Meeting deadlines and expectations, facing stress and anxiety, enduring unlikable coworkers and tedious tasks ... It's all part of being an adult and a member of society. But when too much has been piling up and you reach your boiling point, you got to know how to let some steam off.
This is the story of Retsuko. 25 years old, single, Scorpio, blood type A, just your average positive, kind and uncertain young female employee, who bears a forbidden passion alongside her heart-attack-inducing stressful daily routine.
What comes immediately to attention while watching Aggressive Retsuko (or Aggretsuko for the western audience) are the peculiar pacing and overall
atmosphere of the show: it almost feels like we're watching the daily struggles of a dear friend we cheer for. The events of the story follow smoothly while the humor, extremely "grounded" (you laugh because you can relate to the situations, which are far from being unusual) but never lazy nor trivial hits the mark almost every time.
It's surely an odd experience (but a welcome one, too) to watch something so rooted in reality yet funny and wholesome, where there are no power-ups, plot twists or deus ex machinas to save the situation, instead we can only count on the strength and the determination of a cast of extremely (and ironically, since they're anthropomorphized animals) human characters.
As expected, it's really hard to review this show without comparing it to its previous incarnation.
We've come a long way since the original Aggressive Retsuko shorts of roughly one minute each. What the franchise gained the most from this change in format to a more commonly used 20 minutes run time is surely the character development: again, it sounds ironic and cheesy, but it is surprising to see a cast of 2D, Flash animated characters with minimal design being so well characterised; it's almost like they're people from your same office department. Sure, just like in the previous version of AR they all fall into their respective archetypes (the doormat-to-his-superiors, the old creepy superiors, the unlikable rookies, the distracted/incompetent guys, the "senpais" you perceive as gods etc.), but they're also full of little quirks that define who they are and what part they have in Retsuko's story, giving them much more layer.
To add a note about the art, it's undebatable that it has improved. It's Flash, so you can't expect much, but it sure was in capable hands, and apart from a couple of little tweaks and animation errors here and there the show goes really smoothly with its adorable, iconic art style and concept designs, really simple and polygon-based but also really pleasant, almost comfy.
As of any other show, however, Aggressive Retsuko is not exempt from mistakes or poor direction choices. If you come for the original death metal songs the show won't match your expectations: it's really a pity that despite the longer run time and much more valuable sponsor (the big Netflixeroni maccheroni guys) they weren't able to fully develop the "death metal chants" parts of the episodes in something more unique or "advanced", remaining just really loud rants accompanied by generic death metal stock music. Even the original songs that appear in the second half of the show are really "meh", and I won't hide that I skipped over them with immeasurable violence.
In conclusion, Aggressive Retsuko is a cozy, relaxing and light-hearted ONA about a red panda dealing with daily struggles such as love, stress, social awkwardness, uncomfortable work settings and the pursuit of her own dreams. Not a masterpiece, but surely a recommended on my list.
On the surface, the Aggressive Retsuko/Aggretsuko franchise might seem like nothing more than a humorous extension of a marketing ploy. Sanrio's official website sells T-shirts, plushies, water bottles, notebooks, sticky notes, blankets, pen cases, coasters, tote bags, phone cases, and coin pouches of the adorable character and her friends. However, with the help of a solid production team, Netflix's Aggretsuko goes above and beyond, becoming my favorite anime that I've seen so far this year.
Let me start out by saying that I've never even worked in an office before, yet much like kids who somehow enjoy the American/UK live-action series "The Office", I understood the
strong dynamics and relationships between these characters and the stereotypes some of them were meant to represent. There were a few characters I was a little put off by in the first episode, but I grew to warm up to every single one of them. Even if I didn't necessarily like all of them, they all played strong roles in the comedy and had established, "hey I know someone like that" personalities and traits.
Of course, it helps that the animation is so cute. Sanrio knows how to draw cute characters, to the point where I'm not really sure if they know how to draw anything else. Even a character whose a literal misogynistic pig has a much more appealing design than any other studio/company/character designer would have given him.
The dialogue itself has a lot of one-liners and quick gags that made me say "Oh, shit" and/or laugh out loud. Netflix has also produced a solid English dub for the series, with plenty of recognizable voice talent as well as a few faces who haven't gotten their chance in the limelight yet.
Retsuko's death metal scenes are great, even if they are quick. The death metal aspect of her character is elaborated on and really made apart of her. Without spoiling anything, at one point we see Retsuko in a completely different state of mind in which she isn't interested in doing death metal at all, and it just simply...isn't her.
I'm not traditionally a binge watcher (which is why my number of watched days on here is so subpar), but this show got me hook. line, and sinker. I'd probably be watching even more episodes right now instead of writing this review if we'd gotten more than ten. (I really hope we get a season 2.) And I've gotta admit, I want some of that overpriced merchandise now as well.
