The aspect of Cells at Work that jumped out to me when I got introduced to it through my WordPress feed was its character designs. It wouldn’t be crazy to say that the character designs play (or should play, in my eyes) a big part in the commerciality of this show and its (present and future) merchandise sales. As a fresh high school graduate who still remembers some of his A Level Biology course material, I appreciated the amount of small referential details the mangaka put into those designs so that they would look cool and educational (or at least hinting to certain structures).

Like, the Red Blood Cell’s hat has a biconcave shaped crown- referring to the real RBC’s shape, the Dendrite Cell has root branches- similar to how dendrites have branched protoplasmic extensions, and some of the bacterial designs also resemble certain shapes they look in my biology book, or more specifically, under a microscope; and no other human cell except the platelets would fit the adorable platelet construction kids, since platelets are fragments- like offsprings- of bigger cells in the bone marrow… well except undifferentiated cells- and the anime got that covered too in RBC’s flashback episode. I feel like a huge biology nerd as I’m writing this, which I’m not- I’m more of a Maths guy since there’s less memorizing to do. I wish Cells at Work aired while I was still in high school, that would make my Biology studying sessions a bit less tiring.

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For the most part, the presentation of the city infrastructure of the human body is pretty solid, and as usual- I found the creative liberties that the author took to represent sneezing, and other stuff I would never know about like how Eosoniphils destroy parasites, really entertaining. The visualizations of certain organs, like the heart and the stomach, were cool as well. It became clear very quickly that the author has a clear purpose and passion to make this a clear-cut edu-entertainment piece. I think this show is one of a kind, the only similar show that comes to mind is Moyashimon, the first season of which I watched ages ago, as far as I remember- is about a guy who can see microorganisms who talks the role of bacteria in various situations in everyday life. So if you want to learn about microorganisms while looking at some neat character designs- put that on your watchlist, I guess.

Anyway, back to Cells at Work- the episodes have water-tight pacing and they rarely steer away from their episodic plot. And the comedic aspect meshes into this anime so well, thanks to the flexible character designs and the author’s ability to pull off a well-timed, creative and diverse range of reaction faces to certain situations. If anything, I would have watched this anime just to see some amazing reaction faces.

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My favorite episodes were, of course, the cancer episodes. It was nice to see the author balancing it out by giving the cancer cell’s point of view. And ultimately, it’s conveyed to the viewer that cancer is just unfortunate and there’s really no one (or no cell) to blame except chance. It was also cool to learn that my body has cancer-killing cells. Although anthropomorphized, the author makes it clear that cells just do their jobs and there’s only so much they can do outside of that, and they can only depend on external intervention for the survival of their ‘city’- which is established by the Great Histamine Flood, the Heat Stroke and the Haemorrhagic shock episodes. I also liked the macrophage episode since I learned that they are the true MVPs out of all the cells. I also found the macrophage ladies’ Victorian maid wardrobe to be visually pleasing and their gap-moe to be hot… oh no, is this what they call a fetish?

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Something about this rubbed me the right way for a while (I think I rewatched Victorian Maid Maria a bit too many times for my own good)

I have some gripes though- the show’s strict focus on being upbeat and optimistic sometimes comes in awkward conflict in tones with some other morbid details- like how the cancer cell’s ‘corpse’ was treated in a humorous light (like it was a fainted Pokemon), and sometimes it just skips past it- like in the second episode after those blood cells are caught  in the meshwork in a wound die as the scab forms. I guess my latter complaint is more to do with accuracy, which I can’t get in-depth into because I’m not a medical guy who knows his stuff. However, I don’t find these gripes to be much major because those awkward clashing in tones isn’t a new thing in anime, and sometimes they work favorably and sometimes they don’t- for me, at least.

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Something about this just rubbed me the wrong way for a few seconds

The show impressed me quite a bit with its distinct character designs, the informative factor the general liveliness of the characters throughout its run, in spite of it being about something as mechanical as the human immune system. I wish the show went on a bit longer and covered more bases- not that it ended in a weird place, the climactic crescendo in the tail-end plays out well, actually- but you know what I mean… I want another season.

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No, putting two Macrophage screen caps within a short time is not a coincidence

Alright, fair warning, my tone is now going to escalate to a slightly mushy level. Since this anime has shown me how much my cells work just to keep my body alive, now I have a greater appreciation for the human body (you know, other than the superficial features- I have to stop over-using these parentheses) and the miracle that is known as human lif- that’s enough philosophy extrapolation for this review. But I would like to take this last sentence to say to my immune system and all the other immune systems as well:

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