Reviews: Aggressive Retsuko
Decent slice of life work, but nothing that will blow your socks off
Aggretsuko is a 10-episode long Netflix original series made by Sanrio, the same company that made Hello Kitty. The characters have the same sort of general simplified design as Hello Kitty, with most of the primary female cast being chibi female characters with large heads, big eyes, and a small mouth. However, unlike everything else Sanrio makes, this is very much a series directed at adults, as the main character of the series, Retsuko the red panda, is a miserable professional accountant, working in a large office building in Japan with a bunch of other anthropomorphic animals – yes, this is very, very furry. Retsuko is the main character of this slice-of-life series, and it initially seems to be focused on her and her two coworkers, Fenneko the fennec fox and Haida the hyena, in their daily struggles against Ton, a literal chauvinist pig and a general jerk of a boss. Retsuko is a little ball of misery at the start of the series – a total doormat who never says no, never stands up for herself, works too hard, stays far too late, is easy to push excess work off onto, and generally is a little ball of stress and anxiety that is constantly simmering beneath the surface, her only escape being escaping to the bathroom or a karaoke lounge at the end of the day to screech death metal to express how she really feels about her miserable life – something she is otherwise half-accepting and half in-denial about. Frankly, it didn’t exactly enthrall me at first – while the character designs were cute and the voice dubbing was excellent (I actually greatly preferred the English voices and script to the subbing), Retsuko was not really the most enthralling of characters, and her general misery sort of felt like a preaching to the choir type thing, with everyone being something of a shallow stereotype. As the series goes on, however, two of the seemingly untouchable higher staff women in the office – Washimi the secretarybird secretary and Gori the gorilla who supervises marketing – end up taking an interest in Retsuko and take her in under their wing (so to speak). We get to see more and more of her coworkers, and come to recognize that they’re not as shallow as they seem at first glance, and all have motivations for being the way they are, imperfect as those motivations might be. The result is that, over the course of the ten episodes, we get a better idea of what kind of people they are, as Retsuke gradually learns to take more control over her own life and be less of a pushover. This series was decent, and I watched it all the way through to the end, but at the same time, I never really loved it – on the whole, I was left feeling lukewarm. It is decent overall, but there’s nothing that really stuck out to me. None of the characters were particularly amazing, but none of them were really deep enough for me to really care about them as people, either.