Super Cub: my First Impressions

I just finished watching the first episode of Super Cub. This type of show isn’t something I’d typically watch, but I decided to pick it up up after reading the description of the manga and also seeing the “iyashikei” tag. For some reason, these factors—paired with the motorbike motif—convinced me to try it out. I have to say that I enjoyed the episode more than I thought I would. Though I liked it, I can already anticipate the complaints that this show will be getting after its premiere.

Before I get into the issues that people will have with this show, I want to focus on the story arc that develops within this first episode.

The setting establishes itself with the initial panoramic shots in the opening of episode one. The picture shows different aspects of the landscape, eventually zooming out to where it shows the river that the purported village rests adjacent to. After capturing the place in question, the show takes the audience into a small apartment that’s not quite small enough to be a studio but not much bigger than one either. An alarm clock goes off, and a young girl’s hand reaches out to stop its cacophonous chimes.

The young girl gets out of her bed and proceeds to begin her day. She pours some juice and butters her toast for breakfast. After finishing her breakfast, she pulls some rice out of her rice cooker to pack a bento. Nothing is ever said. She is the only one in the apartment. Her expressions are lifeless; it’s relatively clear that every action is a piece of the puzzle that is her regular routine. All of this is done on a daily basis. Everything is just muscle memory.

After getting outside all dressed, backpack and all, she gets on her bicycle. She begins her trek to school. The route she takes from home is strenuous, as she climbs some steep inclines on the way. Pedaling, she’s panting, while sweating. When the school peers into her eyes’ view, she begins breathing sighs of relief. Just after this moment is when the first instance of any sort of words spoken—although it’s her inner monologue.

Her name is Koguma. She lives alone. She has no parents. She has no siblings. She has no friends. She has no hobbies. There’s nothing for her to hold on or look forward to. These are the thoughts of the young MC.

Upon leaving school, Koguma takes a particular notice in some of her schoolmates that ride motorcycles—instead of a bicycle which necessitates incredible effort when riding it to and from school, like hers. She stops by a motorbike dealership, only to notice that the bikes are far out of her price range. Discouraged, she begins to take her leave. The owner walks outside and stops her.

After recognizing her situation, he brings out an old, used Honda Super Cub. He offers it to her for 10,000 yen (roughly 90-95 usd). It still runs fine, so the named price doesn’t make much sense. The owner tells her that its former owners have passed away while riding it. Koguma, unphased, says she will take it.

The rest of the episode sets the tone for what is to come later on in the series. In the initial stages of this first episode, it’s established that she Koguma has nothing to her as a person, essentially. She has no one she’s close to, no one to open up to. There’s basically nothing that is known about her background or past, so how she’s supporting herself remains unclear. In addition, she has nothing that she enjoys. Everything is bland—even down to the food that she eats. Her breakfast being toast and juice, while her lunch was merely white rice (this may also be a reflection of her budget, of course).

The saturation of the anime is also a reflection of Koguma’s existence. The gloominess of her everyday life is enveloped in the colour. This gray only really only becomes palpable when she first starts up her new Super Cub. I wouldn’t call it sakuga, but there’s a blatant change in the vibrance of the animation.

prior to Koguma’s Super Cub being started
The second after the Super Cub starts

This alteration of the saturation, everything becoming brighter, is a reflection of the inner change that takes place in the MC. Within Koguma, a sense of hope and the unknown develops. She’s excited, and understandably so. Up until this point, there’s been nothing to look forward to. As previously noted, her life is by no means an ideal situation for anyone—let alone a teenage girl.

I found the direction with the storyline compelling. I’m looking forward to seeing how this continues to change her in the future. I also found the soundtrack to be fitting for the show’s tone. It’s an enjoyable show and fulfilling for the genre, at least in my mind. Be that as it may, there are some things that stick out about the animation. This is where people will have issues with the show, I’d imagine.

Okay, there is a ton of CGI being used. This should seem to be par-for-the-course, considering that this is a SOL filled with numerous vehicles. Considering this anime’s focus on motorbikes and vehicles, no rational person should expect a studio to be able to bust out hand drawn vehicles of high quality. CGI isn’t exactly uncommon when it comes to pictures like this.

In addition, some may find the sharpness of the animation off putting. I can sympathize with that because I liked the episode, but still felt that way. The character design is fine, in my opinion, but the character’s animation—particularly the outlines—seem a bit splotchy at times. Though this isn’t a rare thing, it sticks out in Super Cub because of the ample use of CGI.

The aforementioned unsharpness of the animation becomes sharper when Koguma begins to ride her Honda Super Cub. When everything brighten up at that point in the narrative, I thought that maybe it was used intentionally as a plot device for further developing the character’s evolution. I may be reaching a bit there, but it honestly seemed like things got sharper after that point in the episode.

Koguma on her Honda Super Cub after revving it up.

To sum it up, people are going to complain about this show because of the animation and/or an ineffective use of CGI. I rarely have issues with art when it comes to animanga because I appreciate the talent of those in the industry. In addition, I don’t really have a knack for understanding the implications of what all goes into it, so it might be a little out of my league to accurately criticize something. I do notice things when they are objectively of lower quality though.

Super Cub and its animation is not bad, in my opinion. I’d say there are noticeable flaws at times. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering the novelty of Studio KAI and its probable low budget. If anything, this should make us appreciate the phenomenally animated shows that we often get from better-known studios.

I don’t know. I thought it was cute and heart-warming. I can’t speak for others, but I’ll continue to watch it. It’s probably going to convince me to pick up either the manga or the light novels as well.

Buttah toast, toast on da buttah

Anyone else watching this show?

let me know what you think with a comment if you are

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