The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Category Archives: Harukana Receieve

I Want to Regain My Former Self: Harukana Receive Episode Three Impressions and Review

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” —Bruce Lee

Shortly after formalising her transfer to Uruma High School, Haruka meets Claire and Emily Thomas after seeing Claire hauling Kanata off, and learns that they’re part of the school’s volleyball club. Haruka agrees to go practise with them, and after jumping into a match, she learns of the pokey, a ball contacted with the knuckle to receive the ball. This method is intended to surprise an opponent, and as the match progresses, the Thomas sisters smoke Haruka and Kanata. Kanata is reluctant to utilise the full set of techniques, irritating Emily, but when Haruka decides to give it a go and scores, Kanata is inspired to attempt, as well. Following their practise, Haruka and Kanata agree to participate in a junior tournament, and Kanata later recounts her story with Narumi. Kanata befriended Narumi and became partners with her, winning a tournament against the Claire sisters, but when her height held her back, she elected to leave beach volleyball. Haruka decides to become Kanata’s partner nonetheless, and the two complete their registration forms to join the beach volleyball club at Urama High. Introducing the Thomas sisters into Harukana Receive adds two new characters whose personalities, while outwardly resembling Haruka and Kanata’s, also have their own unique points. The outgoing Claire and reserved Emily are opposites, so it is unsurprising that Claire immediately hits it off with Haruka. Similarly, both Kanata and Emily seem to struggle in communicating how they feel about things. This is a recurring theme in Harukana Receive and many other slice-of-life anime: introverted individuals who encounter extroverted folks invariably gain something from their resulting friendship, and in spending time with quieter individuals, extroverts also become better at gauging a situation before jumping in. The resulting synergy is rewarding to watch, and it is clear that Harukana Receive is going to portray growth in both Haruka and Kanata as they learn to work together as a team and encounter more beach volleyball players in their journey towards the junior tournament.

In the third episode’s match against Claire and Emily, Kanata’s development comes to the forefront. Her friendship with Narumi is explored in greater detail, as well, showing that she once was more direct and confident. Her height has since caused her to lose this confidence and led her to renege on her promise to continue playing beach volleyball with Narumi, explaining why Narumi since regards Kanata more coldly. Similarly, her play-style against Claire and Emily also reveals a stubbornness to wield other techniques. When she was younger, Kanata’s height was not an impediment, and was a power player (the individual who primarily handles scoring). However, since her height became a disadvantage, Kanata began believing that spikes were the only way to score points. Emily saw Kanata’s refusal to utilise what’s necessary to win as an insult, as though she were holding back, which is why she reacts negatively to Kanata’s actions during their practise match: they’d once played against one another and expected that in a rematch, they’d be playing a Kanata who was giving it her all. However, like how the rowdier Claire can pick up on the feelings of those around her quickly, Haruka is able to similarly encourage Kanata and make what would have been a difficult moment for Kanata better: once Haruka mentions that scoring is scoring regardless of whether the point was earned through a spike or pokey, Kanata opens up. She later promises to begin where she left off and become the player she’d longed to be. Having more friends and forward individuals around drives Kanata to embrace the present and future, rather than worrying about what could have been.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After Haruka speaks with an instructor, she makes off to find Kanata, who is being hauled off by a blonde girl. She assumes that the other girl is a foreigner and cannot speak Japanese, but once the misunderstanding is cleared up, Haruka learns that this girl is Claire Thomas, a member of Urama High’s beach volleyball club. I note here that I’m rather fond of the traditional, simpler design of the Urama uniform, which looks much more conventional in comparison to the strange full-body dresses that were seen in the likes of Amanchu! Advance.

  • Haruka learns from the Thomas sisters that the only regulation in beach volleyballs on uniform is that pairs must play with the same swimsuit. Emily is unhappy that Claire’s chosen such a bold uniform, and a look through the regulations show that technically, any one or two piece swimsuit could be used in beach volleyball. With this in mind, one-piece suits are rarely chosen for practicality’s sake: sand gets trapped more easily, reducing comfort.

  • Haruka and Claire get along like peas in a pod: after Haruka asks to immediately play a match, Claire shares her excitement and surprises Emily. Claire reminds me a great deal of Yūki Yūna is a Hero‘s Fū Inubozaki, being as outgoing and sociable. Claire is voiced by Atsumi Tanezaki, who has played as Mei Irizaki of Hai-Furi and Hibike! Euphonium‘s Mizore Yoroizuka. She stands in stark contrast with Emily, who is more stoic and quiet. The choice to have Claire and Haruka in sync with one another, as far as reactions go, gives the sense that the two are very similar.

  • Extroverts typically get along quite well with one another, although introverts can take some prodding before they warm up to a crowd. Talk of the two personality types means that some clearing up of the terms are a good idea: introverts are folk who prefer solitude and enjoy quiet, socialising less and focus inward, whereas extroverts enjoy company and love communicating with others. They socialise more and focus outward. There are more vigorous definitions, but that is outside the scope of discussion: simply put, extroverts love being around many people, and introverts prefer the company of fewer people and themselves.

  • With Haruka and Claire fired up, Kanata and Emily have little choice but to go along for the ride. Their game starts, and in moments, it is apparent that like Ayasa and Narumi, Emily and Claire are experienced players. One of the details in Harukana Receive that I’ve come to greatly appreciate is the depiction of sand: while not quite as realistic or detailed as the sand seen in the Pixar short Piper, sand is nonetheless presented as being deformable and scatter about as particles whenever the girls move around the court. I wonder if the sand in Harukana Receive uses physics-based rendering or a simpler particle system.

