Events on small Island that involves a tragedy leads the main character, Shinpei, back to his hometown which he hasn’t visited for two years. Upon his return, inexplicable events occur starting from the boat ride before even reaching the Island. A vision of sorts transcending the physical initiates the obscurity hiding behind the peculiarities ongoing within the Island. It commences the viewer off from an inquisitive entry and as the mystery deepens, it becomes clear the story isn’t exactly what it appears. A grander terror encapsulates the enigma sourced from the tragedy that led Shinpei back to the Island. Were circumstances planned to draw Shinpei back to the Island or was his arrival that now seeks to disentangle the darkness a fortuitous fate?
To answer the above question, the secrets hidden away within the Island and its history need to first reveal themselves. But based on the first two episodes, the role Shinpei serves conveys a relevance not wholly detached from the existence of the Island. The two may be related and the reason for his return could lie in that imperceptible connection. Right from the start, the first characteristic of Shinpei the viewer will notice is the varying colour of his eyes. Shinpei’s right eye is noticeable infused with an active brightness as if it represents a purpose extending outside physical sight. This in particular becomes a focal point within the first minute of the series as there is an unnerving glitch or interference defining the point of view the series begins from i.e. Shinpei’s. This manner of this scene’s conveyance alludes to a memory or dream but one not recalled from a human mind but from a database. The noise apparent within this vision very much compels the viewer to take notice of Shinpei’s eyes. Why is his right eye different? A right eye that resembles another character’s which Shinpei is connected to. Are there parts of Shinpei’s memory that he himself does not consciously remember?
There is definitely more going on within the story than what has been established by the first two episodes. The frame of reference Shinpei exist in illustrates the conception of a story much more imposing than what has been introduced. If I were to explain it without explaining it to keep this initial impression spoiler-free, I would use other anime and manga as examples to paint the type of journey Summer Time Rendering appears to be characterised by. One anime that immediately comes to mind is Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (Higurashi When They Cry). I have only watched the 2006 and 2007 seasons of this series but the plot twists that happens there and within this series is very much within the same flavour profile. Both series set-up a narrative that evolves the journey in incredibly unconventional and memorable ways. Certain scientific concepts becomes the canvas for which the story and mystery unravels on. Dread and wonder intertwine to create a disconcerting and spectacular experience. It is worth noting that Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni is more psychological and horrific than Summer Time Rendering (Higuarashi’s art style totally deceived me into a false comfort when I first experienced “that” twist).
Other anime that Summer Time Rendering reminded me of in certain regards were Steins;Gate, Tatami Galaxy and Occult Academy. I do also need to mention Edens Zero, where a certain character establishes a narrative mechanism that functions similarly to what happens in Summer Time Rendering, at least based on the first two episodes. In that context comparisons to Edge of Tomorrow/All You Need Is Kill can also be drawn. There is also another live-action movie that I should mention but I will avoid doing so to keep spoilers to a minimum. In regards to the mystery set on a small Island which explodes in scope as the story develops, I am reminded of the mobile game White Island (which I reviewed). I absolutely love the story and mystery in that game, it was memorably thrilling and engaging. Isolated settings such as small Islands or villages or shipping containers or underground facilities work tremendously well to develop mystery and to capture the overwhelming nature of dread. This is also why Resident Evil games create such terrifyingly intoxicating gaming experiences. Summer Time Rendering isn’t unique in its themes but its presentation and execution so far have constructed an immensely captivating narrative that I find myself hungry to continue experiencing and exploring. The discovery of mystery beckons me.
As for why I decided to check out Summer Time Rendering, it was complete coincidence. There were no plans to check it out initially as I never heard of it before or seen any trailer for it before watching it. I only came to notice it when navigating through my Disney+ account and coming across an anime series. Even though Disney is the house of animated excellence, you don’t see anime on Disney+. So imagine my surprise when I realised that Disney have made attempts to expand their offering to include anime as well. I always expected that the most anime related item that would exist on Disney+ would be the live-action Alita: Battle Angel (I love that movie so much) or the Future Avengers anime or Star Wars: Visions. With this and Dawn Fall (Black Rock Shooter), Disney is looking to move toward releasing more Asian-produced content on Disney+. I haven’t watched Dawn Fall yet but I plan to eventually. With the process underway, I look forward to seeing what other Asian-produced content will be released on Disney+ going forward especially with such content involving mature themes (hopefully it also releases on the Australian Disney+ platform). Disney Twisted-Wonderland mobile game is also a thing, so Disney really are embracing anime going forward.
Researching into this more, I discovered that Nippon TV and Disney have entered into a strategic collaboration to produce local language content ranging from drama series, animation to variety shows which will release on Disney+ for both Japanese and global audiences. The latest edition of Nippon TV’s “The Files of Young Kindachi” is streaming on Disney+ now [source: ntv.co.jp].
Summer Time Rendering blends together elements of mystique, horror, science fiction and occult into a suspenseful presentation of grief and deliverance that will have your intrigue and fascination on the edge of bewilderment. With each twist, more angles of the story reveals itself beckoning the viewer to dawn on the possibility that within the context of a conventional tragedy resides a truth that should not be possible. The shape of those unexpected occurrences linger within your mind long after its happening to gnaw away at the curiosity overwhelming the mind. The overbearing need to conceptualize the unknown becomes part of the experience. And the levels with which Summer Time Rendering extends the reach of its narrative provides a story that I am very much entranced by. The animation is beautiful with it incorporating a style that embraces both stylistic and boldness to convey its mystery of dread and intrigue across. I look forward to experiencing the rest of this series and sharing in the journey it seeks to envelop my curiosity within.
Enjoyment level: 9.5/10