I gotta admire Tanaka Yasunori’s ability to unspool all these threads and keep them straight. It’s a remarkable achievement but I have to be honest – I’m not sure I could tell the difference if some of this didn’t add up. Everything seems to make sense from where I’m sitting, but Summertime Render is sensory overload, and I’m pretty much caught up in Watanabe Ayumu’s slipstream and enjoying the ride. And in the end I suppose that’s the most important thing.
Just what is Karikiri’s self-referenced “Echo” ability? That’s one of those things I’m not entirely sure about, but it seems to be the reason Shide was still alive at the end when Team Shinpei thought it had taken out both his “real” bodies (Karikiri and Iwao). To get to that point, we have one more Shinpei master plan – which involves one more loop (#10). Ushio is rescued, but it takes the smuggled-along KageMio to keep her from jumping into a fight against Shide before all the ducks are in a row.
Guildenstern is the key to much of this. By hiding inside him(?) Shinpei can hide his presence from Haine, though of course he doesn’t want to let her know that fact too soon. The aim of this plan is to take out the Hiruko, Haine’s master body, and that means setting the restart point close enough so that they can mount their attack on Hiruko before Team Haine can get to them. It also involves some fireworks brought along for the expedition, to break through the barricade Hiruko has set up with part of her body.
Of course, Ushio and KageMio are fighting to execute a plan that will mean their own disappearance. Now that it’s been more or less established that Shide is the one pulling the strings, in theory they could take him out and leave Haine – and thus the shadow sisters – alive. But I’m not sure how that would work exactly. Ushio may sense Haine’s loneliness and longing and pity her for it (seemingly enough to stay her hand and put the entire plan in jeopardy) how how does Haine have a co-existence with humans? Her very life relies on consuming them, never mind executing her homecoming plan (which she seems unlikely to let go of voluntarily).
Hizuru’s sacrifice has certainly leveled the playing field. Having Ryuunosuke and his two-second head start in his head gives Shin-chan a huge power up. The problem is Haine eavesdropping in his thoughts and relaying them to Shide before Shin can strike. And even with that problem temporarily overcome, Shide seems basically un-killable. True, his Iwao body keeps coming back every time Shinpei loops, but that shouldn’t be a factor inside the 10th loop as things stand. There’s at least one more shoe to drop with Shide, that much is certain.
One thing we can say for sure – Summertime Render has proved very popular. Spinoff manga, games, lots of buzz in Japan – if this series had received a traditional (read: legal) real-time distribution in the West I think it would have been extremely successful. I’m sure it will end in the manner Tanaka always intended, but series that strike a nerve have a way of self-perpetuating. It’ll be interesting to see not just what happens in the last three episodes, but what happens after that as well.