「スーパーカブ」 (Super Cub)
“Super Cub”

THE HANAMI JOURNEY

Winter’s thaw has begun, but its bite still hangs in the air. Somewhere south is the promise of warmer afternoons and the smell of thawing soil. It’s the final episode, and Koguma, Reiko and Shii set off on their first girls Cub trip–a bonding adventure. Their destination is the southernmost part of Japan. There in the south the first cherry blossoms of the season have blossomed. In contrast to previous episodes, the solution to their numbers problem was fairly easy. Reiko already owned a seat expansion for her Hunter Cub and so Shii-chan was able to ride with her. 

Overall I thought it was a great creative decision to end the series this way, with the main focus being the interpersonal relationships between the three main protagonists. Reiko and Koguma’s dynamics are still a favorite of mine, but their moments together as a trio shone bright–like selfies and taking in the scenery together. It was also quite sweet to have Koguma suggest a different route just so Shii could experience some cafes as reference. And on that note, the fact that this entire trip only happens due to Koguma caring for a friend was a strong statement of how far she has come from feeling disconnected from others (one of our starting points). While I appreciated the sentiment behind the gesture, I personally don’t think Koguma “rescuing” Shii from her reactive impulse to run from the cold and the grey of winter is a sustainable solution for Shii in the long run. Next year winter will come again and so will her fear of being unsafe because of it. The trip serves as a band-aid. But neither the trip nor Kougama heals her wound in a deep way. As much as Shii wishes to be saved by our amazing introvert, one day the little girl will need to understand that healing and growth are intrinsic processes that can’t be brought about by extrinsic factors like the weather. Environment and people can be catalysts for the work, but only catalysts; the internal work itself must be central.

RESPECT FOR THE INDIVIDUAL

Back in Episode 03, I spoke about the possibility of Super Cub being a love letter to patience, personal accountability and problem solving, then linking that with what I assumed were Honda’s core values as a company. We had plenty of billboard-ish types of Honda advertisements throughout the show (e.g.: when the girls go on their school trip and share a rant about Cub durability, or when Koguma changes her oil at Shino’s garage, etc). But a really strong branding strategy authentically conveys a company’s deeper values to its audience. And that’s what Super Cub has managed to do so brilliantly. We created a true emotional connection to these values. Hence why by the end of this final episode Shii-chan buys her Little Cub. Koguma’s journey is also intrinsically connected to what is possible once we let go of what we believe is permanently true about our identity. And as far as a coming of age story goes, Super Cub conducted a unique symphony at that. I think Koguma’s character is quite on par with Honda’s main philosophy, something they call ‘Respect for the Individual.’ Here it is, straight from Honda:

Initiative means not to be bound by preconceived ideas, but to think creatively and act on your own initiative and judgment, while understanding that you must take responsibility for the results of those actions.

Equality means to recognize and respect individual differences in one another and treat each other fairly.

Trust is created by recognizing each other as individuals, helping out where others are deficient, accepting help where we are deficient, sharing our knowledge, and making a sincere effort to fulfill our responsibilities.

– Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

FINAL IMPRESSIONS

Super Cub is an authentic coming of age story. It highlights time and again how much joy can be found in spending time outdoors, working creatively to solve problems, and making connections with those who are similar, but also dissimilar. The story memorably demonstrates how the individual can grow by being part of a community, working towards a purpose or goal, and breaking free from preconceived beliefs about identity.

I have no parents. No money, either. Nor do I have any hobbies, friends, or goals for the future. But my days of nothingness have changed just a little. Was it because I came across my Cub? No. If you sit back and do nothing, a Cub won’t help you. You probably have to have a desire of your own. (…) When you do, I’m sure the Cub will respond. It isn’t a magical, do-anything machine. But when you have to face a hurdle, or come through with something it will definitely be there at your side.

