Meet Hello Kitty’s metal-loving cousin
If you’ve been bumming around Netflix, you may have noticed an odd little cartoon featuring a red panda. That cartoon is Aggretsuko (short for “Aggressive Retsuko”). If you look at Aggretsuko and think of marketable Japanese mascot characters like Hello Kitty, you’re actually on the right track. Aggretsuko was created by Sanrio, the company that makes Hello Kitty. Aggretsuko, however, is not Hello Kitty, because its title character has a tendency to get…
Aggretsuko revolves around the life of 25-year-old office worker Retsuko. She works in the accounting department of a big Japanese trading company and deals with her annoying coworkers and abusive manager. Her job is a slog and her social and romantic lives are nearly nonexistent; her only solace comes after work when she visits the karaoke parlor to belt out cathartic death metal.
After getting over her desire to quit her job and dumping a clueless boyfriend in the first season, the second season has Retsuko trying to train a neurotic new hire to the accounting department while dodging her mother’s incessant attempts at setting her up for marriage interviews (a practice that her mother herself admits is annoying and outdated, not that that stops her).
Despite featuring little cartoon animals, the strength of Aggretsuko is its inherint relatability. Retsuko is a pretty average person and her situation is extremely relatable to almost anyone working a white collar job. She wants to get along with other people and lead a happy, fulfilling life, but life simply isn’t that easy. Her manager, Ton, frequently abuses his authority and piles work onto her just because he doesn’t like her. The trainee, Anai, takes her offhanded criticism of his phone-answering skills as a personal attack and aggressively demands a formal, written apology.
But despite the frustrations that daily life throws at her, Retsuko usually manages to dust herself off and keep going (barring the occasional emotional bluescreen) in her attempts to try new things in life and meet new people. It’s a show about self-betterment when you’re stuck in a rut; it takes time and trouble, but things can eventually work out for the better for you. It helps that it’s also pretty funny. Check out Aggretsuko if you have the time, but don’t forget to go back and watch the first season and the Christmas special.