  • Of all the characters, Haruka’s chest still bounces the most while moving around even following modifications to her swimsuit. Oscillations of the chest are disadvantageous in sports, as it represents a wasteful transfer of kinetic energy, and hear me out: I know this to be true. I wear jackets with chest pockets and typically carry my phone in these pockets, so when I run while wearing these jackets (usually to catch a bus), having the phone move up and down gives the feeling that I am being weighted down. This is why good fitting athletic wear becomes so important: a good fit ensures that nothing moves around, reducing that loss of kinetic energy.

  • It seems that randomly striking someone’s posterior is a thing in Harukana Receive after Claire hits Emily in the lower backside: , Emily threatens Claire with an unknown form of retribution that Claire dismisses. The two sisters are as different as day and night, but even in a practise match with no stakes, their performance and coordination show that the two get along very well despite their squabbles. Emily is voiced by Rie Suegara (Brave Witches‘ very own Takami Karibuchi).

  • I imagine that seeing the different personalities in Claire and Emily, as well as in Ayasa and Narumi, are intended to foreshadow to audiences that differences in the team members are complimentary: one player is strong where the other is weak, and vise versa. Consequently, I expect that as Haruka improves, and Kanata’s confidence grows, the two could be a formidable pair of beach volleyball players, as well.

  • Friendly fire, taking the form of Haruka tripping over Kanata, who’d dived to try and keep the ball in play, shows that for her raw potential, Haruka is someone who gets caught in the moment and sometimes forgets to be mindful of her surroundings. An interesting level of detail goof can be seen here: the polka dots on Kanata’s swimsuit do not scale with the perspective that this frame depicts, and if they were to be preserved when coming closer, they’d be much larger.

  • Kanata’s physical limitations are at the forefront in their first match against the Thomas sisters: Kanata is very much aware that being shorter constrains her ability to play, and she’s quite uncomfortable on the court because she does not feel that she’s able to use her preferred approach during a match. However, that Kanata has returned to the court, even if it is just playing informal matches, shows that Haruka’s arrival has catalysed the beginning of a change in her.

  • Because Claire is an extrovert, she’s more understanding of what Kanata might be thinking and quickly reprimands Emily for being tactless with her words after Emily demands to know why Kanata seems to see herself as not playing her best. While generally easygoing and spirited, Claire shows that she can be serious when the moment calls for it. Because Emily and Claire attend the same school as Haruka and Kanata, I expect that we will see more of the two and their interactions with Haruka and Kanata.

  • I’ve heard that being short is a detriment with no easily solution: height confers an advantage in sports, which is why professional athletes are, for the most part, taller than average. However, this isn’t always the case: there are some professional athletes who are shorter than their peers and nonetheless have had an impact within their sport. Martin St. Louis is one of the best known players in the NHL: despite standing at 5’8″ (172.5 cm), St. Louis’ greatest strength was his spirit and being able to accelerate faster than other players. His NHL career began with the Calgary Flames in 1998, but he returned to the AHL for a period before playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, leading them to a Stanley Cup over the Calgary Flames in 2004.

  • Presently, the Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau is another example of a shorter player: he’s 5’9″ (175 cm), a ways smaller than most NHL players, but plays with incredible speed. His most spectacular goals involve him blazing down the ice, outmanoeuvring other surprised players and scoring goals before the other team’s defensive line has a chance to regroup. While Kanata is not a professional athlete, the mindset of putting one’s all into the game and making the most of what one has will be to her advantage. I am presently inclined to speculate that speed could become the name of Kanata’s game, but Harukana Receive could yet surprise us.

  • Kanata’s insistence on spikes reminds me of a phenomenon in first person shooters and fighting games, where players stick to one particular weapon, character or setup. In the likes of Street Fighter, for instance, players routinely stick to playing as Ryu and Ken because they’re the most well-balanced characters, and similarly, in Battlefield 1, I fall to Automatico M1918-wielding players more than any other weapon. Personally, I hate the Automatico because of its limited usefulness and prefer the Hellriegel for the assault class, and will switch weapons depending on the situation, rather than pick my weapons because I’m good with them.

  • Haruka decides to give the pokey a shot and scores a point with it, reasoning that a point is a point no matter what technique was used to score it. Similarly, players in the NHL will take any goal, garbage goal or not, that they can score, and in Battlefield 1, I am not adverse to sinking to the level of Automatico users if my team should require it. With this being said, I still have an ardent refusal to use gas grenades: being annoying area-denial weapons that take no skill to use, they also interfere with friendly lines of sight and may also confuse allied players into thinking that they should not be in the area lest they take damage.

  • Inspired by Haruka, Kanata takes another step forwards and attempts a pokey. Although the ball is out, Emily is happy that Kanata is beginning to open her mind again, and Kanata herself is surprised that she was able to send the ball over the net. This post has had a much greater number of Kanata moments because she was the focus of this episode, and Kanata is beginning to grow on me now that she’s seen some more development. Kanata reminds me somewhat of Locodol‘s Yui Mikoze (albeit a much less outgoing version of Yui).

  • After playing several more matches, evening sets in, and Haruka decides to join the beach volleyball club, as well as participating in a tournament at Nishihara Kirakira beach, some 40 minutes south of the Kinbu Bay location we’ve seen so far, on the basis that things are more fun in competition. Haruka’s love for competition and accepting challenges is one of my favourite parts of her personality, although one has to wonder whether her not she’ll get taken down a few notches later. Meanwhile, Kanata and Emily share a conversation: Kanata is now determined to make a return to her former glory, to regain it, as it were. The folks running the party definitely took the time to get the details, and the word “receive” does have its roots in the Latin capiō, and this has proto-Italic origins (rĕ referring to “again” and capiō for “capture”). So, there’s a bit of a linguistics story in Harukana Receive, and Kanata is trying to re-conquer a part of her past.