I was very pleased with how Koguma understood at the end that it wasn’t the Cub as much as she who was responsible for the changes in her life. If you sit back and do nothing you won’t get anywhere, no matter what tools you have. And so, I end this post with this quote,

Do not fear failure by challenging, but failure by doing nothing.” 

– Soichiro Honda, Founder of Honda

PERSONAL AFTERWORD 

This concludes my first complete series writing for Random Curiosity. Phew, what an experience–fueled by many matcha lattes and plenty of existential crises. I don’t think I’ll be blogging about another Slice-of-Life any time soon. It strikes me that what I find interesting about works in this genre isn’t interesting to most; most of the time I prefer to explore the bigger and deeper message, concepts, and values behind a work rather than agonizing over interpreting minor details. So perhaps my interests and those of some readers didn’t really align in this regard, and that really didn’t feel rewarding to me. At times I felt at a loss about what would satisfy the readers, and found myself speculating on this instead of writing what was really on my mind. But it was a great learning experience. I’ve definitely expanded my vocabulary and created a deeper connection with the real reason why I decided to join this blog in the first place. I wanted to become a better writer, deal with weekly deadlines, and honestly express my ideas. The latter is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. I feel like I shared quite the ride with Koguma-san. And for that, I am very grateful. A huge thanks to all sailors who have shared this boat with me, be it by reading or commenting. I wish you all a great week and leave you with this beautiful song I’ve been listening to whilst writing this article.

Full-length images: 36.

19 Comments

  1. At the end of the day, Super Cub isn’t meant to be a series that changes one’s life or anything. It’s purely about relaxing, and about finding what works best for oneself. In this, Super Cub succeeded, and that’s what counts. I find that slice-of-life discussions are the most fun when the talk ties in with how the writer feels about a given moment, how it relates to them and what it means on the whole. These series aren’t meant to be deep, so it’s easier to similarly have a bit more fun when writing about the shows. Finally, for Worldwidedep and Bakapooru, I’ll leave this: another set of thoughts on Super Cub, because it’s always good to have another view of things.

    ViolinStar
    1. I don’t think you or anyone else gets to decide what Super Cub or any other work of fiction is “meant to be at the end of the day”—except perhaps the author. A very reasonable person could easily disagree with just about everything you’ve said here.

      To say this series is simply about “…relaxing and finding what works for oneself” seems to me like a pretty lackluster assessment of the story given all of the mechanisms therein which seem to point to deeper social and existential meaning.

      In fact, one might say that a commentary on existential meaning is one of the DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS of the slice of life genre. Because slice of life doesn’t really do much else: the plot is limited and not the primary focus; the timeline is often short and broken; there is not usually a large and long arc of character development or growth. We just get a “slice” of insight into the lives of the characters. We get to derive something profound from what might normally be overlooked as mundane, commonplace, and trivial. This is the joy and genius of slice of life as a genre.

      Of course there are some stories that are just meant to be a lighthearted, silly-goose time. But this is not Super Cub. The pace of the story; the intentionality of the details; the emphasis and almost meditative focus on certain tasks, people, and conversations; the subtle, unusual qualities of the characters’ personalities and the clear choices the author makes with this those personalities play out: all of this points to a more profound message in each episode.

      I’m not saying it’s Dostoyevsky. But it’s certainly much more than just “relaxing and finding what works for oneself.” Just because you choose to read/watch slice of life this way, doesn’t mean that everyone else is limited to this perspective.

      Lastly, I’ll say I’ve been watching from behind the scenes with each of these posts. I read the comments. Gabie has offered thoughtful insights on how these characters and story can bring meaning to our lives. It’s not my favorite series, but reading what she’s written has led me to reflect on some really interesting existential questions and personal aspects of my life. Like every writer she has her weaknesses, but I see this quality in her writing as a strength which is not at all common to see in young writers. I’ve seen you leave comments on three or four consecutive posts. And in spite of there being a lot of very good things going on in her writing, you only refer people to some other blog or offer passive-aggressive criticism.

