Mitsota Reviews: Aggretsuko
Streaming on Netflix in English, Japanese, French, US Spanish, and Cantonese
Well, here's something new from me: a review on a TV show. Of course my debut film review is not only anime, but furry related. Weebness aside, I think this is a pretty good show that a lot of people can relate too and appreciate.
So, here's the pitch: Retsuko is your average Japanese salary-woman, fresh out of business school and settling in to her new accounting job, where she has to learn how to handle the day to day stress of living in a city with a shitty job and passive personality. Through the power of friendship and death metal, she learns not only how to assert herself, but how to empathize and look at the world from other people's points of view.
On paper, the show sounds dull as dishwater. Honestly I kept blowing this one off as just another drop in the sea of crappy slice of life anime, but my sister eventually convinced me to give it a chance, and I was genuinely surprised by what the show has to offer.
"Nah, I'm really into death metal!"
Right, so I mentioned that death metal plays a role in this show's plot, and I wasn't joking. At the end of every work day Retsuko goes to a karaoke parlor to unwind by singing about her day. Every episode you're treated to a pretty sick 60 second ballad over an intense speed metal track. These songs are performed by the show's writer, Rareko; who shows an incredible talent for these kind of intense, throat destroying vocals. (although for the English translation the songs were re-dubbed by Jamison Boaz, best known for his work as an audio engineer)
In fact, it's not just the metal. All the music in this show seems to be used very effectively. Normally the background music is (big shocker) IN THE BACKGROUND. You'd be surprised how many audio engineers fuck that shit all up. But not here! Every scene is paired with a light, energetic instrumental track that plays under the dialog and sound effects, almost unnoticeable unless you listen for it. This light music almost always fits the mood of the scene, and the editor always knows when to add a flourish of audible music to highlight the dialog, rather than fight it like so many crappy shows with bad music I've seen.
Pictured: bad music
Oh yeah, dialog. This is a show review, not a soundtrack review, so let's talk about the surprisingly deep character interactions and dynamics. :)
Retsuko is young and naive, and while she's shown to be charitable and kind, she's also somewhat self absorbed. Always looking for an easy way out, Retsuko often acts impulsively without thinking through the consequences of her actions. This makes for interesting interactions with her more mature co-workers and friends, who help her to see life from new perspectives.
For example: After a hard day of being kicked around by the boss, she notices that the office kiss-ass, Tsunoda, seems to get preferential treatment. She asks her how she manipulates the boss so easily. Tsunoda explains fairly bluntly that she appeals to the boss' ego to make him happy and to make the work week go smoother for everyone at the office. Tsunoda then throws Retsuko a bit of a curve ball, acknowledging that kissing up to the boss makes her a target for her-coworker's ire, and explaining that she views it as a victory over the simple minded and easy to manipulate boss; as opposed to the submissive admission of defeat her co-workers view it as. It really helps flesh out an otherwise drab caricature.
This entire scene happens in just under two minutes, and the script for the scene was probably shorter than that blurb you just read about it. It's an absolutely fantastic clip and a great example of why the writing is so good in this show. A lot of the characters feel organic in this world, and express themselves in natural, believable ways. (Except the highly contrived enlighted kangaroo, he can fuck right off.)
The only reason this guy is a thing is to force a plotploint with telepathy.
Overall, I'd say that Aggretsuko is a pretty quality show, as far as Netflix """"Originals"""" go. With high quality animation, good sound design, decent writing, and a relatively faithful English dub, I'd say that this is one of the better shows you can watch on Netflix. Not a lot of slice of life shows appeal to the young adult with this level of consistent quality in both writing and design; and while there are a few hiccups in the overall plot, Aggretsuko promises to be the one that gets it right.
Here's hoping season 2 gets picked up!