Review of Aggretsuko

Aggretsuko

Sanrio is a company that specializes in cute merchandise. Even if you haven’t heard of them, I am sure that you at least recognize one of their creations – Hello Kitty. Unlike the South Park character Butters, who enjoys playing Hello Kitty Online, I can’t say that I am a fan of said feline. It’s just too girlie and wholesome for a degenerate such as myself. From the Sanrio stable of characters Aggretsuko is much more to my liking. This ten-episode anime series has the adorable visuals of Hello Kitty, but is more geared towards an adult audience. It follows the misadventures of a twenty-five year old red panda, named Retsuko, who struggles to survive the drudgery of office life. When the stress of it all gets too much, she vents out her frustrations by rocking out to death metal tunes at the local karaoke parlor.

OVERVIEW

Retsuko is a character that I imagine most of my older readers can relate to. Every weekday, in order to pay the bills, she makes the rush hour pilgrimage to work. After escaping the packed subway she has to endure hours of tedium sitting behind a computer screen, number crunching balance sheets. Her boss is a literal sexist pig who does little at the office, other than practice his golf swings and pester Retsuko for cups of tea. I sympathize with her plight, although I can’t say that any of my co-workers ever bug me for a cuppa. When it comes to beverages the only thing I can muster is black coffee from the machine. Anyone foolish enough to ask me for a brew soon learns to never make such a request ever again. Evidently I am terrible at judging the precise amount of milk/sugar dehydrated members of staff want.

Perhaps life would be more pleasant for Retsuko if she had a backbone? Unfortunately for her she is too darn nice. She is the type of person who will visit a clothing store and buy a token pair of socks, rather than suffer the guilt of leaving the establishment empty handed. At work when things get hectic, rather than speak up for herself, she retreats to the restroom. There she counts up to ten, in order to regain her composure. Over the show’s ten instalments Retsuko makes passive attempts to flee the horrors of her company’s accountancy department. She tries to line up another job and also gets her buddies, from yoga class, to report Retsuko’s boss for harassment. When neither plan bears fruit she decides instead to find a man. Getting hitched will presumably unlock the shackles of full-time employment and reward her with a cushier housewife existence.

VERDICT

My rating for Aggretsuko is four stars. If you are on the fence, on whether to give this series a watch, I would suggest that you take the plunge. Aggretsuko isn’t a big time commitment, as its episodes clock out on the fifteen minute mark. The show’s sense of humour was right up my alley, as it is rather dry and sarcastic. I wasn’t expecting that from an anime whose visuals are so colourful. Viewers who work corporate jobs are likely to recognize characters who resemble folks that they know in real life. Examples include Tsunoda the gazelle, who is the stereotypical beauty that kisses up to the boss. There’s also Kabae – a hippo who spreads gossip and bores anyone, who will listen, with stories of her family. My favourite character is Fenneko the fox. She stalks co-workers on social media and has a delightful laugh, which she blurts out whenever her pals find themselves in compromising situations.

Despite loving the gags, art style and supporting cast I was a bit disappointed with Aggretsuko’s protagonist. Her meek personality makes Retsuko an easy person to pity, but I can’t say that I approve of someone who seeks romance just to secure an easy meal ticket. From a male perspective I had to cringe when she turns down nice guy Haida the hyena. He made the cardinal sin of mentioning that it would be nice to work with his hypothetical future missus, rather than become the couple’s sole bread winner. In the later episodes Retsuko instead opts to date an inconsiderate pretty boy who has zero charisma. Aggretsuko’s writers clearly know how the world works, be it office politics or the dating game. No wonder red pandas are an endangered species. When it comes to boyfriends they make terrible life decisions.

 

35 thoughts on “Review of Aggretsuko

    • I usually drink instant coffee or green tea. Just add water and that’s it. Whether it’s hot drinks or meals I am lazy. Ain’t got no time to figure out what is too strong or two week. One of the people at work has more than three spoons of sugar with her tea!

  1. Sounds like Haida dodged a bullet without realizing it. Workplace romances usually don’t end well, and Retsuko seems kind of crazy.

    I should check this out. I’ve been through the miserable office grind before and I’ll be back in it soon, so I’ll be able to relate.

    • I know several people who have gotten hitched to people they met at work, so those type of relationships can work. One of those marriages ended in murder though (I wish I was kidding.) From personal experience I must agree that dating co-workers is a bad idea. Things get awkward when a break up happens.

      Haida still has a crush on Retsuko when she dates the other guy, so I guess both genders are guilty of making bad choices when it comes to love. I don’t know if Retsuko is crazy, but she certainly is desperate to quit her nine to five routine. She acts polite in public, as is the custom in Japan, but away from prying eyes she ditches the disguise.

      • Of course! It warmed my furry heart :p
        That was superb. The whoel show was so relatable though. The amount of stuff that it got near enough spot on from the office environment was insane.

  2. This was one I thought I would hate and then found myself completely absorbed and wondering why I could relate so well! I agree, it is def worth a watch (^^,) I can see why you would not approve her decision to find a ‘meal ticket’ out of her work but there are days where I can really understand her reasoning but the actual reality of it, meh.

    • I think the art style of Aggretsuko can scare some people off, as it is so cutesy. Shame, because I think most people will relate to the characters. We all know office folks, for example, who are polite in person but diss others when their backs are turned. There are also the friends who compliment someone’s partner, to be nice, even if in private they think the opposite.

