There’s a lot going on inside the human body, what with a whole multitude of cells carrying out different tasks to ensure it functions as it should. Cells at Work! anthropomorphises those cells and shows us the ways in which they respond to bacteria, viruses and other such invaders.
Whilst looking up future releases for manga, this caught my eye and the whole concept got me intrigued. Then I went to the MCM London Comic Con and saw that the first volume was being sold there so I bought it.
Cells at Work! comes from Akane Shimizu, winner of Shounen Sirius‘ Rookie of the Year Award. This manga is serialised in the Shounen Sirius monthly magazine, and it started on 26th January 2015.
The first volume of Cells at Work! contains four chapters.
A BLOOD-PUMPING JOB
Strep throat! Hay fever! Influenza! The world is a dangerous place for a red blood cell just trying to get her deliveries finished. Fortunately, she’s not alone…she’s got a whole human body’s worth of cells ready to help out! The mysterious white blood cells, the buff and brash killer T cells, even the cute little platelets – everyone’s got to come together if they want to keep you healthy. Together, these dedicated cells will tackle everything from pneumonia to everyday allergies, and it’s all in a day’s work!
There’s a few colour pages at the start of this volume, including a splash page featuring many different cells – including at least a couple who play no part in this first volume. I have to say, there’s some pretty great character designs in there.
We kick off with chapter 1, ‘Pneumococcus’. We are introduced to Red Blood Cell, and it only takes a couple pages before she finds herself being targeted by germs invading the body.
This is where White Blood Cell is introduced – it is in very spectacular fashion, what with him attacking the germs and blood going everywhere. There’s no holding back on the violence here.
Anyway, the rest of the chapter focuses on Red Blood Cell as she ends up cornered by an escaped Pneumococcus germ, and White Blood Cell saving her. Interestingly enough, it isn’t actually through direct combat that he is able to claim victory.
In chapter 2, ‘Cedar Pollen Allergy’, Cedar Pollen Allergens begin to invade the body. The various cells try to do their respective jobs to take care of it – B Cell produces antibodies, Mast Cell produces histamines – the place pretty much ends up becoming a disaster zone.
When Red Blood Cell brings a strange delivery, things only manage to somehow get worse.
Chapter 3, which is called ‘Influenza’, begins with Naive T Cell happening upon a bunch of zombies – other cells infected with the influenza virus.
White Blood Cell and Macrophage (another type of white blood cell) deal with the infected, and the Killer T Cells also show up. Naive T Cell has a crisis of confidence, but some words from Dendritic Cell activates him and he is able to face the threat – mostly.
‘Scrape Wound’ is the title of chapter 4. As you might expect, this means that the cells have to deal with a wound being opened up – this allows a multitude of germs to enter the body, and if a cell falls into the wound that’s it for them.
The bacteria have the upper hand, at least until the platelets turn up to deal with the opened wound.
I love the platelets’ entry in this chapter – White Blood Cell hypes them up as a type of cell with the power to turn the tables on the bacteria. There’s footsteps, and then the platelets are revealed – a group of little girls. They had been introduced before in this volume, but their arrival here is great.
That brings the first volume to a close, and I have to say I really quite like it. We get some very bloody action scenes, and it manages to be fairly education as well. There are text boxes containing information on the cells and such, but I don’t find these particularly intrusive.
There’s some pretty funny moments in there, too. The platelets’ appearance in chapter 4 is great, and then there’s the whole idea of a sneeze being comparable to a rocket launch.
I’ve already mentioned I like the character designs. Each type of cell has its own characteristics – the red blood cells have the red jacket and cap, whilst the white blood cells are dressed completely in white, for example. The splash page at the beginning includes Eosinophil, NK Cell and Basophil, who have some pretty intriguing designs, but no roles to play in this volume. I look forward to seeing more from them in the future.
It’s not just the cells with some interesting designs – the bacteria and viruses that invade the body wouldn’t look out of place in a magical girl series. I think most of them meet a bloodier end than your typical magical girl villain, though…
Based on this first volume alone, I would love to see Cells at Work! get an anime adaptation. I reckon the action and silly stuff would balance out quite nicely, providing plenty of brutal fight scenes alongside plenty to laugh at.
I’d definitely recommend checking out this manga if you’re itching for some great action. It also provides plenty of information on the various cells, germs and how the human body works, so you might also learn a thing or two from reading it.