      You’ve gone out of your way enough to read all of these blogs. You’ve gone out of your way to leave multiple comments. I’m not against sharing other work, But why ONLY refer people to another blog? And why the absence of any positive feedback at all? The behavior strikes me as very strange—not to mention disrespectful and unsupportive to someone who is writing content for you for free. This is a much bigger issue than Super Cub and who has the “right” interpretation of the story. Don’t you think?

      Anyway, I don’t know you. But get it together. And please show up with a bit of awareness and courtesy.

      Sincerely,
      Your Senpai, Zoro

      yoursenpaizorohere
      1. Going to have to disagree here: I rather liked reading both writers’ different styles on things, and I wouldn’t have found out what other people were saying otherwise were it not for those comments. There’s nothing wrong with sharing cool stuff with people, and given your tone, it sounds like you’re the one who needs to get it together.

        RXT
        1. RXT: I have to say I agree with mr. yoursenpaizorohere (btw, great handle), this pattern is obviously much more than just “sharing cool stuff with people”. I’ve addressed ViolinStar’s behavior before and in every comment this person refers to the same other blog and doesn’t have anything to say about these posts themselves, except once to say that I didn’t really make an effort (like this other blog this person always mentions).

          So speaking for myself, I feel gaslit by both of you: RXT and ViolinStar. To be honest, It has been quite frustrating for me, I put a lot of care, thought and time in these posts and that is not how I would ever behave in someone else’s blog space. So yes, I would have liked more courtesy and awareness of context. Because it’s not merely sharing something cool, it’s explicitly, repeatedly, and only making reference to this other blog. And then telling me how I should be interpreting the show.

          And also, you disagree with what? What about the other many valid points that yoursenpaizorohere made? Like defining characteristics of slice-of-life as genre, and also this, which I think it’s important and works for any anime genre:

          “Just because you choose to read/watch slice of life this way, doesn’t mean that everyone else is limited to this perspective.”

          It’s a pretty clear indicator of someone who doesn’t have an argument to attack someone else’s tone instead of their central points. Just saying. It’s great that you like reading both blogs, and that you found the reference useful, but that still doesn’t explain the behavior.

          1. He may say that he is “sharing cool things”, but i call it spam. At least it’s not a link about a pyramidal scheme but it’s spam nonetheless.
            By the way i liked a lot your coverage of Super Cub. I didn’t commented before mostly because i don’t have much noteworthy to add.

            Lambdalith
        2. Lol, you disagree with what?

          Once again:
          “I’m not against sharing other work, But why ONLY refer people to another blog? And why the absence of any positive feedback at all?”

          It would seem I’ve hit the nail somewhere around its head, based on Gabie’s experience of these comments (as shown in her reply). There’s a clear lack of awareness of context here. And it’s weird that it’s being avoided and cloaked in this false, doe-eyed, lip quivering pretense of “just wanting to share.” It’s so obviously more than that.

          Neither I nor anyone I’m friends with would stroll into someone’s creative space four times and ONLY reference someone else’s work while there (in front of the creator, no less) and without so much as one acknowledgement of the creative space they’ve entered or what’s in it. Why don’t we do this? Because it’s antisocial behavior. It willfully ignores the social context—which encompasses the creator’s efforts. Even if this is done unintentionally, or at least without malice, it’s still worth it to bring attention to this lack of contextual awareness. That’s all.

          yoursenpaizorohere
      2. yoursenpaizorohere: I particularly picked Super Cub as a show to cover because it appeared to not be the kind of upbeat, happy-go-lucky Slice-of-Life as it’s also common in the genre. After finishing the show I can say that it’s extremely Japanese in it’s essence.

        It made me think a lot about Zen Meditation and how its philosophy has become so intrinsically integrated into the fabric of Japanese culture, in the sense that things normally considered mundane and perfunctory for most western cultures are done in such a way that they become an existencial practice. Such as cleaning the floor, Ikebana, tea ceremony, woodworking, organizing your house (Marie Kondo, anyone?) or cleaning your room (Dr. Jordan Peterson, anyone? Haha #Lobsters this last one’s a joke though, seeing as he’s Canadian, but I love his work).

