is regaining her courage and resolve. By comparison, Haruka may be improving in beach volleyball, but her cheerful, happy-go-lucky demeanour has remained largely unchanged since the series’ beginning. Now that I’m back from Denver (I remember this excursion best for a delicious beef rib and sausage platter I had during one of the evenings), and with this post in the books, I will be around in the upcoming week to write about the ninth episode in a more timely fashion.

With two-thirds of Harukana Receive in the books, the general atmosphere and modus operandi in Harukana Receive has been strongly established by this point, and it appears that this series is ultimately going to focus on the journey that Kanata takes towards fulfilling her promise to Narumi, working together with Haruka and along the way, sharing in the small but memorable moments of life as a team. The overarching theme of Harukana Receive thus begins to make itself known here: promises are often a central part of the story in many works of fiction, and while circumstances might shift, the worth of a promise is only as valuable as one’s ability to follow through and act on their promises. Keeping one’s word is not always easy, especially if one is going it alone, and so, with Haruka, Emily, Claire and Akari in her corner, Kanata begins to discover her place in the sun again through beach volleyball, which has been stated in several instances, to be something that brings people together. With friends encouraging her and supporting her at each turn, Kanata’s confidence and resolve will strengthen as Harukana Receive gears up towards the ending; I anticipate that, par the course for standard Manga Time Kirara works, audiences will be treated to an ending with a strong payoff. However obvious the outcome of Harukana Receive is, the journey it takes to reach this point will be Harukana Receive‘s strength, as it has been for other series of its lineage, and it will be quite exciting to see what milestones and discoveries await Kanata and Haruka as they push towards the Valkyrie Cup.