Now that our time loop protagonist has a grasp on the situation, it’s time to take a step back. This week, Summer Time Rendering focuses on gathering allies and building up the doubt that the shadows are meant to create. But things feel weird with this episode in particular. Episode three, “Drifting Ashore”, starts to make you ask more questions, but not in a good mystery way. It’s more like a confusing narrative direction. One that might leave you unsatisfied with a convoluted explanation later.
Let’s talk about the Shadow Shinpei in the room first. There were many aspects that made me think the Shinpei we follow in this episode isn’t always the real deal. The most obvious of which is the establishment of a secret code that’s quickly forgotten. It’s passed off as a comedic “dude how could you forget already haha” kind of moment, but it was oddly stretched out.
We also already know a shadow of Shinpei exists by the time Shadow Mio shows up at night because she nearly said as much before he looped back last episode. That and some diner dialogue with a native tells us that another Shinpei talked to them in the original loop.
It’s likely Shinpei was copied from the random flash during Ushio’s funeral. The young girl who Ushio saved, Shiori Kobayakawa, was hinted at being a shadow already. What more connects the theory is when most of Shinpei’s suspicious actions start. After he has a haunting encounter with the Shadow Shiori while confirming their family went missing during this loop.
It would be very interesting if at this moment was when a switch happened and this episode was a shadow tricking even the audience into believing his act. But if that were the case, his inner monologue wouldn’t make sense, as he still seems to be reacting to the situation normally.
What confused me the most about our Shinpei this episode is that he closes the loop on an event that must’ve happened with a different Shinpei on the first timeline. Making you wonder if there are overlapping time travel shenanigans mixed in with the shadows.
Personally, it feels like we’re setting up something that seems to keep you curious but will disappoint when it’s fully revealed. I’ve seen enough time travel stories to know it’s hard to keep explanations rational if you’re not careful. Here, it was assumed the time aspect being related to Shinpei dying meant it would be easier to ignore a lot of typical problems. Largely because the loop should reset with every death. But now that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Either way I’m glad this episode made us go from easily telling who the shadows are to wondering if our main character became a shadow. Even if it was just for a brief moment. And it’s good that Summer Time Rendering decided to slow down a bit while also keeping up with key developments. That gives viewers time to actually doubt the characters and events that take place, as opposed to a time loop monster hunt already. Although Shinpei seems pretty logical in his approach to the whole situation, so even that might’ve been exciting.
And we got to interact more with Sou, the chill best friend who seems tough and dependable. He’s instantly determined to deal with the shadows, and also mindful that any of them could already be a traitor. Most of the reason he’s ready to fight back is because he has a crush on Mio. But it’s also apparent in this episode that Mio is crushing on Shinpei. So there could be a painful love triangle moment later on. Maybe with an added spicey layer of shadows manipulating that dynamic.
The weird cliffhanger of this episode leaves a lot of confusion. An Ushio in a swimsuit walks through a crowded festival unnoticed by anyone but Shinpei. Their meeting as the credits roll makes you question so much. Is she actually there or is this some weird Anohana ghost thing? Maybe she’s the shadow Ushio who killed the real one and that’s why she’s still in the swimsuit? There’s so many potential lines that could go in.
Ultimately, there’s a lot we can do with this premise. While the anime hasn’t done too much to stand out yet, I get the feeling Summer Time Rendering will soon become its own unique narrative. After that, it’s just a question of how it handles its presentation.
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.