「血の夜」 (Chi no yoru)
That was a hell of a dark ride. Certainly the most violent and action-driven episode of Summertime Render so far, and as is usually the case, expertly balanced between reveals and deepening mysteries. One fascinating element of this series is the way it whipsaws tonally from episode to episode. With a director as accomplished as Watanabe Ayumu that’s certainly intentional, though how much it reflects the source material and how much it’s his stylistic choice I can’t say.
As usual I have a list of notes here as long as my arm, but I’m going to try and do a proper narrative write-up this time. For starters, assuming Tokiko is a reliable witness, the matter of Hiruko and Haine’s identity seems to be clarified. To wit, Haine was the first person Hiruko copied when it arrived on the island. Hiruko, by the way, is a name from Shinto – he was creator Gods’ Izanami and Izanagi’s first child, and was cast out onto the ocean because of some physicals deformity. I have no idea whether that’s going to be tied into the narrative but the naming might not be totally coincidental.
Part of Tokiko’s explanation makes sense. The Hishigata family has been feeding Haine-Hiruko the bodies of whoever dies on the island (four per year on average), to help her regenerate her body (why does it need regenerating though?). But if Tokiko is currently doing this because her mother was replaced by a shadow (which I’m a bit cloudy on, actually) why were they doing it for however many generations before she existed? That Tokiko is a sap and is being used is pretty obvious – whether that applies to all the Hishigata who serve the shadows I don’t know.
The arrival of the attack dog (does he have a name?) pus the kibosh on Shinpei and Ushio’s Plan A, “printing” the nail gun at the crucial moment and going on the attack. The dynamic here is pretty stark – Haine is utterly childish and impulsive, and the dog has to act to keep her in check. Tomorrow is thy big day – we kind of knew that already, but Pochi makes it clear that every human on the island will be dead at the end of it. Just why that specific day isn’t specified, but there’s no need to keep up appearances, which means Tokiko is expendable (and Sou taking a bullet for her only delays the inevitable by moments). He’s brought Mio as a hostage, but soon enough there’ll be no need for that charade, either.
This is a grim situation, with the siblings dead, Ushio captured, and Shinpei bleeding out from his severed fingers (it’s actually possible he might bleed to death from that, though Haine and Pochi don’t seem too worried). Haine tries taking Shinpei’s magic eye, but as it’s seemingly the source of his power it can’t be taken permanently, and grows back. According to Pochi Shinpei’s power isn’t simply time travel – the eye allows him to see (infinite?) alternate worlds, and to actually “render” them (elegant title drop) into reality. But because he’s a novice he can only express the power when he dies and his consciousness is untethered. A very interesting explanation, indeed.
At this point there’s clearly only one way out, and that’s to loop. Rather than attacking Negoro it would have been smarter to have Ushio immediately kill him when she freed herself, but shadow or human, Ushio is a passionate girl. Ryuunosuke – who “dies” and morphs into Hizuru – would seem to be the only hope, bur she’s mortally wounded. Tetsu wanders by and she drafts him to carry her to where Shinpei is, but Pochi foils her shot at Shinpei and all seems to be lost. Fortunately Shinpei has a Plan B (we may be up to about E at this point), and swallows the mercuric chloride he’s lifted from the old clinic. A painful way to go, but Shinpei has no shortage of brass, that’s for sure.
Before the loop there’s one last interesting twist. Ushio displays the ability to reverse the “programming” Hiruko is trying to subject her to, and even throw it back on Hiruko itself – which freaks her out big-time. She refers to Ushio as possibly being “the egg” which is obviously pretty important, and orders Pochi to take Ushio out even if it means taking her too. But Shinpei dies in the nick of time and manages to take Ushio with him – emerging this time much closer to the “present”, with Nezu and Ryuunosuke in the abandoned army base. At this pace he seems to only have one more loop in him, if that – that is, unless he learns to control his power and use it at will…
We’ve almost reached the halfway point of Summertime Render (technically that will be after the A-part next week), but that doesn’t necessarily mean half the mystery remains unexplored. At some point all the cards will be on the table and this will simply be a battle to the death, but there are still an awful lot of pieces of the puzzle missing. It’s been a fascinating trip so far, and the series has worked just as well on the emotional level as the intellectual. If it can stick the landing – and with a finished source material and extreme A-list director you like the chances – this series has a chance to go down as something pretty special.