「スーパーカブ」 (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.
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
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.