Ruminations on everyone’s favorite motorbike anime, the pandemic, and my favorite topic: liminal spaces.The Sound of Depression: Liminal Spaces, Sound Design, and Super Cub — Anime Feminist
The series is a celebration of mundane delights, and relishes in the everyday moments like not getting rained on, playing in the snow, eating a train station bento, and seeing the seasons change. It magnifies the ordinary, making it extraordinary by virtue of celebrating the small things that often feel grand.
I’ll be frank: I think this episode will probably divide fans. I won’t say how exactly because I don’t know and I don’t engage with fandom in forums much, but I can imagine that folks will leave this episode feeling some emotions, whether they’re positive or negative. I think that’s fair: there’s an argument to be made as to why the girls don’t call for an aIn many ways, this is the best way for Super Cub to end. It’s a beautifully optimistic series about hope, about depression, and about the power of small acts of kindness and taking a chance. While we don’t have the novels and manga in English, I easily see myself sinking into purchasing them as soon as I can. I’m hungry for more of Koguma’s adventures, for more of her friendship with Reiko and Shii, for more of the joy of simple, mundane things like riding a motorbike and going to see somewhere new. I love mundane thrills: I live for cups of tea, for meals and travelling to a new place to see something specific. Mundane delights are so much more powerful than, say, something big and spectacular. That’s a flash in the pan, a firework in the night sky: travelling somewhere new and spending time with friends? That’s the kind of beautiful everyday memory that lasts forever. And isn’t that what Super Cub is celebrating, at its core? Friendship, and healing, and the kindness of others. Those beautiful, impactful memories that are the spice of life, that help us all find the kind of adventure we long for, be it a trip to the secondhand shop or riding bikes with your friends.
I’ll be frank: I think this episode will probably divide fans. I won’t say how exactly because I don’t know and I don’t engage with fandom in forums much, but I can imagine that folks will leave this episode feeling some emotions, whether they’re positive or negative. I think that’s fair: there’s an argument to be made as to why the girls don’t call for an adult, for why they don’t react more emotionally, for why they don’t pick up on how traumatized Shii is. I think there’s a lot to be said for why Koguma didn’t supervisor Shii in the bath, for why she didn’t maybe show a bit more mindfulness. There’s definitely things you could focus on, though I personally didn’t, both in my watch and as I was writing my review.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!)