The Infinite Zenith

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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 Campaign Cinematic Trailer

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” and leave it at that, but it has never been my modus operandi to go with partial answers, for which I typically do not award credit for.

The question of what Harukana Receive is about is a very direct one: 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Battlefield V: A Reflection on the Open Beta

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” —Winston Churchill

While Battlefield V may have been hampered by a sub-optimal marketing campaign, its biggest selling point lies within gameplay. The closed alpha was a fantastic opportunity to see how the new weapon mechanics and gameplay elements, such as attrition and squad play, functioned, although Battlefield V itself was evidently still in development at that stage; various bugs, such as being unable to spawn, falling through the map, being unable to change squads and performance issues were prevalent. As well, many features simply were not present in the build: the game’s progression and customisation system was a no-show in the alpha, for instance. By the time of the open beta two months later, Battlefield V has come a long way — the game handles very smoothly, and the stutter I experienced in the alpha, especially when being revived or spawning onto teammates, had been rectified. The classes have also undergone some changes, with the assault being assigned longer-range weapons for medium range, precise combat, and the medic class gaining access to submachine guns to fit their role as close-quarters support for squad members. Each class also gains a unique ability: assault players regenerate health faster, medic players can revive any teammate faster than squad members can revive squad mates, support players can build heavier fortifications, and recon players can run faster when damaged. The emphasis on unique class roles is carried over from Battlefield 1 — in conjunction with the fortifications and attrition elements, Battlefield V handles quite differently than its predecessors, forcing players to be even more mindful of their surroundings than in previous instalments of Battlefield. While these new elements seem quite daunting, they are woven into Battlefield V neatly, and ultimately, offer a new way to experience Battlefield, bringing tactical elements into the game and encouraging players to explore their environments in more detail than before.

At the end of the day, however, Battlefield V is a first person shooter, and as such, focus remains predominantly on the weapons and their handling. Battlefield 1 was frustrating with its random bullet deviation, which reduced the potency of skill in a firefight; players with sure aim and mastery of their weapon could still occasionally miss shots from this, and the time to kill was also quite lengthy. Battlefield V‘s closed alpha had a Battlefield 4-era TTK, allowing skilled players to drop enemies exceptionally quickly, and with some weapons lacking recoil and the insufficient damage indicators, meant firefights were somewhat frustrating if one did not get the drop on their opponents. By the open beta, it seems DICE has gone with a balance between the two extremes: TTKs are faster and more satisfying than those of Battlefield 1, but slower than the closed alpha’s allowing players to duck out and escape fire if they chose to. The open beta continues to show that Battlefield V is a game of methodical team play — my best games were experienced by moving together with my squad and picking my engagements. I had no trouble topping the scoreboards and maintaining a positive KD ratio when I played this way. By comparison, in games where I became impatient to try out a newly-unlocked gun, I was slaughtered. If Battlefield V intended its players to cooperate and master its mechanics over aggressively charging into a scenario and counting on no-scopes to win the day, it has certainly succeeded in doing so. While the open beta proved quite enjoyable, the insight it provides into Battlefield V‘s progression system leaves much to be desired. Battlefield 3 and 4 had a solid system, unlocking new weapons, gadgets, attachments and weapon camouflages. Different weapons, gadgets and attachments allow players to very precisely pick their play style, giving a sense of immersion. This disappeared in Battlefield 1, and while Battlefield V‘s progression system does incentivise players to advance their classes and weapons, the decision to split weapon customisation into cosmetic and functional aspects does not make sense. In particular, that weapons have a progression tree that continue to improve the weapon’s performance does not make sense: once one unlocks all of the upgrades, their weapon will be outright superior to the player who is using that weapon for the first time. By comparison, Battlefield 3 and 4 introduced the notion of side-grades, where every attachment offered a benefit in exchange for a disadvantage. A heavy barrel might improve weapon damage at range at the expense of hip-fire accuracy, and a compensator can help some unruly weapons with horizontal accuracy, but increase muzzle flash and make a player more visible. It meant tuning a weapon was an involved and fun task, and this is something that I miss from the earlier Battlefield titles. Similarly, with the archetypes still absent, one must wonder what roles they’ll play in the full game.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s been a shade more than two years ago when the Battlefield 1 open beta ended, and I ended up with two separate posts detailing my experiences. At the time, I remarked that I would buy Battlefield 1 if it ended up with a solid launch, and two years later, with 195 hours spent in the game, I feel that the open beta proved to be a valuable contributor in helping me decide whether the game was for me or not. At present, the open beta for Battlefield V has concluded, and while there are many factors that need improvement, overall, my experience was a very solid one.

