Harukana Receive is a twelve episode beach volleyball anime adaptation of the manga written and illustrated by Nyoijizai. You can find my thoughts on the first volume of the manga here.
The anime was adapted by C2C and directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka. The writer for the series was Touko Machida.
Harukana Receive aired during the summer 2018 season of anime, and is available to be watched on Crunchyroll.
Harukana Receive begins with Haruka Oozora moving to Okinawa, where she ends up joining a beach volleyball club at school together with her cousin Kanata Higa. Kanata is reluctant at first due to her past experiences with the sport, but being together with Haruka soon changes how she feels about it.
Of course, the main core of Harukana Receive is the beach volleyball. With its setting, practically every episode of this anime is a beach episode and the girls wear the appropriate clothing for their sport – the appropriate clothing naturally being swimsuits.
This anime does take time to focus on particular areas of the girls bodies, though this is actually somewhat justified – players use hand signals to communicate before they serve, and it just so happens their hands are right by their backsides. After all, they wouldn’t their opponents to see what they have planned.
There’s even a fairly amusing sequence where Haruka learns that its a very good idea to make sure she wears her swimsuit very tight, or risk exposing herself with all the jumping around.
Fanservice is very much part and parcel of Harukana Receive, though this could be considered a rare case where it is somewhat justified.
Whether you enjoy the fanservice or just tolerate it, Harukana Receive still has a lot going for it. The central characters can be split up into three main pairs. First, naturally, are the main characters Haruka and Kanata.
Haruka is new to the world of beach volleyball, whilst Kanata has previous experience. Despite that, she is reluctant to return for reasons that are revealed as the show goes on.
Narumi and Ayasa are the first pair that Haruka and Kanata play beach volleyball against – and Narumi is deadly serious about her volleyball. This comes down to a certain incident from her past, which is also connected to Kanata’s reluctance towards beach volleyball.
Finally, the third pair are Claire Thomas and Emily Thomas – twin sisters who share an inseparable bond. Claire is the more playful of the two, whereas Emily is more levelheaded. As a pair, they are known as Éclair – and are also very talented when it comes to beach volleyball.
Haruka, Kanata, Claire and Emily make up four members of the beach volleyball club, with the fifth being introduced later on. Said fifth member is a very welcome addition to the cast. Whilst she may not participate in beach volleyball matches, her presence is a rather important one. She also starred in an advert with a very catchy song.
At one point, beach volleyball teams are pretty much called married couples – and this is something that Harukana Receive pretty much takes and runs with. Every single pair has great chemistry – yes, even the twin sisters. No need for yuri goggles here – it is pretty blatant. Even the team names get in on this: HaruKana and Éclair.
As for the actual beach volleyball itself, they are a lot of fun to watch. The focus is always on HaruKana’s games – which keeps things interesting. A lot of that comes about from seeing Haruka’s development within beach volleyball – she goes from knowing nothing about it at all to being able to keep up with some of the best.
It doesn’t just happen out of nowhere, either – keeping up with the best involves training with the best, and there is a certain athletic mother who happily agrees to coach her for a little while.
Harukana Receive‘s soundtrack does a pretty good job at matching the tone of any given volleyball match, though the standout song has to be the one that comes from the aforementioned advert. It’s so upbeat and catchy.
One thing that seems a bit iffy is the sand – or rather, they way in which sand is animated. It stands out quite a bit, and doesn’t really match what is going on. However, that is only a minor gripe – it doesn’t really have any major impact on what is happening. It also feels like there are a few times that a decent chunk of time is just spent on focusing on a corner of the beach volleyball court. It is to convey when a point is scored, but perhaps that wasn’t exactly the best way to go about it.
This is another small thing, and again, it doesn’t really have too much impact on the overall enjoyment.
A slightly bigger problem is that one pair that HaruKana play against just sort of vanish without a trace after their match is over. Even their earlier opponents manage to show up again. It would have been nice to get even a glimpse of what they were doing, but perhaps having two sets of twin sisters was deemed a little unnecessary.
Still, Harukana Receive presents an excellent take on the sport of beach volleyball. It may be a typical sports anime of a beginner joining the sport and gaining experience as time goes on, but the fun characters and excellent beach volleyball action make for a compelling watch.
It also goes over various techniques such as pokeys and cut shots, and demonstrates that beach volleyball players don’t always have to necessarily rely on their hands.
There is some drama thrown in there as well, and this ultimately serves to only increase the strength of the bonds between the characters.
Great characters, excellent beach volleyball action and plenty of yuri to go around. Depending on who you ask, the fanservice could be considered a plus too. Not bad for an anime where every episode is more or less a beach episode.