“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 rĕcapiō, 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.