Episode 4, “The Job”, drops viewers into Koguma's first summer with her Super Cub, complete with all of the glorious sounds of a hot, humid rural Japanese summer. However, as its title suggests, this episode revolves around something more exciting: a job, though at the start of the episode, Koguma is still in the process of deciding whether or not she wants to do it.
Post-OP, Koguma meets with Reiko to discuss her upcoming job as a courier (really, it's the only option). It's then that viewers learn that Koguma's started to venture out further. This time, she went on a round trip to Kofu Station, which was about 90 minutes away. She even bought an ekiben bento that has the world's most delicious-looking koshu chicken nestled inside. For a girl whose life used to revolve around school and her apartment, this is a major development. It's a sign that little by little, Koguma's world continues to open up. And now that she's taken up a summer job as a courier, it feels like her world's going to practically explode.
However, for all that to happen, Koguma has to get her superb Super Cub serviced. Naturally, she returns to Shino's, the shop where she bought it, and enjoys yet another conversation with the owner. She watches the owner intently as he works, knowing that eventually, she'll be handling her own bike's oil changes. Near the end of the episode, we get to see her attempt the procedure on her own, which is quite a charming scene.
The bulk of episode 4 follows Koguma as she spends her month-long summer vacation puttering around and carrying out her duties as a courier. It's simple, but effective storytelling, keeping us in Koguma's head as her world continues to expand in a multitude of ways, not the least of which financially, which we see through diligent deposits and hesitant purchases.
Like rural life often is, Super Cub remains a very quiet and uneventful show. There's lots of liminal space where Koguma is moving through the world, accompanied only by music or atmospheric sounds. Especially noticeable in this episode are the screams of the summer cicadas, loudly filling the air to announce their late July, early August appearances. There's also a fair amount of rain, as Koguma's work takes place during tsuyu, Japan's notorious rainy season. Adding to the show's unique atmosphere is this beautifully pensive BGM which underlines Koguma's new adventures.
Episode 4 was yet another solid episode. It's delightful riding along with Koguma, and while I was hoping to see more of Reiko once summer started, I imagine she'll get more screentime in future episodes. Still, both of these young women continue to flourish in small, but meaningful ways, and both of them continue to lean on one another as kindred spirits on the road. The nuance around their still tender relationship feels so incredibly authentic, which makes it so deeply engrossing to watch. I can't wait to see how Reiko and Koguma grow together.
In a way, I dread the day when a “bad” Super Cub episode inevitably comes in the latter part of this season. I even find myself a bit worried about the back half of this series, about it losing pace and slowing down, about Koguma hitting a “peak”, even though there are no signs of any of that. Thankfully, episode 4 isn't bad at all; in fact, it's a strong episode that really shows just how far Koguma's come. And isn't it great to witness a young kid grow into their own and start to heal? I certainly think it is.
Ultimately, I'm choosing to remain optimistic because sometimes, a series has only good episodes, even if they're “slower” or less plotty. Super Cub feels like a one-of-a-kind series where every episode has the potential to be a mundane delight. There was plenty of that this episode: the simple pleasures of a train station lunchbox from a station you drove yourself to. The assurance of having a raincoat when a summer shower comes pouring down.The relief of not getting soaked to the bone. The joy of seeing oil ground into your cuticles.
In a time where loneliness roosts in every home, I find it delightful to spend time with Koguma as she experiences her little, simple joys. In fact, this show evokes a wonderful feeling that I readily welcome and embrace. Slice-of-life is one of my favorite genres, and being able to celebrate a show as fantastically executed as Super Cub certainly makes reviewing it feel like a special treat, week to week.
Super Cub is currently streaming on Funimation.
Mercedez is a localization editor & QA, pop culture critic, and a writer who also writes & reviews at Anime Feminist and But Why Tho?. There, she gushes about idols anytime someone lets her, which is… not often enough. 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, where she's always up to something.