“Made in Black”
An interesting tidbit about this episode of Summertime Render – it was outsourced to Gainax Kyoto. The links between this former sub-studio and the disgraced studio of legend are tenuous, but original Gainax founder Yasuhiro Takeda is the managing director there, so this ep is probably as close to an “official” Gainax anime as we’re going to get these days. That has nostalgia going for it if nothing else, and on the whole I thought this episode – which had a good chunk of action – looked rather good. OLM has actually outsourced a good chunk of Summertime Render but without an overwhelmingly negative impact.
As for the episode itself, it was another of those barnburners that used up most of my notepad and seemed to last about ten minutes. Shinpei is still very much paying the price for his overreach in the last loop, and the advantage has decisively shifted back to Team Haine. What’s more he’s made two huge oversights. Haine has been spying on him all along (through a crow), and she can transform into him through the body she copied way back in the third loop. Make that three oversights actually, because Haine also has a working copy of Shinpei’s phone – which will prove to be a major factor in her next attack.
Why didn’t Haine finish off Shinpei and the children when she seemingly had them dead to rights in the woods? It seems to have had something to do with the shell in Shinpei’s hand – Ushio’s shell. Is she still in there, somehow? Survival is a plus, certainly, but things are still looking grim for Shinpei here. Haine uses his phone to lure his allies to two different spots – Hizuru, Nezu, Tokiko, and Tetsu (“why are you here, again?”) to the small tidal island of Terajima, and Mio and Sou to Alan’s garden. She has Shide call Shinpei from his own phone and offer him a stark choice – which group do you want to try and save?
There’s only one hole card left for Team Shinpei at this point, and that’s Shadow Mio. Because Mio worried she’d flip back with Ushio gone (and because she likely wanted to all along) Mio nails her shadow to the floor of Shinpei’s room when she goes off to meet “Shinpei”. But S-Mio seems to have stayed loyal, and she gives him options he wouldn’t have had otherwise. Perhaps even to split up and have her go after one set of allies while he chases the other, though Shiinpei’s combat ability is so low without her that it might be unwise to split up.
Hizuru is of course too suspicious to have taken the Shinpei on the phone at face value, but she’s unaware of the copy floating about and as far as she knows, it shouldn’t be usable anyway. As a hedge she leaves the others – including Nezu with his sniper rifle – behind when she goes to Terajima. Because of Ryuunosuke she immediately knows who Shinpei really is, and tries to lure her into Nezu’s line of fire. But soon Shide is joining the fray and it’s all Ryuunosuke (who takes command of the body) can do to stay alive.
“Shide” is apparently an armour of dead shadows that Karikiri wears, but I’m still not entirely sure just how he has duplicates of himself running about. Haine, meanwhile, clears up the mystery of the siblings’ dual identity – in effect, she vomited up Ryuunosuke’s data after eating him when her human personality rejected the notion that she’d eaten her only friend’s brother. The whole thing about it being two seconds out of phase when it merged with Hizuru is one of those “just don’t ask” sci-fi conceits I think, but at least it explains his/her predictive ability. The problem is Haine can see ahead too, and is projecting it to Shide telepathically as the two do battle.
Those little nods to death flags are not to be dismissed lightly, I think. Hizuru’s plan there at the end, whatever it is, has the feel of her making the ultimate sacrifice for the team – I’m not sure there are any more loops left for her to count on, and she clearly has no plans to survive this. Shinpei and Mio were conspicuously absent for the second half of the episode, so we don’t know what his desperation ploy will be, but Shinpei is never passive – however he plans to deal with his no-win decision, he’ll have launched some sort of counterattack that will factor into next week’s episode with certainty.