by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Harukana Receive ?
Suspense, heartfelt emotion, and humor combined this week to give us the best that Harukana Receive has to offer. A good mix of elements made “I Won't Break” my favorite episode so far. We got to see how Haruka and Kanata's first tournament game wrapped up, in a way that still gave us time for closure and to check in with everyone in the cast—including Kanata's pet turtle. It's an example of great pacing that makes time for the play-by-play of beach volleyball without sacrificing character growth or plot development along the way.
When we last left off, Ai and Mai appeared to be getting the jump on Haruka and Kanata. This was exacerbated by Kanata's insistence on using pokeys—slow attacks that are easy to read. Claire takes the viewer's perspective and points out that this doesn't seem wise. But sure enough, Kanata is playing the long game, tiring out her indoor-volleyball opponents with the unpredictable wind patterns as her ally. This seems like a tedious strategy to me, but Kanata has nothing but time, during which she hopes Haruka will finally figure out how to block. Our girls are not particularly great at the game yet, but they're in great spirits and they've got high hopes. By the end of the tournament, they've vowed to qualify for nationals along with Emily and Claire—conveniently, Okinawa has two slots so all of our girls can go together.
There was a lot less fanservice for the tail end of the Harukana/Ai-Mai match and I'm not sure why. Otherwise, the animation was consistent. We got a lot of aerial shots of the court and following the ball, plus generous camera angles from sand-level to show the girls' movement. As usual the play-by-play is shown in slow motion, almost like slightly animated manga panels. This works for me because it clearly shows not only the play itself, but how all the characters are reacting to it. If this were in real time, it'd be a lot harder to understand why characters make the split-second decisions they need to. Also, I keep forgetting to mention how much I love this show's soundtrack. From upbeat vibes to atmospheric suspense, it does everything with a distinctive island flavor. It particularly sets the tone during this two-episode tournament bout.
It was an interesting match, but Harukana Receive knows better than to overdo it with competition. It's rare to have a sports show in which the main protagonists barely win at all in their first tournament, and I found that refreshing. I was glad we got time for closure with Ai and Mai, the indoor volleyballers whose methods were doomed but still had a sympathetic reason to be upset about losing. We got to briefly meet Emily and Claire's mom, and if Haruka thinks Claire or Kanata is a “demon coach,” it's because she hasn't met Marissa yet. All the way in Kyoto, Narumi and Ayasa look like a happy couple as they react to the tournament results. We even get to almost-meet the lurker girl who has been making appearances for the past couple episodes. And to top it off, I think the gag at home with Grandma and Kamekichi the turtle is pitch-perfect. It's safe to say that Harukana Receive has hit its stride with this episode. It's funny without being too fluffy, emotional without being melodramatic, and suspenseful without making us wait through too many cliffhangers. I couldn't ask for more.
Harukana Receive is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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