The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Harukana Receive

The Real Life Hawaii of Japan and Beach Volleyball on the Shores of Okinawa: An Oculus-Powered Armchair Journey of Harukana Receive

“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication just like any pro sport. Especially for beach volleyball, you don’t have to be tall or as fast as other sports. You just have to have the skills.” –Misty May

We’re now deep into the winter, and this is the most miserable time of year in my area for weather – where I am, February has an average daily temperature of -6ºC, and is the second cloudiest month of the year. Hence, the goal of this post is to provide a bit of light in response to those dreary-looking statistics, which sees a return to Harukana Receive – when Haruka Oozora transfers to the island of Okinawa from Tokyo, she reunites with her cousin, Kanata, and begins to develop an interest in beach volleyball. On the beautiful white sands beaches and blue skies of Okinawa, Haruka and Kanata hone their skills with the sights on the National Tournament. Harukana Receive originally aired during the summer of 2018, and during its run, highlighted a variety of locations in Okinawa: this southern island is famously known as the Hawaii of Japan thanks to its warm, tropical climate, extensive beaches and unique cuisine. Numerous anime, ranging from Azumanga Daioh to Non Non BiyoriAno Natsu de Matteru and even Koisuru Asteroid, have visited Okinawa, capitalising on the island’s beautiful sights as the backdrop for vacationing – white sands, turquoise waters and palm trees are all quintessential aspects of what one would imagine a vacation to be like, after all. With a population of 1.5 million, Okinawa officially became a part of Japan in 1879, and in World War Two, saw some of the fiercest fighting as the American forces invaded during the Battle of Okinawa, resulting in casualties to a third of the island’s population. Today, the island retains its distinct culture and cuisine: common places to visit include Shuri Castle and the numerous beaches the line the island’s coasts. Karate also has its origins in Okinawa: I practise Gōjū-ryū (the hard soft style), which was developed from the Naha-te style, named for its origins in the city of Naha and characterised by the fact we chamber our off hand tight to the armpit (in contrast with martial art styles that chamber the off hand by the hip). However, because Haruka has moved to Okinawa, more touristy aspects of the island have been set aside, as focus is on Haruka and Kanata’s experiences around beach volleyball.

  • I break tradition with an anime and real life pairing that isn’t 1:1 with one another in order to discuss how I originally determined where the early events of Harukana Receive were set: on Gushikawa Beach in Uruma. I appreciate Haruka’s best assets as much as the next person, but what is useful about the image above is the presence of a red tower and what appears to be a cable-stayed bridge in the left-hand side of the image. While Harukana Receive initially does not give up its location easily, with this red tower as a landmark, I have a starting point to go from. I subsequently found that this belonged to the Kaichu Doro Bridge, which is visible from the beach Haruka and Kanata train on. This bridge is a 4.7 kilometre long causeway that links several smaller islands with its span. Originally constructed in 1972 as a two-lane road, it was expanded in 1999 to accommodate four lanes of traffic.

  • Gushikawa Beach, being located a ways away from more populated and well-travelled areas, is counted as being a peaceful, secluded beach. The trade-off for the lack of crowds is that there aren’t any amenities on the beach, and the beach is not quite as picturesque as it appears in Harukana Receive during low tide: seaweed and algae line the shore, making it a bit unpleasant to swim in. Whereas the beach in Harukana Receive is pristine, resembling the white-sands beaches and turquoise waters of Cancún, in reality, the beach could prove a little disappointing if one is looking to take a dip in the warm waters of Okinawa here.

  • Initially, even knowing which side of Okinawa Gushikawa Beach was on did not prove to be too helpful: there’s still a bit of shore to search, even with the power of Google Maps’ satellite view. However, as it turns out, there was one more landmark I could use: a chimney in the background when Narumi is getting ready to practise. This chimney is belongs to Gushikawa Thermal Power Station, and incidentally, water discharge from the plant elevates water temperatures even further, which explains the algal growth. Fortunately, for Haruka and Kanata, their beach remains pristine and unspoiled. This was, at least, the process I took – it is by no means a proprietary technique, although I will note that a few weeks after I wrote my post, the same methodology appeared, verbatim, in another location hunt post done elsewhere.

  • Here is about as close as I can to the ramp leading down from the side of the road to Gushikawa Beach. I have noticed that folks who do location hunts are often secretive about the locations they find: beyond images comparing anime with real life, they do not offer addresses or links to Google Maps. This is especially true for Japanese bloggers who write location hunts, and I get why this is the case – if locations were given away, then there’s always the chance that hordes of eager visitors might show up at a spot, and depending on where said spot is, create a hassle for the residents. With this being said, I write for English-language speakers: the goal of these posts are to allow readers to recreate the experience in Google Street View or help them to organise a trip to these locations for themselves.

  • Haikyo explorers operate along a similar credos: the location of an abandoned building or structure are usually not disclosed to prevent vandals from desecrating the site. In anime location hunts, however, the locations I feature are generally open to the public and easy to access (such as attractions and roads). As for locations like Kanata’s house, anime studios tend to place them in familiar areas, but use fictional structures. There is, simply put, a vacant field where Kanata’s house should be, and so, there is no chance of people flocking to the real world location to cause any grief for residents.

  • After Haruka becomes fired up about beach volleyball following their encounter with Ayase and Narumi, the pair walk back home along the seawall. Because Gushikawa Beach and its surroundings are comparatively out-of-the-way, one might need to rent a car to get around more easily. Fortunately, there is a few places for renting vehicles close to the airport, so folks really looking to explore Okinawa beyond the tourist spots might benefit from having a vehicle. Folks from North America may struggle with driving on the left hand side of the road, however: it takes around two weeks to get used to the switch.

  • Haruka, Kanata, Emily and Claire attend Maehara High School (Uruma High in Harukana Receive), located about fifteen minutes away from Gushikawa Beach on foot. Finding this location was a simple exercise: given that I had Gushikawa Beach as a starting point, I simply did a linear search for all schools within walking distance (under an hour) of the beach. Aside from minor differences in Maehara High Shcool’s façade and colours, it is clear that we have a match. A fifteen minute walk to school isn’t too bad – for me, it would’ve been a twenty-minute walk to my elementary school, and thirty five minutes to reach my high school on foot. While this doesn’t seem too bad, the thought of carrying twenty pounds of textbooks in -20ºC weather that distance would be nightmarish, and hence, taking the bus had always been my way of getting to school.

  • To purchase new bikinis as their team uniform, Haruka and Kanata visit the Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, the single largest shopping centre in Okinawa. This mall is very friendly for English-speakers, mirroring how in Okinawa in the aftermath of World War Two, the American military was stationed here. To accommodate them, the locals learnt English, and despite being reluctant to use it, there are plenty of English signs. On top of this, major hotels, shops and restaurants, especially those near a military installation, will be English-friendly, and signs around the island are also written in English, as well.

  • In front of the Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, are shisa, an Okinawan cultural artifact derived from Chinese guardian lions (石獅, pinyin shí shī, literally “rock lion”). These particular shisa were crafted by ceramists from Yomitan. Much as in Chinese culture, shisa are placed in pairs – some folklore suggests that one statue sports an open mouth to ward off evil spirits, while the other has a closed mouth to keep in benevolent spirits, whereas in other variations, the statue with the closed mouth is keeping out evil spirits, and the open-mouthed statue is inviting in benevolent spirits. Shisa are ubiquitous in Okinawa, and here, aspects of Okinawan architecture can be seen: distinct red-tiled roofs and stone walls of dwellings in Okinawa are a result of constructing buildings to resist typhoons.

  • With four floors, over two hundred shops and restaurants, Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom also features a movie theatre and a small aquarium, home to a thousand tropical fishes. Foreign visitors report having no trouble with navigation, as the mall possesses English signage. Both Japanese and American brands can be found here at Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, which opened in 2015 and is built on the site of the former Ryukyu Command base’s golf course that occupied the site previously. Some shops will offer a ten percent discount to visitors with a foreign passport. The mall is open all days of the year, and most shops open from 1000 to 2200.

