If you haven’t watched Aggretsuko, please open a new tab right now. Log onto Netflix. Type in Aggretsuko into the search bar, and then hit play. What will unfold before your eyes is more than 20 episodes of millennial existentialism wrapped in an adorable anime about a red panda who loves to perform death metal karaoke.
Retsuko is a young woman working at a dead-end accounting job. She is your typical millennial balancing the pressures of adulthood. To manage the demands put on her, she processes her stress and ire with her situation through death metal. The unusual habit is her way of unwinding, releasing tension, and ultimately, doing something that brings her joy.
The series follows various situations and scenarios that young people in the workforce face on a near daily basis. Through crisp animation and smart writing, the creative team is able to distill much of the easily recognizable social and financial anxieties many face today. As Retusko navigates various issues, her anxieties are presented as both relatable and justified. The show’s great appeal is watching Retsuko come to terms with her own shortcomings, grow, and apply new solutions to move forward. In essence, the show doesn’t present any grand solutions to Retsuko’s problems, rather we watch her chip away at the things that weigh her down episode by episode. The little doses of victories she gets are motivating and inspirational. In many ways, Aggretsuko is the friend you have that offers an ear.
In season 3, Retsuko has jumped headfirst into the VR/gaming world, pissing away her hard-earned money for the little gratification the game gives her. Still feeling unfulfilled and nursing a broken heart, Retsuko finds herself in deep financial trouble. Somehow, someway, her everyday life and the problems that come with it have a head-on collision with her favourite little pastime. And, in the latter half of the season Retsuko’s story takes a dark and familiar turn. However, she finds a way to raise her head high and do what she has to do to be happy.
Just as it was in previous seasons, her friends have their own lives that mirror her own. Fleshing out Retsuko’s life with fully realized friends gives her arc more depth. They also go on journeys that offer up their own little life lessons and nods to adult issues many of us relate too. Gori and Haida really get their moment to shine and their plotlines offer up valuable insight into adulting. The show also remains balanced by not introducing too many new characters; just enough to add texture and layers to the already existing world.
Once again Aggretsuko is the delightful slice-of-life anime that we need right now. Our protagonist is immensely relatable as always, the lyrics she screams and shouts at us hit exactly as they should. Retsuko and the show as a whole offer up a light at the end of the tunnel. Life can be tough, adulting even harder and like Retsuko, we try our best and find happiness wherever we can. What death metal is to Retsuko is what Aggretsuko is to us.
Aggretsuko: Season 3 is available to stream on Netflix
by Ferdosa Abdi
Ferdosa (she/her) is a lifetime student of cinema. Three of her current favourite films are: Addams Family Values, Cinderella (2015), and Emma. (2020). On Twitter you can see her support women-led cinema, her ongoing love/hate relationship with Disney, her totally healthy obsession with Eva Green, and her great admiration for Guillermo del Toro.
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