The third season of Netflix anime Aggretsuko was filled with drama, action, and growth. We see Retsuko battle depression, her usual anxiety, and being blackmailed as we see her follow her dreams and grow. It was a very enjoyable and thought-provoking ride throughout the season. While there were characters I wanted to punch, there was something very rewarding about seeing Retsuko happy without it involving romance.
There is something about this animation that is so realistic to me. It seems like it mirrors my own life: juggling what I want versus office life which is just as exhausting as stressful as the show portrays it. Sometimes it is very rewarding, but more often than not you put on a mask and perform at 110% while the anxiety takes over underneath. The season starts with Retsuko going through a depressive phase where life is just work and video games- work to pay the bills and games to unwind. Things get a little tricky when most of her money goes into her game and she becomes as broke as any New Yorker like me trying to make ends meet. I have never related more to any show or character before until I saw Retsuko go through the grind and struggle.
While getting blackmailed into joining the OTMGirls, a band of Pop Idols that starts bringing out the best in Retsuko– it somehow becomes the dream she did not know she had. Though she was wrong, she did dream of getting to a better place other than that sh*t-hole office where she works. It was finally nice to see her shine by herself and not in anyone's shadow. Retsuko finally finding a purpose and feeling like she belonged was pretty inspiring. Granted, we still have to deal with her "being so mysterious". Which, to be honest, is not a problem to me considering social anxiety can make me feel like I cannot communicate properly myself.
That said, Haida made this season. Hi cleaning his house for Retsuko and Inu got there was hysterical. His character's constant inner battles and development added so many more layers and made him infinitely more likable to me. I especially loved his budding friendship with Tadano. This season definitely made the rest of the cast grow on me.
However, season three of Aggretsuko felt all too real to me. Retsuko's depression and lack of proper handle of it hit too close to home in a way that is almost unbearable. Not necessarily in a bad way, as it reflects more of reality than I ever expected. What I really did not expect was Retsuko fully returning to the job she said was killing her soul at the beginning of the season. Maybe it was too real to get me out of my comfort zone. Maybe I expected to see the character I so love to fill me with the hope that not every job is a dead-end that will leave us feeling stuck forever. Maybe I hoped to see that once you follow your dreams it is easier to let go of the chains that hold us down in our brains. It was not that way though. While the trauma and depression were acknowledged, they were once again brushed aside. Retsuko went back to being the subservient office girl who lives for work. Maybe not the "happy ending" we wanted for Retsuko, but an ending that's all too real to way too many young women.