Although I’m an avid fan of anime I wouldn’t say I am the best at being a fan of it. Keeping up with anime (much like comic books) seems pointless to me. I’ll get around to the latest craze (My Hero Academia anyone?) when I get to it and not a moment sooner. There are so many shows I want to watch, Youtube videos I’m interested in, video games I want to play, time I want to spend going for a jog or being with my partner. Who has time to keep up with everything?
But I really wanted to watch Aggretsuko and I finally have, so let’s talk about it!
Aggretsuko is a cute 10 episode anime about a 25 year old red panda named Retsuko who works as an accountant in a giant corporate firm. She’s under the management of Ton, her (literally) male chauvinist pig boss. He makes snide remarks in the first few episodes about “incompetent women” being better than competent ones.
Tsunoda is a gazelle who lords over Retsuko by giving her plenty of work that isn’t even required She also admonishes Retsuko for not doing a good job even though the work isn’t even Resuko’s in the first place. In this way Retsuko becomes an easy target for Ton and Tsunoda being the “reliable” employee, AKA a doormat.
But how does Retsuko deal with all of this exploitation?
Death metal, obviously.
In her spare time Retsuko goes to a local karaoke to relieve her anger with such notable lines as, “Selling my soul ’cause I’m a corporate slave!”and “Team players lose!”. Deep down Retsuko knows her job sucks but she can’t face her bosses and tell them to shove it. Well, that (spoilers) eventually changes but even then she backtracks very quickly.
It’s a shame because the show starts with the (false) hope for the viewer that the job is all Retsuko has waited for in her life. She talks about how excited she is and how much she can’t start to work but then it cuts to three years later.
Retsuko is having difficulty getting up, the first thing she says is “work can bite me” (which she would never say to her boss at this point) and we slowly get the sense that Retsuko is an anxious mess. She has a conniption about the fact that she’s wearing her “crappy sandals” by mistake (look like Crocs) and tries dancing to avoid being noticed.
She’s constantly worried what her bosses are up to and feels bad for not standing up to them. But then she sings her songs of vengeance and triumph in her spare time to make her better able to cope with the fact that she knows her job sucks and her bosses are awful. It made me reflect on my own coping methods for my shitty retail work.
While my bosses are nowhere as bad as Retsuko’s the job can suck just the same. I also have to deal with customers while Retsuko only has to deal with the computers in front of her and the bosses who position themselves above her.
Humor is generally my coping mechanism in life and especially with work. You’ll often find me making fun of societal conventions or poking fun at something I think doesn’t make sense. I’ll often turn the tables and make fun of myself for a self-perceived flaw or just to get a customer to laugh and maybe think about something differently.
For me, my “stage” where I scream death metal is the front counter where I tell amusing stories, relate to people and what they’re wearing (or try to) and think of creative ways to say hello and goodbye to customers. My stage is one that I’m constantly trying to change in minor ways so I can keep trying to keep customer interactions fresh(ish).
It has mixed success of course but then for Retsuko it’s not like her death metal vocals actually changes her position at work or the way she is treated. She shows signs of rebelling in the latter half of these four episodes but quickly backs down when she realizes her once promising alternative to working there has fallen through.
So far in the series Retsuko has decided she hates her job enough to try two approaches: Rely on her friends and their business ideas or marry someone richer than herself. The second idea hasn’t been fully fleshed out and has just started but she’s decidedly committed to it, going so far as to commit her broke self to yoga classes (how does she afford them?). There she’s beginning to cultivate a relationship with two of the “professional women” in the firm.
Gori, a gorilla who is the head of marketing in the firm and Washimi who is the secretary to the CEO of the company (not Ton) and takes no crap. They’re viewed by Retsuko and others as these perfect role models for women but in actuality their “bad bitch” walks often hurts Gori’s back. There’s a line from Gori about having to show no weakness at work.
As you might have guessed, there’s a good amount of feminism in the show. Retsuko has to deal with being harassed, his boss giving favors to women who kiss up to him, having to take his abuse because she’s a woman and treated like she’s less than him and so on. And then there’s the pressure the “professional” women feel just having to be themselves.
Overall the series so far isn’t even half-way over and each episode is only 15 minutes long. So it only took me around an hour to get where I am in the show. I’m definitely interested in this next half of the show and to see where it goes. From what I’ve heard it starts off typical but gets more nuanced and interesting as it goes along.
So far I think Aggretsuko is a great show for anyone who hates their job or sometimes thinks about how mad it makes them and what might be some good coping mechanisms. I’m not saying we should all go to karaoke and try to scream our best death metal vocals, but it’s not a bad idea either.
I’m hoping, as the show goes on, Retsuko more seriously considers her life and what she wants to do to make sure that she has a happier life. She’s tired, she’s exploited and she feels mistreated all of the time. It’s funny in some ways but mostly it’s just disheartening to see such a sweet…um…panda, being taken advantage of like this.
It’s too early to say much more but look forward to my review of episodes 5-10 next week!
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