What is it with me and volleyball anime? I really don’t know, but I chose to watch Harukana Receive this season based solely on that fact. It’s based on beach volleyball (or outdoor) and not the indoor hard surface like Haikyuu!! was, so I’m hoping it’ll be a good one!
The first thing I noticed about the show is how bright the colors are. And honestly, that’s not a bad thing–considering it takes place in the summer on Okinawa. And right away we meet our main character: Haruna. What I liked about the first interaction we get–almost straight away, is that Haruna is tall…like really tall for the area, and she’s self-conscious about it.
After going through Haruna’s embarrassing height thing, we meet our second character, a friend of Haruna’s–Kanata. Kanata is short, and we don’t get anything out of her. The introduction was weak, as she is distant, almost completely silent, and won’t look Haruna in the eyes. Why? Why? Ugh…
On the opposite side of the coin, Haruna is totally outgoing and talkative, and extremely happy to be in Okinawa, so perhaps they’re simply playing two drastic personalities to create some sort of distinguishing factor between the two characters? Like their height, weight, and hair couldn’t do that…
Gah… Okay, well, after the odd introductions of our two characters, they head for the ocean! And what do you know? Fan service time!!! For an anime built on beach volleyball I knew the characters were going to be in swimsuits for most of the show, but when Haruna goes to the ocean we get straight shots of her boobs and butt. For why? What’s the point?
Well, okay, I will say this: Haruna probably has the best female anime character body I have seen in a long time. I mean really, she does.
Anyway!! During Haruna and Kanata’s friendly venture to the beach and some volleyball fun, two more characters show up. Narumi and Ayasa. And what can I say about these characters? Well, the animation department really put a lot of time into Narumi’s eyes. Like, maybe too much…because that’s all I could focus on. It was a little much, but the bright colors worked well for the setting of the show, and overall I think it’ll be just fine.
Haruna’s peppy attitude shows itself more and more here as she wants to play a match against Narumi and Ayasa. Well, Kanata really doesn’t. It’s here that the melodrama of the show kicks in and we see Kanata become even more distant. What’s the deal?
Well, Narumi is cold, quiet, and has killer eyes. She’s so serious it’s almost too much considering Haruna’s over-the-top personality and happiness, along with Kanata’s distant, lonely feeling. What’s the issue here? What happened?
Well, we don’t really get that. We just get some melodramatic sequence of frames where Narumi is staring at Kanata, Kanata isn’t looking at her, Kanata seems to shelter herself, and Narumi just looks extremely pissed off.
You know, if it wasn’t for Haruna’s attitude I would have dropped the show right then. It’s so serious with the hope of giving us something like a backstory, but we don’t get it. We’re just left in limbo to wonder what happened between Kanata and Narumi–because something happened.
Well, Narumi doesn’t back down when the four decide to play–with Narumi saying that if Kanata and Haruna can get even a single point against her and Ayasa they’ll win the match.
Oh…oh no, Narumi got super serious and served like a boss. AT HARUNA! Who has no idea what she’s doing because she’s never played beach volleyball before. Welp, that was a short-lived experience. The match didn’t last long at all, and Haruna only got one clean receive.
While Haruna and Kanata talked a bit about the rules, and Haruna was given some pointers by Kanata, it all seemed over-shadowed by the intensity of Narumi and what was happening as a result of the melodramatic entrance she gave concerning Kanata. With the match ending quickly, we see Narumi staring Kanata down and talking about not using the word “ace” lightly because there’s no ace in beach volleyball–there is only the team, a single unit.
Wow, okay Narumi, calm down. Drama? Decrease please, this is ridiculous.
Wait! Haruna wants to play again even though they got destroyed? Because it was fun? Well, with Ayasa’s exasperation at Narumi’s attitude, and Kanata being timid, Narumi says they’ll play again in a week if Haruna learns the rules and practices. Cool! The episode seems to end there, really, even though it doesn’t actually end. The intensity of the show is put on hold as Haruna and Kanata head home.
And that is when Kanata tells Haruna that they just played against the champions of a powerhouse school in Kyoto.
At the end of the episode we get to see Kanata and Haruna playing with Kanata’s pet turtle, Kamekichi. Kamekichi is my favorite character, because he completely lightened the mood of the show and brought it back to where we were at the beginning–a bright, happy, care-free place.
While Harukana Receive had fairly good animation throughout the first episode, there wasn’t much to the show except for a melodramatic sequence of events built around an odd volleyball match. Character A knows Character B. Character A is pissed at Character B for some reason. Character C lightens the mood and tension between A and B by being overly peppy and hyped. Character D attempts to reason with Character A but doesn’t really know what to do, so exasperation seeps through the cracks. Character B and C bond over something super tiny and seemingly insignificant.
Uh…did I cover everything? Harukana Receive had potential and squandered it in a bit of fan service (although it’s beach volleyball so is it really fan service?) and melodramatic past relationships that we know absolutely nothing about but are thrown into regardless.
Perhaps episode two will shed some light on what we’ve been shown and answer some questions that could have been raised by its viewers.