  • The episode takes the time to showcase Kanata’s past: she and Narumi were capable beach volleyball players and met the Thomas sisters in tournament, besting them. They later resolve to play another match: after tears are shed from the vanquished, and the victorious rejoice, both Kanata and Claire demonstrate exemplary sportsmanship and promise to face one another again. The fact that sportsmanship is woven into Harukana Receive means that audiences are to suppose that sportsmanship will be a given in this series; focus will be on self-improvement and the other accompanying experiences that follow such a journey.

  • It turns out that Kanata was the one who introduced Narumi to beach volleyball: Kanata’s mother encouraged her to pick it up, and the girls’ practises turned more serious, leading them to participate in a tournament later on. We are very nearly done with this episodic discussion, and the page quote for this Harukana Receive comes from martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who believed that rigidity was death, and that adaptiveness was the key to victory. Miho Nishizumi of Girls und Panzer applied this, Sun Tzu’s Art of War emphasised being able to change as a situation demanded. Kanata’s shortcoming (pun intended) was being stuck in one mindset, and her first step towards rediscovering her game came in this episode.

  • I note that this past week has been incredibly busy, which is why I’ve not had any other posts: work’s been very busy, so by the time the workday is over, my inclination to engage my mind and write is simply absent. However, looking ahead, I do have plans to write about Gundam: The Origin‘s sixth and final instalment, and with the Violet Evergarden OVA out, that also merits a look-see. With this third post in the books, I will be continuing on my journey with Harukana Receive and looking at various aspects of the anime with the approach that I’ve taken thus far, which I feel to be viable: consider that there’s actually quite a bit of other topics I’ve managed to touch on despite my complete lack of experience in beach volleyball.

I realise that the use of beach volleyball as Harukana Receive‘s focus is conducive towards moments that may make the show off-putting for some. However, there is a series beyond this that is worth watching. While the second episode was particularly egregious with showing Haruka oscillating because her swimsuit had not been modified for beach volleyball, and this episode shows a more little posterior-striking than is strictly necessary to advance the narrative, overall, Harukana Receive does not come across as being overly focused on anatomy shots to the point where it detracts from the story. Character growth in Harukana Receive remains excellent, providing plenty of exposition and describing in detail what led to the current state of things. Every character has a story to tell, and these stories shape who they presently are, giving their reasons for playing beach volleyball weight: in its execution, Harukana Receive would be equally as engaging if hit were to substitute tennis for beach volleyball simply because of the characters. Things are picking up in Harukana Receive now: I expect that between the training that Haruka and Kanata will pick up, as Haruka needs to turn her raw talent into finesse, and Kanata must turn her prior skill and experience into developing a out a flexible, adaptive play-style to offset her height. Haruka and Kanata also have become a pair, so both players must now learn their partner’s strengths and weaknesses. These developments will be interesting to see, and looking ahead, I expect that between the more technical aspects, Harukana Receive will also showcase plenty of amusing moments of comedy to remind viewers that between improvement and a healthy competitive spirit, good sportsmanship and knowing when to unwind or regroup is also important.

Believe in Me: Harukana Receive Episode Two Impressions and Review

“You don’t have to believe in yourself, because I believe in you.” ―Drax to Mantis, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

In order to get Haruka comfortable with moving around in the sand, Kanata instructs her in basic moment patterns. Haruka remarks that her swimsuit is a little ill-suited for movement, and upon learning that any swimsuit can be used as a beach volleyball uniform, she asks Kanata to help her modify it. As Haruka improves, Kanata begins teaching Haruka basic receive and spike patterns, including a cut shot for surprising opponents. A week passes in no time at all, and Haruka is fired up at the prospect of a rematch. While running on the beach by morning on the day of their rematch, Haruka runs into Ayasa, who explains that Kanata was once a beach volleyball player and partners with Narumi. However, she would run away from the ball in fear. When the rematch begins, Narumi is surprised to see Kanata geared in her old beach volleyball uniform. In the ensuing match, Haruka’s efforts at a cut shot fail, but she encourages Kanata, who finds the courage to receive the ball. This unexpected turn of events is enough for Haruka to score a point, and in the aftermath, Narumi regrets her cold attitude towards Kanata. Haruka and Kanata celebrate with some ice cream, and Haruka notes that she realised Narumi’s dislike for Kanata during the match, allowing her to work out something that led them to win. Finding beach volleyball fun, Haruka resolves to play more seriously and partner with Kanata. Later, Claire and Emily Thomas come across the beach volleyball court where Haruka, Kanata, Ayasa and Narumi had their match. Harukana Receive begins picking up by its second episode, exploring Kanata’s doubts about her own ability and also giving viewers a glimpse of two new characters that will invariably play a role in the upcoming narrative.

