Tag Archives: Featured

The Observation Deck: Aggretsuko Season 3

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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This is probably the closest I’m going to get to having a timely holiday-themed-ish post, so that is an accomplishment, I guess.

Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, I did not actually watch the third season of Aggretsuko when it came out in August of last year. Why? idk, I was probably busy with not watching anime or wanting to watch anime but not actually having the mental focus to start one. Either way, it gave me the opportunity to sit down with it this year, and man was it a treat.

For those uninitiated with the series, Aggretsuko tells the story of a set of Sanrio-designed characters who work mediocre office jobs. The main character, retsuko, is a red panda who does accounting and is constantly harassed by her boss, and is slowly losing her sanity. Luckily, she has Fenneko the fox and Haida the hyena to help keep her sane. When the show last left off at season 2, Retsuko had just gone through a pretty big relationship, but ultimately ended it because Tadano said he was not willing to get married.

Sanrio’s Character Designs

I somehow failed to discuss this in my last review of the series, maybe because it felt a little bit obvious, but the character designs of Sanrio contribute so much to this series. I am willing to bet that most people’s only familiarity with the mascot company is Hello Kitty, a character that, at least in the U.S., has only ever been marketed towards young girls.

Thus, it becomes that much more impactful to see similar-looking characters in a modern Japanese work environment, where the colorfulness clashes with just how dull the office feels. It creates a level of confusion and absurdity that you just cannot help but laugh at.

Retsuko is an…Idol?

Initially, the whole idol storyline felt way out of place for a series in which the primary focus is Retsuko going insane every other day. However, as the events unfolded and the season began making its point, it really came together. After two seasons of torturing her character for comedic effect, it did feel nice to see her girl boss her way to the front of an Idol group, taking them from unknown to one of the biggest stars in the country.

On top of that, watching Haida wrestle with his feelings for Retsuko and Inui was entertaining, to say the least, and not for the reason you might think. As compelling as his arc was during this last season, it became pretty obvious that he was only ever going to want to be with Retsuko, which after a certain point, just added the comedy of it all.

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Gori and Washimi are Fighting…

If I was forced to pick my favorite side characters, it would probably be Director Gori and Ms. Washimi. The way they started as these two ominous figures at Retsuko’s company but then end becoming two of her best friends is genuinely charming. Their dynamic together helped to drive a lot of important story and comedy moments, such as when they all took a trip to the bathhouse.

Sad to say, though, that this dynamic is unfortunately absent from a lot of season three. Gori and Washimi are mad at each other for… some reason, Gori is pursuing her goal of creating a dating app and Washimi is…doing something? It is not made particularly clear, which kind of adds the overall disappointment. Still, given the storyline being told, the lack of this dynamic is more a personal dissatisfaction than a failing of the show itself.

Haida’s Love for Retsuko, and Also His Stupidity

The ending for the season honestly just felt appropriate. Well, maybe that is a bad way of phrasing it, cause describing Retsuko getting knife attacked by her crazy stalker as “appropriate” feels wrong. Still, it is a pretty dramatic ending with Haida coming to rescue and Retsuko barely avoiding a terrible injury, at best.

Then, for some reason, Haida decides that this is the best time to confess his feelings to her, and everyone else agrees, I guess? Of course, not surprisingly, Retsuko expresses her feelings in the form of a metal song, where he essentially tells Haida to H*ck off. More specifically though, she confronts him with the reality that, regardless of her feelings, she isn’t really in a place where she can trust people, and it is rude of him to push her on it when she does not want to.

Conclusion

Season three of Aggretsuko was a fantastic watch. Maybe not as much of a holiday viewing as I initially implied, but still filled with the drama, romance, and fun one could ask for out of any Christmas special. Although, the series does have an actual Christmas special which is also available on Netflix, so maybe watch that as well.


How did you all feel about Aggretsuko season three? Let me know in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

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Special thanks to Jenn for the continuous support on Patreon, it is much appreciated.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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A.I.C.O. Incarnation and Violet Evergarden: A Tale of Two Journeys

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While, I was on vacation, I got the opportunity to watch two different series on Netflix: Violet Evergarden and A.I.C.O Incarnation. There were a lot of good parts to both, but I would only consider one of them to be particularly good overall, that being Violet Evergarden. However, the reason why I consider Evergarden to be significantly better than Incarnation is because of the way each show handles the journey of each of its main Heroines.

For those who don’t know, Violet Evergarden tells the story of, well, Violet Evergarden, and her reintegration into society after the end of a civil war between the northern and southern factions of her country. Violet, being an emotionless child soldier, is unsure what to do initially, as she only ever took commands from her Major. She does, however, decide to become a Doll, someone who writes letters for those who can’t so that she can understand what the Major meant when he said “I love you” to Violet.

