Cells at Work! is a thirteen episode anime adaptation of the manga series written and illustrated by Akane Shimizu. The director was Kenichi Suzuki, and the studio that produced it was David Production.
Cells at Work! aired during the summer 2018 season of anime, and is available to watch on Crunchyroll.
In their quest to anthropomorphise absolutely everything, Japan have set their sights to the cells that keep your body operating as it should. Serving the role of main characters for this anime are Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell.At it’s most basic form, Cells at Work focuses on Red Blood Cell who’s job it is to deliver oxygen throughout the body. She tends to get lost quite a lot – and she also happens to be a trouble magnet. Whether Red Blood Cell is getting lost or not, she almost always is targeted by the antigens that invade the body. That’s where White Blood Cell comes in.As you probably know, White Blood Cell’s role in the body is to eliminate harmful antigens. He does so with extreme prejudice as you can see from the screenshot above. Whenever White Blood Cell has to eliminate an antigen, you can always expect a bloody mess.
For the most part, Cells at Work! sticks to an ‘antigen of the week’ formula. However, there are exceptions to that rule – there’s a couple of flashback episodes in there, and there are two particular stories told over the course of two episodes each.
One thing that is consistent throughout is the exposition – whenever a new cell or antigen is introduced, the narrator chimes in to explain who they are and what they do.
As a result of this, Cells at Work! manages to be educational. Some may feel that the exposition interrupts the flow of the action, but I doubt many fans without medical background even knew what pneumococcus was before watching this anime.
Naturally, whilst Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell are the central characters, there are plenty of cells you can see at work. The character designs are excellent across the board – naturally credit goes to Akane Shimizu for that. Seeing the characters from the manga brought to life is a real treat.
The antigens have excellent designs to. The cells tend to be more human, whilst the antigens have more monstrous appearances – they wouldn’t look out of place as monsters in a magical girl show.Of course, you can’t talk about Cells at Work! without mentioning the absolutely adorable Platelets. Also worth noting that they have their own song, ‘Sensei Anone’ – and that too is absolutely adorable. Platelets have been melting people’s hearts – and that’s a weird thing to say out of context.One of Cells at Work!‘s strongest moments is the development of a particular character roughly halfway through the season. It successfully creates sympathy for a rather unlikely source. Arguably the strongest writing that Cells at Work! has, though the finale certainly doesn’t do things by half either.The halfway point of the season was also the introduction of NK Cell, which got some people who may have not had much interest in the show before to pay attention. Again, this harks back to the excellent character designs.
There is also a pretty good sense of humour present. Cells at Work! could take itself deadly seriously, but it doesn’t. Sneezing is something that we have all done, but the way Cells at Work! depicts it is something else.
Cells at Work! does reuse animation sometimes, and there tends to be CG on the odd occasion. However, the most important fights look great and overall the way it is animated doesn’t really have a major impact on overall enjoyment.
As for being a faithful adaptation of the manga – the anime absolutely nails that. In fact, there are small scenes added here and there that you won’t find in the original manga. These are just neat little additions that don’t affect how the plot unfolds.
The order the episodes were adapted in seems a little arbitrary – an earlier chapter was adapted in the second half. Some definitely make sense, such as introducing the Platelets as early as possible.
Cells at Work! is violent and educational, but above all it is just an utterly charming and fun time.