  • To get to Aeon Mall Okinawa Rycom, one can always drive there: the mall is located at the intersections of routes 85 and 330. For folks like Haruka, Kanata, Claire and Emily, mass transit options exist, as well: there are a variety of buses that stop here. Folks from Naha can board buses at Naha Terminal, which is about an hour’s journey from the mall. Buses 21 and 92 stop directly outside the mall, whereas the 23, 27, 31, 77, 80, 90, and 110 buses stop at Higairibaru, which is located about five minutes away on foot from the nearby stations.

  • While Harukana Receive might be an anime with beach volleyball at its focus, its locations are vividly rendered, faithful to their real-world counterparts. No matter how often I do these location hunts, there’s always something novel to discover (and share) with readers. Here, I will note that it was starting with Yuru Camp△‘s location hunts that I used images sourced from Google Street View: prior to that, friends from my dōjō, interested in sharing their travels in an incognito fashion, sent their photos to me for location hunts. These posts still manage to capture the spirit of the anime, but because traditional cameras didn’t have latitude and longitude data, I wasn’t quite able to provide links to the corresponding spots. While using Google Maps means not being able to get the same precise angle, it does offers me the ability to share locations more easily with readers.

  • Haruka and Kanata compete at Nishihara Kira Kira Beach, located in Nishihara Marine Park. With a beach 550 metres in length, this beach has full access to amenities such as showers, changing rooms and equipment rental shops, as well as a concession stand. Unlike Gushikawa Beach, the waters here are much clearer and conducive towards swimming – the combination of its location (about half an hour from Naha Airport) and amenities means that Nishihara Kira Kira Beach is a ways more crowded than the more private beach that Haruka and Kanata train at.

  • Visitors to Nishihara Marine Park (free admissions!) are not limited to just beach activities like building sand castles or chucking a Frisbee around: swimming and water-skiiing are also an option. The site is indeed set up for beach volleyball, as well – nets are visible in the Google Street View image, and folks can rent courts for 540 Yen per hour if they wish to play beach volleyball as Kanata and Haruka do. From the air, the beach is divided into two sides: one is dedicated for marine sports and the like, while the other is for beach-goers.

  • Finding Nishihara Marine Park was a simple exercise because the location name was given in the anime. Coupled with the fact that Google Street View extends from the pavilion entrance right down to the beach itself, I was able to trace the path that Haruka and Kanata walk down on their first match against Ai and Mai: the VR experience means that I cannot feel the tropical sun beating down on me, or here the crowd noises as a beach volleyball match is in session, but I am now able to wander the area for myself with unprecedented freedom far surpassing what photographs alone can do.

  • Another part of the island can be seen across the harbour. In my more recent posts, I remarked that camera properties mean that the Google Street View photographs I use have a larger field-of-view, resulting in a more zoomed-out image. The end result is that Street View makes landmarks and objects feel more distant, whereas in the anime itself (and real life), things comparatively feel closer. This is one of the disadvantages about using something like Google Street View for location hunts, since there will inevitably be some variance between the spot from the anime, and its real-world equivalent.

  • While the Nishihara Marine Park building is much quieter on my virtual tour of the area, it is brimming with activity on the day of Haruka and Kanata’s tournaments. The major competitions both happen here: in their first attempt, they manage to best Ai and Mai before being knocked out by a more experienced team, while towards the season’s end, Haruka and Kanata inevitably face off against their friends, Claire and Emily. This final match spanned two-and-a-half episodes, corresponding to a full volume of the manga. After Harukana Receive‘s airing, the English-translated mangas became available for purchase at my local bookstores, and at the time of writing, I have five of the six available volumes.

  • Given that the manga’s tenth volume features Haruka on the cover, and sees her squaring off against Narumi and Ayase with Kanata at the national level, I imagine that this is going to be the finale. With this in mind, a second season of Harukana Receive would not be unwelcome: the anime had grown on me very quickly after I began watching it, with its simple but sincere and honest messages about friendship, competition and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, even a full two years after its airing, an official animation guidebook was never released. I’m particularly fond of these guidebooks because they show concept art and storyboards, as well as the cast and director’s commentary.

  • As the tournament draws to a close, the sun sets over Okinawa, casting the land in shadows and the skies in vivid hues of red, orange and yellow. The last light of day does not obscure the Nishihara Marine Park pavilion, whose distinct round structure and railings are still visible here. My image is framed a little lower: in the anime, the sign in front of the building (on the lower left of the Google Street View image) can just barely be seen.

  • While Haruka and Kanata’s performance is not competition-ready yet, as the pair are still working on adjusting to one another as partners, Haruka indicates that this experience was fantastic: she’s all sparkles after the competition. The single biggest joy in Harukana Receive was found in Haruka, who consistently brought optimism, positivity and energy into the series. Kanata herself struggles with her short stature and the loss of her parents, and this originally led her to quit beach volleyball. However, with Haruka, Kanata begins to rediscover her old love of the sport and begins to move forwards, spurred on by Haruka.

  • The building immediately behind Emily and Claire is home to a few businesses that sell beach toys and equipment, and adjacent to this shop, are a pair of cafés, Moon Terrance Café and Café Solesta. I imagine that for visitors who’ve spent an entire day playing beach volleyball or watching a tournament, these would be great places to wind down: Café Solesta offers several delicious-looking rice bowls on top of coffees and teas, while Moon Terrance sells salads, pastas and desserts with their coffees and teas. While Haruka, Kanata, Emily and Claire don’t swing by, I imagine that for visitors, having a late lunch here could always be an option.

  • Behind the group, the corner of Dolphin Park is visible. It is named for the Dolphin-themed playground, but also features plenty of green space. This site also has bathrooms available, which is especially good if one intends to spend a morning or afternoon with children. The actual playground is not visible from this image, but instead, is located a hundred metres northeast of this spot. The park itself is not dog-friendly, and on that token, Nishihara Marine Park also prohibits pets.

  • The last bit of the Nishihara Marine World pavilion I will showcase is the interior: Google Street View even allows viewers to see what it looks like from the inside. In the corresponding moment in Harukana Receive, Akari looks on at the group, seemingly too anxious to approach them and strike up a conversation. Akari was a bit of a mystery throughout the first parts of Harukana Receive, and I imagined her to be a coach of sorts. However, as it turns out, she was a child actress in a well-known drink commercial (“waku waku shequasar!”) and wanted to join the beach volleyball club to become more idol-like, but eventually takes on a managerial role and comes greatly treasure her friendship with everyone.

  • This still has Akari standing in front of the seawall by Gushikawa Beach. Perspective means the seawall looks much larger in the anime than it does in the equivalent spot in Street View. Looking back, since it has been a shade more than two years since Harukana Receive‘s airing, I imagine that intrepid folks could have already visited Okinawa and tread on the same beaches that Haruka, Kanata, Emily and Claire train on: I had ascertained the locations in this anime while watching it back during the summer of ’18, but one thing led to another, and I never found the time to compile a locations hunt post. This post thus comes to the party two years too late, but I’d figure it would be easier to get it done now, while I’ve got that location hunt momentum going from Koisuru Asteroid and Yuru Camp△.

  • For the New Year, the Beach Volleyball Club visits Futenma Shrine, which sees upwards of a hundred thousand visitors on New Year’s Day. The shrine itself dates back to the Ryukyu era and is estimated to have been built in 1450. Besides being a popular spot for New Year’s, Futenma Shrine is also home to a 280 metre long limestone cave system. Cave tours are run by Futenma’s miko (shrine maidens) and last about half an hour. The first tour begins at 1000, and tours end at 1700. The caves are said to be especially beautiful on sunny days, when sunlight streams into the cave from openings in the ground above, and folks interested in visiting must register to do so.

  • Besides the caves, Futenma also offers ema, wooden plaques visitors write wishes onto. It is here that Akari’s got a surprise for her friends, and despite having drawn bad luck earlier, she’s still in fine spirits: it turns out that bought enough ema for everyone (they’re 300 Yen each). However, during the shrine visit, Kanata catches wind that Ayase and Narumi are preparing to fly out. Not wanting to miss this, Claire asks her mother, Marissa, for some support: moments later, she arrives in a hummer, rearing to take Claire and her friends to the airport to catch up with Ayase and Narumi.