By contrast, A.I.C.O. Incarnation stars a fairly normal High School girl named Aiko, who, after losing her father to a car crash and her mother and brother in an accident known as “the burst,” relocates to a hospital/high school so that she can be looked after. Still, it is not long before things get weird for her. One day, a transfer student named Yuuya shows up only kidnap Aiko and tell her that the body she inhabits is fake, that her mother and brother are still alive, and that there is a way to get both her body and family back.

What most separates the two shows in terms of quality is A.I.C.O.’s failings, so I will start there. The most apparent problem with the show is how it front-loads a lot of information at the beginning, particularly near the end of episode one and the start of episode two, and because of this it feels confusing to try and fully understand the story. For instance, even the “burst,” the main event that is the catalyst for the show’s entire story, is only explained in vague terms at the beginning, and does not get properly explained until about episode three or four.

Another problem that the A.I.C.O suffers from which is a direct result the first problem is that because of a lack of understanding of the circumstances, it becomes a lot harder to feel invested in Aiko as a character. The rushed nature of the first couple of episodes makes it to where there is no real reason to pay attention and as a result the opening feels sluggish and boring.

However, Aiko herself is actually a fairly compelling main character. When it does finally become apparent whats going on, it feels like a high pressure situation and even when the truth of the situation is revealed at the end, the show still makes the audience want to root for Aiko.

Violet Evergarden, meanwhile, supports its main character in ways that make the show much more enjoyable. For instance, in contrast with A.I.C.O., Violet Evergarden takes its time in establishing and developing Violet as a character, not wasting a single bit of screen time. The show always makes it feel as if something new is being learned about Violet or as though she is continuing towards her goal and becoming more human. A good example of this is the episode where her new found friend Luculia’s brother is struggling to get his life back together. It is in this episode that Violet finally begins to understand how to write a letter, and in the process gives Luculia’s brother the strength to finally start over. Even over the course of just one ten minute interaction, Violet has a subtle yet immensely powerful transformation.

Another good example of this is near the end of the show, when after the climax of the series, Violet visits the Major’s brother, Gietfried, who has resented Violet since her brother’s death during the war. After realizing that there was not point in resent her, Gietfried says that the Major’s final order was to live free and happy, and that he knows that what his brother would have wanted. Up until this point, Violet had repeated the idea that she does not need to take orders from anyone, but did so rather unconvincingly. This time, however, as Violet turns to Gietfried and ends her visit, she says “I don’t need to take orders anymore,” and does so with a determined and reassured smile.

Violet also takes many other journeys because of her job as a Doll, and to be honest it would take a lot of time to go through all of them, but it is clear that the show makes a point to make sure that each of the journeys mean something. Whether it be a mom writing letters to her daughter before she dies, or unintentionally helping a young astronomer understand what he wants to do with his life, Violet’s episodic journeys not only help those that she visits, but are the reason she can be confident in herself by the end.

While I definitely enjoyed watching both shows, there is an important storytelling distinction that separates the two: A journey only is only as important and powerful as the character who takes it. Even more importantly, a great journey can redeem even the most uninteresting of characters, and Violet Evergarden seems to understand that a lot more.


How do you guys feel about these two shows? Let me know in the comments. If you would like to support Animated Observations, check out my Ko-fi:

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

OWLS June “Vunerable” Post – Wandering Son: When Being Vunerable isn’t an Option

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

It is time once again for another OWLS post. This month’s theme is Vunerable:

In the month of June, we will be discussing what it means to be vulnerable. To some individuals, being vulnerable could be seen as a sign of weakness, but in fact, vulnerability is actually a sign of strength. In this month’s posts, we will explore what it means to be vulnerable and how certain characters in pop culture glamorize vulnerability. When do we show our vulnerability? How do we express vulnerability? Why should we show vulnerability?

Definitely make sure to check out my other fellow OWLS members, Lyn and Ange and there posts for this months.

Also, since I haven’t done anything for pride month, due to me being on vacation, I figured I would take some time to dedicate a post for that very purpose, which is why the anime I will be talking about for this month is Wandering Son. I know I’ve talked about it before for OWLS, but I think its an important enough show that its worth talking about and sharing again. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would definitely recommend watching it.

With all that done, here is the post:


For almost everyone, there are going to be things that remain hidden behind a certain level of self-consciousness. Some of the things people hide are more innocuous, like an embarrassing habit or a cringe favorite thing. Either way, it is hard for people to talk to others about these things because making themselves vulnerable is often both emotionally and mentally difficult. However, for members of the LGBTQ community, the ability to be vulnerable about their specific situations is much harder due to the history of treatment of that group of people.

More specifically though, transgender people have a harder time due to their being a lot of confusion about what being transgender actually means. Many still have to live in the shadows about their identity, and often times it means that they feel alone.

A good example of this is Wandering Son, an anime that explores the story of two transgender individuals named Shuichi and Yoshino. As it is explained in the show, before the two met, they had no way of talking to others about being transgender and no one to talk to about their experience, because doing so would have likely meant rejection from friends and family. With their friendship, it becomes easier for the two to be more open.