Despite her relative lack of experience, Haruka picks up on the nuances of beach volleyball very rapidly: her prior experience with other sports and general athleticism is quite visible. Physicality is not a particular concern for Haruka, and over time, she will continue to refine her technique so that the ball goes where she means for it to go. Instead, the psychological aspects of beach volleyball look to play a much greater role in Harukana Receive; in the first episode, Narumi mentions that a good team is one where both partners trust the other and understand their respective strengths and weaknesses. Here in the second episode, Haruka realises mid-match that Narumi’s offense is directed entirely at Kanata, whose small stature limits her performance, and is able to turn the tables accordingly, guessing that Narumi and Ayasa will not see this coming. That the mental aspect of sports is significant should be no surprise to viewers: while audiences watching sports may only see the physical game, the thoughts that go through a player’s head and their confidence play as much of a role in their performance as much as their physical condition and training. This is something that Harukana Receive takes the effort to portray, and for its efforts, Harukana Receive is rapidly proving to be more than twelve consecutive weeks of watching Haruka’s perfectly formed arse while she plays beach volleyball: character dynamics are beginning to materialise, and with new characters coming in, it looks like things will become even livelier.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Seeing Haruka with the simplified eyes consistently brings back memories of Non Non Biyori Repeat, when Hotaru shows how she normally is at home. Here, she wonders why all of Kanata’s exercises involve movement in the sand, rather than the volleyball itself, and Kanata replies that mastering the basics is essential. Much like how students in karate must learn the fundamentals of breathing and movement before moving onto basic techniques, Haruka must first learn what it feels like to move on a sandy surface and become comfortable with dives and dashes. Before we delve any further, I remark that with the amount of fanservice-type screenshots in Harukana Receive, if readers are not big on the jokes that I crack surrounding this, then you should leave…right now.

  • When Haruka finds her new swimsuit to be somewhat obstructive, Kanata helps her modify it: a tighter, basic swimsuit prevents sand from entering and causing irritation, as well as minimise energy wasted. Here, Kanata looks more closely to see what modifications are required and finds herself admiring Haruka’s ass to a much greater extent than she expected. Frequent mention of Haruka’s ass is likely meant to remind audiences that Haruka is very shapely.

  • While Kanata is helping Haruka train, the scenery around the beach is shown. A cable-stayed bridge can be seen in the distance: this is the Kaichu Doro Bridge, which connects Katsuren Peninsula on Okinawa Island to the Henza, Miyagi, Hamahiga and Ikei islands. With its distinct red tower, it’s visible from Yonashiroteruma, which is immediately south of Uruma. With this, we’ve worked out that Kanata and Haruka play beach volleyball on the shores of Kinbu Bay, located along the southeastern side of Okinawa. Henza, Miyagi and Ikei can be seen on the horizon in this screenshot – if I may crack a bad joke, I’m certain that most readers are not looking at the islands on the horizon in this particular image.

  • Haruka and Kanata enjoy their lunch in between practise under the beautiful Okinawan weather. The weather back home has been every bit as pleasant as it is in Harukana Receive: we’ve had beautiful weather for the past week, and during the last Sunday, I stepped out to The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth™ to enjoy a complemenary pancake-and-sausage breakfast, before exploring the Stampede grounds’ midway in search of interesting carnival eats. I ended up having the equivalent of two lunches: one stall was selling what they dubbed the “Mr. Crab”, a tempura nori taco shell loaded with sushi rice, California crab meat and topped with a tempura fried soft shell crab, drizzled with a special unagi and mango sauce. This was absolutely delicious, and it was such a treat to have soft-shell crab, which retained a distinct crab flavour despite being deep-fried to perfection. The bite of the sauce complimented the rich flavours of the crab and nori shell.

  • After walking around for a bit trying to find a place that was selling a hot dog and fries wrapped in a taiyaki pastery, I found the vendor selling them, but was informed their waffle iron had malfunctioned. I thus decided to go for a Philadelphia Cheese-Steak poutine (featuring sirloin steak, melted cheese, cheese curds, sautéed onions and mushrooms), which was very rich and hearty, especially for a warm day. Back in Harukana Receive, as the week wears on, Kanata feels that Kanata’s gotten a good enough grasp of the basics and begins training her in how to receive a ball.

  • Kanata introduces Haruka to the cut shot, and while Kanata describes it as a diagonal offensive shot, some cuts can be executed so that the ball flies nearly parallel to the net. Volleyball technical terms are as numerous and detailed as the language of biological sciences, software development and engineering, so it is fantastic that Harukana Receive takes the time to explain things to viewers as they go: the choice to have Haruka as a novice means that there is justification for introducing definitions as they are needed without breaking the narrative. Yuru Camp△ had been very successful with this approach, and Harukana Receive is doing a fine job of ensuring that viewers do not get left behind.

  • On the day of their rematch, Haruka is filled with restlessness and decides to go for a morning run. The sun rises at 0550 JST in Okinawa, and this early in the morning, the beach is calm. Looking more closely at landscapes in Harukana Receive, I find them to be quite rudimentary compared to the likes of Violet EvergardenTari Tari and those of Makoto Shinkai films, but the lighting and details of Harukana Receive are very impressive. Volumetric lighting is seen when Haruka sets off on her run, for instance, and even at this hour, it already feels quite warm going from the lighting alone. To further give the feeling that Okinawa’s beaches are a tropical paradise, a hermit crab can be seen. With over eleven hundred species, identifying the one seen here is beyond me, but all hermit crabs share the property of having a curved abdomen and utilise discarded shells to protect their abdomen from other predators.

  • Ayase explains to Haruka the history between Narumi and Kanata, as well as apologising for Narumi’s blunt nature. It’s certainly true that shy folks find it more difficult to express themselves, and consequently, I hold nothing against Narumi herself. Ayasa has since become very close to Narumi as a player and worries that if Kanata were to take up beach volleyball again, she might be abandoned. She further warns Haruka about Kanata’s limitations as a volleyball player, but Haruka is undeterred, stating that she believes in Kanata.

  • While she’s gearing up, viewers see a picture of Narumi and Kanata together with medals around their necks and smiles on their faces, showing that the two were once close and excellent beach volleyball players. Here, Ayasa strikes Haruka’s ass and compliments her, noting that she must be popular with the gentlemen. The minimal wave propagation shows that Haruka’s backside has a relatively high Young’s modulus, and I’ll let someone else explain in layman’s terms what that means. Haruka understandably reacts in embarrassment, and I empathise with Haruka – being touched downstairs can be uncomfortable, even if one is in good shape.

