Having a bad day? So is Aggressive Retsuko, our revitalised anime hero

Written by
Kirsty Bouwers

We're pretty sure most readers will agree with the rather high kawaii level of most Japanese cartoon characters. However, kawaii experts Sanrio recently found that maybe it was time for a more relatable personality for those in their mid-20s and upwards.

Back in 2015, Sanrio rolled out a full-scale competition in their design office, all with the aim of creating 'work-related' characters and storylines. The result was a lineup of 24 possible new characters under the kyarariman (a mash-up of 'character' and 'salaryman') label. 

One of these was Aggressive Retsuko, or Aggretsuko for short, who only came in eighth place after an elaborate voting process but proved rather popular as a Line sticker. Poor Aggretsuko, a red panda who works as an OL at a Marunouchi trading firm and releases her daily work-induced stress by singing heavy metal at karaoke, was subsequently introduced as an official character – but clearly not marketed to her full potential, at least in the international sense.

Even though she has had her very own anime on TBS' 'King's Brunch' Saturday morning show since April 2016, her international popularity hasn't exactly reached the frenzied levels of Gudetama, who showed us that it's very much possible to emotionally relate to an egg yolk. 


Until now, that is. The one-minute clips of Aggretsuko stuck in the daily grind have slowly been surfacing online with English subtitles, and suddenly international interest exploded, with many empathising with the little red panda's office blues. There are 38 episodes in total, all focusing on a different office annoyance, and culminating in Retsuko grunting some seriously impressive heavy metal.

The large majority of the clips are currently only available in Japan (in Japanese) or through third parties – for those preferring English subs, you'll either have to wait for someone with spare time on their hands to kindly translate them (search for アグレッシブ烈子 and you'll find that some did...) or for Sanrio to put some more online.

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