        So that’s what I felt like adding to what you said regarding the show and the genre. And last, but not least, thanks for taking your time to write what you did, I felt very seen and I actually deal with a lot of social anxiety and these interactions have upset me a lot more than I would’ve liked. I was feeling like I was the crazy one, so it was nice to see that my feeling was not baseless.

        1. Really nice addition here about zen philosophy being woven into the subtle texture of Japanese culture. I remember in my undergraduate philosophy studies I took a history course on the migration of Zen from India, to China, to Japan. What you say very much lines up with the way zen philosophy was integrated into the lives and everyday culture of Japanese citizens. And it makes sense that this translate into their storytelling, and why I feel so connected to the stories in manga and anime—in contrast to more western narratives. Now this is “cool stuff.” 😏😉

          yoursenpaizorohere
          1. Definitely cool stuff! I’m not sure if you’re familiarized with Japanese literature, but I cannot recommend Yasunari Kawabata enough. What we’ve addressed throughout our conversation has been masterfully translated into his works.

            Falling in love with his writing has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

      3. You present one of the most poorly-argued claims I’ve read in a while, and while I enjoy reading this site on the site, I’ve felt it important to also offer a comment in order to dispel an idea that, if unchallenged, could lead to the misconception that slice-of-life indeed demand a minimal level of prerequisite knowledge in philosophy whereas in reality, it does not. To ensure we’re on the same page, some terms first need to be clarified: existentialism is the belief that human existence lacks intrinsic meaning, and instead, it is people that give it meaning. Jean-Pual Satre and Friedrich Nietzsche are among the best known existentialist philosophers and argue that it is the individual’s responsibility to give their life meaning. Under this definition, a given slice-of-life anime would be existential if and only if it was about a character finding meaning in their life where they previously had none. Super Cub satisfies this definition, but the implication here would be that it is sufficient to discover the meaning in one’s life.

        This is a common, recurring problem in those who insist that existentialism is able to completely and wholly define the slice-of-life genre. Nietzsche and Satre’s arguments only conclude that it is up to the individual to give their life meaning, and beyond this, it is the same individual’s responsibility to realize this. Anime fans (and it seems you’re no exception) typically claim that finding one’s meaning in life means reaching completion. The implication of this is that, if the meaning is found, one can become complacent and not advance themselves further. In the context of Super Cub, it’d be the equivalent to Koguma deciding she’s happy with having a Cub and then proceeding to never ride it, learn to maintain it or open up to other Cub riders. This is not the case within the series, and it therefore stands to reason that Super Cub is not strictly a story of existentialism. A lot of anime fans tend to do is stop here, never mentioning things like individual initiative and resolve to better themselves – existentialism is a starting point, but ultimately, it is the action that matters. By halting the conversation here, one would be suggesting it is sufficient to find one’s purpose, but this in turn suggests that laziness and complacency is acceptable (i.e. “if I have a purpose now, everything falls into place on its own independently of whether or not I put in an effort to learn and improve”). This is, of course, ludicrous, akin to reaching a renowned competition and then throwing the fight because one was satisfied with merely getting to the starting line.

        The joy of Super Cub, then, lies not in Koguma merely discovering meaning to her life, but rather, the horizons that open up for her, and more importantly, the fact that she makes the effort to explore these new horizons. Existentialism is not the entire theme in Super Cub, nor was it ever intended to be the driving force behind other all slice-of-life works: the supposition that all slice-of-life anime necessarily are a commentary on existentialism is a mistaken one. Is The Order A Rabbit? is about how being receptive to fateful encounters helps people to move on from past sorrows and embrace happiness anew. Asteorid in Love speaks to how appreciation of the different disciplines in science contributes to one’s own growth in a field. Diary of Our Days At the Breakwater suggests that stepping out of one’s comfort zone is a gradual process, but one that is met with reward for those who are willing to do so. Similarly, Super Cub’s main theme isn’t merely existentialist in nature: existentialism is more of a starting point. The central theme of Super Cub is about how open-mindedness and a willingness to learn is what creates new experiences. One doesn’t need to have taken a course on Nietzsche and Satre to understand this or appreciate what makes Super Cub tick.

