by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Harukana Receive ?
Yes, you're watching the right show. This week on Harukana Receive, I had to check and make sure that this wasn't an idol show. After weeks of hinting about her eventual debut, our fifth beach volleyball team member gets a name and an episode all to herself. It's a pretty standard introduction of a fairly standard character trope—the awkward girl who just wants to make friends. Akari is a bundle of tropes, but if you like those tropes (and I do), she can be endearing. More illuminating is how Akari's personality brings out new facets in our legacy cast.
Akari has one roundabout plan to become a popular idol—by joining the beach volleyball team. Perhaps this makes a slight amount of sense in beachy Okinawa, but our cast is not initially impressed with Akari's seemingly shallow motivation. Akari seems like an airhead at first, aloof and not quite in touch with reality. The episode opens with her poorly CGI-animated daydream, but it turns out that Akari actually does have some idol experience in the form of a catchy local commercial she did when she was younger and gets thoroughly embarrassed by now. (She's not too embarrassed to wear an extremely ruffled bikini with a matching garter belt though!) She's a classic tsundere, abrasive and haughty on the outside but lonely and sweet underneath. Her desire to befriend Haruka and Kanata is portrayed visually as they eat lunch, with our volleyball pair sitting in a shaft of sunlight while Akari is on the other side by herself in the shadows.
Akari says she wants fame but what she really wants is friendship. And as it turns out, everyone in the existing cast wants her friendship as well. Emily says they need a fifth member to be official, Claire is excited to meet “Shii-chan” from the commercial, and Kanata is reminded in particular of Narumi when she learns about Akari's friendless school life. (This leads to a surprising sexy scene when Haruka “punishes” Kanata for talking about her “ex-girlfriend.”) Kanata is the one who plays the biggest role in Akari's transition to team member, using her short stature as a weapon to attack Akari's pride: “You don't even have the confidence to beat someone as small as me, and you wanted to become a beach volleyball idol?” It's been great to see Kanata use her height as an asset over the last few episodes. Kanata's skill, combined with the fact that people underestimate her, often works out in her favor. In this case, it reveals that below her shallow facade, Akari's got heaps of motivation and drive.
As usual, this is an episode about character building more than about building up beach volleyball skills. Of course, most of that focus is on Akari, so your mileage may vary depending on how endeared you are to a character who is more a collection of tropes than a standout personality. Akari's tsundere act isn't difficult to figure out—she's harsh (even to sweet Haruka) because she protects herself by rejecting people before they have a chance to reject her. It's a generic scenario that gets fleshed out by Akari's interactions with the rest of the cast. And when the whole cast is involved, this show is hard to resist.
Harukana Receive is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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