The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Japanese Animation

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

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

―Thanos and Doctor Strange, Avengers: Infinity War

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avengers: Infinity War

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshots and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Already Friends: Harukana Receive Episode Seven Impressions and Review

“All right, kid, you’re an Avenger now.” —Tony Stark to Peter Parker, Avengers: Infinity War

Akari Ōshiro speaks with Kanata, expressing an interest to bolster her renown by becoming a beach volleyball idol. However, when she fails to recruit Claire or Emily into becoming her partner, she decides not to join the beach volleyball club. Leaving hastily, Akari leaves her bag behind; Haruka and Kanata make to return the bag, and running into Akari’s classmates, learns that Akari is a minor celebrity of sorts, having appeared in televised commercials previously, and does not have any friends. They decide to befriend her, and during lunch, Haruka and Kanata manage to convince her to partake in a contest where, if Akari should lose, she will join the beach volleyball club. Their match is simple: Akari must score a single point against Kanata in seven spikes. However, Kanata reads each of Akari’s moves, and all thoughts of the outcome forgotten, Akari persists on. As evening sets in, Akari admits defeat, and Claire gratefully receives Akari’s completed application form. When speaking with Haruka and Kanata, Akari is happy to have befriended the pair and expresses that she’s enjoying her time spent with them. Later, the girls run into Marissa, Claire and Emily’s mother, setting up the court. With the seventh episode in the books, Harukana Receive resolves the mystery of who Akari is: she’s not a coach, or a senior, but rather, a minor celebrity with a love of performance and, similar to A Place Further Than The Universe‘s Yuzuki Shiraishi, has an entertainment background. Her addition into Harukana Receive initially seems to be for the purpose of rounding out the beach volleyball club, but the episode shows that her tsundere personality also adds new dynamics into the club, which had hitherto been composed of two pairs of individuals that get along quite well.

In this week’s Harukana Receive episode, beach volleyball takes a backseat to character development: whereas the previous two episodes were high-excitement that drew in viewers for the sport, this seventh episode slows the pacing down and spends time introducing a new character, Akari, who had previously appeared in the background. Her role is established to be a first year with an interest in beach volleyball for glory, and while her match with Kanata shows that she’s a novice in beach volleyball, her experience in entertainment looks to make her a bit of a manager for the club. Haruka outright remarks that this is the case, and while her character seems quite unnecessary, many slice-of-life series seem to feature five characters. The reason for this is precisely because with four individuals, the two pairs often share sufficiently compatible personalities that allow them to get along with one another. This creates an equilibrium that would be quite uninteresting to watch as a series progresses: the strength of fiction lies in disruption, specifically, the series of events that follow disruption, and as such, a fifth character, whose personality stands out from the other characters, adds panache to group dynamics. Much like how Karen Kujō of Kiniro Mosaic and Cocoa Hoto of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? are considered to be “disturbers of the peace”, Akari appears to be fulfilling that role for Harukana Receive. At five characters for shows like Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? and Kiniro Mosaic, the odd individual out has a very versatile role in creating new interactions with existing members of a group. Akari stands out with her fixation on idols and tsundere personality, so the status quo of Haruka, Kanata, Claire and Emily training together for the Valkyrie Cup tournament is now disrupted as a new group member enters the party, and so, while Akari’s presence appears extraneous now, it will be interesting to see what sort of role she plays in upcoming episodes of Harukana Receive.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’m coming out of a longer workday (eight-thirty start, finished officially at seven at night), which is why this post is going to be a little shorter than average – the episode opened with a very Wake Up, Girls!-like performance, complete with subpar CGI effects, although this moment is short-lived, giving way to the revelation that it’s a part of Akari Ōshiro’s imagination. As it turns out, she’s not a coach or scout, but is a first-year student with acting experience, having appeared in a television commercial. Here, she speaks with Kanata about her desire to become more popular by excelling in beach volleyball.

  • There has been a deficit of Claire screenshots around here as of late, so I’ll rectify this with a still of Claire massaging her leg after overextending it during stretches; she had previously seen Kanata with Akari and in a fit of surprises, stretches a bit too far. With this close up, it is shown that Claire wears her watch on her right arm (and so does Emily) – most people who wear their watches on their right hand are left-handed, but I appear to be the exception. It’s actually a bit of a bad habit that stems from primary school, where I found it cool. The watch does not particularly impede my ability to write, and so, I stuck with it; in present day, I feel very uncomfortable wearing a watch on my left hand despite being right-handed and find it difficult to put a watch on if it’s on my left hand.

  • As it turns out, Akari is here to join the beach volleyball club, having seen what Claire, Emily, Ayasa and Narumi can do on the courts (and the subsequent media coverage they’ve been getting). Because she’s looking for what amounts to a shortcut to the top, she asks one of Emily or Claire to be her partner, but both turn her down: for all of their differences, Claire and Emily greatly respect one another as partners and trust the other enough so that they perform their best when together. The closeness between two members of a pair are a core component of Harukana Receive, and as such, it should not be surprising that members in a pair are adamant about playing with the partner that they know best.

