Harukana Receive Ep. 3: Do the hokey pokey

So it looks like every episode is going to follow the same formula. First, bombard the viewers with copious amounts of fanservice. Then follow that up with a volleyball match that uses a lot of slow motion. Last but not least, we wrap the episode up with some fairly lightweight drama. Once again, Kanata has an insecurity to overcome. Once again, Haruka shows her cousin the way by being her usual super genki self. Hanebado!‘s drama might be a bit cloying, but Harukana Receive is almost too watered down by comparison. Ah well, at least the girls are hot?

— No anime is complete without high school, so we see Haruka visiting the faculty office to finish up some paperwork. It’s not that we care about education. Nah. We just want a piece of that juicy after school club action.

— Enter Emily and Claire Thomas, two blonde twins eager to recruit Haruka and Kanata to their Beach Volleyball Club. We can call them Eclair for short. And as you might expect, Kanata looks absolutely thrilled to join the club.

— Anyways, here comes the fanservice. The twins love to play one-sided slap-ass. It’s usually just Claire picking on Emily.

— The thing is… I’m used to beach volleyball swimsuits looking like this, and not these sexy tie bikinis.

— The four girls soon decide to do a quick match for funsies. Kinda. Naturally, the HaruKana duo are losing badly again. After all, this is only their second match as a team. Haruka has a lot of spirit, but that’s pretty much all she really has going for her right now.

— The physics are really terrible in this episode. For some reason, everything is really floaty.

— At one point, Emily uses a move called a “pokey.” It’s like a change-up, I guess. In the middle of this explanation, however, we bizarrely cut to Claire gushing over her own swimsuit. Um, okay.

— Midway through the episode, Harukana Receive finally decides to trot out the drama. Emily is taking this match semi-seriously, because she actually wants to be good at the game. As a result, she’s annoyed at Kanata’s refusal to also use the pokey. Emily has a point, though. If you’re losing this badly, maybe it’s time to re-examine your strategy. Unfortunately, the short girl just wants to spike everything.

— So what’s Kanata’s problem? She used to be a power player, so she wants to get back to that level. She wants to hit the ball hard. She wants to spike it, because that used to be her signature style. Once again, her issues stem from her insecurities. In last week’s episode, she was too scared to receive the ball because she’s smaller than everyone on the court. Well, now she doesn’t want to do the pokey because it reminds her that she’s too short. Goddamn, girl!

— I mean, sure, she must feel frustrated that she used to be tall and now she’s not. For some reason, she never got her growth spurt. But athletes add new moves to their arsenals all the time. When Kobe Bryant lost his speed advantage over the years, what did he do? He started playing in the post. Lebron James should do the same goddamn thing. When defenders in baseball start overshifting, what should you do to counter it as a batter? You stop trying to pull everything you hit. Good athletes swallow their pride and pick up new skills. Stubborn ones flame out.

— Luckily, Kanata has Haruka, the newbie. The newbie has no pride. She just wants to be a sponge. Monkey see, monkey do. After watching the Eclair duo school her and Kanata with the pokey over and over, she wants to use the same move on them too:

— So right now, Kanata is getting all of the major character development. Haruka is little more than her muse. She gets excited, but that’s about it. I mean, other than her infectious energy, Haruka doesn’t really have much else going for her as a character. She’s good at picking up new things in volleyball, but she’s not really interesting by herself. This is kinda like the Kanata Show featuring Haruka as the sidekick. Maybe she’ll come into her own in later episodes, but certainly not at the moment.

— God, this show loves its slow motion sequences. Slo-mo pokey… yay…

— But yeah, Kanata eventually swallows her pride and uses the pokey. Sure, the ball landed out of bounds, but the first step is admitting that you have a problem. Wait a minute…

— After the friendly match, Eclair tells HaruKana all about an upcoming volleyball tournament. Everyone is eager to sign up. They’ll no doubt run into Narumi and Ayase, I’m sure. In fact, those two will probably be the final boss at this rate.

