First Look: Cells at Work

Alternative title(s): Hataraku Saibou
Manga Adaptation by David Production
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Red Blood Cell #AE3803 is having a bad day. First she gets lost trying to make her oxygen delivery, then she gets attacked by bacteria. Fortunately, White Blood Cell #U-1146 and the rest of the immune system is working hard to keep everyone safe.

Jel’s verdict: Clinical Fun

There’s a lot to like in this show. The big hook is seeing how they interpret various cell functions into practical, human jobs. It’s fun to watch even if you’re not a science nerd (I’m not), and I’m kind of surprised how much of the terminology I remember despite being about 20 years removed from high school biology. I also love the fresh and clean art style, which feels kind of reminiscent of anime graphic design masterpiece Nichijou. There’s even a surprising amount of well animated action to keep things from getting too stale.

While I did enjoy this first episode, I am concerned moving forward. The main hook feels fun for now, but it was dangerously close to an actual science lesson. I’m not sure how much longer they can rely on that being entertaining. More importantly, I can’t say this makes me actually “feel” anything. It’s fun and pleasant but there’s not much emotional depth to it. In fact, I wouldn’t even say it’s funny despite being a comedy. It’s amusing in a “oh that’s neat” sort of way and that’s about it. Will that be enough to keep my interest for an entire season? It’s hard to say, but for now I’m willing to give it another episode or two.

Zigg’s verdict: Bio Freaks

This is a pretty stock bumbling girl/straight man comedy anime, lifted considerably by its charming premise and impressive production. The bright, cartoonish aesthetic is a treat for the eyes, and the top-notch voice cast deliver some great performances – it’s always worth hearing extremely flustered Kana Hanezawa. There’s also way more actual biology in this thing than I expected, to the point I occasionally thought it might be some sort of educational show in disguise. Still, while it hardly breaches the heights of great entertainment, it’s good clean fun and that’s something we desperately need this season.

Gee’s verdict: “From The Tip of The Nose to The Behind! They’re The Protectors! Of The City of Hector! Ozzy and Dri-“

In any other season, Cells at Work is a surprisingly charming workplace comedy with a zany concept. In a season like this, it may be our shining beacon in the darkness. Between a surprisingly nice art direction and some charming animation, it’s a show that leaves a pretty good first impression on you. As my verdict implies, this certainly isn’t the first show to ever play with the idea of, “what if the cells in our body were people,” but Cells at Work manages to create its own unique identity. From white blood cells being portrayed as violence-obsessed killer cops to a newbie red blood cell getting lost in the labyrinthine construction of the capillary networks of the vascular system, there’s a fair bit of good humor to be found here for anyone with a surface level understanding of human biology. I imagine accomplished biology students or actual scientists will probably take some umbrage with aspects of it, but as someone who regularly bristles at inaccurate portrayal of firearms in fiction, I advise you guys to take a step back and enjoy the ride. If nothing else, this is probably the obligatory, “reaction faces goldmine” show of the season.

2 thoughts on “First Look: Cells at Work

  1. Oh hey, someone else who remembers the TV spinoff of Osmosis Jones.

    On another note, the design of the white blood cell lead reminds me a lot of the central character in Mushi-Shi.

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