Beware Monsters and Smoking But Remember Platelets Are Adorable

Here I go dipping my toes into seasonal anime for Winter 2021 with Cells at Work season 2, Cells at Work: Code Black, and The Promised Neverland Season 2.

Now, I’m making a real effort not to over-commit myself to the Winter anime season, but there were a couple of sequels I just had to watch (The Promised Neverland because I won’t be able to avoid spoilers otherwise and Cells at Work because of the Platelets) so I figured I’d do a round up at the end of each week with some short thoughts on how the shows were travelling and what else I was watching.

On that note, earlier this week I reviewed The Irregular at Magic High School Season 2 having done a binge watch on it as part of my catch up from last year. Next week I’ll have a review of DanMachi season 3 ready to go because I powered through that during the week. I’ve also binged Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina and there will definitely be a review of that one coming soon. And I’m either nearly finished or have finished Noblesse by the time this post actually published. Gleipnir is definitely next on my list though. If you are curious about what anime I’m catching up on or other random thoughts I have while watching shows I tend to blurt them onto Twitter.

However, onto this season’s offerings.

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 1

Season 1 left us definitely wanting more as the kids made good their escape but what had they escaped into? Well, season 2 wasted no time at all in showing us the world the kids now find themselves in as they are soon chased by monsters in the dark while the demons track them via scent.

Yep, this is freedom.

I was pleased to note that actions taken during their escape (such as Emma cutting off her ear) did have an impact on where we started in this episode. Also happy to see that Ray has finally gotten off his high horse and seems to be all about working with the team now.

Though as the episode continued I began to wonder about this forest and particularly the air. The creatures that the kids encounter (other than the monster) seem to almost be swimming in the air. When a kid falls from a high log they seemed to have little injury. Possibly this is just an aesthetic choice but it feels kind of like something I should be paying attention to. Of course that does raise the question of why the air on the farm seemed perfectly normal. Curious. (Incidentally, if you’ve read the source, don’t tell me. I’ve deliberately put off reading ahead of the anime at this point.)

Honestly, I loved this return to The Promised Neverland. The kids are still highly engaging characters who lead us through their discoveries. The absence of Norman from the crew didn’t really cause much of a setback as Don and Gilda seemed to be working hard to fill any gaps in the teamwork and Emma is certainly charming enough to carry the show on her own. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how this season plays out.

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Cells at Work!! Episode 1

The whole double exclamation point to indicate this is season two really doesn’t work for me. That is not how punctuation is used. Then again, I’m trying to learn not to care when it comes to anime titles after Knight’s & Magic had me spending a season scratching my head about just what that apostrophe was meant to be doing.

Honestly, as an episode, the debut of season 2 of Cells at Work is middling for the show. The injury/illness of the week is a ‘bump’ and compared to open wounds, cancer cells, and a range of other more dynamic challenges the crew have faced, this was one of the least interesting. Though episodic anime have the advantage of introducing a whole different issue next week and one less than thrilling episode doesn’t have much impact overall on the enjoyment of the series. Still, if they were trying to hook any new viewers, unless they instantly fell in love with the platelets, this episode wasn’t going to do it.

The platelets remain far and away the most adorable creatures in existence.

The episode largely focused on Backward Cap, a platelet who is a little less strong and coordinated and is feeling a little like dead weight. The bump gives her the chance to go to work and show what she can do and it is charming as always even if not as dramatic as some of the episodes season one presented.

Honestly, I think this episode suffered because the charming double team of white and red blood cell weren’t together for the majority of the episode. While this did give other characters a chance to gain a bit more presence, when coming back to a second season I really wanted to see the main pair in action again. Still, there was nothing here which made me worry about where this would go over the season and I’m fully signed on to watching another few months of cute platelets cells at work.

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Cells at Work! Code Black! Episode 1

Now for the somewhat less charming alternative version, Cells at Work! Code Black! takes us inside a stressed out body subject to a range of issues, many self-induced. Our Red Blood Cell protagonist here is male and newly graduated and about to start circulating oxygen. A task made harder by cholesterol, waspish co-workers (including some very unlovely platelets), and gas attacks that wipe-out his fellow cells.

Give him a break. It’s his first day and he actually believed the training video.

There’s definitely something morbid about this series as we travel with Red Blood Cell and he realises that the body he is in is pretty much stuffed and on a clear path to self-destruction when despite the damage already sustained the owner of the body has taken up smoking again. Yet the original Cells at Work dove into dark subject matter (cancer) and actually kind of nailed the tone. Here it is difficult to tell if we’re supposed to be laughing or horrified by the state the body is in. Instead I found myself, head tilted, just kind of watching in kind of a trance.

