Huh, I think this episode of Harukana Receive has the most screentime where the girls are wearing normal clothes.
…The things anime makes me pay attention to…
Anyway, here’s the first real introduction to the volleyball club’s new coach, Marissa Thomas (Umeka Shouji), Claire and Emily’s mother. With Haruka constantly calling people a “demon coach” for kicks, I kind of was expecting Marissa to actually live up to this title. And from time to time, you do get that sense with how rigorously she trains everyone (especially Akari). She even gets involved in the practice herself and Claire clearly was not kidding when she said her mother is good. Those spikes looked deadly and that’s apparently in spite of her getting “old” (the wonders of anime age). I however would argue that her driving looked more demonic than her coaching. Someone’s clearly seen too much Fast & Furious on the flight to Japan.
On the other side of the coin, Marissa expresses a very motherly side to the girls. As soon as she meets Kanata, the coach immediately welcomes her with a warm embrace and assures her that she’s here to help her no matter what (as evidenced in the ending). I don’t expect Harukana Receive to delve too much into this but I couldn’t help but view Marissa as a surrogate mother for Kanata, filling in the void left by the real one. It at least makes her introduction feel a little bit more heartwarming.
Conversely, Haruka meeting Marissa for the first time is a bit more comical as the former finally meets someone taller than her. I’ll admit, her reaction ranging from frustrated to relieved at such a person was pretty funny. On a more serious note, the two characters do immediately hit off with Marissa showing gratitude towards Haruka’s efforts to help Kanata and remind her that it’s her empathy that matters more as Kanata’s partner, rather than her actual skills in volleyball.
While a stern teacher, this episode demonstrates that Marissa imparts wisdom just as often as she drills routines into her trainees. The goal was for Haruka or Kanata to successfully counter one of her spikes and what seems like regular practice actually serves to encourage the two think outside the box. In the end, rather than try to completely block the ball, Haruka instead focuses on slowing it down enough for Kanata to receive it. Part of me wants to question the realism of the strategy a bit but thematically, it’s a good reminder to the protagonists that it can be their teamwork that determines their success and not their raw strength.
After some fun New Years’ Shenanigans (wow, this show is really cruel to Akari…), we finally see the whole Kanata and Narumi drama laid to rest. There’s been plenty of scenes where we see Narumi privately happy that her old partner is getting back into volleyball but evidently, she’s apprehensive about actually reconciling in person. Likewise, it also takes some time convincing Kanata to meet up with her. The parallel even extends to their respective partners as both Ayasa and Haruka are the outgoing types who help orchestrate the reunion.
A shame that the reunion scene is a brief one. I suppose Harukana Receive just spared me a stock friendship speech but for once, I wouldn’t have mind it if the show went with that. However, this isn’t to say Narumi’s actions doesn’t still work. Her walking away reflects the stinging reality she’s forced to accept: that Kanata is keeping her promise that she’ll get to Nationals, only this time with Haruka. That she still gestures a pinky promise though suggests that she is still happy to see her old friend is back to seeing their dream come true. All in all, it’s hard to argue that this scene ended on a sour note.
With that sorted out, I wonder what left’s to do in Harukana Receive. You could say Nationals but that seems like something far in the horizon, maybe even something you couldn’t reach in a single cour. Plus, the manga is still ongoing. Still, this anime has been a fun ride so I’d hate to see it jump the shark this far in.
Thanks for reading!
For all of my Harukana Receive Episode Reviews, check out the show’s archive page!
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