Let’s Talk about Aggretsuko (2018)

Browsing through Netflix is a common occurrence for the bored in the 21st century. And that’s where I came across Aggretsuko. It’s colorful and simple art style and cute characters immediately caught my attention. After noticing that each episode is just 15 minutes long, and the season is 10 episodes – I decided I should give the show a try.

Aggretsuko is short for Aggressive Retsuko. It is one of Sanrio’s latest character creations (the company responsible for Hello Kitty, Keroppi, and Gudetama. The story follows Retsuko, 25 year old, female, red-panda working in the accounting division of a fictional Japanese company along with a colorful cast of pigs, foxes, hippos, and the like. The basic story arc follows Retsuko’s relatively normal corporate life (as they would be in Japan) as she learns to navigate various misgiving brought by her coworkers and life in general.

The quirk and charm of this character comes from her cute and unassuming looks during her normal mood, and relative easy-going if not pushover characteristics which suddenly turns to a death metal rage face and screaming that is always funny.

Calm Retsuko (left), Rage Retsuko (right) – Copyright Sanrio

The team’s director, Director Ton (ton means pig in Japanese Kanji), is regularly seen goofing off during work, preferring to practice his golf swings and passing his workload onto his subordinates. The first episode begins with him barraging Retsuko for dust on his desk, lack of flower decoration, and mediocre tea.

Fenneko (fennec fox) and Haida (hyena) are Retsuko’s closest allies and lunch buddies offering support in their unique ways. Fenneko is a cynic who is generally assured and straight-laced. She provides comedic relief with her eerie ability to stalk people on social media and her monotonic laugh. Haida is more attentive, caring for Retsuko’s wellbeing in a stereotypical shy-crush way. American viewers may find his antics a bit immature for someone who is supposed to represent a man in his professional career – but I found that his portrayal to be a commentary on the modern Japanese man.

I imagine that many Japanese businessmen and women might relative to the dramas portrayed in this short series. Many American viewers would find entertainment as well and it may serve as a comedic introduction to many of the societal differences presented in the daily lives of Japanese people. For about the length of a movie, Aggretsuko is a great series for some lighthearted, Japanese-inspired humor.