Well, here we are. The last episode of Super Cub. Just to let you know, there will be spoilers ahead. Afterwards, I will give my final opinions and a star rating. So let us begin.
The sun is up as Koguma opens the window to reveal a chill in the air. She remarks that far away cherry blossoms are in bloom. Now – the cherry blossoms were going to arrive where they were soon. But the girls all decided that they wanted to see them in winter for a change. This journey also adds to Koguma as a person. Other than the school trip and staying over at Reiko’s house, this will be her furthest trip away from home. After arriving at Buerre to see Reiko and Shii already there, the goal is set: To claim the season of Spring earlier. With this, the opening credits roll.
In Buerre, the girls drink their first coffee of the day. Shii’s father gives them a loaf of Komisbrot – the rye bread of the soldiers. After some reassurance and jokes, they depart. While travelling, the colour saturation increases – suggesting a moment of pleasure among the group. We get a small montage of their journey. For once, Shii does no screaming. They make a stop within the first hour of the trip – as a means of preventing the ‘Devil’s sixty minutes’ from kicking in. This is when trouble of the Cub can happen, and checking parts after the first hour can prevent problems down the line. Another journey montage happens as we see them ride through at least two towns before stopping for coffee. We see why Koguma planned the route they were taking. It was so that Shii can have a look at different cafes and teahouses. For notes, when she runs her own business. They eventually stop for lunch when the show, don’t tell, aspect of the programme suggested Shii needed the bathroom. Koguma says she will not squander money – but Shii offers lunch by preparing the Rye Bread with cream cheese and smoked salmon. On the road again – they arrive in Nagoya City.
Nearly the whole time, the colour saturation has been up. The girls are getting a lot out of this trip. By sunset, they arrive at Lake Biwa before stopping at the Biwako Inn. Koguma prepares the rice she brought while Reiko still likes to parade around after a bath before Koguma tells her to stop wetting the floor and put her clothes on. Shii is in awe as she stares out the window.
That morning, Koguma indicates a meeting of Cub owners who appear in a park nearby, and it looks like they will be going to check it out….later on in the year. They check the map and continue their journey along the sea. They stop at the beach for a break and have a banter before heading in the direction of Kyoto. Prefecture after prefecture they go. Eventually, they witness the Tottori sand dunes along the way. After passing some Windmills they stop at a shop to buy seafood and take selfies before staying at an inn to eat it.
The next day they reach the far end of Honshu island and continue their journey until they end up sleeping in a net cafe. Their destination is set that morning. To go as far as their Cubs can take them. They eventually arrive at Cape Sata, where they see Cherry trees below them. The girls have done it. They have found ‘Spring early. And with this, Shii reclaims her joy for life after the accident. For once, Koguma was wrong. Her Cub did take away winter for Shii.
When the girls returned to their hometown – Spring had already arrived. Or, as Koguma put it – they brought Spring with them. While cleaning her Cub, Koguma gets a phone call from Shii. She got a Little Cub for herself. With this – Koguma and Reiko give Shii advice on what to do during each season. We then see the girls riding their cubs in unison. Koguma brings us a full circle in the narration: She has no family, friends or hobbies. But did the Cub take away that nothingness? No. It was her desire to take the risks that did it. The Cub simply complied to the want.
So…would I recommend Super Cub? Yes! I entered it expecting to have a journey similar to that of Laid Back Camp. But what I got was not only different, but it hit different targets. It is one of the quietest, realistic, unassuming, and most beautiful anime that I have ever seen. Now to say why:
The art style and animation are based more on realism with a handful of fantasy elements – primarily the fact that the colours increase in saturation when Koguma experiences happiness and excitement. The only aspect I have against the design is the fact that the line work looks (a little bit) digitally pixelated rather than smooth. The animation deliberately excludes exaggerated or over the top expressions. Instead, chooses a route centred on realism. However, one thing it does incredibly well is provide us with a rock-solid show don’t tell. We know not what they are thinking exactly, but we see it in their body language. As their body language occasionally advances the plot.
The voice acting is as I would expect from the characters. Yuki Yomichi as Koguma and Ayaka Nanase as Reiko were especially prominent.
The characters and story are interesting. In particular, Koguma and her journey. While on the surface, she comes across as the blandest character. Especially at the beginning. The reality is that she is a blank slate. That we can somehow insert ourselves into her place. And the Cub is metaphorical – not necessarily about the Bike. It is about anything we put our minds to. A hobby in general, and how it changes our lives, changes our personalities and changes our relationships and friendships. Koguma went from nothing and nobody with no ambition or social skills to being a Cub Otaku, friend, coffee lover, traveller, courier, maternal figure, and of course, a hero. All she needed to do was take baby steps every day to change herself. The Cub was the vehicle that had her to become all of these things. And I said it before, if Koguma was our kid, we would be very proud of her. We would have thought that Reiko would have played the cool kid role by making Koguma cool by association. But thankfully, they did not do this. Despite being beautiful and bright – in her own way, Reiko is very similar to Koguma. The big difference could be that she acquired her Cub much earlier. Her identity had already been established before the show began. Some could argue that the show lacks conflict and build towards a showdown – but this is because the show falls under the Iyashikei label. It is an anime with a healing quality. Designed to give a gentle perception of a simple life.
The music for this anime is excellent. The classical and piano music (Debussy, Satie and Vivaldi, especially) really bring a beautiful, artistic and timeless quality to the show. The opening and closing themes are very suitable in their audible depiction of adolescence and personal growth.
The themes of Super Cub are what make the show as good as it is. It is about stepping out of our comfort zone. ‘Taking risks and doing little things every day towards a goal. ‘Being yourself and enjoying the journey of life. ‘Trying new things and learning from others. And the fact that it is portrayed realistically should only inspire others to chase after whatever they want out of life.
If this is the end of the show, I will miss it. But at the same time, it is masterful within its genre. I will definitely watch it again sometime. I might even try to find the manga too, and hopefully Studio will produce more anime like this.
Art Style: ****1/2
Voice Acting: ****1/2