Tag Archives: Retsuko

The Observation Deck: Aggretsuko Season Four

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A part of me feels weird that I am even writing this review in the first place. After all, season three of Aggretsuko ended in a really good place, demonstrating the presumptuousness of others during times of personal trauma. Retsuko screams into Haida’s face while doing some karaoke, and ideally, he gets the message, right?

Unfortunately, no. As much as I was, at least initially, pleasantly surprised about a fourth season of what has since become one of my comfort series, the reality of its quality is much different. I often try to stay away from others’ opinions of a show before actually watching, but Hiding in Public’s excellent breakdown of Aggretsuko’s fourth season just so happened to pop up in my YouTube recommended, and they pretty much hit the nail on the head.

Now, honestly, I could just leave it at that because of how well-structured that video is, but that feels kind of lazy. So, I will do my best to break down what works about the season and what does not.

Remembering the Point of Aggretsuko

From its initial debut back in 2018 up to the best points in season four, Aggretsuko has always been a hilarious satire of Japanese work culture. There is the asshole boss who barely hides his disdain for those below him in Ton, the workplace gossiper who seemingly knows everything about everyone in Kabae, and the one who seems like they honestly might kill someone in Anai.

Limited personal experience aside, I have heard enough stories from others with similar office jobs to validate these experiences, and ya know what? They are genuinely funny because they come from a real place. As I talked about back in 2019, the series deals with some sad realities of Japanese work culture, especially for women, even more so younger women. Given how extreme these situations can be, satirization comes across as justified.

Additionally, what makes Retusko’s character so compelling is not just the aforementioned sad realities, but that she is treated like a real…red panda? person rather than a helpless victim. What comes across as more disturbing in a lot of these instances is not so much the behavior itself, although it is absolutely terrible, but rather the normalization of that behavior. All of this is to say that Aggretsuko‘s best moments come from its comedy, not

The Drama

Oh, golly gee Batman, where to start with this…

The more dramatic moments in Aggretsuko have always been a bit weird because while they are never particularly bad, few stand out as particularly good either. The best I think happens during seasons one and two when the topic of marriage becomes a serious one for Retsuko, as pressure from her parents combined with her fling with Tadano has her questioning what she wants to do with her life.

Though they do become more prominent and take up more screen time as the seasons go on, at the very least, it creates a new dynamic in the relationship between Retsuko and her co-workers. The Drama in season four, however, is a bit different.

The season starts out simple enough, with the new CEO of the company taking a much more active role and asking Ton to fire some people. Of course, his hatred for everyone there is only overtaken by his respect for the people who do honest work and tells the CEO exactly that. A solid comedic bit with room for light-heartedness.

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However, as the season reaches its halfway point and it seems that romance between Haida and Retsuko is finally attainable, Aggretsuko, well, just throws it all away. Doing a total 180 with virtually no warning, everyone seemingly turns into a different character, and the latter half becomes a soap opera level drama about Haida and the CEO teaming up to *checks notes*

…forge the company’s sales numbers before the final quarter as a way of increasing profits? Oh, and did I mention Haida becomes accounting director and Ton gets fired leading to Ton and the other accounting department members collaborating on a scheme to take Haida and the CEO down?

Literally, nothing about the fourth season’s second half makes any bit of sense. I was honestly more concerned that Netflix had just forgotten to put up some of the episodes, but no, this is apparently the creative direction they had, so…yeah.

Some Good Character Moments with Ton and Kabae

Even though it was pretty bad, I do not want people to walk away from this review thinking there was zero positive reception on my end. In fact, there are definitely hints of a few good ideas, most notably the arcs of Ton and Kabae

Directo Ton has always been a sort of villain character for the series, making Retsuko and others’ lives living hell. Still, the dude is only human. He has a family he needs to provide for, and it is not like being a middle manager necessarily means he is swimming in money. No, what works about his character in season four is how willing the show is to humanize him as someone who wants to do right by the people he cares for.

The same can be said for Kabae, whose story about “voluntarily” being ousted by higher-ups and making the decision to stay at home for her kid is both heartwarming but also tragic, again speaking to the realities faced by women in the workplace that Aggretsuko as a series is so well versed in.

These two are highlights of the entire season. Both of them are humanized in a way that plays towards their personalities. Sadly, though, both of their moments get cut fairly short. If this season had chosen to focus on them as opposed to whatever the hell those last 5 episodes were then it might have ended up being a fair bit better.