  • There are a total of forty screenshots in this post, and while it has been past tradition for me to open with me scoring a melee kill, the gunplay in Battlefield V is superb. When I spawned into my first match on Rotterdam, however, most of the combat was actually opposite to where I was, so I found myself exploring the map and trying to get to one of the capture points before dying to an assault player from around the corner. I subsequently hopped into a Panzer IV and shelled enemies trying to capture the train station.

  • The Panzer IV is likely in its Ausf. D form, and with its upgrade tree, I imagine that there should be no trouble in giving it the equipment needed to make it resemble the Ausf. F2 that Miho and her friends operate. Vehicle gameplay in Battlefield V is more skill-based than its previous counterparts: tank turrets are slower to rotate and have some inertia to them, meaning that one cannot simply look and immediately begin firing at enemies: the turret has to “catch up” to where one is looking before one’s shots begin landing.

  • Battlefield V‘s sniping mechanics are a return to the days of Battlefield 4 and 3, where center-mass shots were unable to kill in one shot at any range. Emphasis is returned to headshots, and sniper rifles again have different handling characteristics, whereas in Battlefield 1, bolt action rifles were largely differentiated by their sweet spot ranges and bullet speeds. The open beta starts recon players with the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I, which has a ten-round capacity, a lower bullet velocity and a quicker firing rate compared to the Karabiner 98.

  • The medic class got the least use during my time in the open beta: I only reached rank two with the medic. While medics no longer carry a syringe gadget and thus, have a slot free for another gadget. I’m not sure if it was a bug or not, but I found myself resupplying teammates with the medic’s bandage pouches. This could simply be a UI error, although the absence of a dedicated syringe tool took some getting used to.

  • We’ve still yet to see all of the available weapons for Battlefield V, and I’m still hoping that the iconic MG42 will be available as an infantry-portable weapon for the support class. This would allow me to emulate the Karlsland Witch loadout: the weapon was infamous for its high firing rate and was nicknamed “Hitler’s Buzzsaw” for the distinct sound it made. On top of this, the weapon was incredibly reliable and had a quick-change barrel. With all of the sophisticated, detailed animations in Battlefield V, I would not be surprised if overheating an MG42 would result in the player manually replacing the barrel, which could be an innovative way to offset its high firing rate.

  • Having tried them with a greater frequency, I feel that reinforcements replace Battlefield 1‘s behemoths. This is quite welcome, since it means that players contributing to their team will have a chance to further assist with resupplies and powerful weaponry, but without needing to be on a losing team. The Sturmtiger was one of the reinforcements available to the German forces in the beta and the vehicle itself was originally intended for infantry support. I went on a short killstreak with it before getting over confident, driving it to point B and then watching as other players smashed the Sturmtiger with Panzerfausts after I got stuck.

  • Returning to Narvik, the dialed-back particle effects are noticeable, and the map looks a lot clearer now. Here, I take Darjeeling’s tank of choice, the Churchill Mk. VII, for a spin and blast enemies for a double kill. Because of turret inertia, limited ammunition and the presence of effective anti-tank weapons, tanks are no longer invincible monstrosities: I vividly recall Battlefield 1‘s FT-17 during the open beta, which was so overpowered that I went on a 21-streak with it. By comparison, the best kill-streak I’ve been on during this open beta was a more modest 9 with the Valentine Mk. III, and my Battlefield 1 record is a 13-streak.

