There was no denying that Cells at Work made a splash last season with its cute and boppy opening song, adorable cast of characters (including the unbeatable-in-the-cute-department platelets), and its weird mix of education and entertainment. This was an anime that caught a lot of the community by surprise and week after week it primarily delivered solid fun and cuteness. So after some time for the post-season high to wear down and another look at a couple of episodes, how does this one stack up?
Surprisingly quite well. Despite the sometimes copious amounts of text on screens explaining various fundamentals about cells or the body in general, the occasional bit of fairly rough animation, and the handful of episodes that focused on cells other than the super adorable Red Blood Cell, Cells at Work is pretty consistently entertaining. There’s a lot of imagination behind the concept and the way it is delivered and I know I’ll never feel the same way about hay-fever ever again after seeing how the body failed to cope with a pollen allergy.
Where this story works is that it keeps itself simple and true to its premise. The cells have jobs to do and each episode something comes along to disrupt the usual processes and then it needs to be dealt with. While this might sound repetitive, and one of my early worries was that this show would end up feeling repetitive, ultimately each new threat is executed in an interesting manner and the solutions are usually fairly entertaining to watch. Also, each of the cast brings something to the table.
It is really hard to talk about these characters without coming off sounding a little weird given we are in fact discussing various cells in the body. However, this anime did such an incredible job in humanising them and giving them what felt like real personalities within the confines of needing a drive to complete their job (no lazy blood cells here). The anime did such a great job with developing characters, sometimes in a very short span of time, to the point where many viewers even found themselves feeling a little sorry for the Cancer Cell after he’d been around just over an episode of time. That’s still hard to fathom but this anime actually succeeded in making that initial cancer cells being hunted down by the body’s immune system seem like a character we should have some sympathy for even as our usual characters sought its destruction.
Visually this anime has an interesting kind of look about it with the blood vessels being re-imagined as roads and pathways and a scrape becoming a massive explosion leaving a gaping hole in the world through which cells did in fact fall out and never returned (sad). Each cell type has a unique design in clothing and individuals within the cell type have defined enough features that you don’t confuse them. There are some interesting ideas about how the body reacts to certain situations with scenes going dark, the cells getting hotter or colder, or even the pathways becoming a desolate landscape during the heat stroke episode.
Basically it just works and it feels like the concept was well thought through. Does that mean there aren’t faults? Not really. None of these episodes are really anything more than simple meet cells in situation, introduce villain/obstacle, run around a bit, and then solve kind of stories. While their link to real health issues makes them a little more compelling and interesting, they are incredibly basic. There are also whole episodes where the focus cells aren’t ones I’m overly interested in and then I found my general interest waning.
Still, any episode with a platelet sighting (which is most of them) were plenty fine. Those cute characters need their own spin-off short anime right now and I will happily watch them do absolutely nothing except maybe drink some tea and walk down a stair case. Which for me, is pretty odd because normally characters not doing anything bores me but I just can’t imagine getting bored while watching a platelet.
All and all, while this anime isn’t going to change the world anytime soon, it is a great deal of fun and one that is worth checking out. The episodic nature means you can watch one or two episodes and just walk away for awhile so perfect for busy people who don’t want to commit to a whole series. If you’ve watched it, I’d love to know your thoughts so leave me a comment below.
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