by Mercedez Clewis,
Episode 9, “In Ice,” heralds the changing of seasons known to every second term high schooler in Japan. Koguma sports a red jacket, and even her Super Cub, mighty as it is, is a bit sluggish. She even remarks that according to the weather, the wind chill will make it feel like the middle of winter despite the fading greens, reds, and yellows of later autumn. So it's gloves and goggles on for Koguma, feeling the weight of the season as she cruises through the countryside with her teeth clenched against the chill.
Still, the cold isn't enough to ward Koguma and Reiko off from eating lunch outside on their cubs. And now, we get to see Koguma's brand new mess tin in action, and it's full of fluffy white rice, ripe for eating! It's not long before their new friend Shii joins the girls with her own lunch, making for a very pleasant scene between the trio as they warm up with some Italian milk tea spiced with grappa brandy distilled from leftover wine pomace. Hilariously, Super Cub breaks the fourth wall with a caution that too much grappa makes for an alcoholic drink, which in Japan, is illegal for those 20 and under to consume. It leads to a sweet moment between the girls that hints at a new, developing friendship just as deep as Koguma's initial friendship with Reiko.
After school, the trio head back to Shii's and are greeted by her father with the day's coffee offerings. Meanwhile, Shii goes and gets a thick cardigan of abrasive wool for Koguma, only for Reiko to snatch it away in pure awe. However, this cardigan is for Koguma, though Reiko will get a cut of it once she uses what she needs to line her jacket. However, a problem quickly arises: no one knows how to sew more than simple things, Shii's father included. So it's back to school with Shii in tow to see who can help them.
One screaming Shii later (she did not take well to riding on the back of a Super Cub) the girls arrive back at school and head to the Home Ec. room with the cardigan, where they thankfully find a solution. Koguma ends up with a vest-like jacket to line her day to day coat, and Reiko's got some stockings. Shii even gets a piece in the form of a thermos bottle cozy! In a sweet way, all the girls are now connected by the cardigan that is split up amongst the group, paving the way towards them being a genuine trio of friends.
So much of the joy of episode 9 comes from those liminal, interstitial moments I keep talking about. The quiet moments of the girls just being together at the bike rack, where the sounds of the countryside, paired with subtle animation, drive home the feeling of the looming winter. The sharp sense of how cold it is. Koguma beaming over her brand new windshield, as well as her and Reiko riding around with joy shining in her eyes and a subtle smile on her face – a smile that she didn't have way back in the premiere – conveying Koguma's growth and success at finding a place in this world. Honestly, those little moments, which so often remind us why it's so delightful to be alive, are Super Cub's greatest strength.
The trio isn't quite a genuine girl gang yet. Their group interactions are still missing a crucial sense of cohesion. Shii is their friend, sure, 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. 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 will be another Shii-centric episode, where we may see her upgrade her bike to a cub.
Super Cub is currently streaming on Funimation.
Mercedez is a JP-EN localization editor & QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist 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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