  • Bolt-action rifles have taken a major reduction in effectiveness with center mass shots to the point where a body shot at range does around 55 damage (and 70 in close quarters). This is taking it a little far: raising their maximum damage to around 80-90, as per Battlefield 4 and having it trail out to 60 past 100 metres would make the rifles more powerful without decreasing the value of headshots. When headshots do connect with bolt-action rifles in Battlefield V, however, the results are incredibly satisfying.

  • It took me a little while to warm up to the progression system; weapons no longer need a currency to buy and unlock automatically once a class rank is reached. I immediately purchased the Gewehr 43 again and put the medium optics on it, as this configuration served me particularly well during the closed alpha. In fact, it was a little too effective, and for the beta, its vertical recoil was increased. Damage was also reduced slightly, but the weapon remains exceptionally effective.

  • A good set of optics on the Gewehr 43, and a healthy sense of caution means that with it, one can do very well at medium ranges. The trick is not to spam fire, and instead, place one’s shots more carefully. The skill ceiling for the Gewehr 43 makes the weapon a powerful all-around weapon, but during the beta, I saw many folks continue to run around with the StG 44, which has more recoil but otherwise remains superbly effective.

  • The support class was easily the weakest in Battlefield 1, but in Battlefield V, their machine guns gain the ability to penetrate soft cover like wood, and overall, the weapons are much more reliable at medium ranges. Playing support at close range is not viable like it was in Battlefield 3 and 4, where I ran around with the M249 and hip-fired like a madman, but with high accuracy at those medium ranges, one can consistently hit more distant targets than was possible with the LMGs from Battlefield 1.

  • My performance in Battlefield V has been consistently good from a KD perspective: in most Battlefield games, my lack of patience is the cause behind most of my deaths, and is only offset by the fact that I am very focused on objectives and team-oriented tasks, which earn enough points so that I can reach close to the top of the scoreboard despite a smaller number of kills. However, for Battlefield V, the attrition mechanics, and the advantages of a more cautious play-style means I adopt a defense-drive strategy, sticking around and fortifying a capture point until teammates arrive, and then capturing new points only with help.

  • The class-specific ranks return from Battlefield 1 and 3: in Battlefield V, class ranks unlock weapons, whereas in Battlefield 4, using a weapon class unlocked weapons. This system was a minor gripe I had with Battlefield 4, since it meant that weapon classes I rarely used, such as the marksman rifles, would be more difficult to unlock. By comparison, Battlefield 3 tied weapon unlocks with class usage, making it relatively simple to earn new weapons.

  • Ribbons in Battlefield V are still a bit of a mystery to me: while they must work similarly to how ribbons worked in previous Battlefield games, the criteria for unlocking them are not yet known. Here, I earn one ribbon for capturing points on Rotterdam, a map that is considered to be the Amiens of Battlefield V: an urban location with narrow streets, courtyards, a harbour and a rail bridge, it offers a bit of everything in terms of combat environments and each class is useful in its own right in different parts of the map.

  • After unlocking the Bren gun, I immediately gravitated towards it. Compared to the closed alpha, the Bren in the open beta has less recoil. While hitting for less damage per shot, its strength is accuracy, making it a solid weapon at medium ranges. Its main detriment is a lower firing rate, making it quite unsuitable for close quarters combat: during pinches where I encountered a medic or assault player up close, their Sten gun or StGs melted me after I got a few shots off.

  • Of course, against unsuspecting enemies at close range, the Bren is quite powerful, and inspection of my screenshots show that I am running with the AA sights. These unobtrusive sights make it much easier to aim the weapon at medium ranges, and a major benefit of a World War Two setting is that more weapon accessories can be used. There is a better selection of sights in the game that make it much easier to use many weapons; one of my weak points in Battlefield 1 was that I was ineffective with iron sights and so, I tend to avoid iron-sight weapons.