  • So far, existing discussions have focused on characterisation, and in the knowledge that both Kanata and Narumi are introverts, quiet by nature and not quite as effective at conveying their feelings verbally, it becomes clear as to why Narumi was not able to spur Kanata along to the same extent that Haruka has. Similarly, the reason why Narumi gets along well with Ayasa is because Ayasa is her opposite in personality, being quite expressive and outgoing. Two extroverts typically have no trouble in striking conversation with one another, which is why Haruka and Ayasa interact cordially immediately after meeting.

  • By comparison, two introverts will likely have little communication unless they get to know one another well, and even then, it can be a little difficult for them to be truthful about how they feel. Right before the match starts, Haruka boldly ups the ante, saying that the vanquished will treat the victors to ice cream. Haruka is very competitive and energetic in nature, although when the moment comes down to it, she can also be very motivated and determined. These are excellent characteristics to have, and coupled with her endless sense of optimism, means that Haruka is unlikely to ever succumb to self-doubt. Instead, I imagine that her conflicts this season will result from her dynamics with Kanata.

  • While Haruka might have an innate talent in all things athletic, her inexperience means that there’s no sudden improvement in skills over a week, and there’s no awakening or miracle. Harukana Receive keeps things real, and while Haruka’s beginning to learn the basics, it’s not yet enough for them to hold out against a team who’s been training for quite some time. Having said this, Haruka never seems to be intimidated by Ayasa and Narumi’s skill; in fact, she’s impressed and gains the motivation to improve.

  • When Haruka and Kanata execute their cut shot, Narumi dives and manages to keep the ball in play. As it turns out, Narumi had been expecting the pair to try such a move; it’s a reminder that Narumi knows Kanata quite well, to the point where she is able to predict any tricks that Kanata might try to pass onto Haruka. I get that the weight of past failures can hold one back, and so, one of the things I’m curious to see is what will allow Narumi to move forwards.

  • To give the sense of speed, the volleyball is almost always depicted as being fuzzy and blurry while in motion at normal speeds, only being more clear when the passage of time is slowed for dramatic effect. Late in the game, once Haruka starts looking at Ayasa and Narumi’s play-style, and being reminded of Kanata’s words about teams traditionally targeting the weaker player to gain an edge, she realises that every shot’s been aimed at Kanata. Haruka thus asks Kanata to take a receive, and states that she has full faith in her: this is where the page quote comes from, being one of the more warming moments of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 when Drax encourages Mantis, who is trying to slow Ego with her telepathic powers.

  • Official documentation give Haruka’s height as being 172 cm (5’7½”), and Kanata is 151 cm (4’11”). Haruka is taller than average in Japan, where women are around 158 cm in height on average, but her stature is otherwise unremarkable: by comparison, Sword Art Online Alternative‘s Karen Kohiruimaki is 183 cm in height (an even 6’0″). Therefore, it is a bit surprising to hear that she sticks out in a crowd and has trouble finding clothing. For reference, I stand close to the same height as Haruka, which is the average height for people in Canada (and from the looks of it, for most of the world).

  • The unexpected turn of events allows Haruka to score a point, bringing the match to a close in a surprising manner. Haruka is voiced by Kana Yūki, who only has a minor role in GochiUsa but otherwise plays characters I’m not familiar with. Kanata is voiced by Saki Miyashita, and Narumi is voiced by Miyuri Shimabukuro; Miyashita is a newcomer, and Shimabukuro has only had roles in shows I’ve never seen before. By comparison, Kanae Itō plays Ayasa: I know her best for her roles as Hanasaku Iroha‘s Ohana Matsumae, Sanae Nagatsuki of Ika! Musume and Sword Art Online‘s Yui.

  • Haruka and Kanata are overjoyed at their victory, while Narumi runs off. It’s not so much that they lost, but rather, because Narumi feels terrible that she was never able to get through to Kanata in the same way that Haruka did and might have only led to Kanata’s unhappiness. Ayasa, showing concern for Narumi, asks that they do ice cream another day and runs off to look after Narumi.

  • The vivid contrasts in the background and foreground visually tell a story that dialogue alone cannot: there’s a great deal of emotions here. Ayasa reassures Narumi that Haruka will be looking after Kanata now, and I gather that even now, Narumi is still concerned about Kanata’s well-being, but simply has trouble expressing it. Amidst the warm, bright day, the girls’ emotions stand in stark contrast with their surroundings. While elsewhere, folks with expertise in Yuri-Vision™ are probably already going full force ahead with their discussions, I note that this particular aspect has never been something I have been strong with, and so, one will have to forgive the lack of this topic over here on this side of the internet.

  • What I can talk about are random, various things in Harukana Receive, such as the ice cream that Haruka ends up buying from the store (which also sells freshly-made cane sugar juice). Up until now, I’d never even heard of Citrus depressa, more commonly known as the Taiwanese Tangerine or Shequasar. This highly sour fruit is native to Taiwan and Okinawa, having very similar culinary uses as lemons do, and despite their name, have nothing to do with active galactic nuclei that radiate massive amounts of energy as a result of gases emitting EMR while being drawn into a supermassive black hole. In comparison to the darker colours surrounding Narumi and Ayasa, when Kanata and Haruka are sitting in the shade of an umbrella whilst enjoying their ice cream, there’s a faint purple hue to them, indicating differences in their respective moods.