— Then to wrap the episode up, the story gives us a bunch of flashbacks. First, a flashback about the first time Kanata met the Eclair twins. Even back then, they were busty…? C’mon.

— And afterwards, a flashback about how she first met Narumi. Ooh, she’s so cool and tall. I wanna befriend that cool and tall chick! How do I do it, mommy! Then her mom suggested volleyball. No, really, that’s it.

— Kanata and Narumi also promised each other that they would become national champions, but… well, we all know how that went.

— But hey, life is all about second chances! Kanata also traded Narumi in for the bigger, taller, genki-er model!

— That’s it for our third episode. Harukana Receive is playing it safe. If we want to put this into sports terms, the show has a high floor, but a low ceiling. There’s relatively little chance that the anime ends up becoming anything special, because it refuses to really put itself out there. Sure, it can fail, but it can’t fail spectacularly. So far, the only character with any reasonable amount of development is Kanata, and even then, her issues are already kinda repeating themselves. I’m short, so I can’t do this. I’m short, so I can’t do that.

— But to be fair, Harukana Receive isn’t really doing anything bad either. The plot is safe but inoffensive. The characters don’t bring anything new to the table, but their chemistry is fine. In other words, safe but inoffensive. This is even true of the fanservice! Sure, the amount of T&A in every episode is abundant, but it’s just inert eye candy. No one’s falling into anyone’s crotches “accidentally” in this anime (thank god). To put it bluntly, Harukana Receive is a forgettable Friday night time-waster. Nothing wrong with that if you’re okay with mediocrity.

20 thoughts on “Harukana Receive Ep. 3: Do the hokey pokey

  1. sonicsenryaku

    “Harukana Receive is a forgettable Friday night time-waster. Nothing wrong with that if you’re okay with mediocrity.”

    Yea pretty much. It’s as you said: it’s safe and inoffensive. Plus if i had to give the anime props for something, it at least knows how to actually draw a voluptuous behind. So many times do i see butts in anime meant to be curvy and toned completely miss the mark

    1. Sean Post author

      P5 cast is the biggest offender in recent history for both guys and girls. All those skin-tight outfits, and yet Morgana is the biggest ass outta all of them.

      1. sonicsenryaku

        Hahahaha for real man. Then you have all these people in the game saying that Ann has this big, perfect ass and I’m like: “STOP LYING TO ME GAME!!! You can’t be serious!!!” Breaks the whole vivacious image the game wants to have of Ann when the art can’t even keep up with its own expectations

        1. Sean Post author

          Then you have all these people in the game saying that Ann has this big, perfect ass

          Really? I don’t remember that. Not specifically her ass anyways.

          1. sonicsenryaku

            If memory serves me right, it was Yusuke who made the comment about her having a perfect butt back when he was scouting her out in the game.

            1. sonicsenryaku

              Most of the in-game comments at Ann’s physique were geared at her tits but there were those rare moments like Morgana (thristy ass cat) making a remark about the softness of Ann’s butt and Ryuji making a passing comment about her hips at some point during the game. While not explicit comments about her behind being sizable, I couldn’t help but think to myself: “What softness? What hips bro? None of this is accurately communicated through her bottom half physique; but hey, maybe it’s just me

              1. Sean Post author

                Eh, at the end of the day, P5 is essentially anime, and anime girls often think that having a big ass is gross. Only PlatinumGames knows what’s up.

                    1. sonicsenryaku

                      Shhhh don’t make any complaints otherwise Kamiya will stop his work on the game (speculation is that he might be returning as director of 3) XD. There was a tweet he made earlier in the year in response to people who were upset that Bayo 3 would not be multi-console that he’d drop development on the game if people kept talking about Bayo 3’s exclusivity. Speaking of multi-console though, I reeeeally wouldn’t mind having Nier on the switch. There are rumblings of a possibility that a port is coming so I’d like that to be true so I can make my save file deleting choices on the go

                    2. Sean Post author

                      I trust PlatinumGames to make it good even without Kamiya. So if a grown man would drop out of a multimillion dollar project just because people want multi-platform support, I’d actually love to see that. That would be funny as hell.

