The Honda Super Cub Anime Captures the Reality of Riding

A Honda Super Cub, whether new or classic, certainly isn’t the biggest or flashiest motorcycle. But the reason it’s the best-selling motor vehicle ever is that it distills riding down to its bare essentials. And more than just delivering thrills, riding opens up new opportunities and worlds for those willing to sit on the saddle. That spirit is at the heart of Super Cub, an anime that celebrates the famous humble Honda motorcycle.

Super Cub: an anime about a girl and her second-hand Honda

A side view of a black-and-white 1991 Honda Super Cub C50
1991 Honda Super Cub C50 side | Honda

If the idea of an anime centered around a motorcycle seems odd, it’s worth remembering the drifting anime/manga series Initial D. And this isn’t the first time the Honda Super Cub has enjoyed an anime tie-in. In 2020, Honda released two limited-edition Super Cubs based on the model seen in the film Weathering With You, Crunchyroll reports.

In the 2021 anime series Super Cub, though, the motorcycle plays a starring role. The anime is based on a series of light novels and manga volumes that first started in 2017, RideApart and Animation World explain. And the Honda company assisted Studio KAI, the company behind the Super Cub anime, in getting all the bike details right.

The three main heroines of the Super Cub anime with their bikes by a mountaintop rest area
Super Cub anime promotional poster (left-to-right: Reiko, Shii Eniwa, Koguma) | Funimation

The Super Cub anime follows Koguma, a high-school student who finds herself living alone without parents, money, or a job. And when the show begins, she has neither hobbies nor any real friends. One day, though, as she’s huffing and puffing her way up the hill to school on her bike, she’s passed by a classmate on a scooter. Tired of her commute, she decides to visit a nearby motorcycle dealer.

Although the dealer has plenty of Honda bikes, ranging from several CBRs to a Monkey and even a Ruckus, Koguma can’t afford a new one. However, the dealer brings out a second-hand Super Cub (based on its design, it’s likely an early-2000s or late-90s model). He claims that three people have died on it, so he’s only asking for the equivalent of $100.

And with that used Honda Super Cub, Koguma’s life begins to change.

Riding opens up a whole new world—and the Super Cub anime shows it off brilliantly

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As of this writing, only five of the planned 12 Super Cub anime episodes are out. And both the manga and light novel series are still ongoing. But the first four episodes were enough to show what this show does well. And that’s accurately capturing the emotional and physical ups and downs of riding.

Episode 1 shows the early steps of Koguma’s journey as a rider. She has to get her license, her helmet and gloves, and learn how to turn her Super Cub on and kick-start it. And as overwhelming as it is, the moment she starts to ride it, the on-screen colors get richer and brighter. It reminded me of finally being able to ride with other people through a summer-lit Chicago, with wind blowing and music playing.

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However, later in that same episode, she’s despondent when she can’t get her Honda Super Cub to start after trying to ride to the convenience store at night. She kicks and kicks, but she can’t figure out what’s wrong. But then, she remembers her owner’s manual—and finds out she’s out of gas. As someone who faced a similar issue recently—turns out, motorcycle batteries go flat—I understood her frustration and relief immediately.

The show gets motorcycle riders

The next few episodes of the Super Cub anime similarly demonstrate the next steps of a rider’s journey.

Koguma finds out a classmate, Reiko, also rides a Honda Super Cub, albeit significantly modified. Reiko then becomes a pseudo-mentor for Koguma, helping her get a box for luggage and secure other gear. And after becoming a courier, Koguma learns how to do basic maintenance and the importance of rain gear after getting caught in a downpour. By the end of Episode 4, she’s looking for more opportunities to ride further and further.

No motorcycle rider, whether they own a Honda Super Cub or a Suzuki Hayabusa, has experienced the same riding journey. But as a relative novice rider myself, parts of my experience mirror what’s in the show.

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After getting my Street Triple R, I was also initially overwhelmed a bit by everything. Keeping track of maintenance schedules, knowing when to stop for fuel, and getting my safety gear together piece by piece. I’ve ridden through rain and high winds without a windscreen. And in some ways, I’ve felt intimidated by those with more riding experience.

But I’ve also felt the joy that the Super Cub anime also expresses. The feel of the wind, the rush of acceleration, and the desire to ride whenever an opportunity shows up. And I’ve also felt welcome by the riding community, just like Koguma does when she meets Reiko and other Cub owners.

Where can I watch it?

The Super Cub anime is licensed by Funimation in the US. There’s no dub, but the episodes are simulcast on the Funimation website and app in Japanese with subtitles. You’ll need a subscription that starts at $7.99/month and has a 7-day free trial. As of this writing, every episode has at least 4.3/5 stars on Anime News Network.

The side view of a red-and-white 2021 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS
2021 Honda Super Cub C125 ABS side | Honda

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And if the show inspires you to get your own Honda Super Cub, the 2021 C125 ABS model starts at $3749.

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