Someone From Work
The New Boss
Struggle for Survival
Rendezvous – | Review Score – 4/5
Next to Bojack Horseman, Aggretsuko has always been a much deeper animation than it first appears. Much like Bojack, Aggretsuko has always dived into the mental health pool while highlighting the dangers of stress, depression and overworking.
Now onto its fourth season, this year Aggretsuko hits that much harder as it dives into these themes again, highlighting the dangers of corporate restructuring; layoffs, forced resignations and fraud are the main ingredients here.
Partly the reason this hits so hard comes from what’s happening across various different workplaces. 2021 has been massive for uncovering toxic conditions too. From Ubisoft moving sexual predators across the company to Activision Blizzard “joking” about killing employees and being embroiled in their own physical, sexual and racial abuse scandals, these two companies have been joined by WWE’s toxicity and Amazon’s grueling conditions where workers are pushed to breaking point. I could go on but the point is, there are some companies out there treating their employees like dirt.
Aggretsuko has always been clued in to this and season 4 goes one step further than it has previously, especially during its second half of the 10 episode run. While there’s no sexual or racial abuse, there are some pretty damning assessments of putting financial profits ahead of humanity and people.
A lot of this culture shift stems from the current President stepping down after a health scare. In his place is the young and tenacious Himuro, who takes over on CEO duties. As the season progresses, he turns toward Haida more and more, as secrets are slowly unveiled in a shocking twist late on.
Alongside the office work though is the romance between Haida and Retsuko. This continues along its predictable will they/won’t they focus for much of the run-time. The first 5 episodes tackle Haida’s confidence and whether he’ll actually breakthrough and tell Retsy how he feels.
The rest of the episodes entangle the difficult line between personal and professional relations. While there’s no definitive solution by the end over whether they’re together, there’s enough here to enjoy nonetheless.
The various other supporting characters all get their chance to shine this year too. Ton in particular has a really poignant and beautifully written journey across the episodes. With the aforementioned focus on depression, he suffers pretty badly and struggles to find his purpose, especially with the company’s restructured feel.
Another to feel the pinch from work is Kabae, whom we see a little more of outside work during the back-end of this season.
Where season 4 is less effective however, is with Retsuko’s singing career. As her videos begin to rack up views, she starts to work on improving her public image, even recruiting a team to help with her social media.
While it’s a nice inclusion, there’s not a lot of substance to it. The best jokes come late on and involve Tan, leaning into the technophobia some middle-aged men and women experience with our continued push into digitalization. Beyond that, it’s more of a teasing plot thread to be explored later on down the line.
Overall though, season 4 continues the trend of balancing work and love for our red panda. The changed focus to include much darker themes at Retsuko’s office works wonders to freshen things up, while the changed focus to Haida serves up a nice change of pace as well.
Although the romance is a little stagnant between Retsuko and Haida, the office work is anything but. Aggretsuko bows out season 4 on a high – and lots of promise for next season!
Verdict - 8/10