I just finished watching the Netflix Original “Aggretsuko”. Here’s what I think about it.
I warned you. Let’s proceed.
Aggretsuko stars a young red-panda named “Retsuko”. Don’t be tricked by her cute appearance though. She screams abuse and death metal in the midst of office politics, everyday life pains and more. Even though her friends try and support her as best as they could, Retsuko hates her job and can’t wait until a) she’s married and b) slap her boss in the face with a resignation letter. I think it’s quirky, but in a loving way. Retsuko is certainly cute during her day-to-day tasks - printing out her happy/horrified face by accident, the spazzed out face she makes when paperwork is filed literally on top of her - and these times of cuteness are quickly replaced when she goes full-out fury in the bathroom stalls, or in her favorite karaoke place.
When I recommended this anime to friends, they were like “Okay, it’s an interesting setup. But why death metal? And how is this even funny?” And this is coming from friends that like anime! I’m not a terrible anime lover, only watching when there’s something worth watching, and yet something about Aggretsuko pulls me in close. Viewers and critics say Aggretsuko strikes home in the working women in the office. The sexist views taken by Asian countries are imposed pretty clearly in the show, and it’s no accident. The designer, apparently, wanted to show these “views” of Asian countries according to one interview with The Verge. The Verge was quick to point out that Aggretsuko wasn’t all about office shoutmatches and death metal. Resasuke, the guy Retsuko falls in love with, is an idiot bumblehead, and would certainly jump onto train tracks because he was daydreaming. After they break apart, Retsuko finds hope again with Haida, the office dog-worker that is secretly in love with her.
So, what do I think about this show? You should definitely watch it (if you’re the type of person who read THIS FAR and COMPLETELY didn’t heed my warning about spoilers and STILL want to WATCH ANYWAY) but there’s some tips you need to keep in mind. First off, the age tag. Yes, it says PG-13. Should you watch it with your kids? Depends. Retsuko is no lady - at times she appears cute, but she has a weakness for alcohol and getting completely wasted. If you don’t have any qualms with that, stream away on your big screen and cuddle with whoever’s around you. Second, the audio. Yes, the audio! Since this is so important, I’m going to branch this into a separate paragraph.
Audio is possibly everything in Retsuko - it’s an anime about death metal after all. Netflix currently shows a Japanese original version, and an English dubbed version. Yet, there’s a catch. I thought Japanese all the way - but gave English a shot and was conflicted. You see, the Japanese conversations are EXCELLENT. It’s the way the creators meant it to be heard by you. And when it comes to Japan anime, I would swear Japanese audio all the way. So why am I writing this paragraph?
Because the English death metal is SO MUCH BETTER. When I heard the death metal in the Japanese version, it was hard to make out any words or characters at all. It was just a slew of mishmashed syllables, if they were syllables at all. It sounded more like corrupted audio - like somebody had dropped the USB with the master audio files in a puddle, then recovered it. But the English ones? Clear, neatly paced, and quite well-versed. I did NOT expect this amount of quality from a dubbing.
That being said. I still like the Japanese audio for everything except death metal. Fenneko’s iconic monotone laugh is only attainable using the original Japanese audio, and I’d choose that over English because her laughs are somehow sarcastic. Also, the English version is weirdly high-pitched (except for the singing part), and it doesn’t really show the vibes of all the characters in the anime.
Whew. This was a long article. About a freaking anime. Just go watch it. I guarantee you’ll fall in love.
Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you quit your job in a rage of death metal fury after binge watching. Your call.