The basic premise begins with a girl named Haruka, who happens to move to the heavily beached, ocean-sided Okinawa to live with her cousin, Kanata, and their grandparents. It is where Haruka discovers beach volleyball for the very first time and ends up falling in love with it. Her desire to learn, work, play, and have fun with it drives Kanata to get back into playing herself, even through all of her tribulations and self-doubts. Eventually, she ends up teaching Haruka the game along side a few fellow players in Twin Thomas sisters, Claire and Emily. Together, they form the “unofficial” Beach Volleyball Club at their high school. The entire goal is for the girls to compete in the Japanese High School Beach Volleyball Nationals in order to become the very best!
The story score for this is tougher than it seems. On one hand, it’s about girls playing beach volleyball and having fun doing so. That’s not exactly anything original. Plus, C2C definitely uses Ecchi when it comes to the girls’ figures and their beach bathing suits. On the other hand, the anime has some surprisingly deeper elements to it that were completely unexpected! It is nothing riveting by far, but there is more development of the overall main storyline and its characters. The back stories of nearly each character and how it relates to the anime’s plot is well done, overall. It is to a point that I found myself looking forward to watching the next episode because of those additional elements, and not because of the ecchi.
Speaking of ecchi, it is used often but not in a distasteful manner. After all, they are high school girls playing beach volleyball. What would you expect them to wear? I certainly wouldn’t think they’d go play in the hot, blazing sun on sand wearing long sleeve shirts, pants, winter coats, and sneakers or boots. The point being, the ecchi is rather appropriate for this particular anime and it is not done to an exaggerated or obsessive amount by studio C2C. I appreciate that as it allows the viewer to focus on the aforementioned storyline and characters and both of their respective developments.
C2C did a solid job on both the art and animation for Harukana Receive. While the art style is nothing unique or spectacular, it’s very consistent in quality, even when characters are shown in distance. That is bit of shock considering the studio has a small number of projects in their portfolio with none of them appearing to be anything outstanding. Additionally, the color scheme and range are both above average and look really nice in high definition.
The animation has very little scenes where lots of still frames are used and where characters are walking and talking without actually moving. Sadly, that tends to be a far too common issue with way too many anime. However, that’s not the case as much with C2C’s adaptation of the manga. In fact, what makes this visually appealing is the fact the volleyball scenes are heavily done with constant animation and motion of the characters and the actual game itself. Again, this is another tough one to rate in terms actual score.
One final note as it relates to the sound section of this review as well; I actually enjoy the lack-of echo animation in the anime’s ED theme music.
The OP is mediocre, but the ED is above average, partially due to the music blending with the actual ED visuals. They compliment each other very well.
Both the music and the sound effects during the tournament matches and the dramatic elements is spot on. Both further enhance all aspects of the anime.
The unexpected and detailed character development is one of the many surprises in Harukana Receive. Nearly each character is treated with some type of decent (or greater) background story, which in turn helps to highlight their personalities and how they’ve arrived to where they are in the anime’s present day. Haruka is voiced by English dub voice actor, Tia Ballard, who does an excellent job of bringing out her Eternally Optimistic, bubbly, determined personality. Haruka is not a hands-down “best” character, but that is only because the rest of the cast is splendid in their own individual ways. Kanata initially seems on the shy side, but rather quite the opposite once you get into the third or forth episode. She’s just soft spoken. That doesn’t stop her from taking center stage when it comes to the game of volleyball and her trust in her teammate (and cousin), Haruka.
Then there are the Thomas sisters, Claire and Emily. Claire is a feisty, highly energetic, sister butt-slapping volleyball player who, like her sister, is a really skilled. However, that’s about all these two have in common. Their playing style and personalities are quite different. Emily is controlled and focused both on and off the sand court. She opposites Claire’s aggressive style of play with her excellent support and clear-cut focus. If Claire faulters, she picks elevates her game and changes it up assertively, as needed.
The only other characters I’m going to briefly write about are teammates, Ayasa and Narumi. They are the team to beat on the beach! They are Japan’s #1 ranked High School beach volleyballers, and deservedly so. Ironically, if not for Kanata then Narumi would never have come to find volleyball, which in turn benefits her teammate Ayasa all that much more. And not to be misunderstood, Ayasa is one heck of a player as well. It’s too bad that they do not have a little more screen time in their character development, especially Ayasa. It’s there just lacking behind Haruka, Kanata, Claire, and Emily.
Finally, the entire cast of characters are very good, from Sora (Haruka and Kanata’s grandma) to Akari, the celebrity and fifth and final member of the Beach Volleyball Club, to the two indoor players in Ai and Mai, to the Thomas sisters mother, Marissa, who happens to a former top player and now professional coach.
Overall, that is another positive…not an overabundance of characters is introduced into the 12 episodes, which allows C2C to go into detail about the characters that are introduced in the series.
Trust, determination, friendship, competitive spirit, sportsmanship; these are what Harukana Receive is all about at its core. Even as I finish writing my final thoughts I am questioning if my scores are high enough for each and every category. I want to be constructively critical without losing sight of just how underrated this anime is in my honest opinion, and of how much I truly enjoyed it.
Its appeal is so much broader than one might think at first glance. Ecchi, Comedy, Drama, Sports, and even School Club and a bit o’ Slice of Life that can be found here. Add those with its core elements and its story and character development, and you’ve got one heck of a good anime.
The only major concern I have is whether the series will continue or not. At the time of this review, it is nearly two years since it debuted. The anime ends, but with a clear open-ended potential to continue the over arcing main storyline to the very end. Even with that being said, it is hard not to recommend this to casual and non-casual anime fans who are looking for a surprisingly above average amount of certain qualities that can make up a good anime. Here's to hoping for a second season!
Entertainment Score: 9/10
Achievement Score: +4 to Overall
My expectations were Moderate, and it delivered Above those expectations.
Age Rating: TV-10+ (Ecchi and slight implied sexualization)