Mysteries can take a while to start revealing the truth behind their intrigue. Usually because it helps to build tension while allowing the characters and setting to expand more. Summer Time Rendering would rather dive right into the action without waiting.
Episode two, “Shadow”, opens with Shinpei dying and then returned to July 22nd. Which brings him back to his boat trip at the beginning of the anime. As our protagonist learns about his looping ability, we get additional scenes and details. Like how Mio’s fanservice bike crash scene was actually a murder attempt by her shadow. Then, after grasping his situation, Shinpei rushes to interfere with the slow invasion of doppelgangers. He doesn’t have a clear plan in mind yet, but he wants to protect Mio at all costs. Which does and will get him killed a few times.
So far, Summer Time Rendering focuses on its main plot rather than building up characters. We only learn more about the secretive business lady in this episode, who appears to be spying on the little girl that Ushio died rescuing. She implies that she knows the girl is actually a shadow, and her mission is likely to investigate them.
What’s surprising here is how quickly we establish that the shadow people aren’t some kind of time travelers like Shinpei. They’re supernatural body snatchers that kill people and create copies. Our protagonist sees all this first hand before he dies again and the loop resets. But instead of freaking out over the situation, here Shinpei calmly tries to outsmart them. Like preventing a shadow from replacing the town’s only cop, and explaining the situation to Mio with evidence.
If it wasn’t obvious from the gunshots at the end of the last episode of Summer Time Rendering, this show wants to make its deaths graphic. Shadow Mio repeatedly stabbing the cop and Shinpei definitely accomplishes that. Her blank expression as she does this, followed by an awkward smile, adds to the creepy tone. Although we cut away from the more violent visuals, you can still feel it with the sounds and blood splatters. Judging by how Shinpei puts a gun to his own head in the opening, it’ll probably get more purposefully graphic to maximize his new respawn power. Welcome to Disney+ anime, everybody.
It’s hard to tell if the fast pacing is good or bad for this kind of story. I kind of wish we had more time for these elements to breathe. But more concerning is the fact that Summer Time Rendering plans to be 25 episodes long. So while the quick progression seems fine now, it’ll be difficult to keep this narrative interesting without a drastic shift later.
This is basically a mixture of Higurashi and Re:ZERO with a dash of Shiki. And it’s hard not to keep compare it to them when this anime hasn’t done much to separate itself yet. The biggest distinction here appears to be the doppelgangers, and how their existence should make you doubt each of the characters and their intentions. Except it’s always obvious to us when someone is actually a shadow. The previous episode already hinted to us that there’s a Shadow Shinpei, so we don’t even get that kind of suspicion. So the main mystery with the shadows is if there’s a different reason they kill other than to survive.
Summer Time Rendering is becoming an interesting thriller. Maybe not the best horror mystery story though. But it at least has a main character who knows how to handle the situation. Shinpei is pretty smart so far. We’ll see where that takes him next week.
Disney+ is licensing Summer Time Rendering and there is currently no date for its worldwide release. Yasuki Tanaka created the original manga and is available on Amazon.