by Mercedez Clewis,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Super Cub ?
Episode 6, “My Cub” opens up at the end of Summer with a beautiful surprise: Koguma got her license! Her previous white number plate has become a shiny, new yellow plate. Plus, Koguma's even got her engine block modified, turning her 49cc cub into a fierce 52cc ride. Now, the world is going by a bit faster for our sweet protagonist, though Koguma is the same as always as she returns to school for her second term.
Post-OP, we get into the bulk of this episode: the second-year school excursion, a staple of Japanese high school life. Where are our bike-loving girls bound for? Kamakura, a city in Kanagawa Prefecture. Naturally, Reiko and Koguma plan to hang out together. Reiko even suggests that they go see National Route 134, known as the Shonan Bullet Road. It's clear that Reiko is dying to see it, especially since it's right next to the inn the class will be staying at.
However, Koguma has a different goal in mind: she wants to splurge, primarily on some local specialties, including ham, fish dishes, and of course, sweets. It's a major first in a series where she's still been so, so quiet about things she wants most of the time, even with Reiko who is solidly a good friend in episode 6. Hearing Koguma express direct desire feels like she's opening up and stepping into her own once more. However, it also hints at a delightful adventure on their school outing.
That is, until Koguma gets a fever, the bane of all high school students who inevitably… have to miss the school trip.
There's still lots of liminal space around Koguma in episode 6. It comes back even stronger when she gets sick and is bedridden. In fact, the sound drops out entirely, save for the soft huff of her sigh and the quiet chirping of birds. Then, the music returns when her fever inevitably drops back to a normal range. Still, it's only the dour, flat tone of a single piano key being struck versus a full-fledged soundtrack. However, once Kogumi realizes she can use her cub to catch up with the group, the music comes back full force with bright, optimistic major keys that fill the scene as she plots out a route from her apartment to Kamakura, Reiko, and those sweets she been saving up for!
And honestly, that's part of what makes Super Cub so fascinating still. Forget Koguma, forget Reiko: the soundtrack is a character all its own, playing with how viewers interpret each scene. It adds layers to Koguma's loneliness, and now, serves to underscore her quiet happiness. More often than not, it seems the score and sound design are showing a happier girl, versus the rather lonesome, incredibly depressed student we met in episode 1. And while Koguma isn't completely past her depression, the score makes it clear that she's moving through it, especially in the middle of this episode when an instrumental version of the OP plays as Koguma makes her way South and West, complete with merry whistling to fill in the blank spaces where the lyrics would have gone.
So much of the joy of episode 6 comes not from Koguma being on a school trip, but from Koguma's own excursion ahead of any school trip antics. In many ways, this episode echoes a lot of Reiko's own adventures up Mt. Fuji in the previous episode, especially when Koguma gets a bit of altitude sickness. Of course, Koguma isn't here to crest Japan's most famous mountain: best bike girl is on her way to Kamakura, and she's doing it in style! She does, of course, get scolded for her antics, though it's absolutely worth it, especially for Koguma's little smile that she secretly shares with Reiko before their school excursion really begins.
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.
In fact, now that we're officially in the back half of its cour, I feel even more assured that Super Cub really is the star of Spring 2021, not because I'm reviewing it and thus feel invested, but simply for the fact that it's a very well-executed story that's worth every anime fan's time, if only once a week. Also, watch it for the utterly gorgeous scenery and generally lovely animation that is once again on full display in this episode, as well as the continued growth of Koguma and Reiko's friendship. That last bit is really the gem of this series.
I say all of this recognizing the simple fact that slice of life is not for everyone. In fact, I think that a lot of viewers will pass Super Cub by in lieu of more complex shows. I won't fault viewers who do so. Yet with every passing episode, Super Cub resonates with me more and more, enough that I can't help but shout it from the proverbial mountains: you should ABSOLUTELY be watching Super Cub this season. Don't sit on it or wait until next season: Summer 2021 most likely won't be any less packed than Spring, and it really would be a shame if you missed out on such a special show.
Super Cub is currently streaming on Funimation.
Mercedez is a JP-EN localization editor & QA, pop culture critic, and a writer who also writes & reviews at Anime Feminist and But Why Tho?. She's also a frequent guest on the AniFem Podcast, Chatty AF. This anime season, she's all about Super Cub, which is great because she's also reviewing it here on ANN. When she's not writing, you can find her on her Twitter or on her Instagram where she's always up to something.
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