A pretty bland show about friends playing volleyball on the beach.
Overview (Spoilers Below):
The show stars Kanata and Haruka, who join a beach volleyball club after forming a team themselves. Kanata had bad experiences with the sport in the past, but her friends encourage her to give it another shot. As the days go by, she’s trained and mentored by the Thomas sisters, two of Japan’s best beach volleyball players.
The series builds to one final match for the championship, and it takes place between Kanata and Haruka’s team and Emily and Claire Thomas. In the end, Kanata and Haruka come away with the victory in the junior tournament, but it’s all thanks to Emily and Claire’s guidance over the past months. Even when they’re enemies on the beach, they’ll always be friends when they’re off-duty.
At its heart, Harukana Receive is a story about friendship. Sure, the girls are all in a sports club together, and there’s plenty of volleyball action that takes place, but at the end of the day, friendship is more important than winning to the teammates of the beach volleyball club. Even coming on to review the show about halfway through its run, the bond between the girls was still clearly visible. The plot of the show was fairly generic stuff, but there was a lot of actual volleyball playing that happened, which some fans will probably enjoy.
Kanata goes through a journey throughout the 12 episode season, becoming someone who is able to look her past in the eyes and move forward with her love for beach volleyball. Her partnership with Haruka is one of the strongest bonds shown off in the show. Even though they weren’t always together, it seems like they’ll never be apart from now on. Claire and Emily Thomas are some of the most prominent side characters in the show. The Thomas sisters are amazing beach volleyball players, probably the best in Japan. They remain caring and humble despite their successes, patiently training their junior club members like Kanata and Haruka to better their skills. Akari, though not playing a major role in the show, was probably my personal favorite. She joined the club late into the season, much like me, and brought a lot of humor and heart with her. A former idol who never really learned how to make friends, she was welcomed into the beach volleyball club with open arms and in turn became one of the girls’ staunchest supporters. Even during the final match between her two groups of friends, she never hesitated in cheering them both on tirelessly. (Plus, she can craft an excellent friendship bracelet.)
When it comes to the more objective qualities of the show, things start to fall apart a little. While Harukana Receive never sinks to the ugly visuals of something meme-worthy like Handshakers, it is one of the worst-looking shows I’ve ever watched. It’s never actively bad (well, except for the ‘sand’ that goes flying whenever the volleyball hits the beach), but it is consistently ‘meh’ when it comes to things like direction and animation. Everything from the character design to the sports scenes is just lacking in flair and style. Not even the soundtrack has any redeeming qualities, as it’s mostly generic sounding elevator music that plays too long over a lot of scenes.
While it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, Harukana Receive usually had me engaged through each episode and even gave me a chuckle now and then. Though it won’t set any records for clever storytelling or win any awards for best visuals, I suppose it is effective as a cute, simple tale about the love that these girls have for beach volleyball – and for each other.