Shinpei returned home for the funeral of his best friend, Ushio, however, there are some peculiarities about her death. Determined to uncover the truth, Shinpei stumbles into a centuries-old legend that may have some truth to it!
Summer Time Rendering (Series Review)
What did you read?
I’m not entirely sure when I became aware of Summer Time Rendering. It could have been when I saw the teaser poster for the anime. There was something quite intriguing about it that spoke to me. So, when I spotted one of the books at my local bookstore, I picked it up. I was instantly drawn to the cover. The fact that it was a hardback copy that clearly contained more than one volume’s worth of manga helped too. I jumped onto the online store to see how many volumes there were. Just six. All hardback, all thick! I instantly added them all to my cart so that I could wait for a sale. Then, I discovered that my library had them. Amazingly, I was able to pick up all six at once. Well, that’s enough about me, let’s talk about the books! There will be spoilers.
Shinpei returned to his old home to mourn the passing of his best friend and surrogate sister, Ushio Kofune. He had lived with Ushio and her sister Mio since his parents died. However, he needed to leave the island to create a new life in Tokyo. He hated that he wasn’t there when she needed him. He missed the chance to see her again, which hurt since they left on bad terms. At the funeral, he learnt that there may be something unusual going on. Ushio drowned saving Shiori Kobayakawa, a young girl from the island, however, there were bruise marks around her neck!
Then, Shinpei learnt about the shadows and how Ushio had seen her shadow while picking litter at the beach. Shiori also claimed to have seen someone following her. Ushio had been looking into that before she died. Something didn’t quite add up. Shinpei and Mio went to the local shrine to get some answers, but they heard a gunshot. They found a woman bleeding in the woods. There was another shot and she was dead. Before Shinpei could react the attacker had Mio hostage. He stared in disbelief. Their attacker was Mio. The other Mio killed Mio and then shot Shinpei. However, he woke up back on the boat, two days earlier!
What did you think?
This is now one of my favourite series. As soon as I had finished reading all the volumes, I placed an order at my bookstore and bought them. This is absolutely a series I will read again and again. There are so many twists and turns that you are constantly guessing what will happen or how it’ll all go wrong this time. It was just fantastic. I love a good time travel story and this one checks out. Having Shinpei make notes each time was great as you could see how he was working out the patterns. The villains were wonderfully creepy and incredibly dark. I could not get enough of this series so as you can imagine, I instantly jumped into the anime too. I can’t recommend this series highly enough.
What was your favourite moment?
There were so many great moments, but there is one that will haunt me for all eternity. Shadow Ushio showed Shinpei and Sou a vision of the time she died and how the shadow of Shiori killed her, almost killed the Shadow version of her, and then killed the real Shiori. It was as if they were inside a simulation. They could see everything Ushio saw so no matter what, they were safe… weren’t they! Shinpei was telling Sou about how he had already killed Shiori.
The Shadow Shiori in the vision grabbed Shinpei’s arm and said “Found yaaaa!” It was so damn creepy that I’m getting chills writing this. She shouldn’t have been able to do anything as it was a memory from Shadow Ushio, but she marked him making it possible for her to track him wherever he went. Things spiralled for Shinpei from that point, pushing him to the edge. It was already incredible before that point, but that was an insane moment.
What was your least favourite moment?
My least favourite moment was when Shinpei, Ushio, and Ryunosuke followed Shide into an alternate dimension that was based on the memories of Haine, the original Shadow. Things got a little confusing and messy, but in the end, it all worked out. It’s a small criticism so don’t worry, this series sticks the landing with style.
On top of that, Hizuru’s death was particularly hard to take. She was my favourite character for most of the book, but the way she lost was incredible. Hizuru fought Shide and pretty much won, but Shinpei lost Sou and Mio in the process. He killed himself and attempted to save everyone, but since Haine’s consciousness was looping the same way Shinpei’s was she was able to help Shide defeat Hizaru. He knew every move she would make. It was a massacre!
Who was your favourite character?
So, obviously, it was Hizaru. She was an author and the only person that instantly believed the most unbelievable thing simply because it was the only logical explanation. I felt like that was a nod to Sherlock Holmes. Anyhow, she was strong and determined, calculating and thoughtful. She was the complete package. I was gutted when she died, but the ending completely made it all worthwhile.
I also enjoyed pretty much all of the characters with Ushio being an absolute delight and Shinpei being a believable and flawed character who took time to come to terms with what needed to be done. He was lucky that he could return to a point in time to try again because he made some awful decisions. However, it all worked in the end, with Shinpei’s final plan being absolutely spectacular.
Who was your least favourite character?
It literally has to be Shide. He was an absolute piece of work. He was using Haine to achieve eternal life and when he realised it wasn’t going to happen, he was ready to destroy the world. He killed without remorse or feeling and when he stabbed Ushio’s shadow, I almost lost it. Luckily, being a time travel nerd came in handy as I had already worked out that there was still another Shadow Ushio in the world. The Shadow Ushio that Shinpei met on the beach on the night of the festival massacre!
I was also quite annoyed with Sou and Tokiko’s father, but then they made his betrayal believable. I loved that he realised he had been played when Shadow Mio revealed that he had already been copied so the promise that he could live on as a Shadow with his deceased wife had all been a lie. This story covered every single angle and did it with style. There were no loose ends at the end, which is impressive for any story let alone one with a lot of time loops.
Would you like some more?
I already pointed out that I jumped straight into the anime as soon as I had finished reading the books. I also said that I bought them and now have them proudly sitting on my shelf next to my full-colour hardback copies of High School of the Dead. I will read these again, maybe every year, but I don’t think there needs to be more. This story pulled everything together in a glorious climax and that is how it should stay. Would I like more stories like this? Absolutely. Give me all the time travel supernatural mystery stories you have!
What have you learnt?
The first time I completed NaNoWriMo, I wrote a time travel murder mystery set in a small village in England. As such, this series resonated with me. There was very little the same other than it was set in a small town with time travel. Apparently, that’s all you need to grab my attention… Anyhow, mapping out a time travel story is a remarkably fun and rewarding thing to do. It helps you to make sure that things don’t overlap or that you aren’t missing stuff and contradicting yourself. I’ve read/seen some time travel stories where they clearly didn’t do this exercise.
It’s not just for time travel stories either. Even if there’s no looping involved, it’s still possible to get the threads mixed up or lost. Sometimes, it won’t kill the story, but it will probably be enough to make someone think twice about picking up another of your books. Storytelling is all about the promise. If you make a promise at the beginning of the book, you better keep up your part of the bargain at the end. Threads can be left open, but it needs to be intentional.
Other Posts in the Series
- Season One