  • Since Claire and Emily have made an appearance, it is expected that they will have a much more major role in the next episode. Things are ramping up now in Harukana Receive, and two episodes in, I am becoming more confident in saying that this is my go-to show of this summer season for relaxing and unwinding to, fulfilling the role that Amanchu! Advance and Yuru Camp△ played in their respective seasons. Having said this, I am a bit more cautious about watching Harukana Receive out in the open, as doubtlessly, the contents of this anime means that questions will invariably be asked. As for how I feel about writing about Harukana Receive rather than shooting people in the head in Battlefield 1, it’s a welcome change of pace, and even with the Road to Battlefield V challenge ongoing, I’ve managed to shift my schedules slightly so I can still earn my 30k points per week to unlock the weekly prizes. For readers, this means you can continue to expect same-day talks for Harukana Receive.

With Kanata and Narumi formerly being partners now out in the open, Kanata’s motivations for quitting and resuming beach volleyball are now established, along with the basis for why Narumi is particularly apathetic towards Kanata. One can imagine being a team player, only to lack the ability to help a struggling teammate along despite one’s efforts: this is why Narumi insists that beach volleyball is a team sport, and likely views Kanata’s quitting as a personal failure. With Kanata returning into the game thanks to Haruka’s energy, this will rapidly change how Kanata herself views beach volleyball, restoring the joy back into a sport that Kanata had lost interest in. There are many directions that Harukana Receive can go in, and although it is still very early in the season, it is clear that how all of the different characters will interact with one another, and the subsequent learnings through these interactions, both on and off the court, will be the centrepiece of Harukana Receive. For the present, Claire and Emily still need to be formally introduced into Harukana Receive, and once that’s done, Haruka will still need to undergo much more training to improve her technical skills and finesse as a player. Similarly, Kanata must find her own way of approaching beach volleyball to be the best player that she can be, and her time with Haruka will doubtlessly facilitate this. Watching characters improve over time has always been one of the biggest reasons as to why I watch slice-of-life series, and Harukana Receive is no different than the shows I’ve seen previously: the journey of progress is always one that I enjoy watching, whether it be the construction of Chernobyl’s New Safe Confinement project, the Space Race or a bunch of students in a fictionalised world learning about themselves in their youth.

We Don’t Need Aces: Harukana Receive First Episode Impressions and Review

“One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.” —Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

When her mother moves overseas for her work, Haruka Ōzora moves to Okinawa to live with her grandmother and cousin, Kanata Higa. After landing in Naha, Haruka meets with Kanata for the first time in four years, and becomes excited at the prospect of being so close to the water, where she may dive, surf and swim. While running about on the beaches, Haruka runs into a pair of beach volleyball players, Narumi Tōi and Ayasa Tachibana. Narumi grows cold when Haruka wonders about becoming an ace, and when Kanata shows up, Narumi challenges the pair to an impromptu match. Haruka’s inexperience on the court becomes apparent, and although they lose their first game, Haruka remains fired up and longs for a rematch. Narumi reluctantly agrees, provided that Haruka learns the basics and rules within the span of a week. Later that evening, Kanata reveals that they’re going up against experienced volleyball players, although this does little to deter Haruka, who settles in to life in Naha with Kanata and resolves to master the basics, now that it’s summer vacation. For me, Harukana Receive is the anime of the summer season that I was most anticipating, primarily because the warm, sunny beaches of Okinawa are precisely the image of summer that is conjured whenever the hottest season of the year is mentioned: I’ve never watched a distinctly summer anime during the summer before, and the premise of Harukana Receive was particularly conducive towards being the perfect accompaniment for the hottest and sunniest days of the year. In this aspect, Harukana Receive is very strong; the artwork is amazing, capturing the heat of summer through the deep azure skies and warm ocean waters reaching towards infinity. Shadows and light also feature prominently in Harukana Receive to create the sensation of heat: without question, the visuals in Harukana Receive‘s environments are stunning.

However, I imagine that most readers are not here about the lighting effects and details of the landscape: aside from the frequent stills of the sun, and the brilliant light that sunlight casts the land in, the warmth in Harukana Receive comes from Haruka herself. Despite being described as sensitive about her height and figure, there is little denying that Haruka’s seemingly boundless energy is one of the biggest draws in Harukana Receive. Haruka’s sunny disposition and excitement suggests that she’s always ready for adventure and experience. From stripping down on the beaches to accepting a challenge without much thought, Haruka is happy-go-lucky in manner and lives in the moment. Her positive mindset thus acts as the perfect foil for the quiet and reserved Kanata; such contrasts amongst characters are deliberately thus, intended to have different facets of one’s personality influence another individual within a friendship to depict how characters grow and learn over time. While Haruka’s enthusiasm is nothing new (she reminds me of a cross between GochiUsa‘s Mocha Hoto and Brave Witches‘ Takami Karuibuchi), placing such a sunny, friendly person into a landscape characterised by warmth sets the table for what’s likely to come in Harukana Receive. Haruka’s optimism will serve her well as the series progresses, especially when she begins learning about just how far she has to go in beach volleyball, and it will be particularly interesting to see just how Haruka handles adversity and learns over the course of Harukana Receive.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After four years, Kanata (left) and Haruka (right) reunite at Naha Airport. Because I’m doing episodic posts for Harukana Receive, each post will have twenty screenshots and accompanying figure captions. A long-standing trend here is that posts have been progressively becoming longer, both in terms of word count and number of screenshots, and while it’s nice to be able to really flesh out certain ideas or crack bad jokes about scenes, there is also value in being concise.

