TI mentioned before that I didn’t want to see Koguma and Reiko have any kind of romance: I wanted to see them be two kindred souls who found a deep friendship. I still feel this, even as a devout fan of Yuri and a queer writer. There’s something beautiful about a series where female friendship is simply allowed to exist: it’s truly special that Koguma and Reiko just get to be friends without any heavily gendered tropes. Instead of having an episode where they fight, the girls simply talk things out, and communicate. Instead of jealousy, the girls uplift one another. And by episode 10, those elements have evolved to a tangible love between the girls, a connection that makes their friendship feels so intimately genuine. That deep platonic love is so evident in this episode, especially when Koguma laughs and becomes incredibly playful. After seeing Koguma as a genuinely lonely young woman, it feels utterly joyful to see her so intensely happy.
The trio isn’t quite a genuine girl gang yet. There’s still a good deal of cohesion that hasn’t happened. Shii is their friend, true, but she’s not as close as Koguma and Reiko are. Yet Shii slots into their dynamic so well that it feels like it won’t be long before she’s on a cub of her own. I’d really like to see Shii become just as close as Koguma and Reiko. She’s the perfect balance to their dynamic, and fits like a glove… almost. But almost is a word heavy with potential, and there’s so much potential in every single episode of Super Cub. I get the feeling that next week’s episode -episode 10- will be another Shii-centric episode, and maybe… she’ll upgrade her bike to a cub.
Episode 8 makes it clear that this ain’t your momma’s Reaper Game. The dramatic stakes here are higher than even the previous episode, which was one of the most exciting episodes of the series. Even with Beat’s comedic outbursts, episode 8 feels like End Game content, the final stretch in TWEWY the Animation‘s story. Neku and Beat have quite the challenge ahead of them if they’re going to survive both the games and Miss Konishi’s machinations. Thank goodness Neku’s a different person from who he was at the beginning of this series or else he’d be in trouble. Even knowing how things end, I truly hope that Neku is strong enough to see this final week through and bring all those loose plot threads together.
Episode 8 is soundly the food episode, in my book, even if food isn’t the sum total of the episode. It’s even better than episode 4’s okonomiyaki, which lives rent free in my mind. Food fills this episode like buns in a basket, warming up the soft, quiet moments shared between Koguma, Reiko, and even Shii as the series brings in a new character to fill out the main cast. Speaking of Shii, she gets amazingly dynamic character growth in this episode. She’s no longer just the kind, serious member of the student council. She’s a fully fleshed out character with her own life, her own mannerisms, and ultimately, a life outside of school, just like Koguma and Reiko. I really hope that Shii will one day get her own cub: I want this gang of two to grow to three, especially since Shii is the happy medium between quiet Koguma and the more brash Reiko.
Episode 7 is perhaps the best episode of the series to date. The pacing feels good, the action is solid, and there’s enough to keep you excited for the final five episodes of this series. In many ways, this is what I initially wanted from the show: an action-adventure series that took from the source material, remixed things to make them fit, and ultimately, created just as emotional an experience as the game. Episode 7 proves that this can be done, and if wary viewers stuck it out until now, I think they’ll see what I mean.
There are so many little things in this episode that remind me why I love writing about Super Cub: details like Reiko’s torn gloves, Koguma’s shivers at the coming autumn, a golden ginkgo leaf signaling the latter months of the year; the subtle thrill of hosting the school festival in the second semester, the girls drinking espresso while leaning on their cubs. As always, it’s a beautifully sculpted twenty-four minute experience that almost always brings me to tears at some point during my watch. Thankfully, they’re always happy tears, especially for best bike girl Koguma.
If episode 5 is TWEWY the Animation regaining its footing, then episode 6 is a solid transitional episode that effectively builds up to the climax of this arc. It confidently blends quieter, character-building scenes with plot developments and interstitial moments that build up the ongoing mystery of the Shibuya Underground and what’s potentially happening behind the scenes with Minamimoto and even Joshua. It feels night and day compared to episodes 2 and 3, which felt frenetic, messy, and generally all over the place.
In my review of episode 4, I mentioned “dreading” the day that Super Cub finally had a bad episode. I can soundly say that I don’t believe that day will ever come for this series. It’s not that Super Cub can’t do anything wrong. Rather, it’s that Super Cub is so openly earnest in its storytelling that every episode feels like a good meal: delightfully satisfying from start to finish. It feels like getting to eat cake, pie, AND ice cream, a positively sweet delight that carefully, thoughtfully, opens itself up to being candid about depression and loneliness without ever coming off as inauthentic.
If episode 4 felt like a vast improvement, then episode 5 feels like TWEWY the Animation has finally gotten its legs. Things flow much, much better than the first three episodes of the series, and the plot progression we get feels much more natural. The cliffhanger for episode 6 feels genuinely engaging, and was telegraphed well enough that I’ll leave viewers to fill in the blanks, rather than spoiling things here. Additionally, Neku’s resolve in this episode actually feels impactful. Unlike the opening arc, I actually feel quite a lot for this version of Neku. While part of that is certainly due to nostalgia, a lot of it is this slightly different version of the world of TWEWY, which seems to finally have some cohesion ahead of the mid-season episode, and the back half of the rest of the cour.
It’s so nice to see the girls just being kids together. While they’re still not good friends, episode 5 demonstrates that Koguma and Reiko are friends now. They’re no longer just two students who happen to really love Super Cub. They’re two girls who love Super Cub and while Koguma and Reiko initially bonded through that, they’re at a point where that’s no longer the sole reason for them chatting with one another. They have a genuine friendship, and it’s really, really wonderful to see. Plus, their friendship is even pushing Koguma to get her motorcycle license, which I bet we’ll see in the back half of this cour. (At least, I really hope so! I wanna see this kid pass her test!)