by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Harukana Receive ?
As we ramp up to the season's conclusion, Harukana Receive is finally ramping up the intensity. At every turn, this show has diffused conflict, keeping everyone buddy-buddy even when they're opponents in beach volleyball. “The One I Wanted to Fight” is a departure from that, focusing on high-powered emotions between two teams who each desperately want to win. The Harukana and Eclair team's determination and frustration are evident in a match that shows a new facet of Harukana Receive's laid-back story.
Emily and Claire should have had this match in the bag. After last year's nationals, they're ranked as the second most skilled beach volleyball team in Japan. However, they made the interesting mistake of personally training their opponents in the Okinawa qualifiers, which makes this match a little more unpredictable than it has any right to be. From the onset, Haruka and Kanata are the underdogs. But their tenacity as they hang on, volley after volley, makes this episode-long set fascinating to watch. Normally we'd root for the underdog hands down, but Emily shares some flashbacks about her and Claire that show just how much they deserve to win as well. Like Kanata, Emily has also grown as an athlete. Not only is this match not one-sided, it doesn't make it easy for the viewer to pick a side, either.
It's incredible how a show where everyone is wearing a skimpy bikini can temporarily make you forget about the fanservice. The girls move like athletes this week, in a very different way from when they're teasing each other or messing around at practice. Our characters' sillier sides exit the playing field in exchange for something more serious to come out. The tense, rhythmic background music only enhances these edge-of-your-seat action sequences. Counting this one, I think only two episodes (out of ten) have focused on one set of beach volleyball the entire time, but the result doesn't feel slow. This show seems to request that you look at its pacing as a whole. Oftentimes (like last week's episode for example), Harukana Receive will completely skim over a match, showing us just a minute or two before announcing the verdict. That compels me to take it more seriously when it slows down. I know the show wouldn't waste my time with a match that doesn't matter, so when it decides to take an episode not even on a whole game, but just one set between Harukana and Eclair, I know that there's going to be some serious payoff.
The audience avatar is Akari, desperately shouting out her famous commercial slogan in support of both pairs. She could take a cue from Grandma, who has ostensibly come to watch her granddaughters but still praises Emily and Claire when they do well. We can praise both sides but it's tough to tell what the outcome is going to be. Logically I'd think Emily and Claire, especially since Harukana Receive has skirted the usual “the protagonist always wins” trope that I sometimes see in sports anime. “The one I wanted to fight was the Kanata with those eyes,” Claire thinks to herself, and it's clear this battle is far from over. Normally I might grumble about cliffhangers, but Harukana Receive has a great track record of not wasting our time with pointless matches. It's a tense game that remains taut all throughout, and it has an entire season of setup to thank for that.
Harukana Receive is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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