Cells at Work is definitely a show with a very unique premise. It’s sort of like the Magic School Bus episode where everyone heads into the body except this time the show show takes place inside the body and every blood cell is an individual character. So you’ve definitely got a show that’s not quite like any other and can even be educational to an extent. You may end up missing the outside world pretty quick but it’s a fun enough show.
The main character here is the Red Blood Cell. (I’ll call her Red for short) Red’s job is to go around the body delivering nutrients to every part of the body. Unfortunately she is not very good at directions and ends up getting lost all the time. That’s when she meets Neutrophil, one of the white blood cell variants. His job is to ruthlessly murder any germs and bacteria that get into the body. The guy’s always serious and slashing away but deep down he’s a nice guy and they end up hitting it off after he saves her from one of the monsters and helps her with directions. As the show goes on we see more adventures with these two and get introduced to the rest of the blood cells.
For the most part I would say this is a slice of life title. Each episode is fairly stand alone even though we do have the big climax at the end. Typically Red will get lost somewhere and Neutrophil will step in to help along with the cell of the day. Each episode will usually introduce a new blood cell so by the end of season 1 you’ve pretty much met them all. Sometimes we’ll even get a big budget fight scene.
The first episode has the best fight in that regard. The battle with Neutrophil against the germ really looked great. There was a lot of excellent hand to hand and the animators went all out. The rest of the show can’t quite compete with that but I would say it still keeps to a pretty solid level of animation. The character designs are consistent and the animation looks good.
For the soundtrack, there’s the main battle theme that I like a lot. It’s really good for when danger approaches and is suitably fast. The opening isn’t really my thing but I appreciate the effort of dubbing the intro since that’s pretty rare. All in all the musical themes are memorable so you aren’t likely to forget them.
A slice of life anime lives and dies on the characters so lets jump into those. First off we have Red and she is a fun lead. She may not be good with directions but she tries hard and just keeps on going. Near the end of the series she gets her big episode when the body is snowed in and got to prove herself. She definitely holds up her end of the show very well and it someone you can count on in the end.
Then you have Neutrophil who’s the main fighter here and he definitely looks good. The guy is absolutely invested in his job and loves any opportunity to go in and crush the germs. The guy is always yelling and acts like such a savage that most characters are afraid of him except for Red. Deep down the guy is just trying to make the world a better place and that’s his role within the body. He also has his lighthearted moments where he watches over Red to make sure she’s okay.
Killer T is like a more exaggerated version of Neutrophil when it comes to beating up germs but he has less social awareness. The guy has no time for happiness or anything like that and just focuses on the mission. I like Killer T’s confidence and he never bets against himself in the end. You’ve certainly got to respect that. Then you have Macrophage who is also really intense but she doesn’t typically let it show. She just goes about her business and drinks tea but when the going gets tough, she gets going.
Platelets are like junior cells that go around stitching up wounds and making sure that the body is safe. They can’t really fight but they get around and there are sure a lot of them. They would probably use a few bodyguards though since they don’t stand a chance when villains show up. Typically there is someone on hand to help but they probably shouldn’t take any big chances.
Helper T is someone who really tries to do things by the book and lets the other cells know when there is trouble. He may not do a lot in the present but he gets a whole episode to himself where we see how he and Killer T used to be rivals. That made for a fun watch but it’s a shame that Helper T went for more of a desk job when his fighting abilities are so good. The heroes could have used him in some of these battles. Maybe someday we’ll see him in the field again but it feels unlikely since his station is always so far from the action.
His partner on the job is Regulatory T and she makes sure the paperwork is in order. She keeps Killer T and Helper T from fighting too often as well and has always been a bit of a mediator there. Without her I’m sure they would be bickering even more. Naive T is a cell who gets his own episode too. He feels bad because he has been completely ineffective in combat and everyone’s always going at him. Eventually he comes to terms with this and evolves into a more powerful cell who can defend himself though. It was good to see him step up when it counted since he had a rough start there.
Eosinophil is a type of white blood cell but she’s not meant for direct battle with the germs. Due to this the other cells tend to make fun of her a bit since a lot of them didn’t properly learn the duties and tasks of all cells the way Neutrophil does. Fortunately she gets to show her skills off later on. She’s a fun character who is really enthusiastic. She may not have strength against all enemies just yet but she will still jump in to try and do what she can.