      Maybe I was a bit harsh on Retsuko. I can be a bit sensitive when the topic of gold diggers comes up. Like her, I really hate my job. If someone offered me the opportunity to be a stay at home dad I would probably take it.

  3. Definitely not a fan of Hello Kitty either. One Christmas as a kid, my aunt bought me a bunch of stuff with the frog character (not sure what his name was) and I remember being so annoyed thinking “I’m a boy, why’d she get this for me?”

    This show sounds pretty interesting though as a twisted take.

    • I think we all have experience with relatives giving us weird gifts for Xmas. My gran sometimes used to give me toys that were aimed at much younger kids. Aggretsuko is a funny series. I like it when a show subverts expectations, by being more mature than the visuals may suggest.

  4. Why do guys pay when they go on a date? Don’t guys like spending money on women naturally? I would assume. Why do they give gifts and get mad when we refuse it?

    This show sounds like someone hates nice girls. Make us look petty. We do have a backbone and speak our mind when it is appropriate. I guess nice girls are depicted in all sorts of way because we are just too darn quiet.

    • Sounds like nice guys and nice girls have it tough. It pays to be a jerk. There was a time when I would try to be a gentleman and pay for meals, when going a date. Not anymore. I think society puts pressure on guys to be generous. Someone I worked with was excited to be going out with someone. She dumped him after two dates, because he expected her to buy her own drinks.

      I don’t think the makers of this show hate women. They are just commenting on work culture in Japan. Lots of people are overworked, treated rudely and are expected to take it all with a smile. Retsuko does eventually learn from her experiences, both in regards to work and relationships. The other women in the series are painted in a stronger light. Although unfair, in fiction and real life quiet people are often portrayed as not being able to stand up for themselves. Don’t worry, the introvert revolution is coming!

      • I think you should be more careful when you provide your personal insight, especially if it involves the opposite sex. Now clearly, I don’t speak for every nice girl out there, but I do know that we tend to stay quiet to maintain peace.

        I did not say the show hates women. I said it sounds as if they don’t have a good opinion on the nice girl. Japan work culture is pretty harsh. I witnessed it when I dated a Japanese man. From my observation, western culture praises individualism whereas eastern culture tends to be more about collectivism. That puts a lot of pressure on the people. I remember my ex-boyfriend was always complaining about work.

        You can’t let one experience (or if you had several experiences) ruin your perspective on a date. Let’s say if you always have your guard up and you finally went on a date with a girl who really likes you, but you decide to be mean to her, it’s really unfair for her to take the blow for some other woman’s shortcoming. Judge her for who she is and not based on her sex. Good people bad people exist everywhere. Sorry to hear you and your friend had a painful experience.

  5. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    Wow, another Netflix anime for the win, I actually heard about this anime months from a video by Glass Reflection:

    The art style and premise does not really seem like something that I would like, but it is something different.

    It seems that you and Glass Reflection enjoyed it, maybe I will to if I watch it one day, thank you for sharing your review.

    -John Jr

    • Yeah, this series has been around for a while. I only recently got round to watching it. Now that I discovered how much animation Netflix has you can expect more reviews from their catalogue. I think you might like this anime, once you get over the art style. Maybe give the first few episodes a chance and see how it goes. They only last for 15 minutes a pop, so easy to squeeze in when you have free time.

  6. I’m a total Hello Kitty fanperson. I admit it, lol. I have been on the fence about watching this, but knowing it has short episodes makes it far more accessible for me. Thanks for sharing your review!

    • If you like Hello Kitty’s aesthetics and jokes that point fun at life you should enjoy this show. Anime with short episodes is a good fit for comedies. They don’t have deep stories, so you don’t need a lengthy running time. If an episode is a dud, no big deal. It ends quickly and you can start watching the next one, which is usually funnier.

  7. I knew nothing about this before I watched it but it was way more entertaining than I thought it would be. It really did drive home that all nice people come last, maybe I need to start taking cues from her boss.

    • Nice people tend to finish last because they would rather appease than fight for what they want. Many folks would benefit from learning that one can be assertive without being a jerk. The boss was easy to dislike, but in some episodes he showed glimmers of not being all bad. His tough love sometimes pushed Retsuko into making tough choices.

      • If that sentence about nice people isn’t the truth then I don’t know what is. The boss wasn’t too bad, but his tendency to be an arsehole outweighed his more human side (or pig side…)

  8. I think that Retsuko being a nice girl with a few not-so-nice intentions solid character writing – that worked well with the overall ‘realistic’ world the characters are in.
    Personally, I enjoyed the 100-episode version of the show a bit more – where her death growls mostly happen in her head. It’s really formulaic but I feel that the death growl segments are funnier in a 1-minute meme format than in an office drama, where they just lose a bit of their punch for me in the midst of all the other characters’ stuff going on.

    • Good point. A protagonist who has flaws is usually more interesting than a plain do-gooder. I’ll have to seek out those one minute shorts some day. Aggretsuko does feel better like something that works better in quick bursts. I imagine it would make for an ideal four panel comic.

  9. I can really see the hello kitty in the animation 😀
    Retsuko sounds like quite the character. On one hand, I can sympathise with the whole having to hide in the bathroom from people because they’re stressing you the fudge out. 🙂 But on the other hand, she seems very very naive. Sounds like a really funny show though 🙂

    • There have been times at work were I have to step out to unwind. Outside of office hours I prefer to relax by shooting stuff in games rather than sing death metal haha. Retsuko is a bit naïve, but she is only in her twenties so she has plenty of time to learn how life works. In the later episodes she makes friends who help her out with some of those pent up issues.

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