Review: 'Aggretsuko' season 3
In this third season of Aggretsuko, we move further away from the focus of the stress of work-life in and of itself and instead cover the fulfilment of one’s dreams through the side gigs adults do to try and find money in their passions. This season, the characters come to find that these new avenues may come with stresses of their own; work is still work.
Given this the office itself plays even less of a role than the prior seasons. Without going into too many details in this summary, the conclusion of this season is one that will probably strike an intense chord with furry fans given the passion that we have for our fandom “side gig”.
If you enjoyed the prior seasons then you’ll find enjoyment in this season. Spoilers ahead, so watch before continuing should you wish to go in blind.
Service Industry of Fandom
The fascinating part about being an adult is how the skills acquired during the nine to five grind can sometimes bleed into one’s hobbies. For someone in the finance department, Retsuko finds herself as a reluctant tag-along for a pop-band and club in order to pay off a debt to a stingy cheetah after she ran her rental car accidentally into his van.
While the dapper dressed feline, Hyodo, at first seems like an important person with an intimidating amount of power who is able to coerce Retsuko into working for him, to the point we may assume he works for criminal elements, what we end up finding is that the cheetah is actually the inverse of the mild-mannered aloof Tadano from the last season. While he appears and holds himself with power and importance we do end up learning what he does for a living outside of managing his underground band, and it’s quite the opposite of the purple donkey.
Though, through this interaction the red panda eventually finds her ability to turn the finances of the band around and help garner them needed attention. Unbeknownst to her, she finds herself in Hyodo’s sights when he stumbles upon his band’s accountant at a certain Karaoke Bar, revealing Retsuko’s secret side to him. He capitalizes and pushes her to sing in the band.
As she starts to make money on this side gig, and the band becomes more successful, Retsuko starts to question when she can give up her grind in order to use her vocal talents to become a celebrity. They tried to do the thing with Taun at the end of this season, trying to give her life advice when he finds out her intentions. At this point, though, what punch remained after the second season’s iteration was drier than a California summer the third time around.
It’s too bad they tried to do this again, because the first season’s speech from Taun was so powerful and was something that his employee needed to hear about her burden of a boyfriend. It was a turning point with Retsuko’s relationship with her boss to see him as more than just a prick. Now it just seems like unasked-for advice that’s more in his own best interest rather than the red panda’s, and in my mind reverting him back to just a pig.
Though maybe it’s good to be reminded of that. You know, maybe his speech in the first season was more to snap his employee out of her aloof lovey-dovey behavior so she could be more productive the whole time. Never trust a manager!
The Dark Side of Fandom
The ending of this series is quite chilling, especially compared to the chipper direction it was going. It starts with the realization that no matter what you do, you will never please everyone. And sometimes it is those that you displease that can be the most dangerous, especially if they are a member of the fandom you find yourself influencing before your arrival.
Fandom does come from the word fanatic after all.
I think some furs will certainly be able to empathize with the situation that ends up coming up in the end. Where someone who is upset at the change in direction of the world takes it out on what they see as the catalyst for that change, even when it is not the case. It's a wrath that can come out of nowhere and sour one's experience to the point of wishing to retreat at times.
Retsuko meets this in the form of an old fan of the band she ends up helping make more popular who is not pleased with the directions she is taking it. He uses nasty tactics of stalking and taking advantage of interaction promotions to shake her hands while lambasting her for her "crimes" against changing his fandom for five minutes. It is that dangerous situation that pushes Haida to action.
My reviews can be a bit scary sometimes with their predictions, sometimes I wonder if I should go back and tag them as spoilers in and of themselves. Though if I do that then what if someone already read it and remembered the prediction? Well, if you read my conclusion in the second season review, I cannot say it was inaccurate:
While I was a bit confused as to the direction they were going with her love interest [in the second] season, a second viewing made me think of this as a Goldilocks story. Her first love interest was too passive; her second wanted her to be too passive; so I assume the third may derive the conclusion that most fans will be looking for. If this show doesn’t go the way of the toucan (RIP Tuca & Bertie).
When it comes to Haida, we have seen him both passively accept situations, yet step in and push things forward when needed. So my guess is that the third season of this show may be the last and will revolve around the ‘just right’ scenario where Retsuko finds the one that will stand by and help her, but also let her do what she needs to do to pull her own weight in the relationship.
Interestingly, the way the Haida and Retsuko ended up coming to terms with their relationship was one of great controversy in the fandom. Mostly because Haida seemed to come on strong in the end, in a moment when Retsuko was recovering from an intense situation. However, I would suggest that when she screamed her feelings and returned fire toward Haida’s song, she indicated that the world punched first and that her fears were natural. She didn’t need a hero to save her to fight back. So his response was, “then let’s punch the world back together,” emphasising he wants to be a part of her life and not the controlling aspect of it.
In essence the hyena, in that male hyena way, is fine with letting the lady take the lead. However, he is also going to make sure that if she is not feeling well or confident that he is willing to be there as needed. As described in the above prediction, he will not be the potted plant of the first season, allowing her to take on the full burden of the relationship; but he is also not the tech wizard of the second season who promises to relieve all her life’s strains.
If their relationship does move to the next stage, what Haida promises is symbiosis. They carry each other’s burdens in more even measure. But he will have to work to earn her trust in that, especially after the world betrayed her trust.
A Three-Act Structure
Given the three-act structure and most of the main narrative threads being tied up here, my guess is this may be the final season of this show. If it is, then I would say it was a strong showing, that is short enough for average consumption. Which would make it a strong overall work that got the story it needed to get out without overstaying its welcome.
I could be wrong, but I honestly don’t see where they could go from here. Especially with that book ending of “counting to ten” being heavily emphasised. Maybe they could have a spin-off that revolves around one of the other character’s antics, or have one that does more with the other characters and takes the focus off the red panda, making it more like an office comedy like it originally was. But, we kind of already got other, non-anthro, shows like that.
But I do get surprised every once in a while. Maybe they’ll think of something.