Summer Time Rendering Episode 1 Review: An Anime Of The Year Contender?
Summer Time Rendering Episode 1 came out and I finally got around to watching it. I think I just watched one of the best pilot episodes of any anime… ever. I’m not joking. It’s up there with the first episode of The Promised Neverland, Attack on Titan, Naruto, and Death Note first episodes. Summer Time Rendering is one of those rare gems that gets overshadowed by the more popular works when it comes out but slowly becomes a magnificent hit. It might be the second Ranking of Kings, but better.
What is Summer Time Rendering?
So, what is the premise of this fascinating fantasy mystery? You’ve seen Re: Zero, right? Summer Time Rendering is something akin to Re: Zero meets Paranoia Agent. Episode 1 starts with our protagonist, Shinpei, as he returns back to his hometown. He comes back abruptly from the big city, Tokyo, after his friend-turned-family, Ushio dies. At first glance, the main thing that’s very striking about Shinpei is his differently-colored eyes. It instantly reminded me of Ohto Ai (protagonist of Wonder Egg Priority) and her heterochromia.
Anyway, Shinpei starts the episode in what looks like a dream with Ushio telling him to look after Mio. As he tries to reach out to Ushio, he wakes up from his dream with his face in-between a lady’s breasts. He had been too deep in his trance that he leaned forward and… you know the rest. Not surprisingly, he receives a slap for his mistake. After that, Shinpei arrives at his hometown and I was immediately in awe of the art. Everything is rendered to the highest quality in the town and the studio knows this. They take out time to showcase their work by giving small shots of the environments. It may be an insect clinging to the wall of a building or just the roof of a building. Summer Time Rendering heralds back to Makoto Shinkai level of directing in that regard.
A Fantastic Protagonist, Great Direction, and Phenomenal Ending
Shinpei meets Mio and we learn that she is Ushio’s sister. Shinpei grew up with them after his parents died. Throughout Episode 1, we see our protagonist struggling with the pain of losing the girl that was like a sister to him. And that’s one of the three reasons why this show and episode are so phenomenal. The first is the protagonist. Seeing that Summer Time Rendering is a seinen, I can see why the protagonist isn’t a loudmouth. Not that I dislike loudmouths in shounen like Naruto or Luffy, but it’s nice to have a change of pace. Shinpei and calm, smart, and empathetic.
The second reason why this show is so freaking amazing is its ambiance. There is a particular aura you feel when watching certain shows. You can just tell that they are great but can’t really pinpoint why every scene, even the mundane ones, are so intricate. They instill in you a sense of wonder and anticipation, and this suits a mystery show like Summer Time Rendering. The soundtrack helps convey this uneasy yet tantalizing feeling as well, with the direction of this episode particularly noteworthy.
Summer Time Rendering is Everything I Love About Seinen
But the real hook are the last five minutes. The way everything came undone with some gorgeous visuals, great tension, and immaculate shock value. The way Shinpei sees the lady who slapped him at the beginning of the episode get shot, then witnessed what followed. Gosh, that was exhilarating. The way the story is set up allows for so much leeway in gruesome death while also giving a compelling jigsaw-like mystery. The pieces are filled each time Shinpei returns, and we get to go on the journey with him. Summer Time Rendering is a marvel in execution and I can wait to see where it goes from here. This show is peak seinen. A great story. Fantastic suspense. Incredible direction, and a compelling main character. It’s probably too soon to say, but we might just have an anime of the year contender.