TV Show Review: Aggretsuko (2018)
Written and Directed by: Rarecho (Based on characters created by Sanrio)
Starring: Kaolip, Rarecho, Souta Arai, Rina Inoue, Shingo Kato, Maki Tsuruta, and Komegumi Koiwasaki
Available on Netflix
Overall Rating: ****/5
This decade has seen a large amount of anime that have unique stories and artwork, and the rise of Netflix streaming has provided a new distribution platform to cater to audiences who wouldn’t otherwise know about some series. One standout that began streaming in April is a series that places cute characters in the setting of a savage workplace comedy: “Aggretsuko.”
Based on a series of shorts that star the Sanrio character of the same name, the premise is as follows: a young office worker named Retsuko (voice of Kaolip) is at a crossroads in her life. She is a red panda who is stuck doing menial work for Ton (voice of Souta Arai), a boss who doesn’t appreciate anyone who doesn’t cater to his very retrograde views on technology and office dynamics. By that same proxy, Retsuko vents her frustrations in the form of singing death metal music in a karaoke bar, hoping to one day settle down and raise a family.
Though the premise may seem simple on the surface, it’s also a highly relatable one. Despite the differences in work politics, the show easily settles into a story that can definitely resonate with those who’ve had to deal with brown-nosing coworkers and superiors that are unable and/or unwilling to adapt to a changing employment landscape. The series can easily be seen as the Japanese counterpart to the long-running comic strip “Dilbert” and the cult classic comedy film “Office Space.”
The animation style may share the same simple art style as works based on other characters created by Sanrio, but don’t be fooled: Retsuko is very much an anti-Hello Kitty, and the show itself is definitely not for younger viewers. While not quite as cynical as “Mr. Osomatsu” or as vulgar as “Pop Team Epic,” the series does do a good job of getting laughs from placing cute characters in an offbeat workplace comedy. From the laid-back hyena Haida (voice of Shingo Kato) to the deadpan fennec fox Fenneko (voice of Rina Inoue), all the characters that work in Retsuko’s accounting firm have unique personalities and totally understandable reasons for what they do. Over the course of the ten 15-minute vignettes that make up the series, the series proves to be a delightfully quirky workplace comedy that’s definitely worthy of joining the ranks of acclaimed series such as “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.”
If you’ve ever felt irritated with your work so much that you could scream like a death metal singer, then “Aggretsuko” is definitely an anime that’s worth your time. If Hello Kitty is like a bubbly pop star, then Retsuko and her tight-knit group of friends and co-workers are like a bunch of people living their rock and roll fantasy in denim, black leather and Slayer t-shirts.
While not perfect, it’s definitely worth streaming and screaming along with.