Moving to Okinawa due to the situation with her parents' new employ, Haruka Oozora meets her cousin Kanata Higa as she moves to her grandmother's house. The two make an interesting couple, as Haruka has a complexion about being tall while Kanata has a complexion about being short.
The latter has more to do with her sport of choice, though, as any kind of volleyball, beach or not, espouts the benefit of being tall. Nevertheless, Haruka immediately takes to the sport, because she is almost surpremely enthusiastic about beaches in general, if nothing else. There, she gets involved with the volleyball club -- in which the girls playing beach volley is a part of in the hopes of gaining enough members to become a club on its own.
Given that the place in this show seems to be a bit of a beach volley hotspot, I do find it a bit hard to believe that the school on the Okinawan island of Naha -- at least in this show -- doesn't have a dedicated beach volleyball club. That's one of the two logical breaches I can think of for this show, the other one we'll go into a bit later in the review.
Aside from a somewhat lessened focus on breasts and butts; if Keijo!!!!!!!! ever needed a sibling show, then Harukana Receive is certainly our biggest candidate so far. It's beach volleyball, so it's a given that girls wearing swimsuits will be what we're seeing most of the time, and while Harukana Receive isn't as "in your face" about it -- metaphorically OR literally -- you will get the chance to... admire all the cute girls in swimwear. But we aren't just getting a closeup of boobs -- we're getting a closeup of a girl's upper body as she's leaping into the air preparing to smash down the ball. We aren't just getting a closeup of a butt; we're getting a closeup of a butt as its owner is tensing her leg muscles, preparing for a leap. It's very dynamic fanservice that asks us to revel as much in the girls' atleticism as we do their assets.
And I say "lessened", because the usage of butts and boobs are still very "center stage" with all the girls, yet it's done with a very sensible point of view. While I'm pretty sure there are dedicated swimwear for sports, some of the starting lessons is finding the right kind of swimwear and making adjustments that allows girls -- busty ones like Haruka in particular -- to make swift movements easier without having to worry about being thrown off balance or getting sand into places you don't want sand to reach.
Haruka is a tall girl. The fact is not lost on her, as even in the first episode, she slumps her head after overhearing some comments from other people in an attempt to stand out less. She's also rather voluptuous, with at least two girls complimenting her on her butt, and she had to make Kanata work in some adjustments to her swimsuit to make it beach volley ready. She's actually a lot like Keijo!!!!!!!!'s Nozomi, outwardly cheerful and almost relentlessly gung-ho about her current sport goal.
She's a nice counterbalance to the quiet, short Kanata. Unlike Haruka, she's lived on the island for her entire life (I think?), and also unlike Haruka, she's been doing beach volleyball before, and on a semi-professional level at that. Due to her shortness, she tended to be targeted by serves, as she'd be the easiest person to defeat on that front because she's short -- a lesson that will be repeated, centered around more characters than just her. It bears mentioning that the drama between Kanata and her former partner, Narumi, runs a little deeper than that. Still, pairing up with Haruka, she flourishes, and the two eventually joins the volleyball club, if on a "step by step" basis.
I remember reading in the ANN episode reviews that said reviewer thought the girls' bodies looked... I don't remember whether they referred to it as "stretched" or "elongated", and not that I want this to be thought of as a "calling out" of sorts, I will nevertheless respectfully disagree. Haruka and the others all have this athletic build that feels very natural to the show, the leanness is simply various levels of trim musculature that actually accredits the girls' work ethic: even slim, small-chested girls like Kanata and Narumi don't look like dainty waifs on the sands or outside. I once said something kind of similar about Sonico from her namesake show: that her general build looks natural for someone with her level of voluptuousness and busy daily scedule that requires a lot of moving around, if not necessarily hard labor.
And yes, the show about beach volleyball -- raise your hand if you're thinking of a certain Dead or Alive offshoot videogame series rather than the actual sport itself -- where you probably got started on said journey for some sexy fun, can get dramatically intense from time to time. Thankfully, most of the moments therein are centered around Kanata's past with Nozomi, and they are all relatable issues that doesn't get completely overblown for the sake of being more grim than strictly necessary.
Which is not to say that things don't get intense. It IS a sports show first and foremost, so there's no lack of tense standoffs. But another thing it shares with Keijo!!!!!!!!, much to my delight, is its sense of fun. Even the most gentle, heartfelt shows have their share of downs -- it happened in Aria too, from time to time -- but it's always encouraging to see shows lean on downer moments as something you deal with, conquer or otherwise find a way to put behind you, and succeeding in that does in no way make a show shallow.
And what better way to indicate that than our very American duo of Emily and Claire Thomas, the two current members of the volleyball club who would like to, but lack the members to branch beach volley into its own club. As goofy and irreverent as Claire might seem at first, the two are the rising stars of said world, and will no doubt serve well as the girls' final hurdle. Although this lends itself to my second... well, "issue" with the show. As much as I might disagree with AnimeNewsNetwork about the girls' body types, they are quite on the ball when it comes to pointing out how ridiculous it is that Haruka and Kanata being a challenge to top-tier beach volley players after such a short time. If you're feeling generous -- and I think it's fine with a show as cheerful and sportsmanlike as Harukana Receive -- you can chalk it up to Emily and Claire's excellent lessons and Kanata's already accumulated experience in the field.
Even better, the show sports (no pun intended) some pretty nice animation work, particularly during the matches. I was a bit antsy about each sporting event becoming a slideshow of jumping smashes, but the variety of moves in the matches are actually quite nice, with a good mixup of slow-motion moments, high-energy volleys and the girls doing various kinds of leaps and dives.
Granted, I was never in the same situation about Harukana Receive as I was with Keijo!!!!!!!! or various other clearly-about-the-boobs shows; I went into it with the faith that it would serve up some pretty sexy fun, and the show certainly didn't fail on that. Of course, the downside of a person my age trying to get why a show would be sexy is trying to channel as much of my past 20 year old self as I can, which isn't always that easy. Still, I'd like to think that my 20 year old self would find the free-spirited fun of this series appealing -- which fanservice shows of late has become much better at showcasing.
And so, all that's left to do is to wait for the eventual DVD/Bluray release, because one should always have a place in their shelf for fun, easily rewatchable shows like these. I haven't heard the dub yet, but Keijo!!!!!!!! got a pretty good one, so I'm guessing the one this show gets is just as good.
A fun, energetic sports show with lots of sportsmanship to spare. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: Harukana Receive isn't shy about putting the girls on display, but it's never done in a personal boundary-invading sense like some of the stuff that could make Strike Witches a sometimes awkward watch despite the sheer cuteness of that show. This show is all about the fun in every single definition of the word.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Harukana Receive © 2018 C2C
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