Aggretsuko is What Happens When Hello Kitty Gets a SoulCrushing Job

first_imgLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Stay on target Hello Kitty Heads to Hollywood With Her First Film DealAdamTots Presents: Deepmind Sanrio center_img If you spent any amount of time this weekend combing through Netflix in search of something to watch (so every weekend), you likely came across Aggretsuko. The new series from Hello Kitty purveyors Sanrio dropped onto the streaming service this weekend. It’s not something you should skip. Aggretsuko is a Sanrio series for all of us. The adults who either have been or are still in jobs they hate for demanding bosses who don’t appreciate the hard work they do, and don’t appear to do any meaningful work themselves. This is a show for people who put up with crap all day and let it all out as soon as they can finally leave the office. The show doesn’t stick around long, but you fall in love with its characters fast.The series follows Retsuko, a red panda working in the accounting department of a large trading firm in Tokyo. At the very beginning of the first episode, she’s excited to start her first day of work. Five years later, that positive attitude is gone. Worn away by years of menial work, and the worst bosses imaginable. She lets out her frustrations like most of us do: drinking. And secretly performing death metal karaoke by herself. Retsuko is us. Insecure, shy, beaten down by the world, but a defiant monster of metal on the inside. (And given the amount of Hello Kitty fans I’ve known who were also giant metalheads, this pairing makes way more sense than it might appear to at first glance.)Photo via NetflixFor the first few episodes, the series shows signs of becoming formulaic. Retsuko goes to work, has to deal with some indignity or another, and her frustrations lead to a metal number where she chews out the source of her frustration. As fun as that is, a whole series of that would get boring fast. But Aggretsuko is serialized, which is something I don’t expect from cartoons that are only 15 minutes per episode. As the first season’s ten episodes play out, Retsuko grows as a person. She tries new things and makes new friends. She starts out hiding her metal fandom from others, but soon finds her friends not only accept it; they think it’s cool. I really appreciate the part where she gives another woman pointers on how to do a metal scream without hurting your voice. It’s an essential, yet often overlooked skill.If you are or were recently in your 20s, whole episodes of this show look like they were modeled directly off of your life. Especially satisfying is when Retsuko’s old childhood friend offers her a job at the imports store she’s trying to start. It sounds so great. Retsuko could do accounting for the store, travel the world to help with the importing; it sounds like a dream gig. And for one blissful day, Retsuko is convinced she’s going to quit her soul-crushing job. It’s fun to watch her be completely checked out. If you’ve ever had a terrible job, you remember what those days were like when you knew you were going to quit. When you could really say “I don’t need this job” and mean it. You remember how low your tolerance for bullshit was. It was like a mountain of stress had lifted off your shoulders. That’s what watching this episode feels like. It’s early in the season, but already you’ve seen Retsuko put up with so much, you relish when she finally talks back to her boss.Photo via NetflixThen, the friend gives her more information about the store. She doesn’t have a storefront, or any kind of investment. It’s going to be an online shop, and nobody involved is going to be taking home much money in the early days. When Retsuko asks how she’s supposed to pay rent, the friend suggests moving back in with her parents. Because that’s an option everyone has. That hit close to home. It’s never been a friend doing that to me, but I’ve definitely gone after a writing gig and found out way late in the process that they would only start paying at some unspecified date in the future, maybe. (Don’t work for free, kids.) After that episode, Retsuko doesn’t see the friend much, and I don’t blame her.The side characters are what really make the series shine, though. Retsuko is great, but it’s really cool to see how much work the show put into making most of her friends real, fleshed out people. There’s an incredibly strong cast of women on this show, each coping with stifling corporate culture in their own way. Fenneko, a fennec fox stalks everyone’s social media for dirt. Tsunoda blatantly sucks up to her bosses to make her own life easier. At the outset, you’re made to hate her, as Retsuko does, but then she makes it clear she knows exactly what’s she’s doing, and she doesn’t care if anyone hates her for it. You start to respect her after that. Then there are Gori and Washimi. A gorilla and bird everyone admires as at the top of their game. They are the most powerful women in a largely male-dominated company. Retsuko and her friends look up to them, revere them. They are, after all, the mythical beings known as “people who have their shit together.”Photo via NetflixThen Retsuko gets to know them. When she sees marrying rich as her fastest way out of the company, she starts to take yoga classes. When she sees Gori and Washimi in the same class, she gets all nervous. She’s so scared of making a fool of herself in front of two accomplished women so much higher on the corporate ladder than she is. What she doesn’t realize is they have similar insecurities. They’ve got the whole office life part figured out, but Gori, in particular, thinks Retsuko’s really cool, and takes Retsuko’s nervousness as a sign that she doesn’t like her. And that stresses her out. We all got stuff we’re going through, you know? And as Retsuko starts hanging out with them more, she grows more confident. They enjoy her metal-singing talents, and she becomes less afraid of busting them out when she needs to. It’s really cool to see such solid, meaningful character arcs play out over a short 150-minute season.There’s really only one part of the show that didn’t land at all for me. That’s her boss Ton’s odd redemption in the last episode. Throughout the series, he’s a literal sexist pig. He makes it very clear that he treats Retsuko worse than everyone else because she’s a woman. When the CEO talks to him about his behavior, he changes and starts becoming a better boss, but only until he finds out its Retsuko who complained. Then, he retaliates. Though we get a great scene of Retsuko chewing him out with death metal, he doesn’t have much of an arc to speak of. That’s why, during the season’s final arc where she’s smitten with a guy who’s oblivious and inconsiderate, it’s so weird to have Ton be the voice of reason.Photo via NetflixRetsuko’s friends try to tell her she’s running herself ragged in this relationship, but she doesn’t listen. It’s only when Ton makes an accounting allegory about putting in more than you get out, that she realizes her new guy’s inattentiveness is really annoying. And it’s weird to have Ton be the one to make her realize that. Before that moment, he’s never shown any signs of being a decent boss or human being except when under duress. It’s a moment that’s completely unearned. Especially because he was so sexist at the beginning, that half-hearted redemption left a bad taste in my mouth.But that was the only falter in an otherwise joyful series. Aggretsuko is the show you need to get through the uncertainty of a thankless job in your 20s. It’s a satisfying, adorable satire of the modern world. Retsuko is the death metal red panda you didn’t realize you had inside you, and I desperately want season two. At ten 15-minute episodes, this first season is almost too short. It has the exact opposite problem most Netflix series do. On the bright side, that makes this series easy to return to whenever I need it. As frustrations with the modern world mount ever higher over the next year, and you know they will, I’m glad I have Aggretsuko to let them out with a death metal scream.last_img

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