Working 9 to 5 at a job you hate, that’s the dilemma Retsuko, the red panda, faces in Aggretsuko: Meet Her World. The story features three different stories based on the Sanrio character of the same name. Retsuko likes to wear dresses and sing karaoke death metal. She looks more orange than red with white tip ears. She works in the accounting department in a high-rise building. Her boss, Ton, disrespects her and doesn’t appreciate her work. However, she commiserates with the other ladies who work in her department. In the first story, she invites two ladies to go out with her to karaoke, but they decline due to a work meeting. Then, Retsuko goes to the bathroom and rages in a death metal verse. The look of Restuko changes from passive and quiet to aggressive. It’s as if she is wearing a kabuki mask and inhabiting a demon character. Her teeth get jagged and her circular eyes become white slits with black spikes protruding in all directions.
The central problem that runs through all three stories is toxic masculinity and its impact on women in the workplace. Also, it’s about Retsuko finding her voice and finding her way out of a dead-end job. I enjoyed the second story, where the office ladies were rewarded with a paint and sip activity. At first, they enjoy painting and having wine until they find out that the men got a better reward. The men enjoy themselves on a yacht, and the women decide to crash it. Hijinks ensue as they hijack a motorboat and head out to the yacht. Ton, the boss, doesn’t appreciate their party crashing. However, the company president is there, and the ladies stick together and push for equality.
The art of Aggretsuko reminds me of a Sunday morning comic strip. The illustrators’ light backgrounds make the characters pop in the foreground. It also helps that, since the characters are different animals, they all have their unique colors. The characters’ faces also feature contrasting colors, which helps highlight specific elements. For instance, Gori’s gorilla body shape is a medium gray, while her face is dark gray, and she wears red lipstick. Gor’s sophisticated look reveals that she is a professional and is at the senior level. These contrasting colors make each character unique and give insight into their personality and status. Retsuko, on the other hand, wears more business casual clothing, showing off her youth and entry-level position.
I would highly recommend Aggretsuko: Meet Her World because it’s a delightful office comedy dabbling in real-life issues that women face. At first, the Adult rating made me think it would be raunchy, but after reading the graphic novel, I agreed with this rating. Not due to content, but I couldn’t see younger readers interested in the angst of office politics. This graphic novel would be best for very young adults who are just entering the workforce.
Aggretsuko: Meet Her World
by Molly Muldoon, Annie Griggs, Danielle Radford
Art by Kel McDonald, Abigail Starling
Oni Press, 2021
Publisher Age Rating: Adult
NFNT Recommended Age Rating: Adult (18+)