        In fact, the assertion that one necessarily must approach anime like Super Cub from a philosophical perspective is deeply flawed. It is a form of gatekeeping, since not everyone is going to be innately familiar with various philosophical schools of thought. Just because you alone found Super Cub to be existentialist doesn’t mean everyone will see that as the end goal, and in fact, as I’ve done above, I’ve made the case that stopping here is to endorse complacency. Finding purpose doesn’t mean anything unless one has the will to do something with meaningful with that purpose. If there’s a philosophy for this, I wouldn’t know it, but that’s irrelevant. The life lessons of Super Cub matter more than alluding to philosophy that only describes the series’ strengths halfway, and while this is what I make of things, I won’t object to different people who reach different conclusions. With this in mind, existentialism is only a part of Super Cub, but if someone decides that it’s a show for relaxing, that’s fine, too, and no walls of text should dissuade them from approaching anime in the manner of their choosing. However, it is flawed to suppose that all slice-of-life fans need a formal background in philosophy to appreciate the genre.

        With this being said, anyone should be permitted to freely disagree with whatever claims you suggest as holding true. Ironically, all you’ve basically said is that no one should be permitted to tell others approach a given work, and then subsequently, they went ahead and told people what to think anyways. I’ve elected not to focus too heavily on this, as this is a wonderful example of the tu quoque fallacy (I’m here to shoot down the demand to wield undergraduate philosophy in a genre where life lessons are more notable, not sling unwarranted insults around). However, it doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence when one is telling people what to do and then goes on to demand more self-awareness from others at the same time; this is poor form.

        Kinny Riddle
        1. Hey Kinny Riddle, you seem to have misinterpreted what the previous commenter said. He wasn’t referring to existentialism as the philosophical discipline, but rather a much broader and encompassing sense of experience and meaning derived from that experience. I don’t think what you mentioned about Koguma opening up possibility for herself, for example, wouldn’t fall under this umbrella. ‘Existential meaning’ in this case refers more broadly to the meaning and understanding that occurs through first person, subjective experience––in contrast to explorations of objective truth, knowledge and reason. Even if you look at the philosophical tradition of existentialism in the Kierkegaardian or Nietzschean sense, this is not out of line with the spirit of those works either. Nowhere did he mentioned, though, that a formal education in philosophical existentialism is required to understand or derive existential meaning from experience; nor did he say this is required to derive meaning from or understand Slice-of-Life.

          It seems to me you both are actually in agreement about the nature of Slice-of-Life. I didn’t get the impression at all, from the previous comment, that he was arguing that one needs a prerequisite education or understanding in existentialism in order to grasp or appreciate Slice-of-Life. Nor does it seem like he’s arguing that existentialism as a philosophical genre is what defines Slice-of-Life.

          It seemed to me like he was addressing the dismissive, vapid claims of ViolinStar that the series ‘doesn’t really have any deep meaning’ and can be reduced to ‘relaxing and finding what works for oneself.’ further I think he was mostly responding to this individual’s perception and characterization of the show. It doesn’t seem like it was intended as a lecture to the broad audience of Slice-of-Life anime. Lastly I think he was also picking up on the disingenuous intentions behind ViolinStar’s repeated behaviors during my coverage of Super Cub, throughout the series. And I actually tend to agree there. How do I know what the intentions behind the comment were? Because we spoke about it privately afterwards 🙂

          I appreciate you adding some real value to the discussion, and outlining a clear rationale for your claims although you misinterpreted the comment, I think the two together actually add a lot of value to the conversation as whole.