One distinct point about this spin-off is that where the characters in Cells at Work are all ridiculously chipper regardless of circumstances, here we have a range of bitter, overworked and frightened characters to explore. The contrast is enough at the moment to make me want to see more and, much like the parent series, the innocent Red Blood Cell in the centre of the story seems interesting enough to follow along with. While this guy isn’t directionally challenged, he’s had some hard truths hit him in very quick succession and it will be interesting to see how this affects his character going forward.

While not the instant draw of the original, I’m in with this for now.

Is that all?

I will admit, I’m tempted to check out some other shows but really, I’m not committed to weekly reviewing at the moment. Anything I do watch I’ll put an episode summary in the weekly update but I’m kind of more focused on binge watching shows from 2020 right at the moment and keeping my schedule a little more flexible.

That said, I’d love to know your thoughts on the anime above or anything else you’ve checked out this season that you think might be a winner.

Images used for review from:

  • The Promised Neverland Season 2. Dir. M Kanbe. Cloverworks. 2021.
  • Cells at Work!! Creator A Shimizu. David Productions. 2021
  • Cells at Work! Code Black. Dir. H Yamamoto. LIDENFILMS. 2021


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6 thoughts on “Beware Monsters and Smoking But Remember Platelets Are Adorable

  1. One series I don’t see talked about much is Umamusume: Pretty Derby Season 2. I didn’t even know it was coming out, but it’s doing a stellar job with character. They’re avoiding cliches, too. Might be worth checking out if you saw and enjoyed the first season!

  2. After ep2, Neverland is fine so far, but I’m having some reservations. One thing to note, the occasional queasy cam hasn’t shown up so far. Happy about that, as it makes enjoying the show easier.

    I’m in a strange place between the 2 Cells at Work shows: The regular one is business at usual, but it feels like the show’s going through the motions. I don’t feel it. Meanwhile, Black is the better show from a production PoV, but I’m not sure the Black Company comparisons work too well, when the cells are biologically grown into their job and can’t really do anything else. There’s a sense of economic commentary, but without criticism or any way things could be better. So what’s left is just an empty husk of “gaman”. That said, coping mechanisms are pretty varied, and smoking and drinking too much certainly doesn’t do your body a favour. I just don’t see how the show can strike a balance between moralising and nihilism. So far it feels like more of the latter, and to be honest I prefer bleak nihilism to straightforward moralisng. Basically, I think Black’s the better show, but it’s also less my thing.

    Two promising premieres that I don’t see many other places talk about:

    2.43 (the Volleyball show), a show I might have ignored were it not for Artemis’ first impression post, is a pretty good sports/drama show. It reminds me most of Battery, a baseball show that the few people who remember it don’t seem to remember fondly. The focus is more on the drama part (so far they’ve been breezing through games), but that might change if the plot proper gets going.

    and

    Last Dungeon/Starter Town is a pretty good comedy, where one of weakest kids from an insanely overpowered and sheltered community enrolls in a sort of hero academy to get strong, while probably being stronger than pretty much the entire teacher body together. It’s mostly played for comedy, but there does actually seem to be a plot in the background, and the show does seem to take it seriously that someone who doesn’t know his strength can do more harm than good (though it’s too early to be sure).

    Most of the rest other people are talking about a lot any way. Also, if you had to take an anime break, 2020 will give you the least trouble in recent anime history to catch up. Most good shows were fun enough but nothing, but there were very few must-sees, IMO. I read you’re watching Gleipnir. Looking forward to the review, because I’m still not quite sure what I think of that show.

    1. I hadn’t noticed the absence if the weird camera work in Neverland but now that you mention it the direction this season has been a lot more straight forward which is definitely having an impact on the overall atmosphere.
      Cells is definitely more of the same but this first episode didn’t exactly impress outside of cuteness and you are right that Black is going to have a hard time going forward but it is at least going to have the chance to explore a different range of problems.
      Will be starting Gleipnir today. No idea what to expect so we will see how that goes.

  3. Unlike you I seem to have over stretched my watch list this season for the first time in years with 11 new shows on the go (and I still haven’t started AOT S4 yet) !! 😮

    I liked how Cells At Work Black was a “serious” version of the original, not just in the way the roles are inversed (male red cells, female white cells, rude platelets) but in being able to address the health issues more directly, and not with the light sugar coating.

    I guess this is the adult version of the franchise which some won’t take to, but I definitely think think there is room for both. 🙂

    1. It definitely has its own flavour and I think I’m going to enjoy it. Then again, I guess it depends on how depressing the whole thing ends up or whether there are still some lighter moments.
      I’m definitely contemplating looking at some other shows once they are a few episodes along but I’m not going to lock myself into covering anything else weekly so I don’t feel pressured at the moment. Still, there’s a lot of anime out at the moment that look good and AOT is definitely going to be binged as soon as it is done airing. The hard thing will be avoiding spoilers between now and then.

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