  • Bullet drop is much more noticeable in Battlefield V than it was in Battlefield 1: at ranges past 80 metres, one must begin compensating for gravity to land headshots on distant foes. Besides more pronounced bullet drop, the recon class of Battlefield V is also strongly affected by changes to the game mechanics. Spotting has been modified so that only the recon can spot enemies on the mini-map with their binoculars and flares. This increases their value in providing reconnaissance to their team. 3D-spotting is also absent, forcing players to visually recognise enemy soldiers.

  • Planes were left with a severe disadvantage with the changes in spotting, and while they’ve been given additional equipment to spot players on the ground for longer periods, other players have remarked that planes were much less effective. I had the chance to fly for a short period before going out of bounds and exploding for deserting: the planes handle more smoothly than they did in the alpha, but the small number of planes in the sky means dogfights are rare, and while I never tried for myself, strafing ground targets is also tricky. By comparison, tanks are very effective and enjoyable to use: here, I shell an enemy while trying to capture D point.

  • The FG-42 is a new addition to Battlefield V, being a high rounds-per-minute automatic rifle with a correspondingly high damage output and smaller magazine capacity. It is functionally similar to a battle rifle and in World War Two, was a limited production weapon intended for use by the Fallschirmjäger airborne infantry. Highly advanced for its time, the FG-42’s gas-operated mechanics influenced the systems used in the American M60.

  • German weapons of World War Two were among the most sophisticated in the world, and many of their elements made their way into modern weapon systems. The StG 44 is one of the most notable examples: the notion of firing intermediate cartridges in automatic combined the range of a rifle with the close-quarters efficacy of a submachine gun, and the StG 44 directly influenced the Avtomat Kalashnikova line of rifles, whose family and its derivatives have become the most widely-produced assault rifle in the world.

  • Without the blowing snow on Narvik, the map has a much cleaner feel to it and is reminiscent of some of Battlefield 1‘s In The Name of The Tsar maps. Volga River and Brusilov Keep were particularly enjoyable, and I became familiar enough with both maps to excel with all classes. This is my own metric for what makes a map fun: a well-designed map will allow all classes to be effective on it, featuring enough choke points, narrow corridors and open spaces so that players can choose their engagements and move in a more tactical manner to reach their destinations without a single class being dominant over others.

  • In both Battlefield V maps during the open beta, the only class I struggled with was the medic class and its submachine guns. Traditionally, I excel with these hip fire machines: PDWs were among my favourite weapons to run in Battlefield 3 and 4, and in Battlefield 1, submachine guns dominate my list of most-used weapons alongside the bolt-action rifles. For some reason, Battlefield V‘s submachine guns were not as effective in my hands, and this is probably because I became accustomed to playing at longer ranges.

  • We’re very nearly halfway into September by this point in time, and readers will have noted that I’ve got very few posts out. Besides a single post for Harukana Receive, and now, this post on Battlefield V, this blog’s been remarkably quiet. The reason for this is because circumstances in real life have led me to prioritise other things over blogging for the moment. For the first week of this month, I was in Winnipeg, Manitoba on work-related matters.

  • The work itself was quite challenging, but not from a technical perspective; every day left me exhausted. Even after I returned home, I’ve still been putting in non-standard hours and working on weekends in a bid to try and finish my assignment, and the end result of this is that I’ve been much more tired and dejected of late. Being of this mindset is certainly not conducive towards writing good blog posts, and I made an exception for Battlefield V‘s open beta because it was a welcome and enjoyable escape. While in Winnipeg, I was carrying my MacBook Pro; while a reliable and capable machine, it’s not capable of playing the shooters I typically partake in.

  • When things get challenging, I cope by breaking things down and taking everything one step at a time, as well as setting milestones to look forwards to. In Winnipeg, a good meal at the end of the day was that milestone. I am striving to conclude this project to the best of my ability and hope that there will be a bit of a breather before I return to my current work. Back in Battlefield V‘s open beta, towards the end, I figured out where weapon attachments could be added and so, put one of the sights on the StG 44. The result was a fun boost in performance that included a neat double kill here.

