“Frustrated with her thankless office job, Retsuko the Red Panda copes with her daily struggles by belting out death metal karaoke after work.”
After being bombarded with the trailer for this Netflix original, I decided to give this new and unique anime series a go. As you can read from its Netflix description above, the premise is the most extreme ‘protagonist leading a double life’ cliche that I have come across. Surprisingly enough, as the show progresses, this show focusses less on Retsuko’s double life, and instead Aggretsuko (short for ‘Aggressive Retsuko’) demonstrates how its protagonist is learning that modern life will never quite meet your expectations.
The general animated movement of the characters feels refreshing. The animation style is aesthetically engaging, with bright colours to appeal to a young audience, and has quirky characterisations for each character. These anthropomorphised wild animals have such humane storylines that it adds to the show’s charm. The contrast between Retsuko’s ‘cute-and-awkward’ personality to the jarring death metal vocals and harsh animation style provides an insight into Retsuko’s anguish of how her abysmal working life and lacking love life dissatisfies her.
These contrasts are key to its comedy for younger audiences but for me, the most interesting aspect of the show was the awkward social interactions. As a woman about to enter the adult, working world I, too, have these anxieties about the working atmosphere and the social cues that may be required, as well as maintaining a meaningful love life. Retsuko is a likable yet flawed character that I can personally relate to, though potentially the cliched awkward girl can be too simplified in delivery. Retsuko’s relationship with Resasuke was a clever catalyst for showing Retsuko’s personal growth. Through the incompetence of Resasuke, Retsuko learns that she should not settle for less just to maintain societies perception of success. Because of this, for me this was arguably one of the most enjoyable parts of the show. This growth also comes from her friendships with Washimi and Gori, the two ‘it girls’ from the workplace. It shows that the stereotypical high school cliques are diminishing, and was refreshing to watch.
I acknowledge that having only ten 15-minute episodes can leave the writers inhibited in trying to demonstrate a decent character arc for all the characters. Retsuko shows development in terms of accepting herself and maturing as an adult, yet her friends show significantly less progression, in addition to an abrupt unrequited love story that seemed unnecessary. I felt all the cast’s characterisations were memorable and engaging, and I wish there could have been a character arc as well-written as the show’s protagonist. However, this would be my main criticism for this show, as I genuinely enjoyed the show because of how applicable it was to myself and also how easy it was to watch. If you like quirky anime shows that is an easy watch, I recommend watching the first episode of this series and get a first impression.
Aggretsuko is available to watch on Netflix.