If you’re in your twenties, this season of Netflix’s Aggretsuko will hit you right in the gut.
Our favorite red panda Retsuko is back again with the things that make her rage into the karaoke machine. This time, life takes a turn as her mother is introduced. She’s the typical mom in that she’s constantly worrying about her daughter. But, she shows this worry via constant phone calls and even breaking into Retsuko’s apartment. She pries into Retsuko’s life (what caring mom doesn’t) and chastises her on an array of subjects. From clothes to food, but most importantly men, Retsuko’s mom sets the stage for the theme of this season.
The theme being, living your 20s life means constantly riding the struggle bus.
The first season of Aggretsuko focused mainly on Retsuko’s work environment. It spent a lot of time introducing us to the characters. Heavy attention was on Ton, Retsuko’s boss who can’t help giving her a hard time. We see her main group of friends, Fenneko and Haida, constantly helping her through her awkwardness and “ready to please” personality along with Gori and Washimi being the gal pals she can count on for more adultier issues. The of course, we get a glimpse of Retsuko’s dating struggles as her first romance of the series came and went with apathy. This season, however, focuses on a plethora of issues. Each episode fluidly connects each theme, and it’s portrayal had me personally relating way too well. Here are some themes that were covered this season with hilarity and painful relatability.
First job straight outta college
This is thanks to Anai, a young man fresh out of college charging head first into the world of accounting. AT first glance he seemed eager to learn and even more eager to his part. However, we quickly see he’s a bit high strung when he gets things wrong and takes it out on people when corrected in a way he doesn’t like. Retsuko ended up spending days with anxiety over the continuous emails he sent about her behavior towards him. It takes awhile to find out, thanks to motherly Kabae and caring Gori, that he’s probably just a scared young adult not ready to adult. We can all relate to that. With careful wording, Kabae finds a way for Anai start worming up to everyone and in turn Retsuko learns how to communicate and appreciate him as a coworker.
Cooking and Driving
Raise your hand if your high school didn’t have home economics to teach you “basic skills” like cooking. Retsuko’s mom is the one that brings up regular eating habits, as she nags at her about the junk food she eats and the take out she inhales. It’s not until the family day episode when we discover that Retsuko doesn’t have any cooking skills. She tried her best, but her best isn’t popular with anyone eating her food. It can be hard when you work all day and all you want to do is pick up something nice and quick that doesn’t involve too much effort.
Another thing that came up was the concept of driving. Retsuko starting learning as a way to avoid her mom’s nagging, but quite a few characters hinted at the fact that she started learning pretty late. It’s commonly expected that people learn to drive when they’re teenagers, but there are some like Retsuko who waited years to learn. And this could be for many reasons. Living in the city means you’re more likely to take public transportation. Or, maybe you don’t have the means to learn. It’s such a staple of the teen years that it’s practically looked at with such judgment when attempts are made later on.
Now this topic was shown in many forms. Retsuko’s mom of course was the one the spearhead this throughout the season. She sees her daughter as getting older and needing to settle down at some point instead of constantly working. While at work, Anai is the one replacing a former employee who left for marriage. As Fenneko points out, that employee was two years younger than them, and they’re twenty-five. I saw this as a nod to the mid-twenties such as myself that see the people around them getting engaged or married all at once. As her mom basically forces Retsuko into the dating world, we see a lot of dating concepts come up.
Retsuko’s mom literally compiles files of possible suitors for her daughter. Sure some photos might have been edited for effect, but she came well prepared. She even claims it’s better than online dating because at least these people are real. Her first prospect seemed possible, but with Retsuko’s inner struggle of marrying too quickly and being unsure of her life path, she turns it down and misses the chance down the road. The funniest part is, even with all the arrangements Retsuko’s mom admits she thinks the idea is archaic and went against her own parents’ to marry her now husband.
Another thing Retsuko is forced into. At least we can say she’s a girl on a mission. Retsuko is aware of what she wants in a man, and it just so happens none of them meet her criteria. There was a possible prospect, but knowing she fudged some things on her information card and that Gori was also interested made it easy for Retsuko not to pursue anything.
While Retsuko learned how to drive, she became attracted to another student named Tadano. He appears lazy and laid back at first, and then we see he’s one of the top people in the tech industry with his AI developments. During Retsuko’s relationship with him, she’s happy and carefree. But, he quickly expresses he doesn’t believe in marriage, something Retsuko really wants. At first she thinks she can mold her values to mirror his in order to please him and also feel better herself; she even attempts quitting her job because Tadano suggest it. But, in a turn of events her boss gives her a reality check that she should follow her own path. Just because family isn’t in the picture for Tadano doesn’t mean that should be the same for her. After finally listening to herself and singing her heart out to him about her needs, Retsuko realizes she needs to take hold of her own life and start doing what she wants, even if it’s without him.
It is a quick season with such depth.
Aggretsuko season 2 really hits us with real world problems. And that’s the beauty of this series. It makes sure to cover topics that we can say “Oh look, it’s me.” It may even be those moments when Retsuko is screaming her feelings in death metal. All in all, this season was much appreciated.