  • Having good sights is the difference between night and day, making it much easier to track targets. Of all the cosmetic changes, sights are the one that are worth looking into, since they directly affect one’s performance by helping improve visibility. Insofar, I’ve not seen anything to suggest that Battlefield V will have side grade style weapon attachments that positively impact performance in one area at the cost of another. The weapon tree gives weapons straight upgrades, which leaves players at a disadvantage.

  • Of course, with DICE pushing back the release date to November 20, there remains time to tune some concepts and features, so my final verdict on whether or not I’ll get the game will be made once I learn more about the final product. On the topic of release dates, Metro Exodus will be releasing in February 22, 2019, and DOOM: Eternal will be releasing somewhere in 2019. The Divison 2 will release on March 15, 2019, and there could be an open beta to try the game out come February 2019, as well.

  • Here, I wield the M1A1 carbine, which is a fast-firing semi-automatic rifle that deals less damage than the Gewehr 43 and is better suited for close quarters engagements than long range. It’s a bit of a fun weapon to use, and the high firing rate means it is more forgiving of missed shots in close range. In a few screenshots earlier, I fielded the ZH-29, a self-loading rifle that functions as a designated marksman rifle and can kill with two shots. This weapon is better suited for snipers who prefer a more aggressive role in capturing objectives and pushing alongside teammates, although it can hold its own in longer range engagements, as well.

  • The M1A1 is a variation of the M1 Carbine used by paratroopers and has a folding stock, and despite its designation, is unrelated to the famous M1 Garand. The M1 Garand is an iconic American service rifle widely used in World War Two, replacing the bolt-action M1903 in 1930 and used until the M14 was issued. With an eight-round clip, the weapon has a distinct pinging sound when the clip is ejected. Commonly portrayed in World War Two games, it would be quite surprising not to see this weapon in Battlefield V, and I am curious to see what DICE’s sound and animation engineers did for the weapon.

  • For me, the politics surrounding a video game do not have any influence on whether or not I will buy the game or enjoy it. While I consider myself moderately current with events around me, I feel that the various culture wars on the internet are not meritorious of consideration: life is much too short for one to be worried about taking sides in things that ultimately amount to nothing. The point of video games (and other forms of entertainment that often are scrutinised in culture wars) is to help folks relax, and so, I find that the worth of a game (and entertainment in general) is judged in how well it can help its audience relax and escape.

  • As a consequence, all of the debate surrounding the presence of female soldiers in Battlefield and unusual, steampunk-style customisations ends up being a waste of time. The merit of a game lies in how well it handles and whether or not it offers incentive to return. With this being said, I am of the mind that Battlefield V‘s marketing campaign was quite weak: Battlefield 1 managed to make me excited about the World War One setting, and a powerful campaign trailer ultimately helped make the decision to buy the game an easy one. Released on September 27, 2016, the trailer created a sense of respect and admiration for those who gave their lives in World War One.

  • The campaign trailer for Battlefield 1 was set to Really Slow Motion’s “Sun and Stars”, and with the end of September approaching, I am curious to see what kind of trailer Battlefield V has for its campaign. On the whole, Battlefield V‘s reveal trailer was the weakest, and newer trailers do create some excitement in the game for me. However, for most, first impressions matter, and DICE’s marketing team has struggled to recapture interest in the game following its disastrous reveal trailer.

  • Here, I call in the Allied equivalent of the Sturmtiger: this is the Churchill Crocodile, a heavy flame tank that featured a flamethrower in addition to its QF 75mm main gun. In Battlefield V, the flamethrower has a shorter range than the original tank’s 110m, and it is operated by a passenger. When I first called one in, it was moments away from the end of a losing game, and no one bothered to sit in the tank, but I managed to score some kills with it.

