A slight time skip occurs between episodes as it’s now time for teams Harukana and Eclair to tackle Nationals. Even Marissa subtly returns to the U.S. which is a little disappointing. I would’ve loved to see this demon coach onscreen for a little bit longer but she did at least serve her purpose quite well for one episode.
The first half of Episode 9 focuses on Akari as she deals with the troubling news that due to a low number of teams, only one from Okinawa will qualify for Nationals. This of course means that Harukana and Ecclair may end up facing each other if they both climb the ranks. This is hardly something that would create an uproar and unsurprisingly, everyone accepts the news for what it is. After all, they’d probably run into each other during Nationals anyway.
What matters though is that Akari is afraid that the results of the tournament could create a rift in the club and now that she has friends, she’d hate to see that happens. Part of me feels the drama is a little rushed since Akari was just formally introduced two episodes. Compare this to, say, Yorimoi which presented a similar plot around the same time as this anime but with a character that was introduced much earlier at its third episode.
Still, this was a good sign of growth for Akari. While apprehensive at first, she has become quite attached to club, both as its manager and as a close friend. The scrunchies she creates was a great gesture. The symbolism of the flowers (the yellow hibiscus means “beautiful memories”) that the scrunchies are made of is bit on the nose but the unity they represent is a heartwarming image.
While the Okinawan tournament largely gets breezed over though Harukana Receive does devote some time to Harukana’s penultimate match. Their opponents this time are two new characters: the Aragaki twins, Youna (Satomi Akesaka) and Kanna (Minami Takahashi). Apparently, this team also wishes to play against Ecclair, having lost to them a few years ago so naturally the match gets a little personal. They’re decent enough though I’ll admit that they err on the side of familiarity. Youna is just as polite as Emily while Kanna has Claire’s rowdiness mixed with Mai’s cockiness.
Nevertheless, the match between the Aragakis and Harukana is pretty entertaining. The beginning of this episode informs you that Haruka has improved and this match is where I 100% buy into it. Now, she can block very consistently, almost as good as Claire can based on Kanna’s observations. She’s even gotten good with her spikes, using different types to keep her opponents on their feet. Things get spiced up when the Aragakis rely on a trump card they were saving against Ecclair: a topspin that can be difficult to block.
It’s a sound strategy that does throw off Haruka. That said, is it just me or do the characters in Harukana Receive really like using the same secret technique over and over again? First, Kanata spammed pokeys at Ai and Mai and now this. Judging from the scores, the Aragakis got some points from their strategy but it wasn’t effective enough to eventually turn the tides. I’m not saying this is a major point of criticism. In the end, the Aragakis take their loss well and just pleased that they at least gave the match their all. I just cant help but wonder if there’s a pattern here…
The real highlight of the match is seeing that Haruka and Kanata take Marissa’s advice to heart. If they can’t take on the problem individually, the next best thing is to tackle it together. And sure enough when Kanna’s topsin finally breaks through at a match point, Haruka has complete faith that Kanata will receive it in time which indeed happens. Moments like this really sell Harukana Receive‘s message about trusting your partner in a sport.
With the match settled, it’s now time for Harukana and Ecclair to play against each other. For all I know, this could be the last match shown in the anime. I’d shocked if it tried tackling all of Nationals in the last two episodes. Whatever the case may be, I expect this match to be a good one…also, my money is on Harukana. What? I like rooting for the underdog. I can’t help it!
- This far in, I can’t decide if Haruka is bad at taking advice or if Claire is bad at giving it…maybe a bit of both?
- I like Akari’s phone call with Ayasa and Narumi but it was mighty random that she had Ayasa’s number.
- The interactions between Akari and Mai were pretty amusing. To be honest, their slight tsundere quips play off each other so nicely that I kind of want to see them together as a volleyball team.
Thanks for reading!
For all of my Harukana Receive Episode Reviews, check out the show’s archive page!
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