Harukana Receive – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Oozora Haruka is a high school second-year who’s just moved to Okinawa. Haruka is generally cheerful and optimistic, but there’s one thing she feels insecure about: she’s taller than most other girls. Higa Kanata, her cousin of the same age who meets her at the airport, also has one hang-up: she had to quit her beloved beach volleyball in the past because she was too short. Through some twist of fate, these mismatched cousins find themselves paired up as a beach volleyball team. How will this duo play together in a sport where the presence of one’s teammate is more important than anything?! (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Harukana Receive is the next entry in a sudden burst of female focused sports anime. Airing in the same season as Hanebado!, an anime focused on girl’s Badminton, Harukana takes a decidedly different approach. While Hanebado! has received a mixed reception due to its hardline atmosphere of teen melodrama, Harukana Receive keeps things light and fluffy.
Linny: It’s impressive and noteworthy that despite featuring beach volleyball as its main theme, Harukana Receive keeps things extremely tame and matter of fact, even when the girls are playing volleyball in their swimsuits. There is not a single unnecessary or exaggerated chest jiggle or bounce nor any extended panning camera shots from questionable fan service oriented angles. The show rarely panders to the male gaze, and more often than not keeps its primary focus on the game itself, making Harukana a series with far wider appeal than say, 2016’s Keijo.
Tom: Harukana Receive keeps itself light, refusing to delve too deeply into teen angst, despite some tension existing between two of its introductory characters. There’s a laid back feel to the entire thing, in part due to our chipper lead, Haruka, whose classically upbeat personality never lets the drama drag on too long. This gives the series its slice of life tag, as if part of the focus is shifted away from the sport itself and more intent on showcasing the character’s lives in the beautiful, laid back, easy going climate of Okinawa. In fact, it’s not till maybe ten minutes in that we really start to focus on Volleyball, content instead to showcase Haruka’s new life and struggling relationship with her quiet cousin, Higa Kanata. Once the show turns focus to Volleyball, it still keeps a fair amount of attention on the girl’s interaction and attitude towards each other. The show seemingly has everything, cute, relaxing slice of life, fun sports content and even a turtle mascot character to round the series out with, creating a fun and varied experience that never makes for a dull moment.
Linny: Seasoned sports anime fans will be able to spot some staple character archetypes immediately. We have Haruka, who is the happy go lucky, super enthusiastic lead. There’s Kanata who’s got a bad past with the sport and will have to be drawn out of her shell/reluctance in order to play the game. Narumi Tooi is the intense player who perhaps takes things a bit too serious and finally Ayasa who is team mates with Narumi and the level headed one likely to act as a friendly mentor and bridge between Narumi and the others. You’re not going to find new, unique characters, but what’s here makes for a well-rounded, if worn, assortment of leads.
Tom: Overall Harukana Receive is solid, and while perhaps not the most impressive, or unique, title to air this summer, it feels like a well-rounded experience. If you’re looking for a more easy-going series, with some sports shenanigans not nearly taken to such melodramatic extremes as Hanebado! then Harukana Receive seems poised to please.
Linny: If you’d been hesitant to check out Harukana Receive or dread it as just another cheap attempt to please the male gaze, it isn’t that at all. It’s not a masterpiece either with a first episode that one could describe as competent at best. It should however still be a good fit for people seeking out female focused sports shows minus the fan service that tends to be married to so many girl centric anime. This may not be a glowing recommendation but considering the rarity of its content, Harukana Recieve does enough to warrant at the very least, a first episode look from anyone with a fondness for sports anime in general.