After moving to Okinawa to live with her cousin Kanata, Harukana finds a new love for volleyball. Kanata decides to teach Harukana more about the sport which surprises Kanata’s classmates, Narumi and Ayasa considering she stopped playing. Matches against Narumi and Ayasa ends up further developing Harukana’s interest in beach volleyball…and brings Kanata’s insecurities back to the surface. Growing more confident isn’t going to be easy by any means but Harukana will be by her side every step of the way.
I haven’t touched a sports anime since Keijo, if one could really call that a sports anime. It was comedic fan-service served up weekly that somehow managed to up the ante every week without any full frontal nudity or sex scenes. Harukana Receive is one of a few sports anime the summer has to offer and although slightly on a fan-service scale with the swimsuits, there’s more than a few things to enjoy out if it.
The character designs and sport scenes are animated beautifully, but what really shines throughout these episodes is the writing. This could have very easily slid into ecchi trash with typical anime tropes aimed at the heterosexual male gaze, (cough cough How Not To Summon A Demon Lord), but instead there’s a lot surrounding insecurities.
Kanata is actually really great at beach volleyball but her short height holds her back. This seems basic at first glance until we learn in Episode 3 that she’s been playing the sport in her youth. It makes sense to feel inferior growing older and the girls around her are growing taller playing a sport where taller height is extreme advantage. But it becomes apparent as she teaches Harukana and practices, Kanata is actually a badass on the sand. Insecurities, (and also depression, anxiety, and social awkwardness), hold back plenty of people from doing things that they actually enjoy and sometimes it takes someone like Harukana to come around and remind a person what’s really within to get yourself back into what you love.
Lesbianism is also hinted all too often to not be present in the actual plot. There’s small things like Kanata saying Harukana has a cute butt or Claire smacking her twin sister’s butt, but on a larger scale Ayasa labels Kanata as Narumi’s ex to Harukana. In fact in Episode 2, Ayasa gets visibly jealous of Narumi’s feelings towards Kanata and holds her like a lover towards the end of the episode. It would not surprise me if it’s revealed later in the series that something more than partnership was going on with Kanata and Narumi, (if I’m being honest, I want there to be something more because there’s just way too much straight in this season lineup).
The combination of comedy, drama, and sports makes Harukana Receive a great watch for the summer. It’s extremely rare for a sports anime to capture my attention and interest but Harukana Receive is very high on my weekly watch list.
Rating: 10 out of 10 (thus far)