  • Here is a comparison of Harukana Receive‘s portrayal of the gate to Futenma Shrine, with its tori gate. The real world path leading up to the shrine is a bit more ornate, whereas Harukana Receive uses a simpler stone tiling for the floor. However, beyond this minor difference, the commonalities between Harukana Receive‘s portrayal of the real Futenma Shrine are apparent. Futenma Shrine is located sixteen kilometers north of the heart of Naha, near Camp Foster and Camp Buckner.

  • Marissa’s driving takes the girls through the heart of Naha, but despite her efforts, they get caught in a traffic jam. An Eneos Gas Station (“Emcos” in Harukana Receive) can be seen on the right hand side of both images. Initially, finding this spot was tricky, but I ended up working out where it was based on which bridge Kanata sprints across: she is seen running alongside Prefectural Road 221 en route to the airport. In my original post for the eighth episode, I highlighted the methodology for how I came to locate everything. Naha Airport is the constant here, and backtracking from the airport, I ended up using Google Maps’ 3D photogrammetry to check bridges over the Kokuba River to find a match. Once I had the bridge, working backwards allowed me to find the gas station.

  • As far as I can tell, the bridge is not named, but the railings and the fact that another bridge can be seen to the east means I’ve found my mark. The methodology I’d utilised back in ’18 also allowed me to quickly plot out how long the run for each of Kanata, Haruka, Claire, Emily and Akari would’ve been. From the Enos Gas Station to the entrance at Naha airport is a 3.9 kilometre distance, and since the girls are in reasonable shape, it is not difficult to imagine that they could run the distance in under half an hour – as I noted in the original post after episode eight’s airing, 8 km/h is the average jogging speed, and 13 km/h is the average running speed, so covering this distance within the span of 20 minutes or so to reach Narumi and Ayase is not particularly remarkable or implausible.

  • I’ll wrap this post up with a screenshot of the overhead rail line belonging to Yui Rail, which leads to Naha Airport: Emily and Claire can be seen running underneath here. The parkade seen in the background of the real-world location belongs to Toyota Rent-a-Car, and there’s a Nissan adjacent: some visitors looking to do their own tour of Okinawa with a Harukana Receive flair to it might find that driving could be easier than mass transit, on account of how spread out the different locations are. With this in mind, it’s great to finally have my latest location hunt post come to an end, During my original run through Harukana Receive, I’d already located the central locations, but never got around to consolidating everything into a single post for readers until now. It did appear that the locations I found were compiled by another site some time later (they’re dated after my episodic posts) without attribution, but this is completely fine – Google Maps is available to all users, and it’s not as though anime locations should be regarded with the same secrecy as something like launch codes!

Rather than taking viewers to popular destinations, Harukana Receive takes viewers to places that locals know about; as with slice-of-life anime that make extensive use of real world locations, Harukana Receive‘s faithful reproduction of Okinawa serves an important purpose in the anime, namely, to accentuate that the path Haruka and Kanata take towards reaching the National Tournament is framed in reality. Having Kanata and Kanata compete at real venues gives credence to the idea that, with the right mindset and training, promises can be renewed, and dreams can be pursued with one’s fullest efforts. With this in mind, location hunting for Harukana Receive was not a particularly easy task – while the island’s relatively small size and the presence of 3D photogrammetry data makes it straightforwards to find all of the locations without difficulty, I concede that Harukana Receive‘s chosen activity made it challenging to focus on the background and locations: I’d originally made the decision to watch and write about this series entirely on the basis that Haruka had been an interesting character, and I had been curious to see her journey throughout the series. The fact that she has a stunning figure certainly helped, and by the time she and Kanata participate in a smaller tournament, Harukana Receive had definitely made a strong showing with its portrayal of beach volleyball. However, as with my previous location hunts, a desire to push my Oculus Quest further led me to return to the shores of Okinawa. This time, with a renewed determination to find the locations, I believe I have succeeded in laying the groundwork for folks who wish to see for themselves what locations Haruka and Kanata make use of as a part of their journey to fulfil a longstanding promise and reach the National Tournament.

A Valentine’s Day with Haruka Oozora: Finding Happiness in Complementary Personalities

“The reason as to why we are attracted to our opposites is because they are our salvation from the burden of being ourselves.” ―Kamand Kojouri

Whereas it is common knowledge that Myers-Briggs test are only a rough indicator of how people of differing personality types get along with one another, it’s become something of a yearly tradition for me to now write about hypothetical relationships between someone of my personality type and the other fifteen personalities. I’ve already expended the INFP and ISFJ types for CLANNAD‘s Nagisa Furukawa and Girls und Panzer‘s Miho “Miporin” Nishizumi in previous years, so this year, I’m going to ratchet things up a notch and do something radical: I’m going to explore a personality type that’s the opposite of my own. Harukana Receive‘s Haruka Oozora fits the bill well: with a light-hearted and open-minded character, Haruka is quick to befriend those around her, has little patience for concepts and is shown to have a penchant for doing things rather than studying them. With a spontaneous and flexible mindset, Haruka has no trouble adapting to changes in situations. With a boundless amount of energy, Haruka brightens up the days of those around her, and is generally a fun person to be around. The sum of her traits mean that, despite being a novice at beach volleyball, she would make strides with Kanata as a team to even put an excellent fight against experienced players like Claire and Emily Thomas. Haruka would thus be considered an ESTP: Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking and Perceiving. In a relationship between an ESTP and an ISTJ, the dramatic differences prima facie imply a difficult time. My preference for order and structure means that I would have a tough time adjusting to Haruka’s flexible, spontaneous schedule. In conflict, Haruka tends to be very open and up front about how she feels, and would be adverse to anything that’s too rigid. Conversely, I am a believer in the idea that people should be true to what they say. Haruka’s carefree attitude, versus my rigid, disciplined outlook on problem solving and organisation could be tricky: I am rather picky about being on time, which I feel to be a show of respect, but Haruka would place a lesser emphasis on this and more value on being in the moment. Indeed, it means that Haruka and I would conflict on a great many things, but the reality is that both partners bring traits to the table that complement one another, as well. Haruka’s boundless energy and desire to try new things would push me forwards and allow me to experience things that would otherwise be missed. My love of organisation and order would help Haruka find ways of optimising her own day-to-day, as well. To make a relationship with Haruka work, someone like myself would need to be more open-minded, trusting and live in the moment more: the pay-offs are that people like Haruka are very passionate, energetic, as well, and so, beyond the initial hurdles, such a pairing could bring out a new-found synergy in many exciting and unforeseeable ways.

  • This post has, believe it or not, been in the works since last year, when I made the remark that Haruka could be fun to write for. While it is the case that I have a natural inclination towards people with Nagisa or Miho’s personalities, in general, I get along with most everyone, and the opposites in Haruka do much to complement my own styles. Of course, with Haruka now written for, I’ll have a heck of a time finding a character to write for come 2021. In the meantime, I leave readers with this bit of art from Harukana Receive, which in no way, shape or form influenced my decision to write for Haruka this year, nor does said choice of artwork speak in any way, to anything, about me as a person.

What would a date with Haruka look like, one asks? Because Haruka is very active, and very fond of people, there are two dates in my area that could be one that she might find enjoyment in. The first suggestion would be a hike to the Big Beehive at Lake Louise: this 10.3 kilometre hike has an elevation gain of around 640 metres, and takes hikers through the Lake Agnes Tea House. The path up to the tea house, as well as the Lake Agnes Teahouse itself is well-tread, and busy. Haruka would feel at ease with the number of people, and also enjoy speaking with other hikers while at once enjoying the scenery around Lake Agnes. The next leg of the hike leading up to the Big Beehive is a bit more strenuous, tapping into Haruka’s love for physical activity: to reach the top of the Big Beehive and look back down at Lake Louise and the Chateau below would be a remarkably exhilarating journey. The other date that could prove appropriate would be a day spent at the Calgary Stampede. Touted as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, the Stampede (as we locals call it) has rodeo competitions, midway games and rides, all sorts of wild foods, and interesting exhibitions. With an incredible amount of energy from the number of visitors, Haruka would enjoy everything from trying exotic carnival foods, to watching dog shows, trying her hand at midway games and taking rides together in the Ferris Wheel or the West Jet Sky Ride. While I personally regroup and rest on my own, usually with a good book or game, I have no qualms about hiking or attending busy events, so my own adaptiveness means that I could certainly keep up with Haruka. Of course, all of this remains a thought experiment: relationships of all sorts work out in reality, and their dynamics are driven by more than just personality types: trust, loyalty and respect are surer indicators of where things will go. Almost any relationship will work as long as love and communication are present, and this is an encouraging thought. With this being said, these Valentine’s Day posts are always fun to write for, and before I wrap up this shorter post, I’d like to wish all readers a Happy Valentine’s Day!

