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Retsuko got her shit together — now it’s her loser boyfriend’s turn

Go for it, Haida!

haida the hyena smiling, with retsuko right behind him Image: Fanworks/Netflix

After four seasons of office work, dating struggles, and death metal karaoke, red panda Retsuko has finally mostly gotten her shit together. She has a healthier relationship with work, sets boundaries, and has realized that just because some of her co-workers are difficult to work with, it doesn’t mean they’re bad people. She’s become more comfortable with herself and learned what she wants out of life, revealing her secret death-metal-karaoke side to her close friends. She’s grown into a person that she is mostly happy with.

The only big question mark in her life when this final season kicks off is her boyfriend, Haida, her former co-worker who had a huge crush on her for five years before they officially got together at the end of the fourth season. When season 5 kicks off, their relationship seems fine for the most part — except Haida is unemployed, and instead of searching for a job, he’s been falling into a pit of online gacha gaming. It’s now his turn to undergo some rapid character development.

[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for all five seasons of Aggretsuko.]

haida’s overbearing father, a large hyena in a robe, stares down angrily at haida and retsuko, who both look up fearfully Image: Fanworks/Netflix

For basically half of the final season, the show pivots from Retsuko to Haida. At first it’s a little off-putting — after all, the charming red panda is the reason a lot of people love this show. But it makes sense; we know little about Haida’s life outside of Retsuko, beyond the fact that he is pretty tech-savvy, loves to play guitar, and apparently comes from wealth. He’s pined for Retsuko for four seasons (and five years before the show starts), but has been kind of a wuss when it comes to admitting any feelings for her. He’s been a devoted friend, but he hasn’t undergone the same growth that Retsuko has. So in order to give Retsuko her satisfying happy ending, Haida needs to grow into a guy worthy of her.

Haida might hail from a rich family, but any privilege he reaps comes with strings attached. His father is a ruthless and conservative politician who expects nothing less than perfection and devotion from his sons. Haida finds himself homeless after his parents find an actual paying tenant for the apartment he lives in; out of pride, he refuses to ask for help, and then ends up sleeping in a net cafe before Retsuko tracks him down. It’s not exactly flattering for him, especially when he blows off searching for a job in favor of playing video games. He hits absolute rock bottom and stays there for a hot sec, which makes sense. Picking your feet up after losing your job and your home is hard, and it will put strain on your relationship, no matter how supportive your partner is.

haida in the backroom of a grocery store, talking to three women who are posing as his work moms Image: Fanworks/Netflix

There are moments this season where Haida is absolutely unlikable. But as the show continues, it’s easy to see where he’s coming from. He doesn’t want to return to his family, who — to put it lightly — are all judgmental assholes. Slowly but surely, he starts to get his act together, as he connects with other people in the net cafe and eventually realizes how cushy his life has been so far. Retsuko comes back into the fold when she finally figures out what the hell is up with him, but her role isn’t just solely about helping him get back on his feet. A lot of her arc revolves around her anxiety about her parents critiquing her relationship, especially after her mother shows up unannounced and realizes that Haida has moved in. The two of them navigate through this new stage of their lives together, figuring out how to manage their relationships with their family and not let fear of their relatives’ judgment cloud what they really want. Retsuko has had four seasons to get where she is; now, she’s sharing her life with someone and they’re figuring things out together.

By the end of the season, Haida has stepped up. The show pivots back to Retsuko in the last few episodes, after Haida stands up to his family, making it clear that he wants nothing to do with their political viewpoints. When Retsuko, once again, gets thrust into a completely ridiculous situation (in this case, running for office), he’s at her side and supporting her. This time, there are more stakes involved for him — by standing at her side, he’s also directly in opposition to his family. When his brother calls and threatens him to make Retsuko pull out of the race, Haida becomes even more resolved in his decision to support Retsuko.

retsuko and haida rocking out on the top of a bus to a screaming crowd
Power-couple goals, tbh
Image: Fanworks/Netflix

When the show started, Haida was spineless, cowardly, and a bit spoiled, traits that sometimes overshadowed his compassion and loyalty. As the romantic lead, it was clear he had a lot of growth to do. This season puts him through the wringer — testing the limits of his character and relationship with Retsuko — but by the end of it, Haida has become a steadfast and worthy partner for Retsuko.

It’s not just the end of the season, though, but the end of the series. Watching Retsuko grow as a person has been incredibly fulfilling, as she navigates the ups and downs of being in her 20s (with some ridiculous hijinks thrown in for good measure). Her love life has always been a huge focus, and her feelings for Haida a big plot point. It’s satisfying that them ending up together isn’t an easy answer; it’s a journey of its own, and the show ends with them both having grown as people. Together, the two of them can conquer any hurdle that adulthood might throw at them, and judging by Retsuko’s often ridiculous life, they’ll need to stick by each other’s sides.

All five seasons of Aggretsuko are currently streaming on Netflix.

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