  • My praises for Harukana Receive‘s visuals are not unfounded: this view of Okinawa, with the glistening ocean and lens flare showcases the sort of visual fidelity in the anime. The subtleties in the environment indicate a commitment to detail, and this particular aspect will become important as Haruka becomes more learned in the techniques and nuances of beach volleyball. The implications of the anime’s attention to detail also suggests that the places seen in Harukana Receive are doubtlessly modelled after real-world locations.

  • If this indeed holds true, there might be an opportunity in the future to do another armchair tour of locations in Okinawa. Here, Kanata watches Haruka running joyfully onto the beach after their ride from the airport. In contrast to Haruka, who is positively glowing, Kanata is much more taciturn: their conversation back suggests that the only topic that bothers Haruka is her height, and Kanata is similarly envious of Haruka for being much taller.

  • Readers better get used to screenshots such as these over the next eleven weeks that Harukana Receive is airing; while not a series dedicated towards fanservice, the simple fact that Harukana Receive is set around beach volleyball on the warm coasts of Okinawa means that swimsuits will be a very common sight. The manga simply shows Haruka stripping down in one small panel, to Kanata’s surprise, but the anime adaptation goes the whole nine yards in closeups of Haruka’s chest and posterior. At the very least, there is no excessive oscillations, which are again, a subtle reminder that Harukana Receive is not about the fanservice.

  • Harukana Receive‘s manga is not in the four-panel format, being structured in the traditional fashion. While it looks to deal with topics surrounding teamwork and friendship in a more serious manner than something like GochiUsa, because Harukana Receive is a Manga Time Kirara publication, it stands to reason that things won’t ever get serious to the point of breaking the atmosphere. The simple white circles for eyes Kanata’s got in this moment is an indicator of shock, and funny facial expressions are the norm in Harukana Receive, reminding audiences that first and foremost, this series is about being fun.

  • The only time I’ve been somewhere with waters warm enough to wade in without requiring a wetsuit was Cancún, which was two years ago: I woke up early in the mornings and walked the beaches, where the waters were a turquoise colour and the beach sands where white. Mornings were the best time to enjoy the beaches, as the sun would be too much during noon. At this time, I attended various presentations and panels at the ALIFE conference.

  • In her haste to enjoy the beach, Haruka’s forgotten her sunscreen. An absolute essential in places like Cancún (even as early as eight in the morning) and Okinawa, sunscreen blocks UVA and UVB radiation, high intensity photons that can cause melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma (two kinds of skin cancer) by punching through the skin into cells and damaging the DNA within. I rarely go for long without sunscreen when spending more than half an hour outdoors during the summer: even at the higher latitudes, UV hazards can be quite high for many days of the year, and my city’s high altitude actually increases exposure to UV.

  • After meeting Ayasa and Narumi, Haruka strikes up a conversation with Ayase, who is approachable and friendly. By comparison, Narumi is much more distant, serious and cold. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing such characters in anime, and as such, my first inclination is to wonder what flow of events will eventually lead Narumi to warm up to Haruka and Kanata. This could be the subject of a story arc later, and typically, such events are very rewarding to see. Of course, some folks elsewhere are less interested in these aspects and find that Haruka’s posterior is rewarding to see ಠ_ಠ

  • My eyes and ears tell me that Harukana Receive is similarly being counted as a show that is appropriate for summer. However, there does seem to be an exception in that one of my bêtes noires counts this series as being outside the scope of their interests – should the show fall through for them, I suppose it will mean that I won’t be seeing efforts to psychoanalyse whatever personality flaws are holding Kanata back or questions about how differences between Okinawan and Japanese culture impact Huruka’s ability to learn beach volleyball. I admit that it was amusing to read these from Tango-Victor-Tango’s Manga Time Kirara experts, since it then gave me something additional to discuss (and then usually, invalidate these points for fun).

  • Haruka jokingly remarks that with her predisposition for atheltics, she could perform quite well in volleyball, only for Narumi to give her a verbal beatdown on how aces don’t exist in team sports – a team is only as good as its weakest link, and a fine example of where team play matters more than individual skill is in ice hockey. The Edmonton Oilers finished just below the Calgary Flames during the 2017-2018 season, despite the stellar performance of Connor McDavid – one fantastic player wasn’t enough to bring the Oilers to the playoffs. Likewise, while Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Michael Ferland’s first line have been relatively consistent to watch, but the Flames’ deficiencies in special teams have been felt: towards the end of the 2017-2018 season, the Flames dropped from the playoffs.

  • Immediately through this exchange, it’s clear that Narumi is very serious about beach volleyball, although her delivery of this message to Haruka shows that she’s not very concerned about what others think of her. Such a presentation indicates that there’s more to Narumi that audiences will likely learn more about later, and here, when Kanata rejoins Haruka, it is clear that Kanata and Narumi once knew one another. In addition, there’s also a bit of a distance between the two. Kanata’s previous experience in beach volleyball is a known, and her reasons for quitting will likely be the subject of a future episode.

  • If readers have no objections, then for the next eleven weeks, this blog will feature many more screenshots similar to this one. It’s still early in the game, but Haruka’s my favourite character in Harukana Receive for both her personality and other design attributes. Despite being a total novice at beach volleyball, she’s presented as being very active and athletic, having familiarity with a wide range of sports. As such, Haruka’s background makes her well-suited to be the central character of Harukana Receive – her fitness level and knowledge of other sports allows her to keep up, such that when she advances in skill level, it is never implausible or unrealistic.

  • After the first episode, one challenge I will immediately face is being able to capture action shots well – Harukana Receive makes extensive use of motion blur and depth of field effects to bolster its visual impact, which is great from a viewer experience perspective, but from a screenshots perspective, it means I’ll have to be a bit more mindful as to which frames I will end up using. This was especially a problem for live-action movies, which is why I don’t review them as often, but usually, is not a concern in anime.