And That’s Why We Choose Our Irreplaceable Partners: Harukana Receive Finale Impressions and Whole-Series Review

“They push, we push. Every once in a while, we push hard enough that the light breaks through the clouds, and the world beyond the court glimmers.” —Battlefield 1 Prologue

With the match tied, Harukana and Éclair have a furious rally; Harukana pulls ahead in scoring and ultimately, Haruka blocks Claire’s spike, scoring the final point to win the match. Although Claire and Emily congratulate Haruka and Kanata on their victory, it is a bittersweet one. While Emily comforts Claire, who expresses no regrets in having trained Haruka and Kanata, Akari passes news of Haruka and Kanata’s win over to Narumi and Ayasa: they wish Kanata to be happy with their victory and look forwards to the possibility of facing one another in the Nationals. Later, the girls take some well-earned downtime, celebrating the aftermath of the Okinawa tournament with a barbeque on the beach. Narumi calls Haruka and thanks her for having helped Kanata rediscover her love for beach volleyball. After spending the afternoon enjoying the beaches of Okinawa, Emily, Kanata and Akari give Haruka and Claire some time alone, where Claire is able to be truthful about how she feels on the outcome of their match. She is surprised that Haruka was able to block their final spike, and Haruka feels that it was having trained with Claire and Emily that gave her the confidence to block spikes. Claire places her faith in Haruka and Kanata, to win for everyone’s sake. Emily and Kanata thank Akari, feeling that were it not for her presence in the beach volleyball club, they might not otherwise have an opportunity to remain close following that titanic match. When they return to Claire and Haruka with cold drinks in hand, the girls grow fired up and resolve to continue training together in preparation for the Valkyrie Cup. This brings Harukana Receive to an end for the present, and with all twelve episodes in the books, the time has come to look back through the entire series and ascertain what messages the anime intended for audiences to take away. Simple-minded discussions might claim that Harukana Receive is intended to be “intentional homoerotism…achieved through some subtext and an ambiguous comparison of the sporting partnership in the series with romantic relationship”, but the reality is that Harukana Receive has none of this; at the end of the day, it’s a story of friendship, discovery and learning.

Manga Time Kirara series are not known for being subtle about their themes of friendship and camaraderie. In the case of Harukana Receive, the message lies in the importance of supportive company as the motivator for progress and growth. Having lost her interest in beach volleyball from her short stature and other circumstances in her life, Kanata’s decision to leave the sport left an impact on those who looked up to her. Narumi was particularly disappointed, as the two had been partners previously, and similarly, Claire and Emily were left facing an opponent who was a shadow of her former self. When Haruka arrives, with her boundless energy and optimism, Kanata’s desire to support Haruka slowly brings her back into beach volleyball. With a partner who views the world as a place to explore and try one’s strength in, Kanata redevelops her passion for beach volleyball. This resurgence draws the attention of her old friends and rivals, and as she embraces beach volleyball again, Kanata also forms a much closer relationship with her cousin. These changes show the extent that good support can have on one’s well-being, and for Kanata, there is no one better than Haruka to brighten her day up. Similarly, when Claire and Emily are set to face off against Haruka and Kanata, the pairs set their friendship aside to face one another as opponents. Emotions run high during their match, and in its aftermath, the atmosphere is subdued, quite unlike what a victory would feel like. Haruka and Kanata may have won, but there was a price to pay. The toll extracted, however, would have been much heavier had Akari not been present. Rooting for everyone and promising that everyone’s friendship will remain intact no matter the outcome, Akari’s presence grounds both pairs and keeps them from losing sight of what is truly important: the memories and experiences they have all shared together. Because she is not in a pair, Akari brings to the beach volleyball club a new perspective on things, and this is precisely what allows Claire, Haruka, Emily and Kanata to remain on excellent terms with one another.

Placing Claire and Emily as the final opponents for Haruka and Kanata to overcome before Kanata can push ahead and keep her promise with Narumi also serves one important function: throughout Harukana Receive, Kanata’s desire to keep her promise to Narumi is a sometimes-burden, sometimes-motivator. Kanata is evidently someone who holds true to her word and expresses visible regret when she feels as though she might not be able to uphold her end of the promise. When the opportunity for keeping it presents itself, Kanata seizes it; she and Haruka make remarkable progress as a pair over the course of a year, reaching a point where they are able to play on par with the second-ranked players in all of Japan. The power of a promise as a motivator is clearly felt, and ends up being a powerful driving force for Kanata. When faced with the ultimate test of her will, Kanata shows that she is willing to do all that is necessary to keep her word, even if it means vanquishing her friends in competition. This level of determination underlies several interesting facets of Kanata’s character: besides staying true to her word, Kanata is also evidently someone who treasures those around her. Narumi might be paired with Ayasa now, but she still desires to uphold their promise to one another as friends. In an age where one’s word is often worth as little as the air it took to make it, such faithfulness to one’s promises is admirable. As Kanata discovers, there are many ways to keep one’s promises and make the most of the moment; in accepting this, Kanata is above to rediscover her old self and live in the present, finding new happiness with Haruka, Claire, Emily and Akari.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • In this finale post, I’ve featured thirty screenshots, as I have done for previous finale posts. However, because I’ve spent the last three posts showcasing screenshots of beach volleyball, I am going to focus less on the final moments of the match between Harukana and Éclair. Looking back, with three straight posts of beach volleyball, it stands to reason that as far as content goes, Harukana Receive has delivered on the beach volleyball aspects as per its premise, and a year into her experiences, it is clear that both Kanata and Haruka found the answers they sought on the court underneath the vivid Okinawan sun.

  • After two episodes of play, the match finally comes to an end when Haruka blocks one of Claire’s spikes. The court quiets, and on the viewer’s mind is what Claire’s reaction will be when she faces Haruka and Kanata: it has been established that Claire has a boisterous and competitive nature, switching from being friendly and open to being dead serious in a moment’s notice. Waiting for Claire’s reaction to losing thus becomes a bit of a lengthy one.

  • While the crowd cheers for the match’s outcome, amongst the girls closest to Harukana and Éclair, there are no celebrations. Going in, Akari knew with full certainty that there would be the victor and vanquished — now that the moment for cheering on and supporting her friends have passed, she dreads seeing what will happen next. Likewise, Ai and Mai are equally as silent: Mai had been expressing support for Harukana despite her earlier dislike for Kanata, and when questioned, unconvincingly states she’s simply enthralled by the match itself.

  • If Akari, Ai and Mai were concerned, it pales in comparison to Haruka’s reaction. Her face is filled with sadness at the prospect of the emotion running through her friends’ minds, and this is mirrored in Kanata’s expression, as well. Haruka and Kanata’s reaction is a natural one, akin to two brothers playing in opposite conferences and facing down one another during a Stanley Cup final. As exhilarating as it is to win, both would always wonder how the other might react if they’d lost or won.

  • Aside from a clenched fist signifying her frustration and dejection, Claire gives no outwards sign of the loss, shrugging it off and expressing that she’s exhausted. After they shake hands, Claire rushes off to buy drinks, and the faintest trace of her voice breaking can be heard. Emily takes off after her to make certain that Claire is alright, and Akari calls Ayasa and Narumi to inform them of the outcome.

“Victory costs. Every time, you pay a little more”

– Laurence “Prophet” Barnes, Crysis 3

  • It speaks volumes to the strength of their friendship that there is no celebration following their victory; both Haruka and Kanata feel the toll of their victory, knowing that in order to win, they had no other choice but to hurt Claire and Emily. Narumi congratulates them and asks them to enjoy the moment, having understood how strongly Kanata wanted to fulfil her promise, but right now, nothing else is on Kanata and Haruka’s mind except for Claire and Emily. Every success, every victory has a cost attached to it, taking the form of a sacrifice of some sort. Whether it be a time commitment or giving up something for the sake of another, no true victory can be had without sacrifice. Prophet of Crysis 3 put it that victory costs, with each successive victory forcing one to pay more for it.

