「未視感(ジャメヴ)」 (Mishikan (jamevu))
I continue to be amazed by the amount of sheer content Summertime Render packs into 22 minutes. I have total faith in Watanabe Ayumu as a director – he’ll get the pacing right if anyone could. But I sure hope this mythology runs deep, because we’ve already had more twists and turns than a lot of mystery anime give you in an entire cour and we still have 21 episodes to go. Rather than anime, perhaps a better context would be something like Stranger Things, where a very complex world had been mapped out by the writers before the first episode ever aired.
The first and most obvious question of the week, of course, has to be the Ushio situation. We already knew something weird was going on with her, since there was a body, and from what we know of the shadows when they take someone out all they leave is a- well, shadow. But if this Ushio is a shadow (as Shinpei quite logically assumes she is) she’s quite unlike any other we’ve met. Most elementally she doesn’t “glitch” like the others seem to. She also seems to have no memories of the shadows, or else she’s an amazing actor. Her memories are a matter of some interest in fact – they seem quite comprehensive, but with conspicuous gaps in them.
I was tempted to say this almost seems like an Ushio with all its inhibitions lifted. But going by Shinpei’s reactions it may just be that this is how Ushio is – an impulsive, goofy, impulsive and sometimes violent airhead. She has memories of dying but seems not to connect that to actually being dead, and she’s none too keen to heed Shinpei’s warnings about revealing herself (in a school swimsuit) to the others. This interaction takes the series in a slapstick direction that’s not at all without charm, but it masks a serious undertone. Shinpei can’t deny his own feelings – this thing looks and acts like Ushio, who he thought he’d lost forever. Even if he thinks it’s a shadow, he can’t ignore those feelings.
Who knows how many of these hints dropping like anvils are actual hints. and how many red herrings. The talk of the “Hiruko” Kami inhabiting everything that drifts to shore? Maybe relevant. The burning of this stuff is apparently the whole point of the festival, which seems unlikely to be a coincidence. Ushio shows up at the Shrine in the worst disguise ever, a mask which fools exactly no one for exactly almost no time. This comes after Sou confesses to Mio (his behavior here discourages the speculation that he was a Shadow too), quite unsuccessfully (and presumably Shinpei is the guy she’s actually in love with).
So, 10 minute rewind. Things get real serious real fast as Shinpei runs into Shadow Mio on the Shrine steps, apparently after she’s taken out quite a few people. It’s implied here that the shadows take on the memories of the people they copy, which means Shinpei’s shadow (from the funeral?) has become suspicious that he might be looping. He stops ShadowMio from killing Shinpei on the grounds that he’ll just loop again, this time with even more information that could be inconvenient for the shadows. She does break his arm as an afterthought however when he refuses to lie there and be quiet.
Now the clues and/or misdirections really start pumping. Who is this “Mother” ShadowMio and Shadow Shin speak of? Is this some sort of parasitic hive creature or youkai, or even aliens? And then there’s the traitor – we’re clearly supposed to believe thats Ushio. And indeed maybe it is, but that seems almost too obvious to be true, at least to me. And then there’s narezushi – which business suit lady asks Shin about after she shows up and blows ShadowMio’s head off while ShadowShin is with the others doing nasty things to Ushio. Narezushi, for the record, is a sort of “proto-sushi” – a fermented fish and rice dish that’s been around for at least 1800 years and is still popular in parts of Japan (especially Shiga). What the hell does it have to do with all this, if anything at all?
I’m quite happy not knowing what the hell is going on, to be honest. With these sorts of series the thing is just to enjoy the ride, and so far Summertime Render has been immensely enjoyable. I’m going to be very patient as far as explanations go, especially given how early we are in the show’s run. It would certainly be nice if when the truth comes out, it makes sense – and reveals that Summertime Render has been playing fair with the audience all along. We’re a long ways from getting a handle on that but based on the first four episodes, I have a growing confidence in the writing to match what was always total faith in the direction. I can’t wait to see where this goes.