The harsh game of beach volleyball is explored.
What They Say:
Haruka is a high schooler, raring and ready, to start her summer break! But when she and her new roommate, Kanata, are challenged to a game of beach volleyball, it’s time to don their bathing suits and serve up some punishment—if only they knew how! Together, they’ll learn to play off each other’s strengths and find out what it means to be a team both on and off the court!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 bump to it, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The show works a familiar sports pattern so the mix is pretty good in moving things across the forward soundstage and presenting enough impact to the moments as needed. The 5.1 mix has a bit more bass to it but both tracks serve the material well as the action goes back and forth and there’s lots of effects and intense yelling. The smaller moments with dialogue and incidental sounds are handled well with some good placement as needed from time time and the end result is a show that while it may not stand out in a huge way to some extent it does exactly what it needs to in order to hit that right sweet spot. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/three format and the second disc has almost thirty minutes of extras. Animated by C2C, the show has a really great look that you get with series that deal with water and fanservice if they put enough of a budget into it like they did here. This isn’t all bounce and flounce as it plays more realistically and that works to its advantage with the color design. The encoding captures all of this really well with a solid color palette throughout it, no breaking up or noise during the high motion sequences, and a vibrancy to everything that doesn’t turn garish and simply looks great. It’s very easy to enjoy the look of this series.
The packaging for this release is nicely done as we get an o-card with different artwork than the case itself, which makes it more worthwhile. The o-card is almost more illustration style in a way but it goes for a lot of fanservice with all the skin, the suits, and the bodies pressed together as they compete. The blue sky and bits of other colors alongside the white for the background lets the character artwork all stand out well. It’s a nice contrast to the case cover itself which was one of the key visuals that has the main group all together in jump model on the beach, giving us a nice curved image. That isn’t quite as vibrant but I love the designs and the beauty of the ocean aspect of it to help tie it all together. The back covers are the same with a lot of white space where we get the summary of the premise, the extras, and a nice bit of beach visual imagery along the left done with a touch of style. The bottom breaks out the technical information well so that you know exactly what’s included and how. The set comes with a couple of nice postcards included and we do get artwork on the reverse side that utilizes that artwork, making it the best of both worlds.
The extras for this release are fun as we get a couple of the Japanese promos as well as the clean opening and closing sequences. We also get a look at the web previews for each of the episodes.
Based on the manga of the same name, Harukana Receive is a twelve-episode anime series that aired during the summer 2018 season. Animated by C2C, it brought out Yoshiyuki Kubooka to direct base don scripts by Touko Machida. Kubooka is a long-time animation director, going back to Nadia and Gunbuster, and working on films like Berserk as the main director. But it’s his Giant Robo work that always wows me, so I love what he brings to the table here in highlighting the drama and ensuring it has the right visual emotion and impact. The original manga itself began back in 2015 in Manga Time Kirara Forward and has eight volumes to its name, with Seven Seas Entertainment having licensed and begun releasing it in English.
Harukana Receive plays to some of the usual tropes and cliches but there are things that it does help the characters to work through as opposed to it being just about body consciousness. The series takes place in Okinawa and we get introduced to a pretty good little volleyball team that’s initially formed by two cousins that are reconnecting over the way they’re changing as adolescence goes on. Haruka, newly arrived in Okinawa because of a change with her parents work, is stressed because she stands out due to her height. It’s something she’s very self-conscious about. Her cousin Kanata is much the same but she’s short and flat, which really eats at her. While both are appealing to most who would see them in general in real life, they’re victims of the social image of what’s beautiful in Japan and that has them stressing at a young age about things they really can’t do anything about.
The bond of relatives is what sets things in motion when Kanata gets some insults thrown her way during a challenge and that has Haruka jumping in to help compete in the moment. But it’s the kind of thing that gives Haruka more excitement than she imagined and by the end of the first episode, she’s ready to go all-in on the sport in order to take down the competition, not realizing that they were high school champions already. It’s a standard setup but it puts the two into having to learn to work together after being apart so long as cousins. Living together with their grandmother helps and there is that kind of bond that comes from being related as well. Kanata was waffling on leaving the sport but the energy from Haruka re-energizes her and both of them want to support the other, launching us into the show proper.
The show doesn’t lean school side to hard but we get some of that early on when upon setting up shop there Haruka gets to meet more of Kanata’s friends. The ones that stick with us the most are those that are into volleyball and help to get the club up and going. My favorites are the American twins, Claire and Emily. The new formation of the club helps to bring them all together and it’s a lot of fun to watch during the early part when there are just a few of them directly involved like this. The twins come from a mother who was a US Pro Player so they’ve got the skill and are well-ranked, making it so that with everyone in the club they can learn a lot from each other. The girls are also fun to watch because of the twins thing and how they mess with each other and argue while also pushing each other and still being as girlish as they want to be in other ways. It’s a good dynamic just between the two but the four as a whole really smooths it all over.
While we do get a good bit of fanservice throughout, from buying swimsuits that are appropriate to their needs and explaining why to the importance of sunscreen and applying it regularly, the show gets into the tournament track just a bit as well since the intent is take down those that insulted them at the start. And that brings in some new friends as well, expanding the group overall but still working the core four as an actual team. The competitive side doesn’t get into a full on tournament mode where it takes up the whole season because we also get practice time, school time, and some personal time as well. One of the more amusing characters that joins up is Akari, a local celeb who wants to compete but is kept out of the loop by others. Kanata discovers a secret about her (a familiar one, she’s a celeb with no real friends) and figures out a way to push her into joining so she can not only compete but begin making friends as well Akari’s a fun enough one overall even if she has to strike that tough balance at first without coming across as weak or anything.
Naturally, the show starts moving toward its own Nationals event and the larger competition that’s coming up and that begins to dominate the show going into the first third of its run or so. It works well enough as we get to go through the qualifiers while trying to reinforce the bonds of friendship amid competition all while looking at the bigger goal – and “real” enemies to take down as well. Though it is familiar in standard sports structure, I will say that I absolutely adored the way this plays out because of the seriousness in which they portray the sport. It’s not a fanservice fest or anything, though it is appealing, as it highlights the strength and body training required to really excel. At the same time, it’s visually presented so well with great dynamic matches and camera placements so that it maximizes the effects. Volleyball can be pretty damn exciting on its own because of the way it moves so quickly and the show captures it and the power of it extremely well.
Harukana Receive works pretty well for what it is and delivers an enjoyable look at beach volleyball. It treats it seriously, leans into the fanservice in a light way, and focuses on the sport more than anything else. But if you’ve ever watched any, well, you’re mind is likely going to wander from time to time because of how it’s designed. This is a solid and strong looking release that comes with a good dub and a clean encode. It’s a standard release with no real frills or thrills to it beyond the show itself but it’s the kind of sports show that I really enjoy as it works the character bonds right, handles the competition aspects well, and doesn’t focus completely on the sport itself. I had a lot of fun with this and while it’s not a life-altering sports series, it’s one that really deserves more of a look than it got.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closings, Promos, Web Previews
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: November 19th, 2019
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.