  • This was my site’s tag line for the longest time, and looking back, it’s one of my favourite quotes from any game for the simple fact that it’s a reality. Back in Harukana Receive, it seems that Claire’s had time to compose herself, and for Emily, she puts on a display of bravado. Being her sister, and knowing her better than anyone, Emily voices what’s on Claire’s mind: a part of Claire likely does regret pushing Kanata and Haruka to have progressed as far as they did, but she’s also glad to have helped create worthy opponents to spur them on.

  • A million things must be running through Claire’s mind, and Emily simply leans on her, comforting her. Harukana Receive is generally a very well-lit anime, with a bright, vivid palette in many of its scenes, so when a stark contrast between light and dark is established, it is intended to convey the emotional tenour of a moment. A similar effect was used after Narumi realised that Kanata now had someone in her life to motivate her, and here, the bright surroundings of Okinawa are forgotten as the two sisters accept that their shot at playing in the Nationals is over for the present, taking solace in one another’s company.

“Does anyone have any orange slices?” —Scott Lang, Captain America: Civil War

  • At the episode’s halfway point, the mood shifts back to the easygoing, light-hearted one that Harukana Receive utilises outside of beach volleyball. Here, Haruka and Kanata prepare to join the others for a barbeque on the beach, and I take a moment to explain the multiple page quotes. I mentioned in the talk for Harukana Receive‘s penultimate episode that I would be fielding a quote from Captain America: Civil War, and while I originally intended this to be the main page quote, Haruka’s inner monologue during their match, that she wanted to push through and see the world that was ahead of them, was surprisingly relevant.

  • Immediately, the quote from Battlefield 1‘s cinematic trailer came to mind. Likely referring to fighting hard for a better future, it fits with Harukana Receive very nicely, more so than the quote from Civil War. However, with the mood in the finale lightening at the halfway point, I figured it would be appropriate to use the quote here. After Scott Lang reverts to his normal size when Stark and Rhodes knocks him down, he asks if there are any orange slices around. His quip is meant to signify that their bout was really more of a competitive one, rather than a life-and-death one. Traditionally, orange slices were handed out at youth soccer games, so by throwing that in there, Lang reminds viewers that the fight between Rogers and Stark’s groups is not all-serious.

  • Ayasa and Narumi share a conversation about Kanata while stretching; Narumi feels that their win will now force Kanata to play with more focus and determination than before. She wonders if Kanata will be up to the challenge, but Ayasa reassures her that Kanata will uphold her end of the promise. Ayasa and Narumi are always seen to be training, showing their dedication towards their sport, as well. The price of victory in Harukana Receive is shown in more ways than one, and for me, it also suggests that there is more to the story than what we’ve seen so far.

  • I am a big fan of barbeque: during one of my trips to Denver, I stepped out to dinner at a restaurant close to my lodgings and ordered their a delicious beef rib and sausage special. Tender and succulent, the grilled taste was evident in the beef ribs, while the sausage was flavourful and juicy. There’s only really one place back home that compares to American barbeque, and that’s Big T’s. In Harukana Receive, fancy beef-and-sausage kebabs, fish, steaks and even a beer-can chicken are present during the girls’ beach barbeque party. With the emotional match over, it’s a return to the everyday experiences the girls share with one another, and although their dynamics are as spirited and joyful as they’ve always been, audiences will definitely feel that things have changed following the match. For now, the girls are free to enjoy themselves, and in the moment, the exuberant Claire I’ve come to know and love comes out in full force.

  • This is what likely comes to mind whenever Okinawa is mentioned: frolicking on the beautiful beaches and warm waters of a tropical island. While Harukana Receive might be at its conclusion for now, Non Non Biyori Vacation and its depiction of Okinawa will step up to fill that void. I’ve been longing to see this movie for quite some time, and it screened in Japan back in August. Naturally, some have flown over to Japan with the singular purpose of watching Non Non Biyori Vacation in theatres and write about how they didn’t enjoy it; as the date for the home release remains a bit of an enigma, I have no estimates of when I’ll be able to take Anime News Network’s writers to school.

  • While some have felt Akari to be a bit of an outsider, the time she’s spent with the beach volleyball club means that she’s much more comfortable and familiar with the others now, enough to be on the same wavelength as Claire; the two here are making to prank Emily and shove her into the waters of Okinawa’s beaches. As of now, we are twelve for twelve on weather in Harukana Receive; each episode is marked by pleasant weather and sunny skies.

  • Sunlight can be seen glistening on the turquoise ocean surface here, giving a tropical sense that is a world apart from the cold, foggy mists and drizzles covering my area right now. We are only two days from the Autumnal Equinox for 2018, and the weather in my region has definitely been feeling more like autumn. Strangely enough, the trees have not yet begun to yellow; by this time of year last year, most of the trees in the neighborhood and in the aspen groves nearby had already become a vivid gold. Under the deep blue autumn skies, the colour contrast is beautiful, and cooler weather at this time of year generally makes it pleasant for walks.

  • In the excitement of the moment, Akari’s forgotten to put sunscreen on, and realises the others have not done so, either. She immediately treats everyone to a lecture on the importance of protection from the sun’s rays. Intuitive for tropical locations, it may come as a surprise to some that UV radiation on an overcast day in the Canadian Rockies can be quite high; even if the sun is not shining, UV radiation penetrates cloud cover and so, application of sunscreen is necessary to protect against the radiation Akari is sensitive to.

  • Ayasa is likely running an iPhone X, as indicated by the vertical placement of the two twelve megapixel cameras on the phone’s rear. The iPhone 8 has a single twelve megapixel camera. These are Apple phones in all but name: the logo seen here placed in the same spot as where it would be placed on an iPhone X. Narumi calls Haruka to congratulate her for their win, and wonders how Kanata is doing. Haruka expresses that she’s been looking Kanata well, and Narumi thanks her for being there for Kanata, looking forwards to the day that they can face one another on the court.

  • Haruka uses an iPhone SE: with its rectangular edges, it is the smallest iPhone and with the announcement of the iPhone XS and XR, the SE is no longer being offered. Folks who use the SE have found it an attractive phone for its form factor, and I’m surprised that Apple is discontinuing the model. My iPhone 6 is still holding out okay in performance; with iOS 12, things have become a little faster than before. Last episode, I mentioned that Ayasa and Narumi still owed Haruka and Kanata ice cream. Haruka’s memory is as good as mine: she brings it up here, and Narumi promises to treat them next they meet.

  • Subtle details such as these convey to audiences that Haruka, like Kanata, is also someone who honours promises, and from the looks of it, is also someone who focuses on her goals with a powerful resolve. She mentions to Kanata here that it’s probably the first time she’s been able to take it easy since arriving in Okinawa. Real life is like this: we become wrapped up in our duties and aspirations, forgetting to take a step back every so often to enjoy the moment.

  • Many of my praises for Harukana Receive deal with the big picture aspects of the narrative: I’ve infrequently mentioned the technical elements in animation, artwork and audio in my other discussions. Overall, I’ve found that Harukana Receive has a very clean art style that is detailed enough to bring the environment to life without introducing too much visual clutter, which is important for keeping focus on the characters. Animation is generally smooth, and from a sound perspective, Harukana Receive is also solid; the aural elements are at their best during beach volleyball matches.

  • The original soundtrack to Harukana Receive is set to release on September 26, will have forty-six tracks over two disks and retail for 3456 Yen (39.70 CAD). The tracks have interesting names, being rendered in English. On the whole, the music in Harukana Receive has been suitable for the atmosphere the anime presents, although it was otherwise unremarkable. There are a few incidental pieces that capture the feeling of a tropical beach, and one track is named “Lombardo”, whom I quoted earlier in one of my reviews for Harukana Receive.

  • Emily turns the tables on Claires by slapping her posterior before taking off for drinks. Of everyone, wave propagation is portrayed with the most detail on Claire, and while I mentioned that I’m satisfied with animation for the most part in Harukana Receive, soft-body physics is something this series does not always nail. In the realm of soft-body physics, an entity with an increased Young’s modulus would be more resistant to deformation and so, bounce less. As such, I believe that oscillations seen here would be quite unrealistic for someone of Claire’s physique.