Then there’s Memory Cell but there’s not a whole lot to say about him yet. The guy should be able to use his memories really well to help everyone out but he always forgets them. He’s the one cell you could say is just bad at his job because remembering is the one task he should be able to do at any time. You definitely end up feeling bad for him there. Dendritic Cell’s job is to awaken other cells to their maximum power. He does this by using embarrassing photos/memories of other Cells. In a way he should have been the memory cell then right?
Mast Cell and B Cell don’t get to do a whole lot here. B Cell has his gun and as long as memory does his job and remembers the formula, B Cell can use this to take down a lot of germs from afar. Unfortunately for B Cell, he is powerless without this. Meanwhile Mast Cell is ready to tell the body when to panic but she is always stressed out which puts her in a tough spot here. If she stresses everyone too much then it’ll backfire.
Basophil’s role is to be really mysterious and try to be vague about everything. I wouldn’t say that it really works though. The main issue with him is that you really feel like his speeches aren’t going anywhere so you feel like he’s talking just to talk. That’s what really holds him back here. To be a good mysterious character, your paranoid delusions have to make some kind of sense and be interesting. That way I can get behind what is going on here but without that it just feels like mumbling without a true goal.
That about wraps up the heroes. On the villain side most of the germs and viruses are oneshots. Technically each one that appears is a different member of the same species and similar to the heroes, each kind of villain just has the same design based on what strain they are. I really liked the designs though, these villains look intimidating and can fight rather well. They give the heroes a good fight each and every time until they find their worst opponent.
Cancer Cell stands out as being the most memorable villain though and that makes sense. After all, cancer always felt like a perfect big boss for a series like this because cancer cells actively destroy other cells and spread quickly. Cancer Cell has a grand master plan and even tries to explain his own ethics to Neutrophil. It’s all very interesting and ultimately they still need to take Cancer Cell down for the count of course. I was glad that he got a character arc though.
His point also brings up an interesting part of the world. So of course every cell is born with their own role to play here. What cell you are will dictate what kind of germ/virus you must destroy or if you have another function. You will be unable to destroy a virus that’s outside of your role no matter how strong you are and the cells here learn that the hard way. It’s an interesting dynamic because it shows that the world runs on a Pokemon type/matchup kind of dynamic. This is one series where you cant really surpass your limits because they are built in.
The cells also don’t seem to know much about the past as they tend to learn things on the fly. I expect that is memory’s fault but maybe this body just doesn’t have a library where you can read up on the past. It’s possible that they just don’t have the time though. I can’t recall if the characters ever sleep. You see them taking breaks on occasion but that’s it. I remember at first I thought that Red and Neutrophil would be different in each episode since they mention that there are millions of them inside the body. After all, each blood cell is technically different but they still end up meeting all of the time. While that could be a stretch when you think about it, I think it’s a necessary one. I don’t know about you but it’s more engaging to be hanging out with the same characters as always.
Now, as I said before you may start to miss the outdoors though. One thing about being inside the body the whole time is that a lot of the backgrounds and scenery start to feel the same after a while. it can feel a little confined but I don’t know what the show could really do about that. At the end of the day, the body is the setting and there are ways you could cheat that but I can’t fault a show for sticking to its premise. Personally I wish we could have seen the human running around a bit.
As for the humor, I’d say it works well enough. It may not be the funniest slice of life out there, but the characters are enjoyable enough and make the dynamics work. There weren’t any really bad characters or anything like that here and we did have the occasional big action scene which was always nice. As the characters are blood cells, you can probably guess that there is a lot of blood flying around. Ironically, the blood pretty much always comes from the enemies though as Neutrophil really lays into them. It’s fairly excessive with the geysers everywhere but the show’s using it for comedy. Always a tricky gag and I think it could be dialed back a bit but in this context it’s not something that really would hurt the show.
Overall, You’ll have a good time with Cells at Work. I was on the fence the whole time on if this is a high 6 or a low 7. I don’t feel like it really has any replay value, it’s not the kind of show you’re likely to watch again but at the same time I wouldn’t say it made any real mistakes. It’s just not quite as funny as it could be. Still, I’d say it does enough right where your initial experience is good so I’d give it the points. You even get to learn a few things about how the body works although good luck on retaining that info. The scientific name for each blood cell is just so advanced that they tend to fall out of your mind as soon as you hear them.