Featured Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Fans of the hit Netflix series “Aggretsuko” who want more of her adventures must check out Oni Press’s anthology “Aggretsuko: Metal to the Max”.

Retsuko is a red panda who works in the office of a trading firm. While she tries to keep up a calm demeanor, the five years of stress and little recognition builds up within her. The petite animal finds her sanctuary every night in the form of a karaoke bar. She vents her troubles through death metal melodies. While things seem fine as they are, mishaps occur causing more of a strain with her co-workers and risking her position at the firm.

This graphic novel contains the first three stories from the series that were previously released as single-issue comics. The first is from the creative duo of “The Black Mage” writer Daniel Barnes and D.J. Kirkland. Their tale is a fitting one for today’s time as the office gets swarmed with employees hit with the C-Virus or Carrier Virus. Retsuko and the remaining healthy coworkers mask up and get to safety. While giving readers a thrilling horror feel, the story presents an important message regarding work and health.

Jarrett Williams (“Rick and Morty” and “Dream Daddy” comic writer and artist) brings fans a story between Retsuko and her dik-dik (small horned African antelope) coworker Tsunoda. Retsuko tries to enjoy getting new outfits but Tsunoda drags her into the land of luxury and shockingly high prices. Williams reveals a little heartwarming side of the socialite who still sends Retsuko into her signature rage.

The final story in this collection is from Brenda Hickey, “My Little Pony” comic writer and artist. She gives Retsuko a unique challenge in the form of the Canadian goose Karen. The avian visitor stops by to take a look at how her Japanese counterparts are doing due to low employee satisfaction scores. Mr. Ton assigns Retsuko to show the guest around while trying to show that things are fine in the office. This new task and Karen’s evaluations give her a lot of stress but she tries to keep it in while in the presence of Karen. It seems that Hickey plays with the stereotype of “Karen” with her complaints but shows that things aren’t always different in different cultures and understanding can be reached.

While there are different artists in each chapter, they capture the style of “Aggretsuko” well while showing their own flairs.  The slight differences keeps a fresh feel while the story adds a bit of depth to both Retsuko and her featured co-workers. “Metal to the Max” also contains a small gallery of the comic covers of the individual stories. Interested collectors may want to check out their local comic shops to see if they may have some of the special variants.

“Aggretsuko: Metal to the Max” is available now in bookstores, both online and local. The comics series also released Issue Six earlier this month. Check out Oni Press’s webpage for more information. Season Three  of “Aggretsuko” dropped in August 2020 on Netflix. Luckily those that aren’t caught up with the show don’t really have to worry about spoilers in the graphic novel.

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