  • Claire is surprisingly adorable when bashful: with this, the number of ass-slapping moments in Harukana Receive goes up to four that I can recall of the top of my head. The count could be as high as six, but given that it’s been some time since Harukana Receive started, I can’t recall all moments with maximum clarity. While such moments might lead smaller-minded individuals to believe it is sufficient to describe Harukana Receive‘s themes as having a significant yuri component, time and time again, these moments are eclipsed. For quite some time, even Wikipedia possessed the misleading, and blatantly false, claim that subtext is a major part of Harukana Receive under the pretense of using an Anime News Network review. Just in time for the finale, it has been removed and rewritten to properly reflect on what the series is about.

  • Emily feels that without Akari, their friendship might’ve dissolved following that match. Kanata agrees: Akari’s concern for everyone has indeed forced everyone to look past their desire to win and beyond. At the end of the day, the friendship, memories and experiences that Harukana and Éclair share far outweigh the drive of competition, and while the girls become focused on their goals of winning, having Akari around also serves to remind them of the moments they’ve spent off the court. Admittedly, it does take a few jumps to reach this conclusion, but overall, I find that Akari’s presence in Harukana Receive is an appropriate one.

  • As she was truthful and open to Emily earlier, having time alone with Haruka also allows Claire to be honest with her. Relative to her match against Narumi and Kanata, Claire’s become a graceful loser; while expressing surprise that Haruka could counter her, she also acknowledges that she’d lost and places her faith in Harukana now. While they might have lost the tournament, Claire and Emily both win something much more important: the knowledge that they have been able to impart their considerable experiences and skills to Haruka and Kanata.

  • The notion of a student besting their teacher is reminiscent of The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, a Sith Lord who was so powerful he could apparently save others from death. However, because he taught his apprentice everything he knew, his apprentice killed him in his sleep. The irony of this was that he could save others from death, but not himself. However, in Harukana Receive, while Claire and Emily did likely teach Haruka and Kanata quite a bit, they managed to retain some tricks up their sleeve during the final match that surprised Haruka and Kanata, so the comparison ends here.

  • I would liken Claire and Emily’s approach to be more akin to the Chinese fable of the cat and the tiger. In this fable, the tiger is a terrible hunter and learns from a cat. Over time, the tiger improves and plans to eat the cat, but the cat reserves one trick unknown to the tiger, using it to save himself from being eaten. From that day onward, the tiger remains a great hunter but is missing one skill that the cat possesses. I am to take it, then, that Darth Plagueis never heard of this fable before, although given what we’ve seen in Harukana Receive, Claire and Emily might be familiar with this tale.

  • For Claire and Emily, then, watching Haruka and Kanata advance further is also for their sake because it is a testament to their effectiveness as seniors and teachers. Haruka resolves to do her best with enthusiasm, and the girls begin to train again for the next great journey. With this, I am very nearly finished with the finale post for Harukana Receive — as of next week, I will have Friday evenings free again. It’s been one hell of a journey to write for Harukana Receive every week, and looking back, this was easily the toughest series I’ve ever done episodic reviews for. On top of writing about a topic where my knowledge was largely lacking, my schedule was very tumultuous, making it difficult to sit down and write for this series.

  • In the end, I think I’ve done a satisfactory job covering Harukana Receive despite my constraints. This experience also reminds me again of why episodic reviews are so challenging to write for, and in the foreseeable future, I do not think that it is in my best interest to do episodic reviews. With the summer anime season coming to an end, I might write about Cells at Work! once more should there be interest in it, and I’ve got a Terrible Anime Challenge post for Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid in the wings, as well. Beyond this, I’m going to continue with the CLANNAD Tenth Anniversary series as we enter October, dealing with ~After Story~.

  • Overall, Harukana Receive scores an A- (3.7 on a 4-point scale, or 8.5 of 10): being far more than just fanservice and slice-of-life, the anime struck a good balance between beach volleyball and life in Okinawa. Although there are many characters, some of which got less than half the exposure than they deserved, and the pacing was less consistent in places, the story and message was solid, as were the technical details of animation, artwork and sound. A part of the reason as to why I enjoyed Harukana Receive to the extent that  I did was because I never approached it as a sports anime – rather than the details of beach volleyball, my expectations were centred around character growth over time, and in this department, Harukana Receive exceeded expectations. Thus, my final Harukana Receive post in the foreseeable future comes to an end, and while it’s been an interesting ride, I’m also looking forwards to getting my Friday evening back for some Battlefield.

Harukana Receive deals with relevant matters on having supportive peers and how this can help one approach their problems in creative, novel manners; it is far from being an empty exercise in female anatomy. During its twelve episode run, Harukana Receive depicts pivotal moments in Kanata’s journey of rediscovery and regaining what was lost. Beach volleyball is an integral part of Harukana Receive, as are the more ordinary moments spent off the court. Because of the focus placed on these moments, as well as the presence of humour, Harukana Receive reminds its audience that life is not about the high-intensity moments. Everyday moments in Harukana Receive are present to humanise the characters, showing that events away from beach volleyball also have a tangible impact on the girls’ journey. Similarly, comedy, in visual and verbal form, lightens moments up and balances a situation out such that when characters encounter problems, they overcome them together. Harukana Receive never gave the impression as being that of a serious anime about beach volleyball, and the interspersion of humour, some of which occasionally takes the form of gentle teasing and flirting, is strictly present to this end. Striking this balance is why Harukana Receive is able to tell a compelling story that relaxes and captivates well when it means to. The serious moments hold weight because audiences have come to see the girls as human, with their own unique attributes and flaws, while the light-hearted moments relax and show that Haruka and the others are ordinary people with stories worth following. For this, I would give Harukana Receive a recommendation: the fanservice and occasional unfaithfulness to reality are eclipsed by the things that Harukana Receive gets correct. As such, unless one had a particularly strong aversions to watching young women playing beach volleyball, Harukana Receive is an enjoyable watch and a pleasant surprise. The source manga is still running, and with Harukana setting their sights on a National tournament, it is pretty clear that the foundations are laid for a continuation. Should sales be strong, one could reasonably expect a second season to materialise, and it would be most welcoming to see what lies ahead for Haruka and Kanata in the future.

Captain America: Civil War, On Striking A Balance Between Focus and Comedy, and Parallels In Harukana Receive

“If we sign these, we surrender our right to choose. What if this panel sends us somewhere we don’t think we should go? What if there’s somewhere we need to go, and they don’t let us? We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.”
“If we don’t do this now, it’s gonna be done to us later. That’s a fact. That won’t be pretty.”

–Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, Captain America: Civil War

2016’s Captain America: Civil War (Civil War for brevity) is the thirteenth movie and the first part of phase three, dealing with Steve Rogers and Tony Stark as they become divided after the Avenger’s actions at Sokovia and the events of Age of Ultron. Collateral destruction prompts the United Nations to pass the Sokovia Accords, which places the Avengers under UN management. After seeing the destruction that he feels responsible for, Stark agrees to the Accords, feeling that it would be useful to have government oversight, while Steve Rogers believes in his own judgement, having grown disillusioned with authority after his experiences with SHIELD and a mission that sees Natasha Romanov sneak off to accomplish a secondary mission. Prior to the conference to ratify the Accords, Helmut Zemo activates Bucky Barnes, who appears and bombs the conference, killing T’Challa’s father, the King of Wakanda. Barnes is brought in, along with Rogers, T’Challa and Sam Wilson, but Barnes manages to escape. They prepare to apprehend Zemo, but are declared Rogue; Stark assembles a team to take Rogers in, although Rogers manages to escape with Barnes. Arriving at a remote Hydra facility in Siberia, Barnes and Rogers learns that Stark followed them, seeking a truce, but when he learns that Barnes had killed his parents and Rogers withheld this from him, he engages them in combat. T’Challa also appears, confronting Zemo, who lost his family in Sokovia and sought revenge against the Avengers: stopping Zemo from committing suicide, T’Challa captures him. Civil War was one of the biggest movies of 2016, and in keeping with films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is a highly engaging film that packages thrilling combat sequences, top-notch humour and a meaningful theme into one experience. Marvel Cinematic Universe films typically manage to strike a balance between the serious and humourous: there are plenty of moments worth reflecting on, but frequent jokes remind audiences that the films are intended to be fun, first and foremost.