  • As far as major bugs go, Battlefield V still has an issue where the game may occasionally treat players as alive when they’re killed, and on one instance, I was unable to spawn back in, forcing me to quite and re-join the server. Beyond this, my experiences have been very smooth, and even on my computer, which is five-and-a-half years old now, the game still runs very well.

  • While sitting in the front gunner’s seat in a Tiger I tank, I somehow managed to blow up a light vehicle with the machine gun. While drivers are constrained by ammunition, secondary gunners have unlimited ammunition, making them powerful support for tank drivers: an observant secondary gunner can provide some covering fire for a driver while they are reloading or capturing a point.

  • Like the Battlefield 1 open beta, my best kill-streak was accomplished in the driver’s seat of a tank: it was the FT-17 in Battlefield 1, and in Battlefield V, it’s the Valentine Mk. VIII, an infantry tank that proved durable and reliable. The Mk VIII variant has a six-pounder, and in Battlefield V, it is quite manoeuvrable: I had no trouble in dispatching players who had flanked my tank with the aim of placing dynamite or AT mines, although the enemy team eventually brought Panzerfausts to the party, ending my streak at nine.

  • Towards the end of the game, I scored enough points to call in another Crocodile and single-handedly captured point B. I called in one V-1 rocket during one of my early matches to help clear a point on Rotterdam, but the close quarters environments and buildings make the V-1 (or the Allied counterpart, the JB-2) less effective than in the open spaces of Narvik. This brings my Battlefield V open beta post to a close: altogether, I spent around nine-and-a-half hours in the open beta and tried out many of the features. I did miss out on unlocking the M30 Drilling, a triple-barrel weapon with two shotgun barrels and one barrel for a rifle round. Overall, the beta was enjoyable, more so than Battlefield 1‘s, and if the launch is smooth, I may consider buying Battlefield V. For the near future, however, I will be returning my focus to anime, and the next post will be on Harukana Receive‘s penultimate episode this Friday.

While a step in the right direction, and being exciting for shaking up the way Battlefield plays, Battlefield V is still rough around the edges at present. The progression system is not as meaningful as it was in Battlefield 4 or 3, and some mechanics remain unimplemented even in this beta build (noticeably, the ability to drag downed teammates to a safer location before reviving them). It is unsurprising, then, that DICE has pushed back the release date for Battlefield V to November 20. This was a solid move on their part, as the extra time allows them to release a more polished, finished product over a broken one. From the open beta, there is much that needs to be improved on: besides a baffling progression system, the UI also needs improvement. Text is sometimes invisible, contrast is jarring in places, and the flash for earning an award or unlock is so bright that it can block out what I’m trying to shoot at. Time will tell whether or not Battlefield V will address these problems and put a rocky reveal beyond it: the gameplay itself is quite solid, and the World War Two setting has already provided many exciting possibilities for settings that could be explored. I’ve already spent many a match running the Miho Nishizumi and Darjeeling loadouts, as well as running around with Perrine’s Bren gun; it will be quite interesting to see what directions Battlefield V takes, and if the open beta was any indicator, the hit detection and performance does not seem to be an issue. Battlefield 4‘s launch was terrible, and it took a year for the game to stablise to the point where players deeply enjoyed it. If Battlefield V has a solid launch, with the ongoing release of content through the Tides of War, I imagine that there would be enough new content to enjoy that would make the price of admissions worthwhile, and that over time, I could acclimatise to the new progression system, even if it is not as sophisticated as the one I’ve come to enjoy in Battlefield 4 and 3. I’ve never been one to pre-order games, but as I did with Battlefield 1, my decision to pick up the game will be motivated largely by what I hear of its performance and gameplay post-launch — a Battlefield V that features solid gun-play and stable netcode will be one that I would be willing to shell out the full price for, as I am quite sure that I will get used to the new mechanics quite quickly and begin enjoying what is the closest we’ve ever had of a proper Strike Witches/Girls und Panzer game in the Frostbite Engine.

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.