Netflix will release season 3 of a show called Aggretsuko tomorrow (27 Aug 2020). I am very excited and I’ll definitely be reviewing this new season in the coming days. I love this show. I’m here to recommend that you give the series a watch. It is one of the finest shows Netflix has produced (probably 2nd best, but we’ll talk about number 1 another time).
Weird name for a show… what is it, anyways?
This is Arthur, for adults. You know, Arthur? The kid’s show on PBS about an aardvark in the 3rd grade? I’ll explain more in a bit (and no, I’m not the first person to make this comparison). But this show is similar in that it takes place in what looks like the real world, but all the characters are anthropomorphized animals instead of humans. It’s a 2D animated cartoon. It takes place in modern-day Tokyo.
Okay… what is it about?
This is a story of a young woman named Retsuko (pronounced like Rets-koh) who lives in Tokyo. She is a Red Panda. She works in a big corporate office as an accountant of sorts. She pushes a lot of papers. She is a very timid gal who gets pushed around a lot. She isn’t assertive, so she doesn’t push back. She bottles all of her emotions. They build up inside of her and turn into immense rage, but she doesn’t take it out on others.
Instead, she sings karaoke. She will go alone to a karaoke facility and rent a room for a few hours after work. She will sing/scream heavy metal music to express her rage. That’s the only outlet she’s found that really let’s her say what she wants to say. She lets out all her anger. She goes home and goes to bed. She gets up and goes to work. She is treated very poorly, and the cycle starts all over again.
This angry singing is how she takes out her aggression. She is Aggressive Retsuko. This is shortened to Aggretsuko, which is how the show got its weird name.
Why is it good? And how is it like Arthur?
The answers to these questions are one and the same. Arthur is a show about a young kid (and his friends and family) dealing with the challenges of everyday life. It asks questions like:
- What do you do when your friend starts cheating at board games?
- What do you do when you’re a 4-year-old and you’re jealous of the attention that your baby sister receives?
- What do you do when you borrow something and it breaks?
Arthur has episodes about each of these topics, and hundreds more besides. The characters face these questions. We see how they solve them. In turn, we might learn how to deal with these problems ourselves. We might not always come to the same conclusions as the characters, but we’re provided with the opportunity to think about what we would do. Most importantly, this also makes for compelling, relatable, character-focused television.
When I say that Aggretsuko is Arthur for adults, I don’t mean it’s full of mature content (it’s not, it’s rated TV-14). Aggretsuko asks questions, but they are for adults. For example:
- What do you do when your boss is a literal chauvinist pig?
- What do you do when you have a crush on a coworker, but they’re infatuated with someone else?
- What do you do when you develop a social media addiction?
- What do you do when your mother is constantly making cutting remarks about how you aren’t married yet?
These are very real challenges that many millions of people face every day. Retsuko, her family, friends, and her coworkers face them. We see how they deal with these problems. And honestly, they don’t always have a great solution. They’re human (despite being animals). They make mistakes. They try to learn from them and grow. They experience setbacks.
This show is filled with relatable characters, some of which are fairly complex. I enjoy spending time with them. I like having them in my life, and the show makes me feel like I’m a part of their lives (which is not easy for a show to do).
Beyond this, the character design is wonderful. They all look great, and Retsuko herself is preposterously cute. The overall art direction of the show is excellent and vibrant. The music, when it appears, is very fun. I don’t listen to metal, but I enjoy it in the context of the series. The show is funny at times, and emotionally affecting at others. It is all around great stuff.
Should I watch it?
Yes! You absolutely should! The episodes are very short (most are like 15 minutes long) so it is super digestible. If you’re unsure about it, give the first episode a try! At worst, you’ve lost a few minutes of your time. At best, you’ve found a new show to love. I think if you give Aggretsuko a chance, you’ll find it very enjoyable to watch. If you get hooked, be sure to come back and read our review of Season 3 after you’re all caught up!
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