The balance is something that Manga Time Kirara anime similarly capture to showcase that life is a very dynamic, varied experience: the latest manga to be adapted into an anime is Harukana Receive, and similar to its ilk, Harukana Receive has strong messages of sportsmanship, friendship and personal growth. Comedy is present to create a light-hearted, easygoing atmosphere, reminding viewers that the anime is not meant to be taken entirely seriously. Similar to Civil War, jokes are placed in Harukana Receive to break up serious moments – besides creating breaks in emotionally tense moments, humour also humanises all of the characters, making them more relatable. In Civil War, the crux of the conflict is a simple but effective one, presenting a juxtaposition between regulation and doing what one feels to be right. Both Stark and Rogers’ perspective have their merits, and which perspective is more appropriate will largely depend on one’s experiences and beliefs: some people gravitate towards having other bodies creating rules one can be held accountable to, while others will put faith in their own judgement. Neither extreme is viable, and this is the point that Civil War aims to make. However, in spite of these serious matters, however, Civil War also has its share of comedy, and nowhere is this more apparent than the airport scene – beside’s Scott Lang’s hilarious transformation and Peter Parker’s quips during battle, various moments break the emotional intensity of this battle and turns it into a competitive bout between teammates. However, just because Civil War has humour does not mean it cannot be serious: the final battle between Stark, Rogers and Barnes is an emotionally charged one, with Stark trying to avenge his parents while Rogers strives to defend his best friend. All parties have their reasons for fighting, and it’s a suspenseful fight, far removed from the hilarious and competition-like airport fight. In being able to balance both the serious moments, Civil War demonstrates that films can succeed in saying something interesting even if comedy is visibly present, and need not be all-serious in order to entertain viewers.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Before readers tear me a new one, I note that this post was really born of a positive response from my Twitter readers to see if I could take two prima facie completely unrelated matters and see if I can say something about how they might relate. In other words, this exercise is to see how well I can bullshit, and whether or not I’ve succeeded, I leave it to the reader to decide. It’s been a while since I’ve done a talk with screenshots from a live-action movie, and immediately, I recall why this is the case: motion blur makes it tricky to capture the best moments in stills, unlike anime, which are easier to write for. I’ve been itching to do a talk on Civil War for quite some time, having first heard that it was a fun film. This talk, however, is not a review for Civil War: I deal primarily with how humour in Civil War increases the strength of the narrative, rather than detracts from it.

  • The same holds true for Harukana Receive: I’ve long felt that people are taking the show far too seriously. Yes, there is a major character growth component, but when people, ostensibly adults with a nontrivial amount of life experience, being talking down on fictional characters, I invariably wonder what about shows like Harukana Receive (or most anything to do with Manga Time Kirara) merit rigourous analysis. I am open to hearing reasons advocating this position in the comments below.

  • My first experience with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was in 2012, with The Avengers. My first impressions were that it was a fun film, although at the time, having not seen Thor, I felt Loki’s motivations to be a little lacking. I’ve since gone back and watched all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and my appreciation for The Avengers has increased, now that I understand both Loki’s reasons for leading the Chitarui to Earth and how this sets in motion the events leading up to Infinity War.

  • 2012 also saw The Dark Knight Rises screened in theatres: Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is far removed from the comedic, colourful nature of the MCU, being much more grounded, focused on psychology and fundamental conflicts of the mind. Themes of recovery are central in the film, and while having the most outlandish narrative of the Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises still remains faithful to the atmosphere and setting of Nolan’s earlier Batman films.

  • After watching the Dark Knight trilogy and The Avengers, I decided to give Iron Man 3 a whirl and was immediately disappointed: the villians were weakly motivated, and the extremis seemed quite unrealistic. However, on my run through the MCU, which I started after watching Infinity War, my second impressions of Iron Man 3 were much more positive.

  • One recurring element I’ve come to love about the MCU is its colourful cast of superheroes: the number of films shows that the MCU is serious about giving their heroes proper exposure, and so, while the films might be enjoyable on their own, watching all of them and seeing where the different pieces come together is where the real joys are. Here, T’Challa fights Barnes on the rooftops following a pursuit: T’Challa holds Barnes responsible for his father’s death, but since the events of The Winter Soldier, Barnes has been struggling to get past his programming.

  • Because every character in the MCU has a detailed background, watching some of the films out of order mean that references to earlier films might be missed. However, one strength about the MCU is that even standalone, the films are quite enjoyable in their own right; right up until Infinity War, I had watched only a handful of the MCU films. The question of whether or not I review the others will strictly be a matter of reader choice: I’ve heard that folks prefer my anime discussions over every other kind of talk I have.

  • If this were to be a conventional review of Civil War, I would have taken additional time to explore all of the different scenes, and perhaps make a few witty quips about them in my usual manner. I would further go on to give the film a strong recommendation, because the film deals with interesting topics, has many entertaining moments that vary from keeping one on the edge of their seat, to those that are downright hilarious.

  • For the record, the only thing that was CGI in this scene was the background. The rest of it is all real, including Chris Evan’s arms. I imagine that, for some of my readers, who have grown weary of me posting various screenshots of Haruka and Kanata doing various things, from a variety of angles, on a beach volleyball court, this moment comes as a bit of a respite. Those who watched this film could not stop marveling at this moment, which has become quite iconic in its own right, to an even greater extent than what Harukana Receive has.

  • I’ve heard that Natasha Romanoff will be getting a movie of her own in 2020: this is going to be a welcome one to see, and I’m betting it will occur prior to the events of Infinity War. In The Avengers, it was stated that she was an assassin prior to working under SHIELD, and made her share of mistakes. With an interesting background and Scarlett Johansson’s excellent portrayal of Romanoff , I am excited to see where this one goes.

  • Tom Holland’s portrayal of Peter Parker in Civil War‘s presentation is the best I’ve seen; this incarnation of Parker is an energetic, excitable and naïve one, whose lack of experienced is offset by his enthusiasm and propensity to make random various jokes even mid-battle. He is so wordy that Sam Wilson asks if Peter’s ever been in a real fight before, and at the airport, manages to fight both Barnes and Wilson to a standstill.

  • So, here we are at last, the infamous airport scene, featuring #TeamCap. Shortly after Girls und Panzer Der Film came out, I supposed that it must’ve been similar to Civil War for being a bombastic summer film that was big on scale and effects even if the plot was a little lighter. At the time, I’d not seen Civil War yet, and in retrospect, Civil War offers its characters a much more substantial reason for fighting compared to Girls und Panzer Der Film: highly enjoyable the film was, repeating the notion of Ooarai closing a second time was quite jejune.

  • In the other corner is #TeamIronMan. It’s quite impressive as to how much detailed is paid to the progression of the Iron Man suits throughout the MCU: slow to don and somewhat clumsy early on, each iteration has improved to the point that by Infinity War, Stark’s suit uses nanotechnology to pull off some extraordinary feats. One of the things I’ve come to coherently spell out, through watching MCU films, is that not everything has to be entirely logical or through-provoking to be good.

  • The airport fights has some of the best humour in the MCU outside of Thor Ragnarok and the Guardians of the Galaxy films: while fighting one another, Romanoff asks Barton if they’ll still be friends after all this, to which he responds that it depends on how hard she hits him. The dynamic between Romanoff and Barton has always been a good one to watch: while lacking the superhuman abilities of their peers, both are highly trained combatants whose fights with one another are as intense as their friendship is deep.

  • The point of this post, was really to spell out that just because a show has prominent comedic elements and then switches over to a serious mood, does not mean that the comedic parts were in any way unnecessary or pointless. I’ve never really understood why darker or serious is better, especially in the context of shows like Harukana Receive: the whole point of the lighthearted moments in anime are largely to show audiences that the everyday moments are as important to personal growth as the moments doing more focused things.

