Last week we started a new series with episode one, which focuses on one girl out of a trio (Koguma) as she buys herself a Honda Super Cub as a way to open up the world to her. If you haven’t seen last week’s episode, and then this one, I would recommend viewing them because this Review likes to have spoilers. Let us begin.
We start with Koguma arriving at school on the Super Cub she bought in Episode One. This time we don’t get any Debussy in the opening, but an original piano piece that still suits the show well. For about thirty seconds, she learns how to put her helmet on the helmet holder before fixing her fringe and rushing to class. She sits down. Giving us a hint of deja vu, as the girl in the beige jumper sits comfortably near her, and a small pick-up van goes past the school on the main road. Koguma then decides to yell out, “I rode my motorbike to school today”. My western mindset would predict the classmates having one of two reactions: Laughter or so much indifference that the news would be a pause in their conversations. The silence, after her announcement, was genuinely suspenseful. ‘Pleasantly, their reaction was one of “No way! That’s awesome!” Before it is revealed to us that this was just Koguma pondering whether to tell them. She doesn’t, which makes me retract my statement that she is more quiet than shy. She is a shy one. After this, we get the show’s opening, which wasn’t present in episode one – but appears to set the tone for the rest of the show.
So we get a glimpse into some of the show’s school life, as Koguma eats lunch alone (and their classrooms have microwaves. Something I can’t say about my own school experience). Then she learns how to make a drawstring bag in what looks like a domestic science class… ‘I think. While picking out the fabric for the bag, a classmate asks Koguma what she is using it for since money must be tight. Another girl comments on if she plans to run away. To which Koguma says she has plans to put her helmet and gloves in it. She gets a more toned-down version of what she pictured in her head, which then gets even more toned-down when she reveals that it is a Cub – which causes one of the boys to say it’s more of a scooter than a motorcycle. More specifically, the kind used to make deliveries. The information then gets overheard by the girl in the beige jumper, who asks Koguma if she can see it. After class, Koguma decides not to approach the girl and leaves quietly. She realises that she forgot the drawstring bag – embarrassed, she has to go back for it. Looking to return, she notices the girl at the top of the stairs, holding the bag, knowing she forgot to bring it.
We then get the extent of this girl’s love for Motorbikes. She points out the make of Koguma’s Cub (and how rare it is), the parts, the materials, the accessories, her ‘love for Cubs in general, and what she, herself, likes to use (and rides to and from school in). Overwhelmed by what is happening, Koguma struggles to interact. The girl then tries to keep Koguma from running away by bringing her bike around to show her. ‘Rather than her to it. The Cub is a Honda MD90 Postal Cub – once used by Post Offices before regulations had them retired in favour of newer, cleaner models, which, more or less, have no ‘horses’ in them. She then gets ready to go home on it but comments that she is glad to meet another Cub rider. Koguma goes home after this, where she contemplates whether she will talk to her again in school tomorrow. She then recalls – the girl’s name is Reiko.
That morning, we see other aspects of Koguma’s routine, including a wash, followed by breakfast at seven twenty-five. However, Koguma realises that she nearly out of seasoning to put on her rice for lunch and will need to buy more. On her way to school, she experiences her first traffic jam and is still getting used to cars overtaking her. When she arrives, she sees Reiko’s Cub and places hers beside it to make quiet comparisons before going in. Entering the classroom, she musters up the courage to say good morning to Reiko, but Reiko’s reaction is low key compared to how she was yesterday. ‘Presumably engrossed in her book. They both sit down to read before class starts. At lunchtime, Reiko is asked by other girls if she wants to eat with them. She responds, “‘Sorry, I was planning to have my lunch today with a friend”. Koguma assumes she probably means someone else or is shy about the idea of it being her. But then Reiko approaches her desk and says, “All right, let’s go.” before confidently grabbing her arm to go to the bikes. It gives Koguma a surprised but joyful grin while Reiko grins with her. They proceed to eat their lunch together, while Reiko gives Koguma her outlook on life as a Cub rider – to sit on something that can take her anywhere she wants. Even far away. But Koguma says she hasn’t gone far on it – to which Reiko decides to encourage her. “you can go anywhere you want to. I mean, you’ve got a Cub!” However, when school ends this time, Reiko’s already up and gone without so much as a see-you-later. ‘Allowing Koguma to have the usual, quiet trip home. However, when Koguma comes up to the traffic lights, she ponders what Reiko said about going anywhere on the Cub. So with this – she goes right instead of going straight on at the crossroads. ‘Going past the gas station and Baer Mari that were in Episode One before going to the Mukawa Supermarket, ‘to restock on the Bento rice topping that was running low at home. I then realised my mistake from Episode One: She didn’t shop for groceries after school after all. But she soon realised that she had been down this way before to buy the bike lock. She then comments that she looks forward to more uncharted journeys tomorrow after school.
I’m not going to lie: I felt like I was watching a different show in this episode. Episode One was so quiet and unassuming in comparison to here. ‘Which tells me something significant about this show. What Koguma feels and experiences, we too feel and experience. In episode one, we can feel her quietness. ‘Her boring, dull and unassuming existence. ‘Living day to day without impacting anybody or anything, including herself. But here we see how much her world is opening up through both her Cub and her meeting with Reiko, as Reiko is someone a lot of us wish we had when we, ourselves, were in high school. Someone who pushes us out of our comfort zones but also didn’t give up on us. In general, this is turning into something I’m happy to go along with, and I’ll see you later talk about the next episode, “Things Received”.