The Blessings Of Life
Deep In A Hole
A Sheltered Life
Winds of Change
An Urchin in the Desert
Bursting Her Bubble
The End of the Moratorium
When You Count To Ten
Back for a third season, our heavy-metal singing red panda returns for 10 more episodes of poignancy, reflection and surprisingly compelling character growth. With a shifting focus from romance to finance, Aggretsuko finds a new voice and provides a slightly different commentary on the rat race many of us find ourselves in every day. This is partly why Aggretsuko is so relatable and the funky animation and excellent voice acting continue to make this one of the must-watch animes of the year.
The story picks up some time after the second season. Retsuko and Tadano have broken up and instead, she finds solace in her virtual VR boyfriend. With her savings dwindling thanks to these predatory microtransactions, a car accident sends her life tumbling down the pan. In the smoldering ruins of her life, Aggretsuko rises like a phoenix and finds a new lease of life. In order to repay her debt, she’s forced to work as an accounting manager for an underground pop group.
Predictably, Retsuko puts her money where her mouth is and her singing brings the attention of those involved with the group. As she becomes integral to this pop act, Retsuko juggles her responsibilities and starts to learn that she too has talents worthy of remembrance. It’s a satisfying journey of reflection and healing, with a beautifully uplifting message that the overbearing corporate lifestyle doesn’t have to pummel you into the ground your whole life.
Thematically, the show has always tackled the bigger picture with things like capitalism and work/life balance and that doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. Season 3 does an excellent job capturing this through Retsuko’s singing and the animation is every bit as expressive and colourful as before.
Although the preferred way of watching this is, of course, with Japanese audio, the English dubbing actually isn’t bad. Along with Dragon Ball Z, this feels like one of the few examples of an anime matching its Japanese counterparts in the audio department.
Although the main focus here is on the financial side of things, a romantic plot does start to trickle in around the midway point of the show. Haida’s conflicted state over which woman to choose when a new girl arrives in the office is something that gives his character something to do but also feels a little under-developed. It’s not a deal breaker of course but this is probably the weakest point of the whole show.
The new characters this year settle into their roles nicely and there’s a combined effort to integrate these guys into the main story as best as possible. This works really well too, mainly through the idea of this underground pop group, and this changed dynamic offers something new for Retsuko to tackle.
Overall though Aggretsuko continues to offer a delightfully well written anime. It serves as both a character-driven journey into self discovery and a commentary on corporate lifestyle and capitalism. This year’s shifting focus is a welcome one and despite a few hiccups, continues to hit those high notes.