When Haruka’s mother had to go away for work, she moved to Okinawa with her grandmother and cousin, Kanata. She was looking forward to relaxing in the sun, but found something else to occupy her time – beach volleyball!
What did you watch?
Back in the summer of 2018, I was only really starting to get into seasonal anime. In truth, I’m a binge-watcher. I love to fully immerse myself in the story and hurry through the entire catalogue. However, I found myself with lots of little windows of time instead of big blocks, so thought I would give seasonal shows a go. Of course, me being me, I ended up watching nine concurrently and Harukana Receive was one that captured my imagination. It’s a warm and lively story with beautiful backdrops, and since I can’t go to the beach because of COVID, it seemed like the ideal series to rewatch.
So, Haruka moved from Tokyo to Okinawa to live with her grandmother and cousin, Kanata. They had been quite close before but drifted apart over time. Haruka was surprised to see that Kanata hadn’t grown much since they last met, but then Haruka was very tall. On the way home from the airport, Haruka insisted that she run straight down to the beach. Once there, she saw two girls practising beach volleyball and was instantly drawn in.
Before long, they asked her if she would like to try it out. Haruka was delighted and started to get quite into it. Kanata finally returned from their house to find Haruka playing beach volleyball. As it happens, Kanata used to play and Haruka was playing with her former partner, Narumi. Things got interesting when they challenged them to a game, but since Haruka was a beginner and Kanata hadn’t played in years, they just had to score one point to win.
Well, Haruka and Kanata were determined but soundly beaten. Not content with just the one game, Haruka demanded a rematch. Narumi and Ayasa gave them a week to practice before the rematch. Amazingly, Haruka and Kanata scored a point in the rematch and their partnership was born. This caught the attention of a couple of other beach volleyball players, Claire and Emily, who were determined to make the beach volleyball team a real club at school.
What did you think?
I loved it when I first watched it and loved it, even more, this time. The first time, I think I was distracted by the beautiful beaches and clear blue skies, and, of course, the volleyball. It was a lot of fun, but the thing that really stood out to me was how it showed a side of sport that seems to be slowly fading away. I am talking about sportsmanship or sportswomanship as the case may be. There was plenty of competitiveness, but none of it was toxic or even over the top. After the games, players could still be friends, no matter how hard the fought one another.
What was your favourite moment?
I am going to have to go with the final match of the series, which was the final of the national qualifying tournament and saw Haruka and Kanata going up against their friends Claire and Emily. The game lasted for three episodes and was utterly captivating. Honestly, it could have gone on for another couple of episodes without complaint. At no point did it seem like they were dragging it out.
It was the battle that we were expecting from this close group of friends. Throughout the match, it seemed like it could go in either direction, but it made sense too. You could see how the game was affecting the players and how the points would be won and lost. Finally, when it got to the final set and went to sudden death, everyone was exhausted. So, when Haruka and Kanata won, it was no surprise that Claire and Emily were distraught. However, the real classy touch was that Haruka and Kanata didn’t quite know how to celebrate. All four players appeared shellshocked.
What was your least favourite moment?
The final was epic and there were a lot of great moments in it alone. So, what is it doing here? Well, as the series went on, we got to know all the girls involved and that made the final that much more tense. How could you possibly cheer on one team and not the other? I think Akari personified that issue when she would cheer for one and then the other.
As much as I loved the final, seeing Claire and Emily beaten and heartbroken was a tough one to take. They’d brought Haruka and Kanata into the club, their mother had even returned to Japan to help train the four girls. Together, they were like a family. I think Claire did amazing to congratulate Haruka and Kanata before seeking a quiet spot to reflect on her loss.
Who was your favourite character?
Haruka is a fascinating character. She actually changes very little throughout the series. Sure, she got better at playing beach volleyball, but her character stayed the same. She was actually a catalyst for change, making those around her change. Haruka helped Kanata to get over the loss of her parents and rediscover a love that she had abandoned. Her friendship with Claire too blossomed and it helped Claire to see what she wanted, which was to play Kanata when she was at the top of her game once more.
Who was your least favourite character?
Much like my least favourite moment, my least favourite character was still pretty cool. Yes, Narumi was a bit of an ice maiden. Conversational skills were clearly not her strong suit and it showed. There were times when she could have done more and not been quite so harsh, but I didn’t mind it overall. There needs to be some variety and Narumi definitely offered that.
Would you like some more?
I’ve been waiting since the season finished for another season and will continue to do so until my wish is granted. Spending more time with the girls on the white sandy beaches would be an absolute pleasure. Now, if that happened to involve them competing at Nationals and going head to head with Narumi and Ayasa, well, let’s just say that would be the icing on top. This is a great series with a wholesome message and a wonderful vibe.
What have you learnt?
There are actually a lot of great points to take away from this series. The pacing was fantastic and while it skipped time when it needed to, it also allowed us to focus on a single event for long enough that it had real meaning. On top of that, it played with some of the well-known tropes and gave them a new life, turning what would normally be a negative scenario it an uplifting one.
Another thing that it did really well was to make you care. Even in their early match against Ai and Mai we got to know and understand everyone involved. The discussion between Ai and Mai after the match was amazing and showed how you can make the audience care for minor characters. It all just added to the amazing feeling that this series generates. I would recommend it to anyone.
Other Posts in the Series
- Season One
- Episode 1 – We Don’t Need Aces
- Episode 2 – Believe in Me
- Episode 3 – I Want to Regain My Former Self
- Episode 4 – Isn’t This Perfect For Us?
- Episode 5 – Until You Break
- Episode 6 – I Won’t Break
- Episode 7 – We’re Already Friends
- Episode 8 – I’ll Keep Our Promise
- Episode 9 – This Is How I Feel
- Episode 10 – The One I Wanted to Fight
- Episode 11 – At This Point, We’re Basically Playing Head-to-Head
- Episode 12 – And That’s Why We Choose Our Irreplaceable Partners