  • The importance of teamwork is essential in all walks of life, and there are very few occupations or disciplines where teamwork is not required. The pair is the most basic unit of cooperation, bringing back memories of my old multi-agent systems course: in a multi-agent system, cooperation is tightly defined as the break down and assignment of tasks in an organisation (really, a group of agents), as well as the reassembly of tasks into a result or solution. Such formalised definitions can be generalised to almost anything, even beach volleyball: both players (the agents) break down their tasks (offense and defense, to abstract things out) and cooperate with the goal of scoring points (the solution).

  • Of course, since this is not a post on multi-agent systems, I’ll leave the definitions at that and return to Harukana Receive, where a disappointed Akari runs off, leaving Claire disappointed in equal measure – having long felt that the beach volleyball club can be revived purely on her and Emily’s performance, Claire strives to bring the club back even as Emily disagrees, maintaining that rules are rules.

  • While trying to find Akari such that they may return her bag, Kanata and Haruka run into classmates, who reveal that Akari is a minor celebrity best known for her role in a waku waku shekazāru (わくわくシェカザール, lit. “exciting shequasar”) commercial for a citrus drink. As it turns out, Akari and Yuzuki of A Place Further Than The Universe are not so different, being involved in acting and performances that they’ve not made many friends. Like Komari, Hinata and Shirase do for Yuzuki, Haruka and Kanata take the first steps in breaking the ice with Akari. If we suppose that A Place Further Than The Universe sets the precedence, then what will follow is a powerful friendship.

  • Haruka becomes mildly irritated that Kanata’s bringing up Narumi, expressing it as an annoyance one might encounter whenever conversation is steered towards an ex, and proceeds to blow in Kanata’s ear, resulting in Kanata’s first funny face in the series (mirroring Haruka’s earlier squeal when touched in the sides). Interpretations of the action vary greatly (some count it as being used to ask a favour, for example), but the commonly accepted interpretation of this action paints it as a flirtatious one because of the ears’ sensitivity to touch. I can’t think of any reasons why this characteristic exists from an evolutionary standpoint, but the fact is that there are many nerve endings here – flow of the air from vents over the ears, for example, causes a chill in me and I shiver involuntarily as a result.

  • The synchronous nature of Haruka and Kanata’s actions indicate how close they’ve become since Harukana Receive started, and here, they try to persuade a reluctant Akari to become friends. The play of lighting in this scene, although simple, is clever and effective; it shows Akari in the darkness, and Haruka and Kanata in the light, reflecting on how Akari is alone and knows not the warmth of friendship. After Haruka and Kanata manage to provoke Akari into a competition (with Kanata using her short height to anger Akari), the pair leave.

  • Evidently concerned about her skin, Akari puts on a copious amount of sunscreen. Despite appearing to fill out her swimsuit bottom well enough to avoid running into the same issue that plagued Haruka earlier, Akari’s swimsuit does not conform with the suggestion Emily offered to Haruka earlier about swimsuit selection – it would be hard to pin a number to her for competition because of the frills. This is an indicator that Akari likely will not be participating in beach volleyball in a competitive capacity. I also turn to folks more versed with fashion design and the like to explain what the point of the garter on Akari’s left thigh is about.

  • It is a bit of a surprise to look at the calendar and realise that we’ve just passed the halfway point to August: the entire month has been running by at a quick pace, and so, while I find that Harukana Receive might have lost an episode to exposition in place of seeing Haruka and Kanata train more seriously ahead of the Valkyrie Cup tournament, a part of me is also glad that we’ve gotten a bit of a break in things, to slow things down in an episode where there is nothing at stake beyond the possibility for Claire to reform the beach volleyball club.

  • Claire and Haruka act as referees to this match, where it pits Kanata in a one-on-one against Akari. The emotional tenour of the moment is such that one cannot help but wonder if Akari’s got any tricks up her sleeves (from a strictly metaphorical sense, of course). Emily outlines the rules for this competition: if Akari can score on one of seven spikes, she’ll have won, otherwise, she will agree to join the beach volleyball club as stipulated earlier. I personally find a world where conflicts were settled with sports, rather than bullets, would be much preferred.

  • It soon becomes clear that Akari is a n00b, and many of her spikes result in her putting the ball out, or hitting the net. Kanata calmly and methodically plays, reading Akari well enough to wait out poor shots and stopping the shots that go over without much effort. Claire remarks that Kanata once trained with the best, and that here, Akari’s own inexperience is the reason for the outcome as much as Kanata’s skill is. In spite of this, Akari is undeterred and decides to keep going well beyond the allotted seven attempts until exhaustion sets in.

