Haruka Ozora is very, very tall. She’s 172 centimetres (5’8” if you’re using the imperial system), making her a skyscraper among Japanese girls. She sticks out like a sore thumb, can never find clothes that fit correctly, and generally feels like an outsider wherever she goes. Luckily, there’s a sport out there tailor-made for tall girls with long limbs. And it’s waiting for her on a beach in Okinawa. Volume 1 released in English in July 2018, by Seven Seas. Is this SeinenSports manga all ecchi or is Harukana Receive volume 1 worth reading?
The characters of Harukana Receive
A newbie to beach volleyball whose enthusiasm makes up for her lack of experience.
Kanata is Haruka’s cousin who happens to be a skilled volleyball player. She just happens to be a little on the short side.
What’s the story?
The story begins as Haruka moves to Okinawa to live with her extended family. Her cousin, Kanata, meets her at the airport. It quickly becomes apparent that, while they may be the same age, physically they couldn’t be farther apart, as Haruka mistakes her much shorter cousin for a lost child.
Kanata’s house is next to the beach, and Haruka strips down to her swimsuit suit and makes a run for it as soon as she sees the water. At the beach, she meets two girls who are training for a beach volleyball tournament. One of them offers Haruka a chance to have a shot. Haruka accepts, and it’s love at first spike. Haruka suggests that she might be a future ace volleyball player. She’s joking, but that statement still doesn’t sit well one of the girls, an incredibly intense girl named Narumi.
By the time Kanata arrives on the beach, Narumi has challenged Haruka to a two-on-two match. Haruka eagerly accepts; Kanata is more reluctant but agrees, and the two pairs of girls face off. Does the inexperienced Haruka stand a chance against two tournament players? And why is Narumi so hostile?
Click here for Harukana Receive volume 1 spoilers
Harukana Receive volume 1 spoilers
Haruka and Kanata get crushed by Narumi and her partner, Ayasa, seven to nothing. However, Haruka enjoys the match so much that she challenges Narumi and Ayasa to a revenge match once she gains a little more skill. Kanata tries to stop Haruka, but before she can, Narumi accepts. A little later, we learn just why Narumi was so upset in the first place.
It turns out that Narumi and Kanata were partners once. However, Kanata stopped growing, and her diminutive size made her a liability on the court. Eventually, she quit being Narumi’s partner, which deeply hurt Narumi, and is something Narumi still hasn’t gotten over.
Haruka is sorry to hear about the bad blood, but she is eager to train and throws herself (sometimes literally) into the training that Kanata devises for her. The girls eventually have their rematch, but you’ll have to read the book to see who wins. Shortly after that match, Haruka and Kanata meet another pair of volleyball players.Changing the trajectory of their sports lives forever.
Haruka is a total newbie to beach volleyball. As such, she serves as a stand-in for the reader, who learns about beach volleyball right alongside her. And this book goes quite deep on the intricacies of the sport. Early on, for example, Kanata explains to her how wind affects the behavior of the ball.
Other examples explain how setting is different in outdoor vs indoor volleyball, how touches are counted, how a different ball is used. Not forgetting how competitors select and prepare their bikinis. Before reading this manga, I had assumed that outdoor and indoor volleyball was the same. However, it seems that beach volleyball is a very different animal when compared to its indoor cousin. Mangaka Nyoi Jizai did a lot of research on the sport, and it shows.
Is Harukana Receive just fan service?
Beach volleyball is a sport tailor-made for fan service. The participants are usually tall, good-looking athletes who run and jump on a beach while wearing next to nothing. But what’s remarkable about the fan service in this book is that there really isn’t any.
Oh, there are plenty of images of girls in bikinis. That’s the point of beach volleyball. But it’s always within the sport’s context, and there’s nothing to make it seem like the book is trying to appeal to a pubescent male audience.
Personally, I’m glad for this. I’m not a prude; I’ve reviewed ecchi manga for this site, and I’m sure I’ll review more in the future. But I also think that fan service in non-ecchi manga hurts more than it helps because it tends to cheapen the story. The author avoided going the obvious route here, and this book is better for it.
Harukana Receive volume 1’s artwork
The art is good, but it stops just shy of being great. The characters are nicely drawn, and the backgrounds are well done, but the author relies a little too much on a no-pupils-in-the-eyes look that makes the characters seems spacey at times.
The art stands out most in its action sequences, as the girls strike convincing poses when they jump, dig, spike, and go through the rest of the motions of volleyball. The action is another example of the extensive research the author did on the sport.
Is Harukana Receive volume 1 worth reading?
Absolutely. The first English volume came out in 2018, but I stayed away from it since I assumed the premise was just a cover for non-stop fan service, like a manga version of Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball. I was wrong, but I’m quite glad I waited because now I can binge-read the first handful of volumes.
Harukana Receive is a sports manga and a great one. It features a theme not seen often enough: a group of passionate girls in their pursuit of a sport. All the characters are distinctive and likeable. Their discussion of beach volleyball’s ins and outs reveals a depth to the sport that most people aren’t aware exists. Harukana Receive maybe my favourite pickup of 2020.