Aggretsuko, Netflix’s breakout anime that combines Hello Kitty-cuteness with twentysomething-realness, has proven itself to be the quintessential series and undeserved salve for this trying, miserable year.
Nothing reiterates this better than We Wish You a Metal Christmas, a 22-minute, holiday gift of an episode that premiered on Netflix over the weekend. Just as its first season did back in the spring, Aggretsuko’s Christmas special finds hilarity in modern problems — and lots of love in its heart, despite the roadblocks.
Christmas Eve is a big deal for couples in Japan, but in the special, Aggretsuko, our red panda hero, remains single and unsatisfied. She’s asked to work overtime on the holiday; her best friends have their own couples-only plans; her favorite co-worker won’t stop judging her Instagram, which gives up the ghost more than anything else. She’s alone on Christmas Eve, again. She’s single on Christmas Eve, again. And she’s not very good at taking pictures, either.
That heavy Instagram plot point — as noted by our friends at The Verge — makes We Wish You a Metal Christmas feel more timely than timeless, as all good Christmas special should be. This isn’t a knock against it, however; if anything, Aggretsuko’s best qualities come from how well the show and character speak to us budding spinsters in the year 2018. Aggretsuko’s Instagram is full of posturing to attract the anonymous cute guys that she hopes follow her. She delicately positions wine glasses to hide the fact that she’s dining alone in the lead-up to the most romantic holiday of the season. Her Instagram suggests a lonely woman self-conscious about her image, because that image is so manufactured that it’s easy to point out the flaws.
Loneliness — and heartbreak — is a tacitly intrinsic part of the holidays, whether it’s caused by a bummer present, friendless meal or, yes, an elusive Christmas Eve kiss. It’s lovely that Aggretsuko manages to make loneliness both its focal point and the means to a much-happier end. We aren’t just spending the whole special laughing at her awful Instagram efforts and sharing her disappointment about her forgettable holiday. We’re also rooting for the guy that we know shares Aggretsuko’s anxiety and heartache: Haida, one of the first season’s best characters, who appears again as the pinnacle of an adorable love interest.
Haida and Aggretsuko share the same fundamental problem: They just want to be loved. In its own adorable, funny, special way, We Wish You a Metal Christmas scratches that one off their wishlists. For a hug from a rageful red panda, or to watch the snowflakes fall on a wonderfully mundane Tokyo, watch Aggretsuko: We Wish You a Metal Christmas on Netflix. No holiday special will better capture, or make you feel better about, heartwarming sweetness in 2018.