Conclusion

I wish I could say that the bad outways the good here, but that just is not the case. Season four ended up taking a really solid formula for relatable comedy and heart-warming moments and apparently forgetting it entirely. This will probably end up being one of the bigger disappointments for me this year.

44/100


How did you feel about Aggretsuko’s latest season? Let me know in the comments below.

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.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, big shoutout to our patron Jenn, the support is greatly 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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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.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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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Final Thoughts: Aggretsuko

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

The first season of Aggretsuko was a show that I enjoyed thoroughly. Now that season two is out on Netflix, I got a chance to watch it while it was laying in my bed with literally nothing else to do. I was definitely hoping season two would live up to the first, and on that front I can say with confidence that it did. However, aside from Aggretsuko as a show being generally good, here are some more of my final thoughts.

#Relatable

As much as I think relatability, like the word “dark” has become an overused buzzword in reviews and commentary, for which I myself am also guilty, I do still think it a lot of contexts that it is important, especially in a Slice-of-life context. Retsuko, despite being a much different person, and living in a much different scenario, is someone that I relate to a lot, especially in the realm of self-confidence and goals. She has friends, but doesn’t have a whole lot of interests or goals, and that is definitely something I have experienced. However, its not only Retsuko. Haida, Retsuko’s office friend, is also relatable in a lot of ways. For example, when he asks Retsuko to go out with him, only to get rejected. Haida, for a lot of season two is left in the support role, still having feelings for her, but also still wanting to be a good friend. Even Anai, the newest character in the series, is somewhat relatable. His fear about not being able to make it in an oppressive corporate environment makes him paranoid, and I can definitely say cheers to that, brother!

Retsuko as a Metalhead

If you know anything about the show, its probably that a lot of Aggretsuko’s, more so in its first season, revolving around Retsuko’s secret love of Metal music and karaoke. Whenever she is sad, angry, or otherwise feeling negative, she generally defaults to hitting up a karaoke bar after work and screaming her lungs out. Eventually, Retsuko finds friends in the form of Washimi and Gori who help her work out her problems. Despite not being that big a fan of metal, I actually quite enjoyed a lot of the musically bits, especially when used as a comedic punchline. One of my favorite parts was probably near the end of season one where Retsuko goes to an office party which just so happens to have Karaoke. Retsuko makes a very drunk decision, screams her brains out, and insults her boss Ton while doing so. She later realizes that no one remembers because they were also drunk, and so she lets out a huge sigh of relief. It is one of the funnier scenes in the entire series.

Conflict, Resolution, and Marriage

One of the more interesting internal discussions that Aggretsuko has in its second season is about the concept of marriage. Near the end of the second season, Retsuko’s super rich visionary CEO boyfriend Tadano tells her that she does not want to get married, but that he still wants to spend the rest of his life with her. At first, Retsuko is conflicted, not sure if she is willing to accept just being together. Later, Retsuko confronts Ton and tries to hand him her letter of resignation after being gone from work for almost a week. However, Ton can tell something is wrong, and advises Retsuko that she should stand up for what she believes in and not let others make decisions for her. Retsuko, with the assitance of Haida, Washimi, and Gori, confronts Tadano, letting him no that its marriage or nothing.

It is definitely a timely discussion. The reality is that many in both the millennial generation as well as Gen Z are much less inclined, for a wide variety of reasons, to get married. It is a symbol of permanence, a commitment to another that is supposed to last a lifetime, but as much as some might like to, many in these generations are not in a position to get married. Economic conditions, both in Japan and the U.S. are getting worse by the day, and it is becoming harder for regular people to afford basic things, and as such most people are not focused on marriage. However, another reason marriage is less appealing is that many more people, especially women and certain minorities, also feel empowered to be free and independent due to many more people having access to higher education, and as such marriage is less appealing from that perspective as well, because it ties you to someone.

Retsuko, on the other hand, views marriage as an institution of stability. Being that she does not know what she wants to do with her life, Retsuko sees marriage as a way to not only to be stable, but also as way to become invested in another person, and even more people if she were to have kids. Its a strange, yet understandably pure feeling. It is also very #relatable.

Conclusion

Retsuko is one of the best new Slice-of-life comedies to come out in a while. Its first season was captivatingly funny, while hinting at a lot more to come, and the second season felt like the perfect delivery on that more to come. Overall, it is absolutely 100 percent worth your time.


What parts of Aggretsuko did you all enjoy? Did you enjoy it at all? Let me know in the comments below. If you would like to support Animated Observations, consider buying me a coffee on kofi:

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

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