A corney girls love series borderlining on ecchi, but never actually crossing that line completely. Though some may consider this to be steaminly ecchi due to the cute girls who are almost always wearing swimwear, in reality it’s actually quite tame. Harukana Receive is a romantic sports anime first with some coincidental ecchi.
Like the timid Kanata Higa (Huruka’s cousin), It always seems to cut away when the scenes get juicy, as though its too shy to embrace its own body. Yes it’s filled with titillating eye candy, I’m not denying that; however, given the theme, that is to be expected. The abundance of swimwear is contextually accurate considering that this is a volleyball anime.
At first glance you may be forgiven for associating this with the delectable Keijo!!!!!!!! Unfortunately that is far from accurate. Keijo!!!!!!!! is primarily centred around ecchi, and it celebrates that aspect about itself putting it front and centre, whereas Harukana Receive doesn’t. Receive places more focus on the relationships between the all female cast, and the sport of volleyball. As we follow along with the episodes we learn more about the sport, it’s rules and and how it is played through the perspective of main character, Haruka.
This anime is also heavily Yuri to a fault. Now Yuri is great and all, but when its over used it can create an uncanny valley effect that distracts from other aspects of storytelling. The same can be said for the overuse of Yaoi. In more than 7 episodes of Harukana Receive not one male character was shown (the grandfather’s camio does count). It doesn’t matter if they’re a love interest or not, just knowing they’re there makes the story more believable. A more diverse cast of characters is always a good thing, and this series doesn’t have that. With an all female cast it almost seems like the characters are on Amazon Lily from the One Piece franchise, which they’re not. The lack of diversity just doesn’t fit the setting. That setting being Okinawa, a real world setting.
Yuri that is Harukana Receive
That aside, the plot though corny as hell, is a sweet one. It lacks much depth and will likely be purely transparent for regular anime fans, but I like it. In part this is due to the characters and their voice actors. Both the English and Japanese dub are great, and sound quite similar. When switching between the two there wasn’t any shock effect as characters sound almost the same either way, and the quality of acting is very high.
The characters are also portrayed in a very likable manner, with no real antagonist insight thus far. I know this could change later in the storyline, but for now it’s just a tale of athletes competing mixed with lots of girls love. The premises being that the main character, Haruka moving in with her cousin and grandparents in their beach side town, and then getting engrossed in volleyball. Kanata, who couldn’t handle the pressure put on her by her short height, had given up on beach volleyball, but is convinced by Haruka to step back on the sand once again and aim for the junior tournament. The two cousins serve as the primary couple with Kanata serving as the focal point of a sort of love triangle including Narumi, or is it a square…?
When the characters aren’t fawning over each other, they’re on the sand training or challenging each other.
This is also a much more grounded series with much more focus on the sport of beach volleyball than anything else. There are no over-the-top moves or hyper stylized tricks at play. What you’d see in the real game is what you see here. The visual style used to display this is a very modern cute style with characters having sort of jeweled eyes, while a slight fog effect encapsulates the scene. This was is likely a technique to give the anime an air of summer. Something it achieved quite effectively.
Characters have differing athletic body types, with the predominant ones being lolli and voluptuous ones, with most of the volleyball teams in the show having a combo of the two. There was also a variety of different swimsuits, with practical explanations for them. Stuff like how they should be worn and the colours were explained in detail.
Dripping with Style
The use of different angles and field of views is important to amplifying the movement of characters in a sports anime, and give it some excitement. This is something the animation team seem to understand quite well, as the camera work depiction was a highpoint. Another is the character design which as mentioned before is cute. Each of the girls were cute in their own way. My personal favorites being Narumi Tooi & Emiri Thomas. Narumi won me over thanks to her initial tsundere demeanor and dominant power she showed in matches. (Plus can’t be mad at that figure). As for Emiri, well she just outright adorable with the intelligence on the court makes her a force to be reckoned with.
All in all this with is a sports anime through and through. Think Free, Kuroko’s Basketball, or Yuri on ice. If those series are your thing then this will likely appeal to you. With the sport depicted in this one being Beach Volleyball, a sport played in swimsuits, fan service is present, but it’s never really the focus. That is reserved for the the sport, characters, and their relationships. As a fan of ecchi the teasing nature of this series was almost too much to bare, but I stuck in for the romance. If you’re a sports anime or Yuri fan then this will be right up your ally. Everyone else need wait a bit longer for a true successor to Keijo.
Adapted from the Nyoi, Jizai manga by the same name, by Studio C2C and licence by Funimation.