Thoughts on Cells at Work! Volume 2

Since I’ve finished looking at the second arc of Bleach, I’ll be taking a break from it for a while and looking at some of the other volumes of manga from my collection.
As you can see from the title, I’ll be taking a look at the second volume of Akane Shimizu’s Cells at Work!. After dealing with a germs, viruses and allergies in the first volume, the anthropomorphised cells face new threats in this second volume as they strive to keep the body the inhabit healthy.
There are five chapters in this second volume, going from chapter five up to chapter nine.
Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell somehow keep running into each other – could their bond have been fated since childhood? Either way, the body they live and work in can’t seem to catch a break. From food poisoning to heat exhaustion to the threat of cancer, life in the body is as busy as it is dangerous, but the hard-working cells that keep it (and you) running are up to the task!

Volume 2 kicks off with chapter 5, ‘Food Poisoning’, and a couple of colour pages. Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell take a trip to the stomach, where they find Eosinophil (another type of white blood cell) struggling to fight off a germ. White Blood Cell does his thing, saving Eosinophil and some of the cells she was protecting.
Right after that, the body is invaded by vibrio parahaemolyticus – a bacterium that lives in seawater. Eosinophil tries to fight it, but doesn’t fare too well. Again, it falls to White Blood Cell to save the day.
Things don’t end there, as the parasite anisakis emerges from the stomach lining. Eosinophil steps up once more to fight, as dealing with parasites is her speciality.

Things start to warm up in chapter 6, ‘Heat Stress’. With the body suffering from heat stress, the heat-resistant bacterium Bacillus Cereus threatens to take the body over – or not, as it flees from White Blood Cell. White Blood Cell gives chase, but the heat soon proves to be too much for him. When things start to look grim, some outside help means that the cells and the body get some refreshing water. With White Blood Cell refreshed, he goes after the germ.

Chapter 7, ‘Erythroblasts and Myelocytes’, begins with Red Blood Cell getting lost and ending up at the red bone marrow – the place where blood cells are born. Red Blood Cell reminisces on her time spent at the red bone marrow when she was but a mere erythroblast. More specifically, the time she encountered pseudomonas aeruginosa – a bacterium that causes opportunistic infections. The bacterium pursues her but a young White Blood Cell – a myelocyte – stands up for her.

Back to the present for chapter 8, ‘Cancer Cells (Part I)’. White Blood Cell saves another cell from a virus-infected cell. Killer T arrives to take custody of the body, though Natural Killer Cell (or just NK) makes her entrance and realises that there are probably more.
NK gets the rescued cell to take her to where they are, though not without a whole lot of arguing with Killer T.
When they arrive at their destination, NK Cell takes the guide and splits up from White Blood Cell and Killer T. However, she had a reason for that – the guide was actually a Cancer Cell.

NK and Cancer Cell start fighting in chapter 9, ‘Cancer Cells (Part II)’.
Elsewhere, White Blood Cell and Killer T discover a horde of cancer cells. As they start fighting, NK is sent crashing through the wall, with the cancer cell in hot pursuit.
We get a glimpse of the cancer cell’s youth – he was born defective, and yet he is disgusted that it was decided that he has to die for how he is. Things start looking grim for White Blood Cell, Killer T and NK, but then Red Blood Cell and a whole lot of reinforcements arrive.
NK has one last trick up her sleeve – turns out that saying about laughter being the best medicine might hold some truth.

This volume ends with some translation notes, a preview of volume 3 and advertisement for a few other manga series.

I’m glad I decided to pick up the Cells at Work! manga on a whim, and this second volume was just as enjoyable as the first. I particularly enjoyed the chapters where others besides White Blood Cell got an opportunity to shine – Eosinophil may have been less than effective against a bacterium, but she’s definitely someone to rely upon when dealing with parasites.
The designs for the cells’ foes continues to be pretty great, too. In particular, the Cancer Cell looks like something straight out of Resident Evil. I also quite like how the Cancer Cell is portrayed in quite a sympathetic light – he was hunted down simply because of the way he was born defective. I never would have expected to feel sympathy for cancer, but there you have it…
Enemies that are cut down basically just explode into blood – it’s incredibly violent, which may not sit well with some people. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest, though – I guess I’ve just become desensitised to that stuff over the years.
One minor issue I have with this manga is that every time a cell is introduced in a chapter, you get a text box telling you what their function is. Whilst this would make sense considering this series is serialised monthly, it gets quite repetitive when the chapters are collected together. I’m well aware of what Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell do, I don’t need to be reminded every chapter. On the other hand, I do quite like the insight provided whenever a new cell or bacteria/virus/whatever is introduced.
With other cells getting chances to shine, as well as a look into the past of Red Blood Cell, the second volume of Cells at Work! makes for an enjoyable read, and an educational one at the same time.

About Rory

I enjoy writing, manga, anime and video games, so naturally here on my blog, you will find anime reviews, Nintendo news and other such things that I deem interesting.
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