Series Review

Anime Hajime Review: Cells at Work

Original Run: July 8, 2018 - September 30, 2018
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Comedy
Based on the Series Created By: Akane Shimizu

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Cells at Work. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Inside every one of us, there are trillions of cells working around the clock to keep our bodies running smoothly. To maintain such an important — not to mention, massive — operation, there need to be cells that can deliver energy to the system and cells that can defend it from harmful invaders.

Taking care of the former are hardworking Red Blood Cells like AE3803 (voiced by Hana Kanazawa) who run around nonstop with packages of oxygen and other vital nutrients.

Ensuring the latter gets done are vigilant White Blood Cells such as U-1146 (voiced by Tomoaki Maeno) that dutifully hunt down bacteria and viruses with a vengeance.

Every cell must come together as one unimaginably large unit to ensure we have the chance to live our lives as happily and healthily as possible.

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Series Positives

Cells at Work quickly became one of my most anticipated shows of the 2018 Summer season. That was quite the feat, because when I first heard of this series, I didn’t think much of it.

An anime which takes place within the human body is not even close to the strangest concept I’ve come across. I assumed — at best — this was going to be a silly, gimmicky, slice-of-life comedy. I certainly didn’t think it would turn into the talk of the Internet.

Having now seen this show, I find myself in an intriguingly tricky circumstance. Given how this is only the second 2018 Summer anime I’ve seen so far, I don’t have a whole lot to compare it to. However, if the rest of this season is half as good as Cells at Work, we’re in for something special.

To put that in simpler terms: This series was outstanding.

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I won’t speak to what everyone else was talking about, but what I saw wasn’t just a funny comedy. This was one of the smartest anime I have seen in a long time.

Cells at Work was not some dime-a-dozen slice-of-life series that happened to take place inside of the human body. The very fact this show’s setting was the microscopic world inside us all became the single determining factor that dictated what was possible, impractical, and only doable in this anime.

For what was possible: Cells at Work was creative with its visual designs. This included locations, characters, and fight scenes. That last part, in particular, was a shocker. Who would have guessed it, but this was also an immensely satisfying — not to mention, comically violent — action series.

Due to everything in this show existing beyond what the naked eye can see, an event that would seem mundane or insignificant to us suddenly became a cataclysm.

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There was an episode when this series’ world (which I will henceforth refer to as The Body) was under siege from the yearly annoyance known as pollen. Although I don’t suffer from this allergy – thank god – I know many people who do and every spring, they look like death.

Watching this happen from the outside is bad enough, but seeing it from the vantage point as shown in Cells at Work, I can think of only one way to describe what is going on within someone’s system:

A giant cluster f@#$.

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Concerning what was impractical: Cells at Work couldn’t rely on many familiar storytelling mechanics. It wouldn’t have made sense to see betrayal, ulterior motives, self-righteousness, surprise acts of heroism, and so on because there was one critical detail about this show.

Most of the characters may have looked human, but none of them were actually human. The cells were more like machines, and like all machines, they had rules they could not bend, let alone break.

Due to this, characters in this show often made decisions that appeared counterproductive or counterintuitive. In any other series, this would have been frustrating. In Cells at Work, there usually wasn’t a choice to make. Things often got more complicated the way they did because The Body was reacting naturally.

Finally, there was one thing only a show like Cells at Work could have pulled off: Teaching its audience.

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In more than three and a half years, and nearly 400 reviews, I have never thought of an anime as being educational. Cells at Work peaked my interest because of the praise it has received from medical professionals.

I’m fairly confident in knowing how to keep my body healthy. As for knowing the intricacies of what specific cells do, my 10th-grade biology class was a long time ago. I couldn’t have called BS even if this did get something wrong.

I think it’s safe to assume Cells at Work probably took the occasional creative liberty. Plus, it would be irresponsible to base your entire medical expertise on an anime which was made for entertainment purposes. Be that as it may, this series did demonstrate complex bodily functions in ways that made sense and were fun.

I can totally see Cells at Work being a person’s gateway to the medical sciences. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.

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The Characters

Scientific accuracy aside, Cells at Work was a comedy first and foremost; and an effective one at that. Like all comedies, this show’s success heavily relied on its characters.

Here is where this review may get a bit complicated. No one really had names in this show. Instead, everyone was part of a classification.

