Youngsters in quite a few nations around the world glimpse forward to the day they get the flexibility of their driver’s license, permitting them explore their increasingly widening globe. In rural and suburban Japan, wherever trains and busses may perhaps not be trustworthy or frequent, this liberty is given sort in a moped, scooter, and motorbike license, available at the age of 16. Present anime Tremendous Cub, based mostly on a novel sequence of the very same identify, is a love letter to this to start with flush of adolescent freedom.
The Super Cub anime opens with major character Koguma, a tranquil and lonesome lady who lives by itself on a meager profits in a extremely rural element of Japan called Yamanashi. This space is recognised for its normal elegance, which include staying just one of the prefectures that contains Mount Fuji. Inspite of the fact that 27% of Yamanashi is selected as nationwide parks, Koguma has seen really very little of it beyond the route she takes on her bicycle from her apartment to her superior college and back again yet again.
By her own admission, Koguma has minor fascination in her planet or the folks all over her. She has no relatives, no mates, no hobbies, and no possessions beyond simple home furniture, kitchen area appliances, faculty clothes, discount food stuff, and her bicycle. She’s an orphan, though we’re in no way instructed and what happened, and we can see the influence it is experienced on her everyday living. Most likely a section of her died when her mother and father did, her trauma turning her into the strolling useless.
The animation is very simple and thoroughly clean cut, with hues that are washed out but not disorienting. The animators do an fantastic job symbolizing rural streets, fields, and hills, as properly as the normal modifications needed to precisely portray actual models of usefulness shops, supermarkets, and car dealerships. This truly feels like the rural Japan I know from dwelling in Kyoto and Gunma prefectures.
The very first spark of identity we see from Koguma is in the initial episode, as she struggles to ride up the hill to her university on her bicycle and appears annoyed at the simplicity with which a classmate passes her on a modern day moped. Unable to shake the imagined, she pedals to a close by scooter store but is dismayed by the superior rates (in the 100s of 1000s of yen, or 1000s of US pounds).
Noting her sadness and resignation, the shopkeeper implies an aged, restored Honda Super Cub bike that costs 10,000 yen, or just under a hundred bucks.
Clearly tempted, she normally takes a seat on the Super Cub. And her planet (and ours) modifications. A breeze blows, and the colors wash again in, lively and dazzling. Just for a instant, there is an awareness that there’s some thing magical about this aged motorbike. Koguma can feel it so can we. This transform in saturation will be recurring during the sequence every single time Koguma discovers a thing new.
The globe fades once more. She’s understandably suspicious and asks bluntly why the bike is so low cost. The shopkeeper informs her regrettably that the car was in a lethal incident and that no one particular in the little town will buy it. Koguma is nonplussed and agrees to obtain it. Perhaps her individual household reduction made her numb to feelings other potential buyers may possibly not be ready to shake.
After Koguma will get her license, and carrying a new established of helmet and gloves, she requires the Super Cub for its initial official ride. The environment is in colour for her and for us after more. Exactly where prior to she had nothing—no spouse and children, no mates, no hobbies, and no genuinely loved possessions—now she has her Super Cub. She’s not above staring at it like a pet. She’s hardly gotten it house before she’s fallen in like.
Tremendous Cub is not genuinely about the Super Cub it is about what the Tremendous Cub represents. It signifies flexibility and choice, adventure, and a earth of probability and exploration. It represents that to Koguma’s peers as nicely. Koguma rolls into course, her satisfaction palpable, and loudly announces, “I HAVE A Motorbike NOW!” And not only do her friends respond with shock that she speaks, but it makes her instantaneously well-liked. Some of her classmates are dismissive—it’s only an aged Cub—but other individuals are of course jealous of her newfound mobility.
I bear in mind when I acquired my driver’s license at 15, a provisional license that had constraints on how considerably I could go, who I could have with me in the vehicle, and what places I could go to. Regardless of all this, it was nonetheless so considerably farther, so much a lot quicker, than I at any time could have gone right before. I try to remember how triumphant I felt the initially time I drove to faculty, pulled up to a parking spot around the busses in my virtually-new 1998 emerald environmentally friendly Ford Escort ZX2 (with Innovative Woman Utena rose crests on it, no a lot less!) in entrance of all my friends, and watched their jaws fall as they exited the yellow tube of horrors. I’d have all kinds of difficulties with that car or truck, but on that day, I may possibly as effectively have just pulled in with a McLaren. Any wheels are excellent wheels when you are 15 and your good friends can’t drive nevertheless.
My possess environment became a whole lot a lot more vibrant that working day it’s when my really like affair with vehicles commenced. As Tremendous Cub progresses, we see Koguma have this similar practical experience. Acknowledging the whole extent of her freedom arrives in suits and begins. She satisfies her very first friend, a confident Cub “otaku” named Reiko. Reiko has a modified Postal Cub, a Super Cub sibling applied by postal carriers in Japan. She quickly will become Koguma’s guide to the world of Cubs and will help Koguma extend her consciousness of her new-identified freedoms.
When speaking to Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft about the sequence, we shared considerations that Tremendous Cub will flip into practically nothing but animated commercials for Honda. So much, nevertheless, I imagine our worries ended up misplaced. Past the halfway point in the sequence, the aim largely seems to be on the outcomes of an boost in mobility. Guaranteed, the show’s aspirational good quality is also frequent in promotion, (“use our product, and fantastic points will materialize!”), but there are lots of potential substitutions for a Super Cub, and the series doesn’t seem to be arguing that the Cub is better than any other bike.
That explained, Cubs are no extended produced in Japan, but I ponder if Tremendous Cub will push product sales of Cubs in Southeast Asia or globally, as effectively as really encourage young people today, like Koguma and Reiko, to be part of Japan’s robust and lively Cub subculture. The subculture aspect, and the way it brings Koguma and Reiko alongside one another, is a substantial part of the collection so far.
Not only does Koguma’s friendship deepen with Reiko above their shared relationship of possessing Cubs, but by means of Reiko and her Cub, Koguma satisfies many others. These new mates include a instructor at a different higher school, where by her Cub will allow her the element-time career of shuttling paperwork between faculties, and a classmate named Shii who involves Koguma and Reiko to do a past moment run to choose up supplies for the school’s lifestyle competition. (Reiko sooner or later replaces her Postal Cub with a Hunter Cub immediately after she wrecks it attempting to travel it up Mount Fuji.)
I personal a 2009 Honda Fit RS, and following the initially episode, I desired to run out and buy a Super Cub. Admittedly, I’m a Honda lover, but with each subsequent episode, my drive for this many years-aged scooter has only developed. There’s a ton of Japan I even now have not noticed, and as the months develop warmer and summertime arrives, there are considerably even worse strategies to see it than on the back of a Cub. I imagine numerous 16- and 17-year-olds seeing the collection could possibly come to feel the exact.
With Yamanashi currently being the great backdrop for individuals emotions, I’m seeking ahead to seeing Koguma and Reiko putter all around the roads, via mountains and valleys, along rivers and shorelines. There is so considerably for them to learn so a great deal flexibility to be felt. I just can’t wait around to see where their Cubs will just take them—and take us in the course of action.