                      I play almost everything on my TV. The only time I don’t is when I’m forced to touch my 3DS (for SMT IV and Strange Journey, basically). So Nier on Switch wouldn’t really matter one bit to me.

                    3. sonicsenryaku

                      “So if a grown man would drop out of a multimillion dollar project just because people want multi-platform support, I’d actually love to see that. That would be funny as hell”

                      Wouldn’t it?!! Though a part of Kamiya’s extreme response at people wanting Bayo 3 to have multi-platform support comes from the way the fandom behaved back in 2013/2014 when Bayo 2 was revealed to be an exclusive for Wii U. It kind of turned into a shit show of people demanding that Bayo 2 be released on other consoles while defaming the Wii U and bashing people over at platinum (who obviously have no control over what consoles the game gets released on; it’s the publishers i.e nintendo)

                      That being said though, if Kamiya is truly directing the third Bayo, I kinda don’t want him to leave (as brash as he is though, I don’t think he has the balls). As fun as Bayo 2 was, it’s a game that just doesn’t match the design prowess of the first (which Kamiya directed). Bayo 2 reduces both the skill floor AND the skill ceiling of its mechanics and that’s just not something you should do when designing games, especially when you design shitty enemies who are a pain to deal with because you’ve reduced the amount of variation in combat. Nier is a great example of a game platinum designing a game that doesn’t necessarily have a super high skill floor, but makes up for it by having a perfect skill ceiling that faciliates the versatile mechanics of its combat system. Basically it’s one of platinum games best balancing of casual and hardcore mechanics while pushing good action combat design philosophy.

                      Bayo 2 is a game where it’s flaws really start to become apparent on higher difficulties and a lot of that has to do with the many changes that occurred when directors switched from 1 to 2. Suffice it to say, I don’t want those changes in 3.

                    4. Sean Post author

                      I’m not as positive on Nier’s swordplay as you are. Sure, you can pull off some neat-looking combos, but without a reason to use them, it’s all moot in my eyes. It’s like giving me all the tools in the world, but also sticking me in a playground sandbox. What’s the point? Nier’s biggest weakness is that it’s too easy. I could become a combat god, but there’s nothing for me to fight.

                    5. sonicsenryaku

                      No I hear ya, and that’s a valid criticism; that’s why I’m of the mindset that Nier is a good example of platinum games designing a game that compromises with both casual and hardcore gamers. The tools are there for more skilled gamers who care enough about the mechanics to want to be flashy and make interesting combo videos, but the enemies are not overly complex/super aggressive or the game hard enough that it would push away casual gamers, at least on normal mode. The game presents a lot of challenge on its hard and very hard modes, but that’s more of result of enemies just doing hella damage right away rather than the enemy types themselves being challenging, so the difficulty feels a bit superficial.

                      That being said, if i had to dock points off of Nier in terms of its overall combat, it would be from its boss battles not having any real standout moments. While fun, there aren’t any real memorable ones aside of probaly 2 encounters in the game, but those are for narrative reasons, you know? Bosses are a defining stamp in action-oriented video games. KH2 is one of my favorite action rpg’s of all time because its bosses (mostly the organization XIII members) are both challenging and an absolute blast to play against. The organization XIII members and the lingering will are such a triumph of video game boss programming that I don’t know how KH3 is going to top that; I’d love to see it try though. If anything, they’re probably going to Nort all the iconic members of the organization and just recycle them into KH3; problem solved i guess………

