Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Super Cub

Go To
With your Cub, you can go anywhere.

Super Cub is a Light Novel series written by Tone Koken and illustrated by Hiro (the creator of Akebi's Sailor Uniform). Originally a Web Serial Novel that ran from 2016 to 2021, it was later published under Kadokawa Shoten's Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko label from 2017 to 2022 for 9 volumes. It also received a manga adaptation in December 2017, which is illustrated by Kanitan and serialized in Kadokawa's Comic Newtype website. An anime adaptation by Studio Kai premiered in April 7, 2021. The anime is licensed (outside of South and South Eastern Asia) by Funimation.

Taking place in the city of Hokuto in the Japanese prefecture of Yamanashi, the story focuses on Koguma, a lonely girl without parents, money, friends, hobbies, or plans for her future. After many days of going to her school with her bike, she resolves to get a motorbike. She then buys a Honda Super Cub from a local dealer, and her world begins to change, from going to places she never knew, to making new friends.

Super Cub provides examples of:

  • Ace Custom: Downplayed, but over the course of the story, Koguma adds things to the original Super Cub to suit her needs, including a front basket and rear cargo compartment, a re-bored engine, and handle covers and a windshield for cold weather.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: As a result of lacking the novel's narration and opting for Show, Don't Tell, the anime sometimes falls into this trope.
    • In contrast to the manga adaptation and the original light novel, the anime does not provide any details on why Koguma lives such a lonely spartan life, merely mentioning that her parents are gone without explaining why. This is likely to preserve the pacing and tone of the first episode, since providing exposition rather than Show, Don't Tell would likely have slowed things down a bit.
    • In the anime, Koguma says that wearing her school uniform to work might be dangerous, and asks for permission to wear her gym uniform instead. In the light novel, the narrator explains that the hem on Koguma's vest (which she wears instead of the blazer in the summer) might flail in the wind, resulting in her potentially wearing them out or causing an accident. The teacher instead thinks that "dangerous" means that someone might get a peek at her panties, so he comes up with the idea of her wearing a gym uniform instead.
    • Episode 11 has Koguma rescuing Shii from a shallow stream in freezing temperatures, yet no one thinks to call Japan's equivalent of 911 or even Shii's parents, resulting in Koguma's actions coming off as extremely reckless and dangerous, which fans of the series gave the episode flak for. The manga and light novel show that Koguma wanted to call for an ambulance, but Shii told her not to, as she didn't want her parents to find out and get worried, much to Koguma's reluctance.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Toward the end of Episode 8, Shii insists that Reiko and Koguma leave before the customers start coming in. Moments, later, the real reason why she wants them to get going is revealed- her mother pulls in and enters the store, looking like a 1950s U.S. housewife and being short enough that she barely looks older than her daughter.
  • Answer Cut: Midway through the second episode, Koguma struggles to recall the name of the classmate who also rides a motorcycle, and the scene then cuts to the title card for the episode, "Reiko."
  • Artistic License – Geography: The route Koguma takes from the town of Hinoharu to Kamakura by way of Hakone makes little sense for someone who is in a hurry, but it sure makes for some nice imagery.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • In contrast to the front-and-center Honda products, when Koguma buys a watch from a store, they're called "Kaiso" watches as opposed to the actual Casio brand name.
    • Reiko searches for information on helmets and face shields with a search engine called "Goggles."
  • Book Ends:
    • The series begins with Koguma giving a monologue on how she doesn't have any parents, money, hobbies, friends or goals. The end of the series has Koguma repeat that monologue, only for her to say that her "days of nothingness" have changed a little, in part because of the Super Cub.
    • The series begins with Koguma buying her Super Cub. The series ends with Shii buying a scooter.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • After finding that getting a new helmet or even a face shield for her old one is too expensive for her liking, Koguma instead decides to protect her eyes with a simple pair of safety goggles.
    • When Koguma and Reiko are faced with the potentially difficult and expensive task of winterizing their Cubs, Koguma goes with cheap handlebar covers, which prevent the breeze from blowing up their jacket sleeves. Reiko is initially turned off, but finds that they're a good choice in the end.
    • Slightly later on, as the temperatures continue to drop and the handlebar covers don't prove enough to fight the cold on their own, Koguma insists on taking a protective measure that Reiko is extremely reluctant to resort to. What is this measure? Quite simply, a windshield.
  • Call-Back: In Episode 10, Reiko and Koguma joked about carrying Shii in her respective Cubs, with Koguma saying she could be in the front basket of hers. Cue the next episode, and Koguma is forced to carry Shii in her Cub like that to get to Koguma's house quickly.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Koguma buys her Super Cub, the owner slips something into a locked compartment for her. When she runs out of gas, she finds out that it's the user manual.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Shii passes Koguma on her bicycle in the first episode.
