Character Analysis: Ritsuko

One of the ways you can tell what the target audience for some media message is is to look at the main character.

Right? As a rule one thing the main character is supposed to be someone the audience can identify with. I mean, that’s why you see Admiral Babies all over the place. Teen-aged kids are the target audience for anime for the most part, so you see teenagers all over doing all sorts of heroic things, piloting mechas or being magical or whatever. That’s so the audience can see themselves doing the cool stuff.

Another main character is the aspiration object, someone you can look at and want to be. I mean, let’s be real: Who wouldn’t want to be Spike Spiegel? (Or at least as cool as Spike Spiegel.)

You what’s the first thing you see when you see Aggretsuko? It’s not meant for teenagers. Not because it’s sexy or sophisticated or adult. It’s because Ritsuko is an adult.

Not just an adult, mind you. She’s a 25-year-old female accountant working in a large company where her boss is a sexist pig.

You know who really loves Aggretsuko? Women in low-level management positions. And you know why: Because they totally see themselves in her.

I mean TOTALLY. They all know bosses who demean and patronize them because they are women. Every executive woman has a story like that: Some ignorant mid-level schmoo walks in and tells the woman to go make the coffee. And he’s SOOO SOOOORRRRYYY when it turns out she’s his boss’ boss and his ass is totally fired.

They all have friends like Ritsuko’s, the one who’s too nosy and the one who sucks up to the boss and the one who acts like she’s too cool for the others because she’s prettier/smarter/went to a better school. Ritsuko’s co-workers are types, and every woman in Ritsuko’s position knows someone of that type.

The payoff for the viewer is when Ritsuko unleashes the beast, of course. That’s the point where she transforms herself from identification object to aspiration object. Because face it: We all go to work and have to eat dirt, right? Wouldn’t you love to be able to lock yourself in a karaoke booth and just


Oh, yeah, baby.

LIAHO, Ritsuko!

Ritsuko, the character, is actually pretty much of a stereotypical low-level clerical type. She’s college educated, she’s single but not averse to marriage. Someday she wants a “normal” life with a husband and children; whether that’s as a housewife out of the workforce is left unspoken since until she figures out that Haida loves her she’s probably not going to get married. She’s competent, she’s introverted, and she’s quiet; she can disappear into the screen at times. She’s just like you or me.

Well, no, she’s not like me. I’m a guy and overage. But you know what I mean. I’ve been known to unleash the beast when no one’s around too, just so ya know.

That’s how Ritsuko works. Her experiences are relatable and that makes her relatable, particularly to the young women (not girls) who are her target audience. They know who she is because they know who they are.

And then she lets it rip. ArrAAARRRRoooRRRRooooooaaaaarrrrrrrr!

Who wouldn’t want to be Ritsuko? See it? Now she’s an aspiration object!

Identification object transforms to aspiration object. You know what Ritsuko is? She’s a magical girl. Right? That’s how magical girls work. In their regular personas they are like the girls in the audience, an identification object. But then they wave the wand and chant the chant, and they’re transformed. They’re beautiful, they’re powerful: They’re aspiration objects. That’s how magical girls work.

Ritsuko works EXACTLY the same way. She’s just like the target audience, an identification object, until she unleashes the beast. Then she’s an aspiration object. She’s a magical girl.

But she’s a magical girl for adults. Dang, that’s clever.

I always look at comments and feedback, and I’m sure I’m not the first to see what I’ve seen, so have at it. Just keep it clean and keep it on target…no personal attacks, okay? Thanks.

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