  • So, by drawing the comparison between Civil War and Harukana Receive, I aim to show how despite the vast differences in themes, narrative, setting and conflicts, that both works uses humour to remind audiences that their characters are human, not wholly focused on their objectives and goals at the expense of others. Because the work itself makes this clear, then I find that it is unwise to adopt an all-serious stance as far as discussing the work goes. This is why I’ve found discussion on Kanata’s use of pokies, or whether or not high-fives occur in beach volleyball after every point, to be an utter waste of time.

  • When Lang uses the Antman suit to grow to gargantuan proportions, an irate Stark asks if anyone on his side has any abilities they’d like to make use of now. Even during such moments, the MCU reminds viewers to just accept things as they happen: Stark’s first reaction when seeing the Chitauri army in The Avengers was “seeing, still working on believing”. The whole point of fiction is to create a compelling story, and I am more than willing to accept liberties taken provided that they advance the story. With this being said, everyone may approach fiction differently.

  • When I was watching the airport fight in Civil War, I was all smiles; more than a deadly-serious battle, the mood was that of a competition of sorts. The characters constantly make use of disabling, non-lethal moves during the fight, as their goal is to impede rather than harm: the whole airport fight occurs because Stark is trying to stop Rogers from taking off and pursuing a mission of his own.

  • During the course of the battle, it is mentioned that in order to win this fight, some will have to lose. Those on Rogers’ side are buying enough time for Rogers and Barnes to fly out, choosing to stay behind. The stakes are never far from the forefront of discussion even during the airport fight, but in spite of the comedy, or perhaps because of it, the scene has quickly become my favourite: in particular, Parker’s quips during battle, ranging from his conversation with Rogers, to suggesting using a move from The Empire Strikes Back to disable Lang, served to lighten the mood considerably.

  • Anime often faithfully replicate real-world locations, and impressed viewers travel to these locations to walk the same paths as seen in their shows. The airport fight of Civil War was filmed at Germany’s Leipzig/Halle Airport, which is Germany’s thirteenth largest and handled 2.3 million passengers in 2017. Filming at the airport was a challenge; crews described going through security, getting a small section of tarmac to work with and was permitted to shut down one terminal during filming. In conjunction with solid directing and high-tech camera set ups, plus plenty of effort from actors and crews, there is no denying the results were worth it.

  • The airport fight is fun and games until Rhodes takes a hit and injures his legs in a fall, rendering him a paraplegic. The mood in Civil War shifts here to a darker one, rather similar to how Harukana Receive‘s mood becomes much more intense once Harukana face Éclair. It is actually a little surprising to be drawing parallels between Civil War and Harukana Receive, but given expectations that Harukana Receive faithfully depict beach volleyball, I feel it necessary to bring in one of the MCU’s strongest instalments as an example of why Harukana Receive should not be treated as requiring strict adherence to beach volleyball rules and mechanics of the real world.

  • Civil War was described by critics as being best suited for MCU fans, and the film’s success comes from not trying to be something it is not. This is an appropriate assessment: the motivations that drive the film might permit for interesting conversation, but at the end of the day, the film is intended to entertain, rather than instruct. This is also why Girls und Panzer Der Film ended up being so enjoyable: both Girls und Panzer Der Film and Civil War use a weak rationale to drive the conflict seen in the film, and the conflict itself ends up being captivating to watch.

  • This entire post has consisted of me saying one controversial thing after another, so I’ll add oil to the fire with the following remark: since my experiences with anime viewers who demand for intellectually stimulating series during the days of the K-On! Movie, I’ve felt that those who hold such expectations are likely those who feel a need to justify their interests to others.

  • The climatic battle of Civil War is a no-nonsense fight to the death after Stark learns of how his parents died. Furious that Rogers withheld this from him, he engages the two in a battle and abjectly refuses to stand down. Driven by pure emotion, he brawls on with the aim of avenging his parents. Against Rogers, however, he utilises a variety of non-lethal means to keep him out of the fight.

  • While somewhat disjointed if taken as a standalone film, Civil War‘s contributions in the MCU are much more substantial when considered in conjunction with the other films. By this point in time, Rogers has become much more disillusioned with regulatory systems and organisations, having seen the truth that SHIELD was really another iteration of HYDRA. No longer trusting organisations, he prefers to count on his own judgement. By comparison, Stark’s arrogant and independent mannerisms gradually give way to understanding that he is responsible for his actions and that the universe is much bigger than himself. His fear of the unknown led him to create Ultron, but when this backfired, Stark realises that it would be useful to have someone oversee them to prevent disaster.

  • Changing character traits over time is the great strength about the MCU, and over time, some of the antagonists fighting the protagonists turn around and join the Avengers. Character development is one of the main reasons why I partake in fiction: watching people learn and grow over time, and seeing the applicability towards reality is something I’ve long enjoyed.

  • Ever since The Avengers, folks have wondered what it would be like if Captain America went up against Iron Man following a buildup of tensions on board SHIELD’s heli-carrier. Civil War is the logical culmination of the conflict between the two: anger and his suits’ technological capabilities allow Stark to dictate the pace of the battle early on, but Rogers’ determination to save his friend proves stronger. As the battle wears on, Rogers gains the upper hand over Stark.

  • Helmut Zemo is the real antagonist of Civil War, seeking revenge against the Avengers for allowing his family to die during the Sokovia incident. With the Avengers in disarray, he prepares to commit suicide, but T’Challa stops him. Zemo’s motivations are quite weak and drive the events of Civil War about as well as Ooarai closing a second time, but the events of both Civil War and Girls und Panzer Der Film are well-executed and engaging. Looking back, I find that this comparison, between Civil War and Girls und Panzer, also holds true.

  • Robert Downey Jr. perfectly captures the fear going through Stark as Rogers pummels him; Rogers does not kill Stark, and Stark is fully aware of this, as well as what he’d come close to doing. With his arc reactor disabled, the fight comes to an end. Rogers and Barnes prepares to leave. The events of Civil War separate the Avengers, and by the time of Infinity War, Stark and Rogers have yet to reconcile in person, although Stark does understand the importance of Rogers and asks Bruce Banner to contact him, before going after one of Thanos’ Q-ships.

  • Barnes is later seen at a Wakandan facility undergoing de-programming. In Infinity War, he is firmly in the good guys’ camp again. Here, I apologise to readers looking for a full review of Civil War: this post cannot be considered to be a review of the movie, but rather, an exploratory piece on how the things that made Civil War enjoyable can also be applied to something like Harukana Receive. The timing of this post is deliberate, coming out ahead of the finale: there is a reason to why I’ve not expected, and will not be expecting, a more serious focus on beach volleyball and psychology from Harukana Receive.

In Harukana Receive, the stakes and environment are radically different than those of Civil War, but the presence of humour serves a similar purpose: breaking up the serious moments to humanise the characters. Harukana Receive may have beach volleyball in the foreground, but its goal is to portray matters of friendship, sportsmanship and self-discovery rather than specifics behind psychology and beach volleyball. Light-hearted moments are present in Harukana Receive because the series is about people, rather than sport, the same way that Civil War is about a disparate group of people and their conviction in opposite systems, rather than being a thriller akin to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight. Dark Knight is a fine example of a film that is very serious and humanises Bruce Wayne by forcing him to struggle with difficult decisions in his pursuit of the Joker, and while Civil War takes a very different approach towards presenting conflict, it remains successful. Similarly, Harukana Receive can tell a strong story without a focus on drama and technical detail: the more ordinary experiences that slowly help the characters mature, and the current match between Éclaire and Harukana is meant to be viewed as less of a beach volleyball match, and more of a contest of the wills, one that would hold the same emotional weight if the mode of competition were to be different. Consequently, it is quite disappointing that there is an insistence that Harukana Receive must be treated as a sports series, and subsequent discussion focuses entirely on the plausibility, mechanics and adherence to rules behind what is seen in Harukana receive. Approaching Harukana Receive as a sports series is akin to entering Civil War with the expectation that it covers themes the same way Dark Knight did will invariably leads to disappointment: at its heart, Harukana Receive is ultimately about people, rather than the sport, and the presence of comedy serves to reinforce this notion strongly, akin to how light-hearted moments humanise the characters in Civil War and strengthens the weight of their conflict to enhance the film’s impact on audiences without strictly following the all-serious approach seen in the equally thought-provoking and thrilling Dark Knight.

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.