Based on the fact that this is the fifth episode of a show, chances are I will be doing some spoiling of both this episode and the four episodes before it. If you haven’t been watching and want to see it first, by all means, go and watch it.
So who is Reiko? A big, all-important question throughout the show since Koguma is essentially the main character. Last week we saw how Koguma spent her summer, and this week it is all about Reiko and how she spent hers. Within a minute, we know where she is coming from and how she differs from Koguma. Koguma had nothing, and then something (The Cub) gave her Life. Reiko has many things, but also many walls and restrictions. ‘Then The Cub (and living alone in the Logged House) gave her freedom. Her good grades stemmed from those boundaries, as the emphasis was on academic success rather than a pursuit of happiness may have been the goal at one point. While narrating this, she arrives on her Cub at a view that appears in the opening credits. We then see the ending of the previous episode before the opening credits begin.
Reiko’s house is large, open and beautiful on the inside. You can see the ceiling from the ground floor, and the second floor uses stairs that hug the wall. Reiko offers a cup of tea, but they both end up having water instead – to which we realise that Reiko doesn’t sip her drinks. The premise of this episode arrives: Koguma offers to make dinner (Okonomiyaki, aka a Japanese-Style Savoury Pancake or Pizza, which uses a lot of cabbage). Reiko tells her what she did over the summer.
So, Reiko had a job at a resupply base for the Subashiro Trail at the foot of Mount Fuji. After loading up the supply vehicle, she would engage in the one reason she took the job – as a checker. ‘To ride her Cub on the trail to check the conditions. While riding her Cub, some heavy metal music kicks in, and all seems well until something causes Reiko to go in the air and end up on her back. She’s not badly hurt. However, her postal Cub took a beating in the landing. After completing the job for that day – her employer asks her why she is doing it. From here, we get a little backstory. She indicates that a book by a biker adventurist is her inspiration. It used to be a thing for bikers to climb Mount Fuji. But new environmental regulations and mountain climbing rules made it a more strict affair. She also knew that permission to climb Mount Fuji was slim. So she applied for the job that would give her that kind of access. ‘Even making it clear in the application that she wants the job so that she could ride the trail on her Cub. As said before, she got the job checking trails for weather and surface conditions, and her employer then tells her that she only has to go to Station six but can go further up if she ‘needs to. ‘Something that pleases Reiko.
Reiko’s apartment at the bottom of the trail is something that Nadeshiko Kagamihara from Laid Back Camp would buy and keep forever, as it provides an excellent view of Mount Fuji. However, we go back to the question: Why is Reiko doing this? Simple: She wants to know if she is the sort of person who could overcome something as ominous as Mount Fuji. With this in mind, Reiko continues to do the job and do it well. But while working as the Checker, She proceeds to get better at riding her Cub, which includes flying in the air over mounds and drifting in the mud as if it were a dirtbike. However, this is where the challenge begins: Reiko might get better, but falling still happens. And while she walks away with minor bumps and bruises, her Cub is taking a beating. One day Reiko gets pretty high up on the trail – until altitude sickness kicks in and sets her back. While in the trail cafe, her employer tells her to sip a bottle of water rather than gulp it down (like she demonstrated early on). The pictures on the wall show that this man, her employer, knows what he is saying. ‘Because he climbed Mount Everest.
For the next minute, we see a small montage of ‘Fuji San’ beating the snot out of Reiko as she tries and tries again to climb without making a mistake. Fed up, she glances at the mountain before heading off. Her employer then gives her a Mountaineering Tip – “You can’t stand yourself up to the mountain. You have to bring yourself alongside it.”. ‘Causing Reiko to reflect. She wanted to do this for fun, and after all of the failures, she had forgotten how to smile. The mountain became an enemy. She then gives it one more go. Despite the damage, the ‘Cub is still in good working shape, and it is clear that she has adjusted some of her approach to overcoming hurdles. But when we get to the point of altitude sickness kicking in again, we get a flashback to Episode two, when Reiko and Koguma met – – her words to Koguma. That she could go anywhere on a Cub – – and Reiko wants to stick to those words, even here. However, she ends up experiencing her steepest fall after a wheelie goes wrong. Falling to a road already climbed and seeing that her Cub is now leaking petrol. She calls her employer, who gives her a lift back down, and she even got an apple for her trouble.
And so that was how Reiko spent her summer, to which Koguma says it was a silly decision to try and conquer Mount Fuji with a Cub (She might be ‘boring’ in comparison to Reiko, but Koguma is a sensible one). They finish their Okonomiyaki, where Koguma breaks it to Reiko that she has “The Cursed Cub”. Reiko then sheds reality onto the legend. The Three people who ‘died’ while using it: The first one was an old Soba Shop worker who drank too much. The second ‘victim’ didn’t even die but skipped town to run from a debt. And the last ‘victim’ was a priest who lost his license and had to sell it. Giving them a laugh, as Koguma comments, she is nothing like those unsavoury characters. Afterwards, Reiko gives Koguma a camping futon to stay the night (no streetlights in that area makes the journey home too dangerous). They banter a little, with Koguma joking that she could have done it in the Cursed Cub. After Reiko says that it’s impossible with a Cub, Koguma disagrees. It’s silly but not impossible. To which Reiko gives a history of two people who climbed it before her. ‘Giving her the goal of being the third to do so.
That morning, Koguma and Reiko discuss what they will do for the rest of the summer (there’s one week left). Reiko says she will fix up her Cub, and Koguma decides that she wants to get a full-on Motorcycle license, which would allow her to use something faster than sixty kilometres an hour. Reiko helps her get signed up and accidentally goes full-on Cub-Otaku before Koguma says she doesn’t know what she’s talking about – Reiko then speaks plainly.
This episode had a different feel to it because it focuses on a secondary character. Through “Show don’t tell”, we receive plenty of information when it comes to Reiko. She is ambitious, goal-orientated, and open to new experiences. We learn this, not just by her decision to climb Mount Fuji over the summer but also through the fact that she eats and drinks very quickly, and when a new problem or challenge arises, she pounces on it like a Cat with a mouse. When it came to the Fuji Goal, we saw her struggle, and it makes her a much more relatable character in this sense. We also get to see that Koguma has a sense of humour and accommodating nature. In terms of enjoyment, I would rate this as possibly the best episode so far and one that can be viewed, even without the previous episodes. You wouldn’t get the bigger picture, but it works as a stand-alone story. The next episode is called “My Cub”, and we will see what that entails later.