Friday, May 7, 2021

Episode 5 Super Cub


Scene 5, "Reiko's Summer", conveys what a ton of watchers likely needed last time: a look into Reiko's mid-year excursion. It also drops viewers directly into her perspective, offering a refreshing, Reiko-centric episode that, as the kids say, positively slaps.

The start, before the consistently ravishing OP, drops us directly back toward the finish of scene 4 when Koguma bicycles over to Reiko's during summer get-away. So far, it's been clear that Reiko feels hemmed in by the social expectations that come with being the daughter of a politician. That's partially why she loves her bikes so much: they allow her to escape those boundaries and do as she wants in the world.

Post-OP, Koguma is wheeling her bicycle into Reiko's own secretly little carport, and once the young ladies are settled, Koguma will work making an undisputed top choice of mine: okonomiyaki, which is the best simple to make a dish to at any point exist. Obviously, Koguma's okonomiyaki looks as great as Reiko says it is. This leads Koguma to ask. It's here that we flip perspectives back to Reiko's summer vacation, which is really where the meat of episode 5 is.

Reiko, very much like Koguma, took on a late spring position. For her situation, it was stacking supplies and functioning as a messenger for an organization, instead of her secondary school. Once she wraps up her duties on sight, she tells the chief that she'll be heading out to check the trails. Naturally, she's going to do it on the back of her bike. How else would a rider like Reiko do it? It feels like the only, natural choice.

What follows is a scene with high-paced music playing. I imagine that we're actually hearing what's playing in Reiko's helmet through a pair of headphones, or even from some speakers though it's also incredibly diegetic and dies out the moment Reiko hits a rock...and goes sailing onto the ground. It's then that Super Cub takes a moment to go back inside Reiko's head as she tells viewers that in the summer of her second year of high school, she's going to climb Mount Fuji on her Super Cub. And y'all: this sets up some delightful plot, as well as a solid Reiko infodump.

Reiko's premium in Super Cubs came about when she found out about the historical backdrop of riding offspring up Mount Fuji. Despite the changing rules about off-roading up Japan's most famous natural sight, Reiko quickly becomes enthralled with the idea of swapping out parts on her bike so she can finally ride up the mountain. She's just missing one thing: permission. However, on her job application form, she states that as her main goal. In fact, she doesn't mind the labor nor even checking the trails ahead of the Caterpillar machine leaving out with its daily load. Reiko is very clearly here to scale Mount Fuji. It's just a perk of the job that she gets paid and has a residence with a gorgeous view of the mountain.


You recollect those standard changes I referenced? Indeed, that is on the grounds that the way up Mount Fuji is filled with rocks. Rocks that Reiko repeatedly bumps and jumps and skips over as she attempts to scale the mountain. Many times, she uses the grooves of the Caterpillar's wheels to ride up, and by the midpoint of episode 5, it feels like she's going to succeed. Then all the sound drops out, save for a deep, echoing ringing, and the viewer realizes that Reiko has altitude sickness, thus stopping her progress for the day.

A ton of the scene is spent watching Reiko spill and tumble and scrap across the rough street paving the way to Mount Fuji. It's agonizing on the grounds that Reiko is a great child. It's painful because you can see how positively pissed she is at the notion that she can't scale the mountain. Yet it's clear that somehow, somewhat… Reiko will figure out what she needs to do. Also, she has a great boss who recommends that she “bring herself” along for the ride, and not just take on Mount Fuji headfirst without consideration.

At that point that music kicks up and we watch as Reiko cautiously, insightfully scales Mount Fuji with her whole heart, shouting and reviling as she and her Super Cub valiant the mountain and decline to lock afterward. Things fade to white as Reiko flashes back to school, and with it, to the times she's spent with Koguma, the only other cub lover in her life. Those memories are what give her the final bit of energy to overcome her altitude sickness and exhaustion as she pops a wheelie, and finally, finally… crashes and goes rolling down a hill to the path below.

And also, unfortunately, busts up part of her bike's oil container. Ah… and really, her entire bike. It's honestly a bit of a heartbreaking scene, if only because you just really want Reiko to succeed.

As it were, I needed so urgently for Reiko to make it right to the top.I really wanted to see a gorgeous, sprawling view of rural Yamanashi from the summit. I kind of even wanted a moment where all the sounds drop out, and it's just Reiko breathing inside her helmet as finally, dusty, bruised, and exhausted, she sees her summer goal through. Instead, we're treated to a scene between herself and the chief of the loading company on that path as he and the Caterpillar head back down. It's not the summit of Mount Fuji, but honestly? I felt seeing Reiko fail was more realistic, and means that she'll have something to try again later on if the series ever returns to this moment.

Back in the present, Koguma comments that it's sort of senseless of Reiko to ride her offspring as far as possible up to the culmination, yet plainly Koguma additionally comprehends Reiko's sentiments. It's said as a thought, rather than a hard fact or even an opinion against Reiko. It's just a friend taking in a story and essentially just saying “That was silly and kind of dangerous, you know?” After that, the girls chat, and eventually, it's time for Koguma to leave… then Reiko tosses her sleeping back and for the first time since the show began—and maybe the first time in Koguma's life—she spends the night outside of her quiet, solemn apartment.

It's so ideal to see the young ladies simply being kids together. While they're still not good friends, episode 5 demonstrates that Koguma and Reiko are friends now. They're no longer just two students who happen to really love Super Cub. They're two girls who love Super Cub and while Koguma and Reiko initially bonded through that, they're at a point where that's no longer the sole reason for them chatting with one another. They have a genuine friendship, and it's really, really wonderful to see. Plus, their friendship is even pushing Koguma to get her motorcycle license, which I bet we'll see in the back half of this cour. (At least, I really hope so! I wanna see this kid pass her test!)

Also, it's ideal to move point of view for the greater part of a scene. Koguma is a fascinating character to see the world through, but so is Reiko. While she's quite similar to Koguma, she's markedly different, and uses her cub for very different reasons. Koguma's cub offers her adventures and moments where she's able to see the world form different angles and literally, a different pace and height. For those moments, Koguma's BGM tends incredibly atmospheric, leaning on pianos and woodwinds with a mixture of rural sounds.

Then again, Reiko's Super Cub offers her an exacting break from being the girl of a legislator and the little girl of an organization president. While her life is marked by the absence of her parents, her life is also marked with an escape to be the girl she wants to be, bike and all. In episode 5, all of Reiko's riding music echoes Initial D in a very charming way that made me chuckle. I could easily imagine her drifting around a corner or two. Well… that's after she hauls her bike up from crashing. Then there's that similar silence to Koguma until the music comes thrumming back in like a racing heartbeat.

What I'm saying is that it's very, very good.

Scene 5 firmly concretes a certain something: Super Cub is a splendid show with a ton of heart. It's hard to imagine it ever failing viewers, especially fans of the slice of life genre and coming of age stories. It's got so much heart from moment to moment: even the quiet, interstitial scenes where Koguma is just existing or Reiko is simply attempting to scale Mount Fuji feel really, really impactful. I suppose that's the subtle power of animation: anything can be moving when it's well-structured, and Super Cub is just that.

What a gift it is to be able to review such a powerful story. I look forward to doing so until the end of this cour.

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