Hands up if you hate your job. Look around – you’re not alone. Eighty-five percent of workers worldwide admit to hating their jobs when surveyed anonymously, according to a Gallup poll released last summer. That’s an awful lot of people. But even people with what seems to be the perfect job get totally frazzled sometimes. I’m sure even Cadbury’s chocolate taster, Dublin’s chief kitten cuddler and Chris Pratt’s hot yoga instructor have bad days too. So despite Netflix’s new cartoon Aggretsuko being subtitled Japanese anime, this rage is entirely universal.
Retsuko is an adorable kawaii red panda from the people at Sanrio who most famously brought you Hello Kitty. I kid you not. This fluffy female is far more realistic than any mascot I’ve seen before. She’s really struggling. When she gets her first office job aged 20 she’s filled with joy and purpose, strutting her stuff in corporate Japan. Cut to five long years later and she’s stuck in a thankless job, a slave to the wage. She hates her stupid, lazy, gossipy colleagues, really hates her misogynistic boss Director Ton (literally and figuratively a pig) and I bet she hates herself too, for still being single, and not being the big success she always though she would be. This is the internalised hatred of working women who have been set impossibly high standards by society. Whoah – this shit is deep for a super-cute animated red panda.
Retsuko’s real self is suppressed by the corporate machine, but her secret side explodes out of the screen when by night she becomes a metal singer at karaoke bars. She spits out barely coherent globules of rage in response to her daily grind. Her adorable panda face warps into part demonic mask, part Gene Simmons face paint. She’s fantastic.
She works with two senior women who totally look like they have their shit together as they sashay past the more junior staff. As soon as they’re out of sight marketing executive Gori, a gorilla, confesses to her bird assistant Washimi “Walking this way really hurts my back”. I hear you sister. It’s not just Retsuko keeping secrets to maintain face at work.
This series is in short 15 minute episodes and is totally bingable. There’s an extra element of joy here if you like metal anyway – seeing it portrayed positively as a healthy release for pent-up rage is great, given that it’s normally used to underscore how weird and alienated a murderer is. And whatever music you love, or whatever job you do it’s clear in Retsuko we have a true millennial hero.
Get your angry panda on!