…Or just a merry one.
In the world of Sanrio, everything is sunshine and rainbows, right? Well, it is until you get to Aggretsuko, the brand’s rage-filled red panda who’s a mild-mannered employee by day and hardcore metal karaoke screamer by night.
Aggretsuko’s first season hit all the right notes in representing the frustrations of the workforce, dealing with overbearing bosses, annoying coworkers, and the awkwardness of new relationships. It’s fun and unabashedly millennial, highlighting the woes (and joys) of being a young person in our modern times. But where it fell short was in its formula, and unfortunately, its holiday special, “We Wish You a Metal Christmas,” falls into the same mundane routine, though it does offer some good commentary on the attention we seek through social media.
It picks up directly after the events of the first season, where Retsuko is visiting Haida in the hospital. Throughout this episode, Haida is struggling to find a way to get Retsuko to notice his feelings for her. Simultaneously, Retsuko has a new (unhealthy) coping mechanism and is finding her validation in the dopamine high that is Instagram.
Retsuko’s relationship with Instagram has a lot to say about the way so many of us are compulsively attached to social media. From her eyes, she’s not someone who particularly stands out, but on the internet, her cute pictures do. She does it for the attention because she’s not getting it in her actual life, and because she’s so absorbed, she isn’t seeing those around her who actually want to give it to her. It encapsulates the reliance we have on social media to give us that temporary kick of “happiness” to get through the day, instead of actually getting to the root of our real problems.
The holiday special still follows the “rinse-and-repeat” lifestyle that Retsuko lives as a contemporary employee. She goes to work, has a problem of the day, hates it, gets more work, rages, then her friends come to save the day. The cyclic nature is part of the fun of the show, but like the first season, “We Wish You a Metal Christmas” just feels like more of the same and not a new, fun twist on this off-the-wall Sanrio character. With the addition of this episode, Aggretsuko feels more and more like a classic magical girl anime or any monster of the week series, in that it’s always really predictable when the good and bad events are going to happen. It doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, but it would have been nice to see something a little different considering this is a one-off special.
But just because it follows the same formula, doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable addition to the series. Watching Haida struggle to tell Retsuko how he feels and how oblivious she is to it all is worth it, as is seeing Fenneko, the Instagram cop, root for Haida and simultaneously rip Retsuko’s Instagram game to shreds.