Saturday, April 13, 2024

Aggretsuko Season 4 perfectly sums up toxic work culture

In its newest season, Aggretsuko continues to relate back to its loving, millennial audience, keeping them coming back for more on each new release. Aggretsuko Season 4 perfectly sums up toxic work culture and how evil corporations can be, and in between Retsuko trying to save her department’s reputation, there was a life lesson about kindness and the feeling of being needed that I think everyone can benefit from watching.

If you don’t know what Aggretsuko is, it’s a Netflix Original anime released in 2018. Created by Yeti at Sanrio, and directed by Rarecho, Aggretsuko follows Retsuko, a red panda living in Japan as an accountant. The series takes watchers into a deeper look at the life of a seemingly average 20-something, with a bit of twist – with mild-mannered Retsuko becoming an absolute unhinged beast during karaoke as a means for stress relief.

Having watched this during its first month of release, I immediately fell in love with Aggretsuko’s cute style and very real storytelling. It’s become a yearly habit to binge the season the first day it comes out, and every year I remind friends on social media to watch it if they haven’t already.

When I watch a TV series that I really enjoyed in its original season, I always get worried that the quality of story, animation, or anything will take a nosedive after it continues to have incoming seasons. So when hearing that Aggretsuko’s 4th season was released, I got a little worried that this might be the season I might start not liking it. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case at all. Aggretsuko Season 4 introduces new characters, closer looks at support characters’ lives, and the crushing reality when companies use demoralizing tactics against their hardworking employees. You’ll see Restuko recover from an accident with a deranged fan of her former idol group, notice she rages a little less and works with those around her to get to the bottom of what’s going on behind closed doors at her workplace.

The famous Sanrio style of work, varying animal and character designs, metal music, imitations of the city life of Japan, millennial humor, and it almost perfectly sums up what it’s like to be in your 20/30s working a desk job – all things to make for a wonderful, relatable show.  Everything I loved about Aggretsuko was still there with no sign of it leaving. However, while this season brought up a bunch of new plots, there was a life lesson in between that I wish friends of mine would watch and learn from.

Aggretsuko Season 4
Aggretsuko may look cute, but Season 4 does not mess around

Wanting to be needed is a normal feeling we all go through. It feels nice when someone needs your help and makes you feel you’re enough for them, whether it’s your family, friends, or your partner. Although, sometimes while looking for more ways to be needed, there are those who will take that innocent feeling, and use it for their own good. Partners who manipulate, friends who use you, bosses who exploit, etc. I remember becoming a completely different and nasty person to satisfy the work given to me by a former boss – I became hostile from fear of being replaced like others around me, mean to my team from the stress of not being impossibly fast like my boss wanted me to be, and I could no longer see a light of life outside my work due to 70 hour work weeks.

I saw myself in Haida, one of Aggretsuko’s main characters, and his changing self because of his toxic workplace. In this season, we see Haida being taken advantage of because of the drive to feel needed and to contribute. However, without noticing, his workplace makes him meaner and irritable, just like I was. 

In Aggretsuko you have Haida who explains to Fenneko and company that he’s scared of revealing his feelings to Retsuko because he feels like he’s just a normal guy, nothing special. However, things take a turn when the new young CEO, Himuro,  takes a liking to him. When Director Ton was moved to another department, Himuro took an interest in Haida’s ideas of involving more technology-based help to better organize workflow among the company’s accounting department. 

As Haida works more, with his newfound motivation from feeling great after contributing to the company in a meaningful way, Himuro sees this and invites him to work alongside him, even giving Haida a promotion – becoming the new director of the accounting department. Haida’s love for being able to comfortably provide for Retsuko and the company puts a strain on his and Retsuko’s relationship, his friendship with everyone in the company, as well as drives him to lie about profits in order for Himuro to look good in front of shareholders.

Ton is a character that’s relationship with work helps him thrive at being needed

Director Ton is another victim of Himuro’s and much like Haida, Ton thrives on people needing him – but instead of pushing him over the limits with flashy perks and promotions, Himuro strips away what makes Ton happy in hopes he will leave the company on his own accord.

Ton loves having a tight ship, with a diverse set of employees that while on paper, seems questionable, but in practice, all work really well together. When faced with having to provide a list of people Ton thinks aren’t benefiting the company, and going over the team with his assistant Komiya, Ton turns up with an empty list to Himuro. Himuro then punishes Ton and moves him to the “newly made” department, where Ton talks to no one all day, and has no work coming in. Ton starts to get depressed, and loses his sense of self-being in the office, until he breaks the cycle and gets a part-time job at a convenience store, and helps Retsuko out with managing her numbers and analytics on her popular and viral YouTube page.

Kindness is free and can make us feel so great when we do nice acts throughout the day, however, this season of Aggretsuko reminds us that we are more than what we do for other people. I love this show so much, and season 4 changes none of that. Any working millennial and older gen z’er can find conversations they relate to in this show, and I couldn’t recommend and push it more for those around me to watch it.  

Besides, who wouldn’t enjoy 20-minute episodes of cute Sanrio-style animals having their silly little coffees and stressing out things we also stress about?

Season 4 of Aggretsuko is available to watch on Netflix.

Monti Velez

Monti Velez is a Latinx writer and editor for Uppercut Crit. She covers issues within the industry, indie games, and more. In her free time, Monti likes uploading silly pictures of her dog and yelling about KPop, which you can find on Twitter @friedmonti