Aggretsuko’s third season comes too close to Perfect Blue
The first attraction of the anime series Aggretsuko, directed and written by Rarecho, has at all times been its relatability. The present, based on a personality created for the mascot company Sanrio, facilities on a 25-year-old pink panda named Retsuko. In the course of the day, she has an office job in a company’s accounting division. At evening, she vents her frustrations by performing death-metal karaoke. The gimmick is funny, however the present is much less about loving dying metallic, and extra about capturing the extreme frustrations of the white-collar workforce. The primary couple of seasons have tackled subjects like courting, coping with unhealthy bosses, discovering an expert mentor, and making mates as an grownup. The third, now streaming on Netflix, takes on extra particular and trendy points, however strays a little bit too far-off from the run-of-the-mill topics the place the present excels.
The season begins with Retsuko, newly single, obsessing over a virtual boyfriend in a VR game as a method of escaping her real-life funk. Even though it’s not an actual relationship, she retains spending cash on the game’s prompting, shopping for her virtual beau totally different outfits and beauty upgrades. Quickly, however, she’s having to cope with a unique sort of one-sided relationship.
Aggretsuko’s third season doesn’t completely abandon the extra common issues that originally made the present so nice. The hyena Haida, who has lengthy harbored a crush on Retsuko, would possibly lastly have a shot at love with Inui, who clearly likes him, however he can’t let his emotions for Retsuko go. In the meantime, two of Retsuko’s coworkers are having various experiences with their respective side-hustles, and figuring out balance their private passions with their work obligations.
Retsuko’s story, however, takes her removed from the office — and consequently removed from territory that’s as relatable because the present’s first and second seasons. After getting right into a automobile accident, she’s pressured to work off the incurred debt by working as an accountant for an underground idol group, the OTMGirls. Nonetheless, when the group’s producer, the leopard Hyodo, discovers Retsuko’s expertise for death-metal singing, he turns her into the group’s new lead vocalist.
The twist affords a glance into dynamics that aren’t current in an office setting, and the primary few episodes following Retsuko’s debut as a part of OTMGirls are promising. OTMGirls’ burgeoning fame means they should cope with rabid followers and parasocial relationships, particularly as followers are in a position to buy face-to-face time with the members of the group. The darkish facet of fame rears its head when followers work out Retsuko’s residence deal with from footage posted on-line, and one fan makes use of the time he’s purchased with Retsuko particularly to insult and troll her. Although changing into an idol isn’t a typical expertise, fan tradition and social-media interactions are exhausting to avoid in trendy life, which does give even this unlikely plotline some metaphorical resonance.
Because the storyline escalates, however, the reasonable facets drop away. Rarecho addresses parasocial relationships thoughtfully, and the strategy is compelling — the subject isn’t frequent in mainstream media, Even though such dynamics are more and more prevalent in up to date society, as podcast personalities, streamers, YouTubers, and so forth change into more and more standard. However these sharp observations get misplaced within the shuffle, as Retsuko’s expertise with being an idol is winnowed down to coping with one rankled stalker.
Like Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue, the third season of Aggretsuko makes use of Retsuko’s idol-hood as an inroad to addressing the pressures of fame and coping with followers who resent change. Aggretsuko’s strategy, however, is much less cerebral and extra straight thriller, full with menacing pictures of a box-cutter as Retsuko’s stalker turns into increasingly aggressive, and even makes an attempt to assault her. However the extra out-of-control Retsuko’s story turns into, the much less compelling it’s.
In Perfect Blue, former pop idol Mima Kirigoe begins to lose her grip on actuality as she makes an attempt to pursue a severe appearing career and alter her good-girl public picture. When a violent stalker begins focusing on her, he claims to be working on the behest of the “actual” Mima, referring to Mima’s prior persona. The movie is a heady psychological thriller, however Aggretsuko isn’t prepared for such severe territory — it hasn’t constructed a adequate basis for this sort of drama. It’s established itself as a series about office life and the difficulties of being a teen within the workforce. Although it’s foolish sufficient that it may make a spontaneous singing idol career really feel prefer it’s par for the workday course, Aggretsuko isn’t geared up to hold out a thriller’s dramatic weight.
The present’s attraction has all the things to do with how simple it’s to attach with the pink panda. Her issues are normally quotidian, made extra dynamic by the characters’ exaggerated expressions, and there’s nothing extra relatable than when she screams, “SCREW YOU, CAPITALISM!” right into a microphone as she laments how her paychecks immediately disappear in a mountain of payments. Her preliminary ascent as a part of OTMGirls, whereas not a typical expertise, stays within the realm of relatability due to Rarecho’s cautious addressing of fan tradition. The stalker simply takes issues too far, each throughout the present and when it comes to the present’s path.
Finally, Retsuko’s flip as an idol is about her figuring out what she desires, however the season’s finale, which sees her deciding to surrender the idol life and return to her office job whereas telling herself she will do something she units her thoughts to, appears like too simple an ending, given how heavy the subject material turns into. Against this, the primary season of the present, which targeted on Retsuko making an attempt to cope with an abusive boss and exploitative coworkers, ended together with her merely deciding to attempt to do her greatest to not let her office job have an effect on her outdoors life and development. Not like the finale of the third season, it isn’t an ideal ending the place all of her issues are miraculously solved.
That isn’t a neat ending, however it’s a practical one, a formidable feat on condition that the present is about anthropomorphic cartoon animals. Even the second season, which sees Retsuko embark on a whirlwind romance, has some grounding in actuality, as she realizes that what she desires out of the connection was totally different from what her associate desires. The string protecting the brand new season tethered to actuality is fragile. The story is enjoyable, however its digression into grim territory retains it from hitting as close to residence as its predecessors.