          Thanks and have a good one!

    2. If you (ViolinStar) are trying to drive more hits to the other blog, it didn’t work on me. I already visit there.

      I thought the series was overall average. It started out strong, but the story just didn’t work for me in the end. The characters just made too many questionable decisions for me.

      1. If going up Fuji-san fast will make you crash, maybe (by the X time) going slower is the smarter thing to do.
      2. Koguma riding all the way to Kamakura even when Reiko said that it was dangerous. Plus, it’s faster to take the train and Koguma still needs to ride it back.
      2. Instead of calling the parents and emergency services, Koguma does the rescue herself. Umm… Shii was half conscious barely able to speak. Shii’s bike was trashed and she thought she could hide it? Koguma almost slides off the road herself too.
      3. Don’t tell me that one Shii’s parents couldn’t take a few days off to take care of their ONLY child.
      4. If Reiko thought it’s dangerous to drive to Kamakura from Hokuto, I guess going to Kyushuu is a piece of cake.

      Super Cub was good enough for me to finish the season, but it’s not good enough to me to by the blu-ray in the future.

      Bakapooru
  2. Lambdalith: for some reason I can’t reply to your comment, so I’m going for this route instead! I’m very happy to hear you enjoyed reading my articles throughout this season. Thank you for sticking to the end and for sharing this with me. It meant a whole lot.

    Have a lovely week!

  3. Regarding the “Personal Afterword”:

    I think you should write what you’re interested in and ignore audience. Writing for this blog isn’t a job. Also, I like watching/reading about “slice of life” series. Thanks.

    Bakapooru
    1. Hey Bakapooru! Thanks for your kind words and for making part of this Super Cub season! As for the job bit, my boss very much disagrees with you 😉 hahaha. But that’s also part of what makes the content on this blog so high quality!

  4. Hey, Gabie! Thanks for covering this series.

    * First of all, you’re not crazy and your writing is quality stuff.
    * Second, write first for yourself, then tweak for the audience. As mentioned, this isn’t your job, so feel free to let your persona shine through!
    * Third, big fan of the included song at the end (as a song itself, but mostly simply including it and getting the vibe across.
    * Fourth, -themes and messages- are one of the biggest reasons why we actually go on these blogs. Anybody can see a plot summary, but I want discourse and thought! This is indeed why we’re here! That and…
    * Fifth, we all like screenshots. Especially lewd ones. (Reality.)

    TLDR: write for yourself; I come here for the pretty pictures and flowery analysis

    Dude
    1. Hi Dude! Man, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I certainly did not skip to the TLDR and rather read the full comment a bunch of times while slaving my soul away to a project these past couple of days, ha ha.

      Writing for myself and then tweaking it for the audience is an incredible piece of advice and I’m excited to continue my writing journey on this new summer season. I’ve picked one certain series to cover and another unexpected one to intro, but your fifth point actually brought me a lot of clarity in which direction take the latter!

      Also, I’m so stoked to hear you enjoyed the song, and that it properly conveyed the vibe #pleased

      Once again, thank you so much for all you’ve said, it meant more to me than you will probably ever know. Have a lovely day!

  5. Too bad the current day Honda Motor are the exact opposite of what Seichiro epitomized. Honda used to be run by engineers. Now it’s run by accountants. Seichiro would’ve risked bankrupting Honda to remain in motorsport. Current management gets afraid after one measly pandemic and pulls out of F1, just as they start winning again. The build quality of their cars has taken a massive hit thanks to poorly managed Mexico and Turkey assembly plants. I needn’t go on. It’s heartbreaking.

    Litho
    1. Wow, that sounds really sad. But somehow I feel this type of thing has happened with major manufacturers around the world, eh? I started watching the Honda Origins Manga on their website and Seichiro definitely appeared as a unique and passionate character, very inspiring.

      Do you know if the same type of production is applied to their motorbikes?

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