While thinking about writing this article, I thought about prefacing that Japanese lifestyles are different from Western ones. However, when it comes to the day and age we live in, the world of corporate drudgery and ‘rules of the workplace’ seem to apply everywhere. From the youthful sparkle of starting a new job to the extremely quick ‘coming down to earth’ of the realization that you’ll be stuck in for a while and the coping mechanisms that come with it, Aggretsuko shares all of these life-lessons in ten easy to consume, but at times, difficult to digest, ten minute (either use of the term minute applies here) titbits of the work-life of Retsuko, a dutiful red panda, and her colleagues.
Sanrio, the same company that created Hello Kitty uses a very similar ‘kawaii’ style to bring out this new and interesting take on what life in the ‘real world’ is like. Picked up for one season by Netflix (with a second recently confirmed), Aggretsuko seems to have taken anime fans, ‘normies’ and furries by storm. This seems rather out of place with the style it’s been placed in. However, with this reviewer, it truly strikes a chord in its ability to very succinctly place all of these characters into very relatable positions.
The mundanity of worklife and the constant fear of doing the job wrong and being chewed out by a boss seems to fuel our characters into finding various escapes. Our main character attempts to find her escape in singing death metal (a choice I personally approve of as I reminisce on my own 20s and the use of Pantera as an escape mechanism in truly dark times). Other characters take to drinking or sucking up to bosses, depending on the situation, all the while showing how they truly begin to grow up in the working world.
This particular series, much like many other series from Japan, is able to encapsulate a feeling of reality that seems to only recently be picked up in the likes of other American series like “Bojack Horseman” and tends to aim for the jugular, with how accurate it is to the day-today of real life and what these challenges that we face mean. In some ways showing us that even the best-laid plans will eventually lead to moments where the rose-tinted glasses are taken off.
Beyond all of this, Aggretsuko also takes on the ever-present topic of sexism in the workplace by showing how different females deal with the way they are treated. From being ignored into non-existence, to being targeted for daring to speak up or even taking charge in the most badass way I’ve ever witnessed, it shows a side of the working world that many popular series tend to skirt past, and for that Aggretsuko deserves even more praise for its openness.
Aggretsuko does exactly what it needs to do. It shows us that life is not always as simple as the white towers of universities or colleges or high schools have told us it would be. It teaches us that creating a one-size-fits-all plan isn’t necessarily what we actually want and it also shows us, in essence, the dangers that could happen if you don’t allow yourself some freedom within the rat race. It shows an imperfection of character to us that we need to be able to see and I for one am hoping to see more of the same in the next season.It shows an imperfection of character to us that we need to be able to see and I for one am hoping to see more of the same in the next season.