Aggressive Retsuko is an anime about this chibi-styled red panda, whom I will refer to as raccoon because she is not nearly as cute as red pandas are. She lives the typical work-lady lifestyle, working from 9 to 5 like any other young-adult raccoon. From her personality, she seems to be the kind-hearted-friends-with-everyone type of girl. At night, however, she goes to karaoke and lets out the most grotesque and vulgar death metal beats known to raccoonkind, giving no mercy for her coworkers, work-life-slavery nor anything else for that matter.
The series is rather similar to Detroit Metal City. There a personality-lacking weakling who prefers tea
ceremonies and Swedish slow-paced pop songs has a role in the world's most grotesque metal band. He is referred as the true King of Hell as he traveled to Hell and took it from Satan, making him his bitch, and hence appearing as the icon of badassery. Retsuko differs from Kraiser (DMC main character) mainly because she never thought of hiding her identity when she goes to sing a song about raping her coworkers, instead the series is about her, slowly, accepting herself and learning to show the other side of her to others. The actual humor heavily relies on side characters. For example, there is a gym-monster in the series who seems to be only capable of speaking one word and that's "protein". Similarly over the top characters are ever-present in her life.
The songs presented usually last for something around 10 seconds until they end, and present her thoughts with few one-liners. These are not very funny nor witty, rather remind casually written yet angry-toned shitposting. So basically, normal shitposting. The series does good job on capturing the atmosphere of Retsuko's "normal" daily-life in pretty much every aspect. The voice acting and BGM capture the inner (weeb word incoming) nichijou. The actual badassery and the whole other side of her life, unfortunately, pretty much fail to deliver. Simply because the songs are so short, and the most rewarding and hilarious parts of the series end way too quickly when they should be pushed further instead.
Retsuko is comparable to Detroit Metal City, Cromartie or Metalocalypse for the manly and bro badassery, and to Shirokuma Cafe as a comedy series starred by animal-characters. I will especially recommend Ritsuko for the fans of these mentioned series and vice versa. And also to those who are browsing Netflix in hopes of finding something light for casual viewing as that's where Retsuko shines.
Despite the styling of the series, Aggrettsuko or Aggressive Retsuko, the Netflix series, is a serious workplace drama. After already having watched every show that I thought would impress me with a 10/10, I was very happy to find a new one that could convince me that there are more gems out there. This show is sneaky, in the sense that its style is that of a children's television show, but the subject matter is very mature and is not mindless in the slightest bit.
The thing I like the most about it is that the show is not stupid, and doesn't talk about anything stupid.
Viewers should have some experience with being overworked or looked down upon in order to enjoy the show. Being a very passive person, I feel with Retsuko because she gives and gives to everybody and can't very well find it in her to stand up for herself at work. One of the first scenes we are thrown into is one where her coworkers are being either pretentious or talking behind each other's backs. It was an interesting thing to see because this exists everywhere, obviously, and we see how Retsuko deals with it... she tries her best not to intervene when her coworkers are being fake to each other. It was an interesting and fun character interaction, but respects the viewer's attention span by making it a background element rather than the focus of the episode. We have Retsuko to worry about anyway.
There are so many relatable issues in this show: 1) Teenage/social drama, not because the characters are teenagers, but because teenagers can relate to the conversation and social awkwardness. 2) Having people around you that take advantage of your kindness, because lots of people have been there at some point, and this show makes the best mood for the viewer by making Retsuko one who almost never talks back and only bottles everything up, constantly taking deep breaths and counting to ten. Because of this, viewers will feel bad for her, and constantly cheer her on. 3) Quitting your day job to change your life in an ideal way. We've all had to make tough decisions for ourselves at some point, and we usually make the wrong mistake the first time around with fortune against us. You'll see what happens in the show. 4) Escape from the grind. We all have our own ways, and Retsuko really depends on death metal to vent.
As for the art, I like the cartoonish and childish style, but it might wear off on some people. The setting definitely doesn't match the subject matters, but I guess this series is all about contrast, juxtaposing calm atmospheres with heated screaming ones. For the sound, I really liked the background music when the characters are working. It reminds me of the songs from Real Rob, another Netflix series. Another very enjoyable thing about this show is Retsuko's voice performance. I really really love it! it's hard to explain, because her tone is usually lukewarm at best, but there's something soothing about it. I don't know who the voice actress is, but her performance is stellar. It's cute, but she doesn't go too far on the cuteness or get full of it. it's very natural, and her reactions matched up with the voice when Retsuko is in trouble is always the best.
Anyway, if you're a hard worker, or if you're pressured in life, if you hate the grind, or if you like Sanrio, you should definitely watch Aggrettsuko. I was very pleasantly surprised to see a new series filled to the brim with emotion, personality, and life lessons.