  • Class Trip: Koguma and Reiko go on one together, but when Koguma gets sick with a fever and recovers just too late to catch the bus, she catches up with her Cub.
  • Cliffhanger: Episode 10 ends with an injured Shii trapped in a stream and calling Koguma for help.
  • Close on Title:
  • Cluster F-Bomb: After failing to climb Mt. Fuji on her Super Cub for the umpteenth time, Reiko pounds the ground and yells "Damn it!" repeatedly.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Downplayed. After Reiko and Koguma end up using their Cubs to haul some things for the culture festival, the teacher in charge offers to reimburse them for the gas. Reiko, who's less than impressed, privately complains to Koguma that fuel isn't the only expense associated with driving a Cub.
  • Courier: Koguma gets a summer job transporting documents between schools. Reiko namedrops the "courier" term and discusses the kind of job they do.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 5 focuses on Reiko working at her summer job and trying to climb Mt. Fuji on a scooter.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Surprisingly, Koguma of all people. After she buys the Super Cub, which supposedly caused the deaths of three of its riders, for the low price of 10,000 yen(roughly $100 US, and less than a tenth of what the other motorbikes cost), the store owner throws in a helmet and gloves for free. Koguma then asks how many people the helmet and gloves killed.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: As Reiko searches for information on helmets and face shields in the library, Koguma sees a worker wearing goggles and a face mask, and realizes that she has an alternative way to protect her eyes from the wind.
  • First-Name Basis: Reiko is solely addressed by her first name, regardless of how the people speaking with her are. The same goes for Shii, whose surname, Eniwa, is only revealed by her caller ID.
  • Genki Girl: Reiko and Shii for a tomboyish and girly types respectively.
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Reiko, who is the tallest and most imposing among the trio.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Shii's family are all big on different Western cultures. Shii herself loves Italy, her father loves Germany, and her mother loves America, to the point she dyes her hair blonde and dresses like a 50s housewife in public (to Shii's mortification).
  • Fun Size: Despite being only slightly younger than Reiko and Koguma, Shii is so short that she can ride in a Cub's front basket. It seems to run in the family, as her mom is also positively tiny.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Koguma does this once to Shii to keep her awake while rescuing her from the cold river. Justified because if you are in that situation, sleeping and/or losing consciousness is the worst thing you can do due to hypothermia.
  • Iyashikei: A sterling example of the genre with its slow pace and emphasis on small personal victories as a lonely girl learns to enjoy life.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The show starts as it means to go on: with a lengthy, lonely Slice of Life scene where Koguma makes breakfast. The end of the episode has an almost identical scene, except this time she looks out her window and smiles at her Super Cub.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: By the Episode 6 of the anime Koguma and Reiko are already well settled into this dynamic.
  • Meaningful Name: Koguma's name 小熊 literally means "small bear," and she rides a Super Cub motorbike.
  • Minor Living Alone: Koguma, as she doesn't have any parents or relatives, she receives a stipend for living and has a scholarship to attend school. Reiko too, but she seems to just prefer it that way.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Episode 10 starts particularly lighthearted as Koguma and Reiko spend a day fooling around in a snowy plain. At the end of the episode Koguma gets a phone call from Shii asking for help, after the latter has crashed her bike and is trapped in a river while the evening temperatures are plummeting.
    • Episode 11 begins with a serious tone as Koguma rescues Shii from the river and take her home to warm up. Reiko retrieves Shii's phone and Alex Moulton bicycle from the river, but is sad to report that while the former is fine, the latter is not. Then the mood turns funny again when Koguma hangs up Shii's clothing to dry... including her underwear.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The anime's timeframe is set just slightly ahead of its airing schedule. Koguma gets her motorbike license on April 26, 2021 (almost 3 weeks after the episode aired) and continues onward throughout the year.
  • No Full Name Given: Koguma and Reiko are only known by their surname and given name, respectively, and their full names are never revealed.
  • Non-Uniform Uniform: Reiko wears a cardigan under her uniform's blazer, and takes the blazer off during class. Shii wears a slipover sweater while often forgoing the blazer and wears a shorter skirt than usual.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The girls won't win any awards in the safety department, frankly speaking. Well, they at least follow the basic rules, but Koguma drives Shii around on a cargo pad during the school festival, which is explicitly forbidden in Japan, and without the required year of a driving experience (well, at least the latter wore a helmet), Reiko and her Fuji escapades are the story unto itself — her original Cub didn't survive them after all, — and Shii serves her friends caffè corretto with grappa in it, which is conducive both to the underage drinking and DUI.note 
