Netflix's 'Aggretsuko' is a Hilarious, Painfully Honest Picture of Adulthood [opinion/spoilers]

Have you ever been so fed up that you want to scream your head off? Congratulations. You’re an adult.

The main character in the grown-up Sanrio anime “Aggretsuko” (Aggressive Retsuko) knows exactly how you feel. The series, which began as a collection of minisodes, follows Retsuko, a 25-year-old red panda, who is an office worker in Japan at a busy accounting firm. She has the nice apartment, the job and a couple of close friends. Everything should be as bright and sunny as her adorable personality, right?
Retsuko is no stranger to the struggle.  She is constantly buried under work (most of which us not her own), bullied by Ton, her chauvinistic boss and must navigate her way through a sea of brown-nosing coworkers and “frenemies.” How does she make it through the day in one piece? Karaoke. Screaming, howling death metal karaoke.

Though Sanrio characters are famous for being sweet and adorable, Retsuko takes it to the opposite end of the spectrum when she vents her feelings in the sanctuary of a karaoke room every night. She keeps her karaoke coping mechanism a secret from her friends, Haida and Feneko, and instead desperately tries to keep up appearances and fit in with the norm.
She eventually forms a friendship with Secretary Washimi and Director Gori, two fabulous powerhouses in the office who seem to have it all together. They begin going to yoga together, and the two women soon discover Retsuko’s thrasher alter ego. Instead of rejecting her, they embrace Retusko. She learns that Washimi and Gori work just as hard as she does to convince everyone they have their lives together.

Retsuko makes discoveries about herself and others throughout the short series. While her boss is still a horrible jerk, he does have a good side. The brown-nosing coworkers just want to get through the day. When she thinks changing herself is the best way to keep the perfect guy, she’s met with mind-numbing disappointment and then later finds romance in the most unexpected of places.
Retsuko goes through plenty of ups and downs. The humor in the show will definitely appeal to fans of “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office,” but the underlying message is something viewers should take note of. You don’t have to change who you are when things get rough.
“Aggretsuko” is a show that an audience of struggling 20-30-somethings can relate to. Many of us have been in Retsuko’s shoes. I know I have. While I don’t karaoke my problems away (though I am a low-key metal fan), I can see plenty of myself in Retsuko’s hilarious plight. Over all, the show is a funny and interesting take on adulthood and workplace culture. “Aggretsuko” will return for a second season in 2019, so you’ll have a few of alternatives to screaming when you need a break from the office grind.
(YouTube, Netflix.)

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