The major attraction of the anime sequence Aggretsuko, directed and written by Rarecho, has at all times been its relatability. The present, primarily based on a personality created for the mascot firm Sanrio, facilities on a 25-year-old crimson panda named Retsuko. During the day, she has an workplace job in an organization’s accounting division. At evening, she vents her frustrations by performing death-metal karaoke. The gimmick is humorous, however the present is much less about loving dying steel, and extra about capturing the extraordinary frustrations of the white-collar workforce. The first couple of seasons have tackled subjects like relationship, coping with unhealthy bosses, discovering an expert mentor, and making mates as an grownup. The third, now streaming on Netflix, takes on extra particular and trendy points, however strays a little bit too far-off from the run-of-the-mill topics the place the present excels.
The season begins with Retsuko, newly single, obsessing over a digital boyfriend in a VR sport as a approach of escaping her real-life funk. Even although it’s not an actual relationship, she retains spending cash on the sport’s prompting, shopping for her digital beau totally different outfits and beauty upgrades. Soon, nevertheless, she’s having to cope with a distinct form of one-sided relationship.
[Ed. be aware: Spoilers for the third season of Aggretsuko observe.]
Aggretsuko’s third season doesn’t completely abandon the extra common issues that originally made the present so nice. The hyena Haida, who has lengthy harbored a crush on Retsuko, may lastly have a shot at love with Inui, who clearly likes him, however he can’t let his emotions for Retsuko go. Meanwhile, two of Retsuko’s coworkers are having various experiences with their respective side-hustles, and determining the right way to stability their private passions with their work obligations.
Retsuko’s story, nevertheless, takes her removed from the office — and consequently removed from territory that’s as relatable because the present’s first and second seasons. After getting right into a automotive accident, she’s compelled to work off the incurred debt by working as an accountant for an underground idol group, the OTMGirls. However, when the group’s producer, the leopard Hyodo, discovers Retsuko’s expertise for death-metal singing, he turns her into the group’s new lead vocalist.
The twist provides a glance into dynamics that aren’t current in an workplace setting, and the primary few episodes following Retsuko’s debut as a part of OTMGirls are promising. OTMGirls’ burgeoning fame means they need to cope with rabid followers and parasocial relationships, particularly as followers are in a position to buy face-to-face time with the members of the group. The darkish aspect of fame rears its head when followers work out Retsuko’s house tackle from footage posted on-line, and one fan makes use of the time he’s purchased with Retsuko particularly to insult and troll her. Though changing into an idol isn’t a typical expertise, fan tradition and social-media interactions are exhausting to keep away from in trendy life, which does give even this unlikely plotline some metaphorical resonance.
As the storyline escalates, nevertheless, the practical features drop away. Rarecho addresses parasocial relationships thoughtfully, and the strategy is compelling — the subject isn’t widespread in mainstream media, though such dynamics are more and more prevalent in up to date society, as podcast personalities, streamers, YouTubers, and so forth grow to be more and more widespread. But these sharp observations get misplaced within the shuffle, as Retsuko’s expertise with being an idol is winnowed right down to coping with one rankled stalker.
Like Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue, the third season of Aggretsuko makes use of Retsuko’s idol-hood as an inroad to addressing the pressures of fame and coping with followers who resent change. Aggretsuko’s strategy, nevertheless, is much less cerebral and extra straight thriller, full with menacing pictures of a box-cutter as Retsuko’s stalker turns into increasingly aggressive, and even makes an attempt to assault her. But the extra out-of-control Retsuko’s story turns into, the much less compelling it’s.
In Perfect Blue, former pop idol Mima Kirigoe begins to lose her grip on actuality as she makes an attempt to pursue a critical performing profession and alter her good-girl public picture. When a violent stalker begins specializing in her, he claims to be working on the behest of the “real” Mima, referring to Mima’s prior persona. The movie is a heady psychological thriller, however Aggretsuko isn’t prepared for such critical territory — it hasn’t constructed a adequate basis for this type of drama. It’s established itself as a sequence about workplace life and the difficulties of being a teenager within the workforce. Though it’s foolish sufficient that it may well make a spontaneous singing idol profession really feel prefer it’s par for the workday course, Aggretsuko isn’t geared up to hold out a thriller’s dramatic weight.
The present’s attraction has every little thing to do with how simple it’s to attach with the crimson panda. Her issues are often quotidian, made extra dynamic by the characters’ exaggerated expressions, and there’s nothing extra relatable than when she screams, “SCREW YOU, CAPITALISM!” right into a microphone as she laments how her paychecks immediately disappear in a mountain of payments. Her preliminary ascent as a part of OTMGirls, whereas not a typical expertise, stays within the realm of relatability due to Rarecho’s cautious addressing of fan tradition. The stalker simply takes issues too far, each throughout the present and by way of the present’s path.
Ultimately, Retsuko’s flip as an idol is about her determining what she needs, however the season’s finale, which sees her deciding to surrender the idol life and return to her workplace job whereas telling herself she will be able to do something she units her thoughts to, looks like too simple an ending, given how heavy the subject material turns into. By distinction, the primary season of the present, which centered on Retsuko trying to cope with an abusive boss and exploitative coworkers, ended together with her merely deciding to attempt to do her greatest to not let her workplace job have an effect on her outdoors life and development. Unlike the finale of the third season, it isn’t an ideal ending the place all of her issues are miraculously solved.
That isn’t a neat ending, however it’s a sensible one, a powerful feat provided that the present is about anthropomorphic cartoon animals. Even the second season, which sees Retsuko embark on a whirlwind romance, has some grounding in actuality, as she realizes that what she needs out of the connection was totally different from what her companion needs. The string retaining the brand new season tethered to actuality is fragile. The story is enjoyable, however its digression into grim territory retains it from hitting as near house as its predecessors.
The third season of Aggretsuko is streaming on Netflix now.