Episode 9, “In Ice,” heralds the changing of seasons known to every second term high schooler in Japan. Koguma sports a red jacket, and even her super cub, mighty as it is, is a bit sluggish. She even remarks that according to the weather, the wind chill will make it feel like the middle of winter despite the fading greens, reds, and yellows of later autumn. So it’s gloves and goggles on for Koguma as she cruises through the countryside, feeling the weight of the changing seasons as she clenches her teeth against the chill and rides.
Still, the cold isn’t enough to ward Koguma, and Reiko, off from eating lunch outside on their cubs. And now, we get to see Koguma’s brand new mess tin in action, and it’s full of fluffy white rice, ripe for eating! It’s not long before new friend Shii comes out to join the girls with her own lunch, making for a very pleasant scene between the trio as they warm up with some Italian milk tea spiced with grappa brandy, which is distilled from leftover wine pomace. Hilariously, Super Cub breaks the fourth wall with a caution that too much grappa makes for an alcoholic drink, which in Japan, is illegal for those 20 and under. It leads to a sweet moment between the girls that hints at a new, developing friendship just as deep as Koguma’s initial friendship with Reiko.
After school, the trio head back to Shii’s and are greeted by her father with the day’s coffee offerings. Meanwhile, Shii goes and gets a thick cardigan of abrasive wool for Koguma, only for Reiko to snatch it away in pure awe. However, this cardigan is for Koguma, though Reiko will get a cut of it once she uses what she needs to line her jacket. However, a problem quickly arises: no one knows how to sew more than simple things, Shii’s father included. So it’s back to school with Shii in tow to see who can help them.
One screaming Shii later (she did not take well to riding on the back of a super cub) the girls arrive back at school and head to the Home Ec. room with the cardigan, and thankfully, find a solution. Looks like Koguma will be getting a bit warmer, and maybe, someone will get some stockings out of this too. A bit later, Koguma has a vest-like jacket to line her day to day coat, and Reiko’s got some stockings. Shii even gets a piece in the form of a thermos bottle cozy! In a sweet way, all the girls match now, splitting the cardigan amongst the group to suit their needs. Plus, it feels like a bit more cohesion to bring them all together as a genuine trio of friends.
So much of the joy of episode 9 are those liminal, interstitial moments I keep talking about. It’s those quiet moments where the show lets the sound design creep in, where the girls are just together at the bike rack, where the sounds of the countryside dominate the scene, pairing with subtle animation to drive home the feeling of the looming winter. The sharp sense of how cold it is. It’s watching Koguma beam over her brand new windshield, watching her and Reiko ride around with joy shining in her eyes. It’s her subtle smile, a smile that Koguma didn’t have way back in the premiere. It’s the simple joy of seeing a lonesome young girl riding her winterized cub, facing the world with the knowledge that she has a place and that she has joy. Honestly, that’s Super Cub‘s greatest strength: those little moments, which so often remind us why it’s so delightful to be alive.
The trio isn’t quite a genuine girl gang yet. There’s still a good deal of cohesion that hasn’t happened. Shii is their friend, true, but she’s not as close as Koguma and Reiko are. Yet Shii slots into their dynamic so well that it feels like it won’t be long before she’s on a cub of her own. I’d really like to see Shii become just as close as Koguma and Reiko. She’s the perfect balance to their dynamic, and fits like a glove… almost. But almost is a word heavy with potential, and there’s so much potential in every single episode of Super Cub. I get the feeling that next week’s episode -episode 10- will be another Shii-centric episode, and maybe… she’ll upgrade her bike to a cub.
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Mercedez is a JP-EN localization editor & QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who also writes & reviews at Anime Feminist and But Why Tho?. She’s also a frequent guest on the AniFem Podcast, Chatty AF. This anime season, she’s all about Super Cub, which is great because she’s also reviewing it here on ANN. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her Twitter or on her Instagram where she’s always up to something.