I have been waiting forever for the second season of Aggretsuko; like since the first one ended, I’ve been waiting for another. While I wasn’t crazy about the Christmas special, I still thought it was fun. And this particular season was….something.
Not a bad something. It just went in a very different direction than I expected the show to do.
Considering I the fact that I thought this was a more down-to-earth show that often expressed the frustrations of the common (Japanese) working woman that exaggerated events for comedic effect and not…one that implies the world could be taken over by an AI.
But I digress, because it’s all done pretty well.
The second season opens with Retsuko, actually decently happy at work. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re better. Things are going so well, she doesn’t go to karaoke anymore; she’s become closer with Washimi and Gori. She’s doing well.
But since, this Retsuko’s life: shit happens. Her mother literally BREAKS into her apartment, to cook, clean and tell her to get married… And the new guy she’s supposed to be training at work, Anai, is actually a psychotic manchild who can’t take criticism.
I would absolutely hate to work with him, but he is a fascinating character. And the change in animation and music when he’s manically texting is genuinely terrifying. It felt like the show had become a horror movie–and the thing is, I can see some people actually reacting this way.
Once the Anai situation is put under control, we’re able to focus on the important stuff; namely, Retsuko’s love life. Retsuko’s mother’s attempts to set her up with a nice guy don’t turn out as plan, some of it was Retsuko’s fault and it isn’t until she ends up going to driving school that finds herself with a crush on the lazy Tadano.
(Also, it’s during the driving school ‘arc’ that we really get the cultural differences between America and Japan. There were a lot of distinctively Japanese ways of settling problems here.)
And while their relationship works out well, and they both like each other, it doesn’t work out. Despite their chemistry, they have different expectations of where they want their relationship to go…and they break up.
That part is VERY realistic. But for me, there was something very off about Tadano later on. Once the two start dating, seriously, Retsuko spends a lot of time in Tadano’s self-driving limo (and not going to work.) There’s a couple of scenes where Tadano comes back from meetings and kind of eerily stares at a sleeping Retsuko in his car.
Like is that where he lives?
He encourages her to quit her job, she won’t need to work eventually, and he’s willing to support her. But oddly enough, she chooses not to. I think it’s a sign of character development; she figures out that she enjoys working and being productive.
It’s Tadano’s thoughts on marriage and children that cause them to break up.
Speaking of work, Ton’s character development this season was one of my favorite parts. Last season, he was just kind of jerk. Fun to watch, but even his little bit of kindness at the end, didn’t make up for his behavior.
This season, he’s much more on Retsuko’s side; we get to meet his family and when he finds out Tadano and her are together, he’s kind enough to keep his mouth shut. And when the paparazzi snaps a photo of the happy couple, he seems to be sympathetic to her situation. And of course, he’s the one who to give her much-needed advice at the end of the season.
And then there’s the growing characterization of Washimi and Gori and their background.
I do wish Fenneko and Haida had larger roles though. I felt like I didn’t learn a whole lot about them. There also was a distinct lack of Tsunoda.
The animation is of course still wonderful and the music genres picked for each character is great.
But otherwise, it was solid and highly entertaining.
And that’s the scoop.
Year of release: 2019
Director/Writer : Rarecho
Voice actors: Kaolip, Komegumi Koiwasaki, Maki Tsuruta, Sohta Arai, Rina Inoue, Shingo Kato, Yuki Takashashi, Chiharu Sasa
If you liked this review read: Aggretsuko, a cartoon about subversions and a tale about the millennial woman