Here's to Aggretsuko, a Painfully Honest Anime Depiction of Adult Life
Image via Netflix and Sanrio

Here’s to Aggretsuko, the Best & Most Relatable Anime About Adult Life

Ain't it fun, living in the real world?

Despite being around for years now, Aggretsuko isn’t what one would call a household name. While it may enjoy favorable reviews by fans and critics alike, and managed to stick around for five full seasons, it’s hardly a juggernaut of the medium like Demon Slayer or Attack on Titan are.

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To be sure, a big reason for this comes down to the show’s genre and premise. Instead of being a Shonen epic about some well-meaning heroes facing down fantastical enemies, it’s a Slice-of-Life about a 20-something Japanese office worker navigating the challenges of being an adult; albeit with anthropomorphic Sanrio animal characters and some tangents involving zany, out-of-the-ordinary events.

It’s not the kind of show one would expect to be anything more than a fun distraction, and many have likely continued to pass over it for that very reason. Which is a shame, considering its final season cements it as one of the best anime depictions of adult life one could hope to find.

Screenshot by Twifinite via Netflix and Sanrio

For all of its gags about dealing with the office grind and general monotony of being a fully-grown member of society, Aggretsuko‘s real strength has always come from its grounded and earnest depictions of the challenges of being an adult. It’s brutally honest about how demoralizing it can be to search for a way out of the rut of adult responsibilities so that one can do what they care about, and how that almost always results in failures, setbacks, or outcomes which are not what one was hoping to achieve.

In its fifth season though, the show hones in on these struggles in a way that’s hard not to empathize with, regardless of what one’s upbringing was like. The final storyline acts as a culmination to all of this. Having become an accidental symbol of the rage and frustration felt by her generation via her online video series, Aggretsuko becomes a political candidate for a smaller party in order to garner more attention in an election.

Should she win, she could potentially bring about change amid years of stagnation and a lack of legitimate solutions to problems she and so many people face. She’d likewise act as a symbol of change for those who have given up on society and would prefer to let their lives stagnate instead of taking part in what can feel like a machine meant to grind them up.

Haida supports her in this, having just lost his home and job and been forced to toil toward regaining his footing so that he won’t be viewed as a burden on society or his loved ones. He likewise takes the brunt of the risks inherent to this choice, as his family’s ties to other parties means his support of Aggretsuko puts a target on his back as a disruptor of the more established political parties.

And after all of the effort she and her friends put in — after the money spent, the fights picked with more traditional candidates, and the threats posed to her and the people she cares about — she loses.

In the process though, she sets the stage for things to become better in the future by motivating other people her age to keep trying and to get involved in society so that they’ll be able to push it toward changing for the better moving forward. She and Haida likewise find themselves better able to keep trudging through the challenges of everyday life, and are left in a somewhat better position than when they started the series.

It’s a silver lining of a conclusion and is a far cry from some storybook ending where everyone lives happily ever after. The antagonists of the season aren’t brought to justice, and the problems the main characters faced throughout are still issues they’ll need to contend with moving forward. Adult life is still adult life, and it can never be decisively defeated a la a Shonen villain representing all the world’s woes.

But then, that’s kind of the point of Aggretsuko, and where the true beauty of it lies. It doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that being an adult can be hard, and acting with good intentions or working hard doesn’t mean an optimal outcome is guaranteed. Just surviving within society requires constant effort, and working together with others to ensure the best existence possible.

This likely won’t ever be a show for everyone — god knows life can be hard enough without an escape, or at least spending time with series that don’t remind one of how hard existing can be — but those willing to give it a look may find a show that resonates with their daily struggles like nothing else does. Adult life can be hard, but as Aggretsuko shows, it can still be made manageable so long as you’re willing to keep trying and keep pushing forward.


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Author
Image of Keenan McCall
Keenan McCall
Keenan has been a nerd from an early age, watching anime and playing games for as long as I can remember. Since obtaining a bachelor's degree in journalism back in 2017, he has written thousands of articles covering gaming, animation, and entertainment topics galore.