Aggretsuko Life Lessons: Season One Breakdown

Retsuko is a 25 year old office girl in corporate Japan. The series starts with an optimist red panda ready to take on the world. The mood immediately shifts to an exhausted red panda using self soothing exercises to summon the strength to get out of bed. Some of this stems from the office culture and where she falls in the food chain. Supervisors and workers take advantage of Restsko’s “people pleaser” personality.  She’s overworked, under appreciated and under paid. To avoid termination, she copes by belting out Death Metal karaoke to release her pent up frustration.

Patricia, Aggretsuko Life Lessons: Season One Thru Four

Retsuko is struggling to enjoy her life. Passion jobs feel out of reach, because it would adjust her current standard of living. Sure, the office is a toxic environment. It pays for her one bedroom apartment and regular trips to the karaoke  room. So what’s a girl to do?

1. Marriage ~ The Great Escape

If she’s having a tough time. It’s usually caused by her people pleasing. Not her income. After giving up her food budget as a wedding present, Retsuko considers getting a toned yoga body to snag a man. She wants to get married and run away from her office job. This decision leads to her meeting her future besties.

Washimi and Gorrie are regulars at a Yoga Studies Retsuko joins to get hot so she can get hitched. These ladies are high on the food chain. So she doesn’t expect them to want to talk to her. To her surprise, the ladies view her as a future friends. The office food chain doesn’t matter, but Retsuko can’t get past it. Well…not on her own. Through Karaoke and their yoga instructor’s cosmic instructions, Retsuko finally unplugs and reveals who she is through heavy medal. Not only do the ladies accept her, they try to figure out how she’s singing her heart out. Their acceptance leads to a confession.

2. Reality Check

After coming clean about her marriage goals, Washimi kindly calls Retsuko out. Hunting for a man to escape her job could be a catalyst to more issues. Instead of placing her happiness in man’s hands, she tries to change her circumstances at work. By becoming an active participant in her own life, we see friend group expand. Don’t get me wrong. She starts the series with two office friends, but she keeps them at arms length. This blossoming process puts her in a situation we’re she mets a love interest. This is where the viewer might questions Retsuko’s judgement. Is she pursuing the “Space Cadet” because she genuinely cares about him?

3. Forced Relationships

I asked this question, because early in season one she asks Hyda a hypothetical question. If they got married, would he want her to work? He answers yes, because his income isn’t a king’s ransom. Plus, they could motivate and support each other. Because of her escape plans, she decides she needs a man who’s rich. Basically, Hyda takes him out of the running. So, why did she try so hard to make her relationship work with the Space Cadet?

Rusaske works in Marketing for the same company. We are clear hints that Hyda likes Retsuko to the point that we watch her test out flirtation skills on him. Instead, she decides to hold onto a relationship with a reserved person. As the viewer, we know that Rusaske is going with it because his office friend is coaching him through the dating stages. We see two parties trying to function like a couple at the cost of their happiness.

4. Taking Off Rose Tinted Glasses

Washimi and Gorrie immediately identify red flags after Retsuko’s first date, but their concerns fall on deaf ears. Coworkers and supervisors notice a slip in her quality of work and lovesick persona as well. Once the self imposed pressure of her relationship starts impacting her physical health, Washimi plants a seed of doubt in Retsuko’s mind.  If both parties are wearing masks all the time, is the relationship worth all that effort. Surprisingly, she doesn’t judge Retsuko. She’s just worried that she’s staying in  relationship for the wrong reasons. Her friends are not aware the mask is cracking. Retsuko is starting to use karaoke to deal with the Space Cadets personality.

By the end of the season, she takes advice from an unlikely source. In a blunt way, Mr. Tone tells Retsuko that she needs to value herself. This relationship is fatiguing her to the point that she can’t be a functioning member of the accounting department. In the end, Retsuko decides to confronts Resasuke in her favorite karaoke room. She lifts the vail of happy girlfriend and shows him who she really is through metal. At the end of the song, she realizes that he never really misrepresented himself. From the beginning she was infatuated with a glamour image she constructed in her head. Not the quite and reserved Rasusuke that was waiting for her to pick the next song.

Closing Remarks

I love Aggretsuko. The soul crushing nature of her work environment. The hard truth about choosing stability over a financially risky dream job. Horrible bosses and the minions that reinforce their toxic behavior. Trying to keep work life and personal separate. There’s good and bad to that. That mind set can be isolating. Not to say everyone should have access to you. Their are characters there like Washimi and Gorrie that dont desire to use that vulnerability to tear a friend down. Lastly, a relationship that requires you to walk on pins and needles all the time isn’t worth it. If you enjoyed this summary, I recommend checking out Aggretsuko. This anime series tackles relatable adult issues with cute Sanrio characters.

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