by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 11 of
Harukana Receive ?
In this penultimate episode of Harukana Receive, the students have become the masters. Emily and Claire have encouraged their newbie teammates a little too well, and now they're in a bind. This show isn't called “Eclair Receive” for a reason, and even though this tense episode culminates in a cliffhanger, the writing is already on the wall. If you remember the prologue from the opening scene of episode one, this match is already decided. But the characters' passion and focus keeps the action tense throughout and makes each volley feel significant. However, there's a bit of protagonist magic that makes this episode a little too good to be true.
How Haruka and Kanata have grown! In “At this Point, We're Basically Playing Head-to-Head,” the title comes from Emily's observation that over the past year, Kanata and Haruka have become as good at beach volleyball as her and Claire. It's a little hard to believe, considering that Emily and Claire have been partnered together their whole volleyball careers. Even if Kanata and Haruka really do have that much natural talent, this premise relies on them knowing one another as well as the twin sisters. It's not the only sudden discovery of the episode, either. Two episodes ago, Kanata and Haruka played a pair who kept using a technique called topspin to their advantage. Even though she's never practiced it before, just seeing it is enough for Haruka to master that technique in their match against the twins. The match against Emily and Claire feels unbeatable because in real life, it would be. The Harukana pair has grown a lot, but some of their success can only be explained by their roles as the protagonists.
That said, this all but decided match still makes for some gripping sports action. I love when sports shows teach us something new about the sport they depict, and Harukana Receive has shown us just how significant wind direction is to beach volleyball. It's a physical disadvantage and a mental one; the episode shows us how much a pair's side of the court can mess with their heads as well, knowing that their opponents have the advantage. Despite that, the match stays close throughout and the viewer gets the feeling that every play is significant, that every volley has the potential to decide the game. Now that everyone is tired out, we're seeing a side of these girls that hasn't come up before. We knew they enjoyed playing beach volleyball, but we hadn't really seen them sacrifice physical comfort to keep going. At one point, even through her exhaustion, Claire even remarks that she wishes they could keep playing forever. This show has focused first on showing the girls' affection for one another, but this episode puts their raw passion for their sport at the forefront and makes us care about it too.
This match is special because, as Akari points out from the sidelines, “they all know everything about each other.” As she, Grandma, and Marissa (apparently a Wine Mom) watch from near and far, and Narumi and Ayasa wait to hear results, this battle rages on in a tense head to head. By the time the credits roll, all is quiet on the court—there's no crowd noise or even background music, keeping me glued to this match despite my suspicions about how it ends. It's significantly unbelievable that Haruka and Kanata have improved so much in so short a time, but that's sports anime for you. It's not realistic, but it's great TV.
Harukana Receive is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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