    • And then there's the whole story with Shii's falling into the stream and her subsequent "rescue", which is wrong on so many levels that it's scary. The girls basically lucked out on this.
  • Painting the Medium: The first episode is almost entirely static, silent, desaturated shots to emphasize how dreary Koguma's life is. When her Super Cub makes her feel alive again, the image gets colorful and music starts to play.
  • Parental Abandonment: Koguma's father died when she was young, her mother then wasted much of the inheritance money he left behind, they moved from Tokyo to Mukama, and then her mother ran away in the middle of the night and abandoned her leaving only a slip of paper saying goodbye. All this adds up to why she lives alone in a town she's not familiar with and has no friends.
  • Product Placement: For the Honda Super Cub motorbikes, both in the novel's promotional posters and in the official website. Later, cans of Honda Ultra G1 Engine Oil are also prominently featured. Koguma also buys a rainsuit from an Up Garage auto parts store.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Soft piano renditions of Claude Debussy's “Clair de Lune” and “Arabesque No. 1” can be heard in the first episode.
    • In Episode 11, Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons's Winter Movement is heard while Koguma is driving to rescue Shii.
  • The Quiet One: Koguma is rather quiet early on, and Reiko does almost all the talking in their first conversations.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: Koguma's life is silent and empty until she first climbs onto her Super Cub.
  • Real-Place Background: Taking place in Yamanashi Prefecture, many of the areas visited in the story are real places. As Laid-Back Camp is set in the same region, it has lead to Friendly Fandoms between the two shows.
  • Rewatch Bonus: If you watch Episode 1, you may notice a girl passing Koguma on her bike. If you look closely after watching to the end of the series, you'll realize that it's Shii on the bike, since Shii is shown more clearly in a late series flashback.
  • School Festival: In Episode 7, Koguma and Reiko use their Cubs to transport some supplies to their class's cafe for the festival after their teacher is unable to make the delivery due to being busy.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: In a variation on this trope, Koguma is asked to wear her uniform on her summer courier job, since it falls under school business. Koguma points out that the uniform is less than practical and asks for permission to wear her gym uniform on the job.
  • Second Year Protagonist: All three of the main characters start the series as second-years in high school, and the anime takes place over the course of a year- from the start of their second year to when the cherry blossoms bloom again the following spring.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Reiko isn't shy to appear in front of her friends in just her panties (episode 11) or completely naked (episode 12) after coming out of a bath; much to the shock of Shii and the disgust of Koguma.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show, Don't Tell: The anime often uses visual cues and character reactions to convey the information, rather than telling outright. For example, in the scene in Episode 5 in which Reiko's boss helps her with her altitude sickness, he doesn't say he climbed Mt. Everest; instead, you see a photo of him with his fellow climbers.
  • Situational Sociability: Reiko can be relatively brusque in most situations, as seen when Koguma greets her in the morning, but becomes a Genki Girl when talking about motorcycles.
  • Soulless Bedroom: Koguma's flat is completely undecorated and has no personal touches.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • As a result of the Super Cub's fuel gauge being hidden, Koguma makes a rookie mistake and ends up running out of gas. Luckily for her, she's able to use the reserve fuel to get some more gas and makes a point of checking the fuel before heading out.
    • Koguma is advised to change the Super Cub's oil at 100, 500 and 1,000 kilometers after she first buys it. She hits the first milestone just before starting her courier job, and hits the other two before the end of summer vacation, since you tend to rack up a lot of mileage when you use your motor vehicle for work.
    • Reiko makes one last valiant effort to climb Mt. Fuji on her Super Cub, recalling everything she's learned during the process and with exciting music playing... but tips over once again and damages her Cub, forcing her to call for a pickup. Sometimes, determination isn't enough to surpass your and your equipment's limitations.
    • Koguma takes her bike to meet up with the class trip, and ends up getting a lecture due to how risky doing so was.
  • The Stoic: Koguma from the very start.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Well, Short, Dark and Snarky, because, surprisingly, it's Koguma who turned out to be a boundless well of sarcasm.
  • The Theme Park Version: Shii's family business is either "transnational" or "scattershot" in theme, depending on the charity of the description — It has a French name, a Tyrolean-style building, and is both a bakery that serves German bread, a British-style sandwich counter, and a diner decorated to look like an American Greasy Spoon. (And Shii hopes to one day switch out the German bread for Italian.)
    • That's because all family members have different Foreign Culture Fetishes. Her father is a Germanophile, while her mom is a fan of all things American (and probably also British), and Shii herself, on her part, is a huge Italy buff.
  • Title Drop: Episodes 7 and 9 have Koguma drop the title while monologuing, at which point the respective titles of the episodes are shown.
  • Wham Line: Episode 10 ends with Shii calling Koguma, only able to say one thing- "Help me..."