There are anime for literally every genre—mystery, horror, sports, fantasy, gambling, etc. But what about an anime that closely resembles real life? How could the stress of work, relationships, and family make an interesting show? Well… Instead of people, make all of the characters animals and add some death metal.
Aggretsuko is aptly labeled as a slice-of-life anime because it realistically portrays the everyday experiences of an average person living in Japan. The story is immensely character driven, so it helps that the main character is so likable, her life is so relatable, and that she’s a cute little red panda. As always, I might be aggressive with spoilers, anime-niacs.
Retsuko is a 25-year-old anthropomorphic red panda who works in the accounting department of a large company. Her boss, Director Ton, is an anthropomorphic pig who is lazy, sexist, and mean (a pig who is a pig… I see what they did). Retsuko not only deals with Ton’s aggression daily, but deceitful and gossipy coworkers as well. Thankfully, Retsuko has friends within her department and even befriends two women with much higher positions in the company, because Retsuko needs the support. Mistreatment from her boss, her annoying supervisor, her overbearing job, relationship problems—Retsuko relieves the stress she accumulates throughout a given day with karaoke, where she chooses death metal and uncharacteristically screams into the microphone (girl, same).
The season continues as Retsuko attempts yoga so she can lose weight and attract a man. She views becoming a housewife as the only escape from her job, so the second season delves more into her relationship troubles and intersects with her overbearing mother.
None of the plot points may sound actively compelling, but this is exactly the reason Aggretsuko is so engaging. A good story needs likable and relatable characters, otherwise a viewer will not care about what happens to them (and who doesn’t love red pandas). Retsuko is adorable and sweet so it’s easy to cheer for her and want to see her succeed. But from Retsuko’s reluctance to get out of bed for work, to putting on the wrong shoes, to watching her meekly try to placate her boss, most viewers will likely be able to relate to this young woman. Having devious and gossipy coworkers, a meddling mother, relationship problems—these are stressors of everyday life for many people. Although it is certainly humorous to watch her scream during karaoke, her anger is also relatable, as not every person can casually brush off the frustrations of daily life (and it’s better to scream into a mic than start fires, trust me…).
I typically find deeper meaning within the anime I watch, but I honestly didn’t find any within Aggretsuko. Sure, much could be said about the treatment of women within the workplace, as well as a number of other topics featured in this show, but to me, sexism, entitlement, critiques of modern society and mental health were all evident while watching this anime. Aggretsuko explicitly includes these themes so the viewer can understand and relate to them—that’s what makes this anime work so well.
Aggretsuko is a wonderful show that has great characters, relatable plot points, and constant, underlying humor. I would recommend this anime to any adult, no matter the age, because the situations in which Retsuko finds herself are not exclusive to just 25-year-olds. This anime should be all the rage with anyone who has ever worked in an office.