#1 The trials of a permanently-enraged office lady
Aggretsuko follows the daily life of Retsuko, a young woman working in the accounting department of a large trading firm. While her co-workers admire her for being able to keep it together amidst scummy office politics, rude co-workers, and the accounting department’s chauvinistic boss, she has a dark secret to keep hidden. When nobody is around, Retsuko will express all her frustrations through brutal, kick-ass death metal!
The show consists of 10 15-minute episodes that show us some of her daily struggles as she tries to survive each workday while secretly plotting to somehow escape the tedium of her routine. Stories include Retsuko being caught badmouthing her boss, co-workers finding out she visits the karaoke bar a lot, and having to pull an all-nighter at the office because somebody dumped their work on her. While it’s fun to watch, a lot of the show will be spent feeling incredibly sorry for poor Retsuko. On the other hand, this makes the few times that things do go her way that much more enjoyable.
Being an office worker myself, I have recently found that I really take a liking to anime with characters that live within this setting. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Shirobako were excellent examples of this and Aggretsuko fits right in with them. Its stories may often be exaggerated, but they remain familiar and its characters, while caricatures, may remind you of people from your own job.
#2 The animal-themed characters
I won’t be the first to point out that this show is actually a product of Sanrio, the company that also invented Hello Kitty. It’s obvious they have a knack for creating animal characters and with Aggretsuko it’s fun to see their skill at creating such cute, childlike characters being put to use for a more mature, sometimes even vulgar story.
Every character is an animal drawn in a cute style, which often matches their personality in several ways. Retsuko’s lazy boss who has a poor attitude towards women is literally a pig and the scheming office lady that gives our protagonist a hard time is some kind of lizard. The show doesn’t have any amazing animation to it, yet this art-style is really solid and appealing, even if the connections between the characters and the animals they represent are a bit on-the-nose.
#3 Actually getting use out of your Netflix subscription for once
This point is incredibly subjective, but I have had a Netflix subscription for years now and, if it wasn’t for my loved ones, that would have all have been wasted money. I only ever used the service for Madoka Magica: Rebellion before that got a European BluRay release, and apparently, they expanded their library by a lot. They even have that Violet Evergarden show everybody told me was the bee’s knees, so I’ll have to check that out.
It still has a hideous interface, it still spams my inbox with recommendations to watch its countless live-action series I don’t give a toss about, and when I do want to watch something there is still an 80% chance Netflix won’t have it
… but at least it has Aggretsuko. Doesn’t quite justify that 130 euros a year, but it’s a start.
#4 The singing
It’s a given considering the show’s main idea is that Retsuko expresses her anger through singing, but it has to be said that this aspect is handled just right. While Retsuko always uses the same song on the karaoke box, her lyrics are different all the time, depending on what upsets her at that given moment. Her voice is explosive and powerful, which is best shown in a musical confrontation towards the end of the show.
I do have to acknowledge that in the Japanese audio track it can be a tad hard to differentiate the lyrics. Japanese is already not that easy to follow, but with Retsuko’s intense screaming it’s even harder to figure out. That brings me to…
#5 Rewatch value through the English dub
Netflix’ stream of Aggretsuko defaulted to the English dub for me, which I immediately switched to Japanese. However, as I grew a liking to the show, I began to wonder how it would sound in English and was pleasantly surprised. Not only is Retsuko’s singing significantly easier to understand, the dub as a whole has a great selection of voice actors to replace their Japanese counterparts.
It also has my favorite approach to dubbing, where the essence and important themes of the story and characters are retained, but a lot of lines and jokes are changed around. This leaves the English dub with a lot of jokes that are exclusive to it and the writing, going by the few episodes I checked out, was sharp and reliably funny. Given a few months, I might just rewatch the entire show again in English.