                    6. Sean Post author

                      People like to say that we don’t need AAA games because A games are good enough. They then point to Nier as an example. Nier is only an A game due to its merits. In terms of budget, it’s more a B game. They had a limited amount of money to spend, and luckily, they put it in all the right places. Great story, aural orgasm from the soundtrack, and of course, those character designs are slick as hell. Most importantly, Yoko Taro’s zaniness lends a certain auteur feel to the game that cannot be found anywhere else. Where most AAA games feel like they were designed with a focus group in mind, a lot of these smaller games have strong, unique visions that can’t be duplicated. This covers up a lot of the game’s blemishes. But you can’t hide the fact that every goddamn enemy is the same. You can’t hide the tiny world. Worst of all, the bosses are just plain bad. I got super hyped after the solo fight against Adam. Man, that was dope, and I’m only six hours into the game! Aaaaaaaaand that was pretty much the high point as far as the boss encounters were concerned. Hegel looked cool, but as the fight unfolded, it became a hot mess as you try to deal with the camera and the giant ball boys rolling around. I started playing the Devil May Cry series on harder difficulties leading up to the Nier: Automata release, because I thought I needed to sharpen up my skills. I thought I was in for some heavy duty combat. Nah.

                    7. sonicsenryaku

                      “I started playing the Devil May Cry series on harder difficulties leading up to the Nier: Automata release, because I thought I needed to sharpen up my skills. I thought I was in for some heavy duty combat. Nah.”

                      Hahaha well, that’s where you fucked up. You decided to play the cream of the crop of action video games in an attempt to “GIT GUD” and then ended up over- level as an action gamer XD. That being said, in the time period between 2014 and 2016-ish where Platinum Games were struggling to find the right balance between casual and hardcore game design (and made some crappy action games between those years, courtesy of Platinum games B development team), they were able to achieve that balance with Nier, albeit with some flaws. It’s ironic because Yokotaro’s sensibilities are the last thing you’d want to sell to a casual crowd, but hey, I guess the world works in funny ways like that sometimes. Video games Yokotaro has been attached to in the past have usually lacked polish in the game design department (reminds me of the Xenosaga series in that way; HD remake with better gameplay please and thank you) so it’s nice to have one that has gameplay that can compliment Yokotaro’s bizzare, yet captivating vision.

                      On another note, yeeeeeeaaaa Nier did blow its boss load pretty early; you never want to do that in your video games but eh, sometimes it happens. Kind of reminds me of the newest God of War actually where the first boss, The Stranger (aka Baldur) is the game peak of boss battle design. Every other subsequent battle after just doesn’t reach the heights of that one. I was hoping 2b vs A2 would deliver but that was mostly a battle of average quality (and i feel like I’m being nice with that one). I liked A2 vs 9S though, but for narrative reasons. The Drakengard callback was nice during the fight with Emil but that boss is literally just “dodge laser fire, destroy the testicular smiley face, rinse and repeat.” But like I’ve implied, the strengths of Nier’s swordplay lies in its mechanical depth and the fact that you can explore that depth without being hampered by other shitty mechanics or being pigeon-holed into playing the game in a particular way. Games that do that get on my nerves

                    8. Sean Post author

                      Yokotaro’s sensibilities are the last thing you’d want to sell to a casual crowd

                      Eh, he reins himself in for Nier for some reason. Yeah, things are a little batshit crazy in Drakengard, but both Nier and Nier Automata are tame by comparison.

                      Plus, I think Yoko Taro is a bit shameless in certain ways, and that definitely appeals to casuals. Why sexy androids in high heels? Because he likes sexy androids in high heels. People don’t want something completely neutralized and whitewashed. They want people as they are, flaws and all. Taro’s weaknesses are simultaneously his strengths. And surprise, surprise, everyone loves 2B (I still prefer A2). I even had a coworker cosplay as her.

                      More than anything, however, people just want a good story, and the man can tell a good story.

                      But like I’ve implied, the strengths of Nier’s swordplay lies in its mechanical depth

                      I guess I just can’t appreciate it in a vacuum. To me, it’s just one aspect of the gameplay. It has to lend itself to the bigger picture, which the game never fully realized.

                    9. sonicsenryaku

                      and when i say the boss battles are not all amazing or “memorable” in nier, I only mean that from a combat design standpoint

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