Aggretsuko Season 4 sees Retsuko continuing her life working in the accounting department of a Japanese trading firm, but some things about her life have changed since the end of the third season.

The first episode opens with a scene showing Retsuko training in martial arts. This is immediately followed by Haida and Fenneko helping Retsuko move into a new apartment. After being stalked during the third season, these actions make a lot of sense. Learning the martial arts allows Retsuko to be able to defend herself and moving to a new apartment makes it harder for stalkers to hunt her down, especially since this new apartment is above a store. By being above a store, there’s more outdoor lighting.

There are ultimately three storylines at play during the fourth season of Aggretsuko, and they end up dovetailing into each other by the end. The first deals with the awkwardness of the relationship between Retsuko and Haida. The second sees the generational gap at the workplace between the employees in Director Ton’s age range (who first started at the company 30 years ago during Japan’s economic bubble) and Retsuko’s generation, and the third focuses on a new president taking over the company.

Haida walks Retsuko home to make sure she gets there safely. However, whenever Retsuko invites him inside and it would just be the two of them alone, Haida gets scared and keeps coming up with excuses in order to leave. It doesn’t help that Fenneko and Tsunoda keep pressuring him to take the next step with his five-year crush on Retsuko. When it’s revealed that Director Ton is coming up on his 30th anniversary of his employment at the company, Retsuko and Haida are sent to buy a commemorative gift for Ton. Unfortunately, this trek doesn’t go as well as it could, and becomes even more awkward when Retsuko runs into Manaka. Haida uses this as an excuse to leave, claiming he forgot he had plans to meet with someone.

On his way home, Haida witnesses the company president collapsing while he’s out for a jog. He calls an ambulance and stays at the hospital that night. Washimi, along with a new character named Himuro (an undersecretary at the company) arrive, and this becomes the first of several encounters between Haida and Himuro. The company president is going to be in the hospital for a little while, and he decides he’s getting too old to continue running the company. He names Himuro as the new president.

Himuro is a smart man, but it’s quickly revealed that he cares more about the company and its bottom line than he does the employees. He wants Director Ton to give him a list of employees from the accounting department to potentially ask to resign, but Ton discovers he is unable to do it. After Himuro gets drunken testimony from Retsuko about how Ton has bullied her in the past, Himuro gives Ton a demotion to a non-existent department where he’s paid to just do whatever during his shift. This forces Ton to resign from the company, but he hides the fact that he quit from his family. He takes on a job at a convenience store but maintains the illusion that he’s going to his old job. This season brought about some much needed character development for Ton, and he does become more of a sympathetic character during these episodes.

A new director is brought in for the accounting department, and of course, he doesn’t have the loyalty to the employees that Ton has. He puts forward Kabae as an employee to offer a voluntary resignation package. She’s already stressing over this when her youngest comes down with a fever at daycare. The new director keeps asking if someone else can go pick up her child, but Kabae has no one else she can call on. Later, when Kabae has to take another day off because the child’s fever came back, this director has the gall to ask when she’s coming in to work that day. This incident, though, pushes Kabae to accept the voluntary resignation offer. It’s interesting to note about Kabae is that in previous seasons, she was depicted as simply being the office gossip. In this season, we get a couple of scenes where she starts sharing conspiracy theories. Her younger co-workers shrug it off as “something that older people do,” but I’m really not sure that adding this component to her character truly added anything in the long run. I understand that the writers are trying to incorporate the rise in conspiracy theories in our modern world into the series, but I’m not sure that incorporating it this way really worked.

While Haida and Retsuko finally both get over their awkwardness and start going on dates, there are events that take place in the season that causes them to try to hide things from each other. The situation is made worse when Himuro demotes the new director of the accounting department and installs Haida into that position after he shows how he is able to speed up his productivity with some formulas in his spreadsheet. After taking the position, Himuro convinces Haida to start doing something illegal for the company.

Meanwhile, Retsuko feels guilty because she thinks it was her testimony to Himuro that caused Ton to be demoted, and later to cause him to leave the company (which she learns when she finds Ton working at the convenience store). Retsuko turns to her ex, Tadano, for help and advice. He points out the YouTube (or whatever it’s called in the Aggretsuko universe) account she created has amassed a lot of followers, even though she had abandoned it. He convinces her to take this account back up and to monetize it. With the potential money to be made, Retsuko asks Ton to come work for her to help with the finances. After Retsuko discovers what Haida is doing, she and Ton, along with current and former co-workers, work together to find evidence to prove what Haida is doing and try to convince him to stop.

The fourth season of Aggretsuko may only consist of 10 episodes that run about 15 minutes in length, a lot takes place during this season. It was nice to see that more characters than just Retsuko were strongly focused on during this season. In addition to Ton, Haida got some more development as well (such as meeting an old friend of his and learning about Haida’s parents). I also think the commentary on the workforce (like the generational gaps and a workplace culture that focuses more on money than on the employees) are timely topics that are relatable to viewers who either are currently in the workforce or have ever been in the workforce. I also liked how this season incorporated elements from the previous seasons (such as Tadano, Inui, the video site account, etc.) and made them integral parts of the story. While all of the seasons are good, I thought this was one of the strongest seasons of Aggretsuko since its first one.

It should be noted that at the end of the final episode, there’s a screen that says “RETSUKO WILL RETURN,” and there’s a faint “5” in the background, which indicates that Netflix is intending to continue the series with a fifth season. With the way the fourth season ended, there is potential for an interesting storyline for Retsuko and Haida. I’m very curious as to what a fifth season will cover, and I can’t wait to hear when the premiere date for the fifth season will be.

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