  • Against the likes of Ayasa and Narumi, Haruka and Kanata are completely outmatched: their game here is a first-to-seven, with the handicap that Haruka and Kanata win if they can manage one point against Ayasa and Narumi. During the course of the match, Kanata explains various details to Haruka, such as how players need to compensate for wind and switch sides to even matches out in events of strong wind, adjust for the differences that sand has on footwork and how overhand techniques make it easier to foul. It’s nice to have Kanata explain things to audiences: she fulfills a similar role to Yuru Camp△‘s narrator, and as such, viewers get to ease into the meat-and-potatoes of Harukana Receive without getting lost.

  • Haruka manages to hit the ball and with Kanata’s help, attempts to score a point, only for Narumi to counterattack. With the score at 7-0, their game comes to an end, and Narumi warns Haruka that in beach volleyball, a team is only as effective as the two players. This brings to mind the sort of logic that drove the Jaeger pilots in Pacific Rim, where the Jaegers were sophisticated enough so that two pilots, with their minds bound by a neural bridge, must work together to operate the Jaeger. While beach volleyball does not involve fanciful technologies, the concept seems similar enough: the two players on a team must be able to understand their partner’s playstyle, working with them to maximise their strengths and minimise weaknesses to cohesively put the ball in a position where a point can be scored.

  • Having had her first experiences with beach volleyball, Haruka is perfectly unperturbed by their loss and promises to have another match once she improves. Her words exude a positive outlook on the world, befitting of youth. I am very much drawn in to Harukana Receive by Haruka’s enthusiasm and energy, and she’s absolutely right in that things only become more fun as one invests the time to improve. My seniors at the dōjō say the same thing: reaching shōdan only marks the beginning of a journey, and it is only into black belt that the more interesting aspects of Okinawa Gōjū-ryū are learnt. I suppose now is a good as a time to reiterate that from time to time, I will be talking about Gōjū-ryū in my Harukana Receive posts, because Gōjū-ryū karate originates from the Naha area of Okinawa.

  • As the sun sets, Haruka learns from Kanata that Ayasa and Narumi are champion players. While Kanata is worried about their prospects of winning, Haruka states that champions or not, she looks forwards to playing them. The only way to get better is to challenge what one cannot defeat (initially): while it’s not always the case, losing and failure are some of the most effective teachers out there, and those who never lose or fail are setting themselves up for more difficult losses and failures later down the line. A major part of being human is knowing how to pick oneself up and regroup after a setback, although at this point in Harukana Receive, it’s difficult to tell if Haruka’s naturally got this mindset or if she’s starry-eyed.

  • Ayasa is evidently more easygoing than Narumi – she wonders why Narumi is going full-force against someone with no experience, and feels that having Kanata train Haruka might be enough to get Kanata back into the game. The second aspect that Harukana Receive introduces in its first episode, then, is what caused Kanata to leave beach volleyball, and watching how Haruka influences her to return and make the most of things. I tend to take Ayasa’s approach while providing younger students with instruction and exercise full restraint during sparring if my opponent is learning. The way I spar is much slower, intended to instruct rather than punish.

  • As the episode winds down, Haruka and Kanata share a welcome dinner from their grandmother, which features a variety of Okinawan dishes. Unlike Japanese dishes, Okinawan cuisine tends to feature more spices and meat. Chanpurū is also commonplace: this stir-fry dish is representative of Okinawan food, the same way one might associated dim sum with Hong Kong. Being a slice-of-life anime, I imagine that Harukana Receive will also depict more about life in Okinawa: it’s commonly portrayed as a vacation destination (the upcoming Non Non Biyori Vacation movie is going to follow Renge and company’s adventures in Okinawa), but to see things on a day-to-day basis is a welcome change of pace.

  • As the evening sets in, Kanata and Haruka settle down for the evening, where Haruka meets Kanata’s pet turtle. It’s been an eventful first day, and with summer vacation on the horizon, it is plain that Haruka already has plans to fill those long, beautiful summer days to the brim with activity on her break. Depictions of summer in anime always present it as a distant season, and while this distance, this harukana, has been seen in Harukana Receive‘s first episode, I imagine that as things progress, the distance will close. If this is indeed the theme, then Harukana Receive‘s title is a very clever one. With this first post in the books, this is what readers can reasonably expect of my Harukana Receive posts: I look forwards to seeing where this series goes as I follow it on a weekly basis.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done an episodic review for a series, but with the summer season otherwise being a slow one for me, I figured that the best way to keep my blogging game up is to occasionally work on it a little. Harukana Receive represents a new challenge for me: I am not an athlete and have no experience in volleyball whatsoever, much less beach volleyball. However, I do know a thing or two about teamwork and cooperation, as well as mutual support, sportsmanship and the like: these aspects of life extend well beyond the realm of sports, and individuals who understand teamwork and compromise tend to derive greater happiness in what they do. These lessons are what I’m looking to see in Harukana Receive, and in conjunction with the very strong, visceral showing that the first episode has presented, Harukana Receive is going to be a series that I look forwards to watching each and every week of its run, especially as more characters are introduced and Haruka comes further into her journey of learning about beach volleyball and over time, accepting that her height is what it is. I further add that the fact that Haruka can really rock a two-piece is further incentive to watch the show every week, and close this first episode talk with the remark that it is possible that anyone who states they picked up Harukana Receive, for the mechanics and rules of beach volleyball, have a non-trivial likelihood of being untruthful.