Move aside anamorphic nude anxiety-filled egg yolk, Sanrio’s newest character is bound to steal all our hearts in 2017. Why? Because she is all of us at some point in our lives.
Aggretsuko is a cute, seemingly shy, single 25-year old red panda who works as an office associate in the big city of Tokyo, Japan. She’s always dreamt of working in such a highly respected office but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. She works long hours and is constantly being taken advantage of by her apathetic bosses while being bothered by her talkative colleagues (primarily portrayed by a gluttonous, can’t take a hint, hippo). After work she lets loose by downing pints of beer and screaming all her frustration, anger, and ever so familiar feelings of early 20s disenchantment into a microphone in a karaoke room. We are told to not be fooled by her cute appearance, because on the inside she is a wild animal who knows she’s worth more.
At the end of her introduction trailer, she is seen hobbling down the dark streets of Tokyo, supposedly after a night of drinking with her two office cohorts, declaring, “Tomorrow is a new day!”
Her story is definitely not a new one, but certainly new in the world of super cute Sanrio. Historically, Hello Kitty and all her friends all have personalities and character traits but never ones that seemed so damn relatable. It’s almost as if Sanrio’s marketing team sat down and said, “Hey, let’s analyze where our initial audience is in this point and time in their lives now and make a character that will appeal to them now.” I’m actually almost certain that’s what they did because how else would they have developed a character that hit us so much in the feels?!
I mean, I absolutely love Hello Kitty, My Melody and their friends but never once did I think, “Wow I’m just like Hello Kitty. I also perpetually eat apples, bake pastries, and live in a small house in a 2D forest/small town and ambiguously go to grade school?…” Although, Hello Kitty’s simple design and lack of mouth may be Sanrio’s largest statement, as her character is open to interpretation and can be different symbols to different people. There is something about her plain and clean design that leaves much to the imagination that allows for her to be a muse to many artists and her audience alike.
Sanrio’s previous new addition, Gudetama, is arguably another attempt at targeting a niche audience. Gudetama is literally an egg yolk, who is so lazy to the point it would seem he is suffering from crippling anxiety. He likes retreating into his egg whites and hiding from the world. I would say that he was the product of a generation of Tumblr “sad girls” and “sad boys” whom unite via Internet and face enormous social anxiety. His plain and pained appearance is reminiscent to the self-depcracating trend of comparing yourself to a potato. Gudetama never appealed to me personally because of his unattractive appearance. I definitely sympathize with his character, but I wouldn’t want to own items with him on it because of his very pained, slightly constipated looking, appearance. I’m thinking Sanrio realized this and decided to go back to the drawing board with Aggretsuko.
The main reason I think Aggretsuko will steal our hearts is that she’s relatable. She faces real life problems, one that plights many post-college graduates who have no idea what they’re doing. She also faces the harsh reality of realizing our dreams aren’t always what we thought. Many times, we are told to shoot for the stars and we romanticize the images we see on social media of trust fund babies relaxing at beach resorts wearing Gucci flip-flops. In reality, when we graduate and actually land an entry-level job or internship we find ourselves paying off student loans and therefore making re-introduction to cup noodles. Besides being relatable, Aggretsuko actually has a solid personality as well as being attractive, indulges in adult vices such as alcohol and staying out late. In conclusion, I’m excited to see more of Aggretsuko and her character development this upcoming year. Sanrio, you’ve done it again.