  • When one trains in something or has worked with something for a long period of time, they often forget how far they’ve come over that time period, and what was once a struggle at the beginning now appears trivally straightforward. This is the gap between a beginner and a veteran: constantly working on and using fundamentals means that things that beginners must consciously remember come instinctively to people who are more experienced. However, there is a flipside in that bad habits can also accompany reflex; it is this reason that in my dōjō, we drill on basic techniques to make sure that the fundamentals are in good shape, and why teaching is encouraged, as it forces one to really think about what they are doing. The same holds true in software development: in providing instructions to beginners, I am forced to consider why I write code and organise my programs the way that I do.

  • It is rare that Emily smiles, so I’ve figured that it would be a good opportunity to expend one of my screenshots to showcase such a moment. While I may take exception to the opening of this episode and the low-quality animation that C2C had utilised here, the remainder of Harukana Receive‘s seventh episode is of the same visual fidelity as the other episodes in the season. C2C was established in 2006 and has a total of seven works under its belt, including Harukana Receive. Four of C2C’s titles were co-produced with another studio, and Harukana Receive is the first time C2C has produced a series on their own since 2014’s Onee-chan ga Kita (which looks to be outside the realm of my interest and is something readers will have to work to convince me to check out).

  • In series such as Harukana Receive, animosities and ill-will is very quickly displaced with friendship and camaraderie; even the cold and aloof Akari is not immune to this, and she admits to Haruka that she enjoyed their afternoon. Akari’s well-proportioned, and although her aspirations to play beach volleyball in a competitive manner appear to wrap up here, one hopes that we will get to see her train alongside Haruka and the others.

  • In accepting Haruka’s invitation of friendship and joining the beach volleyball club officially, Akari formally becomes a member of the main cast, and with this episode, everyone is now introduced. This is what motivates the page quote, which is sourced from Avengers: Infinity War, when Tony Stark officially marks Peter Parker as a member of the Avengers after he helps defeat the Maw using a trick from Alien. Similarly, Akari is now formally a member of the beach volleyball club, and at this point, I do not expect there to be any more new characters in the foreseeable future, meaning that focus can go towards depicting both the journey to the Valkyrie Cup and the various (mis)adventures that Haruka, Kanata, Claire, Emily and Akari find themselves in on this journey.

  • Claire’s ability to conjure up an application form to the beach volleyball club out of nowhere is a bit of a running joke in this episode of Harukana Receive, and while perhaps nowhere near as hilarious as Rocket Raccoon’s propensity to collect random body parts, such as some random guy’s eye from Contraxia, or Drax The Destroyer’s various jokes, the presence of humour in Harukana Receive is ultimately meant to remind viewers that life is a balance between the serious and light-hearted. In the week after Ai and Mai were defeated, and then Haruka and Kanata lost in their second round, the all-business conversation surrounding Kanata’s pokies evaporated.

  • So, with Akari opening up to Haruka and Kanata, Akari’s introduction to Harukana Receive is finished. I feel that with her background and aspirations to be an idol, she feels out of place in something like Harukana Receive, but ultimately, like every slice-of-life anime featuring five main characters, characters are present for a reason, and so, it would be unwise to quickly dismiss Akari’s role in the beach volleyball club. In this case, one wonders what Akari will do as manager for the team.

  • Claire’s stock for me has risen rapidly, and I would count her as tied with Haruka as my favourite character in Harukana Receive at the time of writing now. She’s shown to be a bold, “flaunt it if you got it” type of person, standing in even sharper contrast with the more conservative and reserved Emily here as the girls are out and about on Okinawa.

  • At episode’s end, Marissa shows up, to Emily and Claire’s surprise. It would appear, then, that the training is about to get real next week, which means that in my quest to feature random, irreverant quotes for Harukana Receive, I might go with lyrics from a training montage song of some sort for that particular talk. Here I note that I am going to be unavoidably delayed in getting out a talk for the eighth episode on account of work-related matters. As I have done previously, I will make an effort to get that post out for the Sunday instead.

I imagine that by this point in time, all of the major characters that need to be introduced are finally present: this is somewhat unusual, since most slice-of-life anime introduce all of their characters by the third episode so that their dynamics can be utilised to drive the narrative forward. In Harukana Receive, however, it’s taken seven episodes to fully assemble Urama High School’s beach volleyball team. The outcome might be the same, that there’s a cast of five central characters, but the different route in Harukana Receive shows is intentionally so: this has allowed Harukana Receive to focus on the pairs in beach volleyball, in particular, Haruka and Kanata, whose time together has allowed Haruka to continue discovering her joy for the sport and for Kanata to regain confidence. This latest episode is particularly telling in that Haruka remarks that the best way to get to know someone is to play a sport with them, and that she’s had fun each and every time. It takes different people to bring out one’s best, and as Harukana Receive continues on, it is expected that with Marissa’s appearance, Haruka and Kanata will get to know one another better as players, friends and cousins when they are put through their paces by one of the best beach volleyball trainers around.