Sanrio: Aggretsuko Approaching the Dark Side of Japanese Working Society with her Jekyll and Hyde(1)

Jun 3, 2023 | Anime, Entertainment, mini Chara

Aggretsuko is so popular on Netflix, now. This anime, which shows cute Sanrio animal characters, actually asks questions about social issues. If you know any young people who are tired of their social life, please recommend this.

What is Aggretsuko

Aggressive Retsuko, One of the Sanrio Anime Characters

Aggretsuko is an abbreviation of Aggressive Retsuko, which is written in Japanese as “アグレッシブ烈子”. She is one of the Japanese mini-characters by Sanrio and was born in 2015 as a new character to adult generation themed of Japanese office worker.

First, she appeared in a one-minute short anime in the King’s Brunch on TBS broadcast from 2016 to 2018, which connected to Netflix’s streaming from 2018. Now, in 2023, it has 5 seasons. However, this anime had not been well known in Japan. It is also evidenced by the fact that she has never ranked high in the Sanrio Character Awards held every year. This anime seems to have preceded its popularity overseas rather than in Japan, through the streaming service.

This anime work was created by a creative agency,  Fanworks Inc.,  which makes anime movies or produce contents about anime.

Her Motif is the Red Panda, which is Both Cute and Ferocious

The main character, Retsuko, is an office employee, age 25, female, single, working in the accounting department of Chararyman Trading Corporation in Marunouchi, the center of Tokyo. 

If looking, she seems to be one general employee working seriously, but she has felt much stresses caused by the unbridgeable gap between her ideal and reality. Her ideal is Marunouchi itself, on the other hand, her reality is to be swayed by her boss daily forcing her to do unreasonable works and chores, and selfish coworkers in her utopia.

When that stress reaches her critical point, another personality, far removed from her usual one, resides her. These two different personalities are like Jekyll and Hyde, and like cuteness and ferociousness that her motif animal red panda has, which duality is the biggest driver of this anime’s story.

Anime Facing Social Issues

As Retsuko is a red panda, these characters’ motifs are animals, which include an elephant, pigs, a fennec fox, a hyena, a gorilla, a Thompson’s gazelle, a secretary bird, etc. It is interesting that these characters have personalities that feature their animal characteristics. However, this feature is not the mainstream of this anime.

As mentioned above, Aggretsuko was born from a character themed of a Japanese office worker, called “Salary-man” or “OL(office lady)”. Originally, Japanese people are not good at complaining about stresses generated by social activities, and much of them will be caused by frustration from human relationships.

Aggretsuko expressed the causes of her stress and her complaints in one short minute of the King’s Brunch, and she acted her complaints by means of her ferociousness “Death Voice” comically.

Aggretsuko’s production company, Fanworks, changed the story from a short one in one minute on the Japanese television broadcast to a long one on Netflix. Furthermore, they have expanded the complaint issues dealing in the story from caused by close relationships to social structures. And it is most important that Retsuko has faced those issues and tried to solve them.

#1: The Border of Moral Harassment

Why Retsuko Called “Koshikake”?

©twitter @NetflixJP_Anime

In this story, Retsuko is called by her boss, “Koshikake”, which was translated to “Short-Timer” in English and “La Touriste” in French. This word means that a person stays on a social post or position until his original desire is reached.

To escape the reality of working a stressful job that she did not like,  she began to think about changing jobs. But this made her neglect her own jobs and her boss began to ridicule her as “Koshikake”.

Recently, such behavior is likely to be identified as moral harassment and has been appropriately punished. In the case of this story, her accusations of harassment from her boss triggered his resignation. Harassments would injure the mental health of victims and decline the engagement and performance around them. Therefore, it is increasing that a lot of companies consider harassment not only as a compliance issue but also as an important management issue.

However,  the more seriously they take care of this issue, the more serious another one threatens them.

Rights or Duties?

The accounting department where Retsuko belongs welcomed a new young employee, who looks like a good guy, and she was assigned as his educator. One day, she asked him to do an easy task, but he could not carry it out in short of skill. Thus, against her will, she took the task away from him.

If the old days, he would have had to apologize to her, because he failed to finish his task for thier company, which is the employer’s duty. However, he defined her behavior as her job abandonment and her deprivation of his opportunity to learn, and he demanded that she should explain whether that was true or false by documentation.

This is, in other words, whether rights first or duties first. It should not be discussed which is correct here, because humans change their considerations depending on their own position. However, their relationship remained bad for some time, which also caused a decline in work efficiency. The use of rights gained from the “stop harassment” trend does not necessarily improve corporate activities.

Try More Communication

Originally, Retsuko is a “Jekyll” type who can do well seriously and flawlessly. On the contrary, she tends to keep her stress to herself, because she doesn’t want others to see her weaknesses. When the stress reaches her critical point, she becomes a “Hyde”, who sings disrespectful songs with death metal tones in a karaoke box alone, to stress herself out.

This seems so peculiar, but in fact it will be not. Especially in Japan, many of the younger generation are able to do their jobs well, but tend to avoid intensive communication in their company. Furthermore, it is gradually increasing that young people enjoy karaoke alone. In other words, it can be said that Retsuko is a projection of today’s Japanese younger.

Unfortunately, Retsuko’s personality got herself into all sorts of trouble in this story. She would solve these problems with her instantaneous action, which is different from her own will, and with the mysterious charm that draws people to herself. However, another action would contribute to the resolution of these harassments. That is traditional Japanese company events.

In Japan, various events in each company or department, including regular “Sake” parties, athletic events, travels, and festivals, have been held to stimulate internal communication and contribute to the social community.

However, these implementations and participation in these have recently been discouraged. It is sad that young people may make the excuse that they have no time to participate, and in some cases, they may even claim that forcing them to participate is harassment.

Only those who make these claims often spend their days off playing games or surfing the Internet. Changing your mind, would you participate in these events or held these ones? Your bosses or colleagues who have been untouchable may show you different characters than usual.

Aggressive Retsuko 2

Aggressive Retsuko 2

Product type: DVD
Availability: CDJapan