For example, there were the Killer T Cells, the special forces unit of The Body’s Immune System. There are countless Killer T Cells inside us, and this series lets us know. As for the ONE Killer T Cell we got to know in this show, we’ll call him – even though “it” is perhaps the proper pronoun – KTC (voiced by Daisuke Ono).

There were individual cells which were given focus, but these characters shared the same name as the rest of the cells in their group. Hence the need for specificity.

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With that out of the way, why don’t we start with KTC? He was aggressive and tough. Always looking for a fight, KTC and his fellow Killer T Cells craved battle.

Whenever KTC was called into action, he never held anything back, and he had quite the ego. As such, he also got super butthurt when someone upstaged him. KTC’s pettiness was the spark that set off one of the funniest exchanges in this show when he got into a spat with his rival NK Cell (voiced by Toa Yukinari).

Next, there was our main character, Red Blood Cell AE3803 (AE). She may have been a lovable sweetheart, but if there is a more directionally challenged character out there, I can’t think of them. AE got turned around often within steps after being pointed in the right direction.

Although a total airhead, AE was enduring. To be a little corny for a second: AE will make you appreciate the amount of work our bodies do to keep us moving.

AE may have been a wonderful protagonist, but she wasn’t Cells at Work’s best character. That title goes to White Blood Cell U-1146 (U).

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U was the nicest of guys. He listened to other cells’ worries and was always willing to give AE a hand. Soft-spoken and easy to talk to, U was truly a gentle soul.

That was until it became time to murder.

As a White Blood Cell, U was part of the Immune System’s main line of defense. U and his comrades spent their lives hunting down every germ, bacteria, and virus that entered The Body. When there was a target in sight, U became a bloodthirsty psychopath who slaughtered everything in his path, and then some.

U and his fellow White Blood Cells were responsible for many of this show’s more epic scenes. Their intense ferocity was hilarious.

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Lastly, there was one other group who I must mention. To be clear, Cells at Work crossed the line with how unfair it was in employing these characters. This was a cheap shot, and this series knew it.

THE PLATELETS WERE SO GODDAMN CUTE!

The platelets, with the main one being voiced by Ms. Maria Naganawa, were responsible for repairing The Body, and that’s where I’m going to leave it.

I will be recommending this series, but be warned. These little bastards were dangerously adorable.

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Series Negatives

Issues I had with Cells at Work were few and far between. To tell you the truth, with how many good points this show had, that became its biggest problem.

Let me explain.

As an example, the rivalry between KTC and NK Cell was great, but this series really only used it once. It would have been nice to have more time with these characters. Too bad they were merely a single aspect among many other equally noteworthy ones.

Plus, I’m not saying KTC and NK Cell were underutilized. They weren’t. I didn’t need more time with them. I only would have liked more time.

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It wasn’t just KTC and NK Cell either. I would have liked to learn more about many characters in this show. Unfortunately, you can only do so much in a twelve-episode anime.

Naturally, Cells at Work can rectify this “problem” with a second season. However, this series neither promised a continuation nor requires one. The ending was more than satisfactory.

Beyond that, there was one small eyebrow-raiser.

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This show did occasionally break from its usual lighthearted nature and got somewhat intense. That was not the problem; Cells at Work did serious well.

No, the issue was this show’s animation style. It was goofy and energetic. Although a perfect fit for much of this story, that wasn’t so much the case during the more dramatic parts.

To be fair, Cells at Work never made light of any dire situation, but it also couldn’t stop itself from being too cartoonish when it probably shouldn’t have.

Luckily, this was never distracting nor awkwardly inappropriate. In the grand scheme of things, this show bowled nothing but strikes.

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Final Thoughts

Do you want a series that is fun, funny, and might actually teach you something? Well, I’ll be damned if you find a better show than this one.

Everything about this story was smart, clever, and unique. It took something we are all familiar with — our bodies — and cast it in a bright new light.

I’ve only just started looking at the 2018 Summer season, and if this is an indication at what we have to look forward to, count me in.

I absolutely recommend Cells at Work.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Cells at Work? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

And if you liked what you read, be sure to follow me on my social media sites so that you never miss a post or update. Also, please share this review across the internet to help add to the discussion.

I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

Post Editor: Onions

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