Unfortunately, though, even their journey was not that simple. Despite having Yoshino to talk to, Shuichi still has to deal with his sister, who finds out about Shuichi being transgender, and throughout most of the show is still unwelcoming to his identity. Meanwhile, Yoshino dresses as a guy at school and gets accused of simply doing it for attention. In both of their situations, vulnerability is not something they feel safe enough to show.

It is also important to remember that the ignorance surrounding transgender issues and the treatment of transgender people in horrible ways has real world consequences. A CDC study from 2016 shows that transgender people are much more likely to have attempted suicide, with as many as 40 percent admitting to doing so. Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people are also disproportionately likely to have attempted suicide. These numbers mean that many of both transgender people and other members of the LGBTQ community still feel like Shuichi and Yoshino.

Sadly, some of this ignorance and often unintended hate can also be seen and felt in the anime community. The word “trap” has come under fire within the past year or so in many online anime communities for being a somewhat bigoted term that has implications about why someone is transgender, the implication being that specifically trans women only dress as women in order to trick men. Some defend the term by arguing that there is no malicious intent, and that it is only used as a joke, but it is still hard to argue against its influence and meaning, especially considering that there have been hate crimes against transgender people which were justified using this same logic. If the word is recognized by transgender people as a slur, it might just be best to stop using it if it makes them feel marginalized.

What’s important is this: Being vunerable around someone means that you feel safe, and feeling safe in the environment you grow up and live in can be important both to one’s mental development and their adult mental health. If people continue to ignore the urgency of these problems, then many more lives could be in danger.


Thanks for reading friends. Be sure to be there for your friends and family, and help them when they need it. Also, have a good rest of Pride Month.

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The Lion Cub Can Grow Again: Season One Episode One

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a series that I only really got the idea for a few days ago, but I now am really excited about. This post now marks the beginning of my March Comes in Like a Lion re-watch/analysis. It has been a minute since I’ve seen the series. The last time I watched it was while it was airing a little over a year ago. Since I don’t mention it that often, I feel I should reiterate: this show is one of my favorite, if not my outright favorite, anime of all time. As such, I wanted to take some more time to reflect on it, from the beginning. I hope you all will follow along with me in this journey, as I want to really dig into the meat of this show and revisit what works, and even what does not. Anyway, enough rambling. Here are my thoughts on the show’s first episode.


It has definitely been a while since I have seen the show’s very first episode, and honestly, the first thing I have to say is Damn. I did not remember the show being that emotionally gripping in the first episode, and there is so much to unpack.

The first thing I want to point out is just how well the show establishes the amount of emotional turbulence Rei is going through in the opening moments of the show. We see what looks to be a storm, Raging on around Rei, but after the show’s intro finishes it cuts back to that same seen, introducing Rei’s sister Akari, it gives more context to what the storm means. It is the storm inside Rei’s head, unending and relentless.

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We get even more context a few minutes later in the episode, when Rei faces off against his dad in a game of Shogi. In between their match, the show cuts to flashbacks of what looks to be Rei’s first tournament as a kid. He ends up winning that tournament, but his adopted brother and sister, Ayumi and Kyoko, resent him. During the match Rei does not say a thing to his father. In fact, it is quite tonally significant that the first thing Rei says five or six minutes into the first episode is a response to his dad saying the family misses him, “That’s a lie.”

The overall tone of this first third of the episode is fairly somber, and yet also deeply angry. This also comes through after Rei meets up with the Kawamoto sisters and the four of them have dinner. While eating, a report comes on the TV talking about a son who had brutally beaten his father. At this point, Rei explains that every move he made in their earlier Shogi match felt like a fist to the face, like he was getting back at his adopted father, and yet, Rei is still deeply resentful.

This is later shown when Hina comes to bring him a blanket, only to remove the glasses Rei had left on while falling asleep and reveal the tears still in his eyes, implying that Rei had been crying while sleeping.

However, amid this confusion and sadness, there is also a major paradigm shift for Rei. The first episode also shows just how much love and support Rei does have. The Kawamoto sisters all seem to genuinely care about Rei, as if they had always been family. Not only does the family offer to feed them twice in the first episode, and Hina gives him a huge lunch when he wakes up, they also tell him at the end of the episode that he is welcome over any time.

The first episode is not only a great on its own, but it also serves as a fantastic character introduction to Rei Kiriyama, showing both the emotional turbulence that he will have to deal with throughout the show, but also the potential to overcome it with the help of the people who care.

Edit: I accidentally said Kyoko’s sister was Akari, but I meant to write Kyoko. Apologies.


By the way, I have not yet decided how often I plan on doing these, but more than likely it will be an at least once a week type thing. Anyway, thank you all for taking a read. If you would like to support The Aniwriter or are just feeling generous, consider donating on ko-fi or by using one of my affiliate links down below:

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If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!