The match between the Thomas sisters and Harukana kicks off in earnest in Volume 5. Needless to say, it’ll be intense: these four are in the same club; Claire and Emily are one of the strongest pairs in the country; and that same pair, alongside their mom, was not only teaching Haruka, a growing talent, about the game but also being one of the contributors to Kanata’s return to beach volleyball.
So add on that they likely know each other’s tricks, and that means the usual strategy will have to feature something different that can shake things up — will Emily’s personality and weather factor into this? You bet they will!
Through five volumes, it might be fine to say beach volleyball requires talent physically and mentally, but once you have that, it’ll ultimately come down to finding the moment to capitalize and get a point. That sounds no different than any other sport, but as two players on each side of the court have to be in tandem while going through the strain of moving constantly on sand, you get the unique features of beach volleyball in manga form. So for all intents and purposes, Nyoijizai’s done a nice job in showing how great it is. Still has cute girls — ok, correction, common cute and athletic girls — do cute things when not playing a match. But that’s a part of the package that in no way detracts from the work.
While this is a battle between the Thomas sisters and Team Harukana, it does delve into Claire and Emily’s backstory and establishes how their experiences made them sharper, and for Claire’s case, more reliable as a partner. It also at the end of this volume concludes a plot point from the prior volume that certainly could’ve come down to maturity in dealing with losing to close friends, but maybe that moment where the four face off in the finals could’ve been dicier. Also Haruka discovering Okinawans do one aspect differently than Tokyo people was fairly amusing.
But yes, the majority of this volume was the regional finals and…I think the anime pulled it off better. This is a case where that medium has an advantage — sound, animation, visuals — that make it dramatic and exciting. It’s also likely that because I saw that first it could be coloring my view of the manga version. Overall though, the manga is still laid out well, and how each side formulizes a strategy due to what they know as players and the weather is still engaging. You wouldn’t think about factoring wind at any point for indoor volleyball matches, but for beach volleyball, you have to know that or face your hitting strategy getting wrecked during your second set. Again, it’s things like that in this manga that you have to understand in order to be really good.
Now that this is finished, it’s time to move onto manga-only material. Yep, the first five volumes were turned into anime, but from here on it’s all new for me. That means we’ll likely see a new set of characters in this series, and also see if a pair the Beach Volleyball Club knows well is who they meet in the end. I’m thinking this volume was not as great as volume 4, but only slightly. Still was a really good read.