Score: A

This show just continues to impress. They did a great job in this episode in having some fun, but fitting in proper serious moments as well. It utterly makes sense with this cast of characters to handle things that way. Haruka is nothing if not a bundle of positive energy and yet the past of Kanata and Narumi required a more serious tone. I also respect that they again cut the OP/ED with this episode in order to spend more time fleshing out the story. It allowed the episode to flow pretty naturally and build up to the emotional aftermath of the match. The show carries a good mix of tones. It doesn’t just focus on the lighthearted fanservice moments, but also gives attention to the characters as people.

A lot of this episode really revolved around Kanata and Narumi. The drama and emotions between the two former teammates was easy enough to read. Neither of them was happy with how things turned out in the past and were carrying scars with them. While Haruka’s decisions helped secure a win in this revenge match, it was more important for pushing both Kanata and Narumi to move forward. Narumi couldn’t bring herself to serve to Kanata and Kanata couldn’t bring herself to receive and potentially relive her past nightmares. It was a tough thing for Kanata to receive that serve and face her fears. But in the end she managed it. Sometimes you need a bit of a push to get somewhere and Haruka’s trust handled that. It’s hard to face letting someone down.

And it was terribly shocking for Narumi to see someone do for Kanata what she couldn’t. That emotional breakdown at the end reflected how much it hurt. Not only that she couldn’t do that for Kanata, but the idea that doing what she thought was best may have simply hurt her even more. Maybe Narumi’s efforts didn’t help Kanata at the end of the day. That’s a painful thing that she may have to face. But it’s also fair to say that Kanata needed time. She may have only been ready to accept Haruka’s push because she’d been away from the game for so long, loved it so much, and was actively waiting for that chance. It may have simply been an issue of timing. Kanata needed some time to overcome her own weaknesses.

“Kanata…stay focused.”

Not that this episode was all serious drama. They still managed to find utterly silly moments to keep the mood from getting too heavy. We can now say with absolute certainty…that Kanata is a girl that appreciates a nice rear end XD. I will admit that I didn’t see that coming. But hey it did still fit into the part of the episode about getting Haruka’s swimsuit adjusted more for beach volleyball. It is a fair point that hanging strings and a looser fit might look better, but be a bit of a pain when you are actually taking part in a sport.

And I’m glad they did fit in enough training sequences for the episode. They even made a point that they couldn’t cover everything in a week. Hilariously enough that lack of training on setting the ball allowed Haruka to act in a surprising way and going for a two-step attack instead of the standard pattern of receive, set, and spike.

“Cut Shot!”

The match had a nice mix of expected and surprising developments. It was a given that they couldn’t just win with one trick move. Although it might have worked if Kanata was a bit bolder in using the cut shot before Narumi had picked up on what they were aiming for. The match couldn’t conclude though without Kanata receiving a serve. It was important for her and Narumi that Kanata show some visible progress in moving past their shared trauma. And yet it wasn’t as if Kanata had to do it all alone. Just overcoming her aversion to receiving was enough. No doubt they’ll have to figure out how best to use Kanata’s build in their favor rather than it simply being a weakness. Haruka and Kanata are going to have a pretty serious problem if they both can’t switch up roles depending on the situation. Step by step though.

This was honestly a really good episode. They got to the expected stage of Kanata and Haruka showing some visible progress as a duo while also making clear that they have plenty more ground to cover. Getting one point is fine, but they have to win matches and raise their game overall. It was nice to see Kanata and Narumi grow a bit and I hope they can truly rekindle their friendship. Being a team isn’t going to happen again, but they can be friends again. Also a small nod to Ayasa who I can understand is worried about Kanata getting back into the sport. She cares about Narumi and the thought of losing her as a partner would no doubt make her uneasy. And yet she does support Haruka and Narumi pretty well and doesn’t let her unease lead to saying anything unnecessary to Kanata herself.

I’d say this show has a good chance of being picked up for the rest of the season so long as episode 3 turns out well. It is a fun and entertaining show and yet there is still plenty to talk about in each episode.

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An older member at 25, yet a new addition to Anime Evo. Recently graduating University and in the difficult point between school and a true career. Anime being a salvation and blogging a good way to put all those hours of writing essays to some use. Enjoys talking about series, yet not taking on so many that the quality dips. A Canadian who enjoys his anime and hearing what others think about the series he enjoys watching.

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