Harukana Receive – Anime Review
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)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Harukana Receive seems to be of two minds; sometimes taking every opportunity to frame and highlight the curves of the girls from every angle; other times keeping things chaste and business like, focusing solely on the sport. Something that’s also laughably concerning is that the show is very determined to provide busty characters in the form of the Thomas twins, two (assumed) American twins who are shown to be extremely busty even when depicted in the past. This is especially eyebrow raising as the art and flashback time period makes you wonder just how old these girls are supposed to be, sporting rather ample bosoms even at what seems to be very early/onset of teen years.
Tom: Despite Harukana Receive’s near schizophrenic presentation regarding fan service, the series concludes itself as one of the stronger visual pieces this season. While other anime suffered incredible dips throughout the summer, Harukana’s visual woes are fleeting. Characters are often well defined, detailed, with only the occasional late season episode where things look a little off or janky. It helps that direction during the final volleyball match ups remains on point, providing a clear and easy to understand flow during the gameplay, making especially the final match riveting.
Linny: Story development wise, Harukana Receive isn’t exactly groundbreaking. It follows the predictable path of a cliche sports anime minus either Haruka or Kanata being an absolutely genius at the featured sport. So while the girls do take time learning and mastering new techniques, and more specifically in the case of Haruka, the newbie, learning the basics even though the first episode seemed to hint at a natural talent, the path of the protagonist team to success feels somewhat common and predictable. We do get a few episodes that try to explore the darker pasts and struggles some of the girls; mainly Kanata and Narumi, have had with the sport but at the end of the day, Harukana Receive is clearly meant to be a positive and happy story, one that most viewers should be able to guess the path of very easily.
Tom: It’s true Harukana Receive doesn’t really feature twists and turns. It’s a feel good series, perhaps more so than other sports focused anime due to the series’ more slice of life nature early on.It eventually becomes more sports focused, particularly during the final episodes as Haruka, our plucky, ever positive lead, and Higa Kanata, her little cousin suffering from emotional struggle, face their ultimate opponents in an attempt to prove how far they’ve come as a team. This creates a shift in tone as the match gets intense, although the series generally feels far lighter and fluffier than the overly dramatic Hanebado, the other major sports title from the summer. But things get heated enough to craft a spirited and enthralling final match that makes for a strong closer to the season, sending the series out on a high.
Linny: Haruka, our ‘starting’ protagonist and newcomer to the sport fills the role of perky catalyst character well in that she never really hogs the limelight, content to be a sort of ‘cheerleader’ who gets people enthusiastic or involved in her mission to play beach volleyball. The show quickly and often moves the focus onto the other cast members and does a good job of fleshing out all its characters and presenting their stories and personalities such that audiences should find one or two to take to easily.
Tom: Haruka is never a compelling lead. Much like Goku, or Luffy, these characters exist more to spur others on, and once Harukana Receive realizes this, somewhere around the middle of the season, it transitions into a more ensemble focused piece, allowing other characters to take center stage and showcase their emotional struggle as related to beach volleyball. What’s offered generally works, giving many of the girls the depth and exploration needed to make them characters we can root for.
Linny: Harukana Receive is at its best when it’s being perky and cheerful, focused on these girls and their journey to becoming friends and friendly rivals while they all aim to be the best beach volleyball team in Japan.It’s not groundbreaking by any measure but if you prefer your sports anime to be all about the power of friendship and happiness, then dive right in.
Tom: Harukana Receive isn’t going to be anime of the year, or even anime of the Summer season, but what it sets out to do it does well. Haruka is a fun, peppy lead, the Thomas twins, Kanata herself, and more are all fun, likable, relatable characters that keep the show a joy to watch. The inability to settle on whether the series is meant to be fan service focused or not does damage wider appeal, especially as late game episodes find excuses to frame the girl’s crotches, busts and butts at an increasing pace. But if that can be overlooked Harukana Receive succeeds in balancing its slice of life and sports anime nature, making it a breezy, easy going series with just enough tension to excite when things finally ramp up.