Cells at Work! Review

Fun fact on this one, while I reviewed both anime seasons a while back, I actually completed the manga before watching the shows. It just so happened that writing those reviews was a bit quicker than writing the review for the manga. In general the anime reviews can be easier sometimes but I would say it’s case by case. At the time of this writing it’s completely balanced with 5 manga and 5 anime left to review with this one out of the way. It’s kind of cool how that ended up working out. A lot of my pros and cons for the manga are similar to the anime so lets dive right in.

The story mainly revolves around 2 cells, a white blood cell and a red blood cell. Red is always getting lost around the body as she tries to deliver nutrients. Meanwhile white blood cell’s job is to go around destroying viruses and any harmful bacteria. He may seem like a very intense guy whose only thoughts are of murdering his prey but he’s a nice guy once you get to know him. The two cells hit it off as good friends and the manga follows their adventures. I would say the manga is 90% slice of life with the occasional big plot threads like when the cancer cell shows up. To date I do think it’s fitting that the cancer cell would end up being the big threat here because that is typically known as the most dangerous disease out there.

A slice of life title like this is really carried by the characters and setting. For me this is where the series is a little weaker than it could have been otherwise. For example, the characters live inside of the human body because that’s the entire premise of the series. It’s not like they could just leave it at any point, that wouldn’t really make sense. So logically they have to always be in the same kind of areas but it isn’t a very visually interesting setting. It all looks a bit bland and personally I would have liked a little more variety. Maybe make it so that some parts of the body actually do look like cities and such. It may not have been super scientific but it’s not like the series takes no liberties so this definitely could have worked.

Then for the characters, I’ll get into them more in detail in a minute. The cast is good but there aren’t a lot of exceptional characters here. Also, they just aren’t as funny as some other slice of life casts. The series is part comedic but I wouldn’t say it ever gets as funny as some of the top titles like Nisekoi or Kaguya Sama. It’s not boring or anything but these are the things that keep it from taking the jump to the next level. Cells at Work! is a good title, it’s just not a great one.

Neutrophil is definitely one of the best characters and someone who always dominates the scene that he is in. He’s really got a very focused approach towards tackling any issue and I can definitely appreciate that. The cancer cell tries to have a philosophical debate with him but Neutrophil is really built to destroy his enemies and so he can’t do that. I thought it was an interesting approach to have him be so by the books that he can’t see the gray area. Everything is black and white to him because that’s how he is designed. The very world of Cells at Work is interesting in that way because there are a lot of implications in having each cell be sentient and I would say say that the series handles them well. It’s not a constant theme and don’t mistake this for being a deep series but at least you get an inkling of how this would play out.

Then you have Red who is always fun. She doesn’t really get any big action scenes since she can’t fight but she is always striving to be better. By the end of the series she may still get lost but not as much as she once did. Red also has several scenes where she is really able to prove herself and stay strong even when everyone around her is giving up. She has a lot of determination and you definitely want to see that in the main heroine.

Another big character is Killer T and he’s fun enough. The guy definitely loves to battle but he isn’t quite as smart or nuanced as Neutrophil. The guy also doesn’t seem as strong if you ask me. He’s not as quick to Neutrohpil could probably outmaneuver him. Killer T has a decent backstory and gets a bigger role as the series progressed. It was good to have another fighter to help Neutrophil out against the enemies so his presence was certainly appreciated.

Macrophage is a helpful character. She may not appear to be too deadly at first glance but she can certainly fight with the best of them. Then you have Helper T who is more of a support role. Apparently he can fight based on his flashback but just doesn’t do that nowadays. With how the cell system works, you just have to stay in your lane at all times even if you have the ability to help. So sadly we never get to see him do much.

Regulatory T actually does get a role but unfortunately it’s a bad one. She ends up betraying the heroes to help out the cancer cell which was a really bad move. She may mean well but if following the rules means betraying your friends then it’s time to go off script a bit. The fact that she didn’t do this is ultimately what got her into a really big mess here.

Eosinophil was one of the better characters though. She could fight really well but her weakness is that it depends on the opponent so she did get mocked a lot initially. It’s got to be tough to only be able to fight against some opponents but she makes the most of her opportunities and gets a good win at the end of the day. She should only get more powerful as she goes on.

Memory Cell is one of the more annoying cells. The guy’s whole purpose here is to use memories from previous attacks to let the others know how to fight the opponents and what the best course of action is. Unfortunately he tends to forget this when it counts which is really not a good look. You’re counting on him to do something but he almost never lives up to his role. Considering that this is literally his only task, it is a really bad look for him.

Basophil is a very mysterious cell who is always talking in riddles. I think this does have some potential of course but ultimately it just doesn’t work out. Mainly the issue is because his words don’t actually amount to much. If you really pay attention to what he’s saying, it’s usually abstract things without a real meaning behind it. I like technobabble and ancient prophecy type speeches as long as there is a point but if it’s just the character trying to show off to an extent then it doesn’t work. Trying to sound smart and actually saying something which is smart are two very different things.

Then there is the normal cell and he just wants to have a good purpose. Right now the only thing that he has to do is make more clones of him. It’s a rather boring job and there just isn’t much to keep him occupied. I do sympathize but it gets to be a bit much when he’s getting in the way of the other heroes and actually teaming up with a villain at one point. Each job there is very necessary to keeping the body operational so messing around for no good reason is not a good excuse at all. It takes away from his sympathy points.

There are other supporting characters as well since there are tons of different blood types in the body. You’ve got the red blood cells in training called the platelets and then some more obscure types. You’ll probably have a hard time remembering all of the names but the series certainly doesn’t skimp out on the details. If there is a blood cell then you can bet that it’s in here somewhere.

As for the villains, most of them are rather nameless. You do have the coronavirus, flu, and a bunch of bacteria but for the most part they just get a quick appearance before being shredded. The Cancer Cell is the only exception to this. He’s a very smart cell who tries to think outside of the framework. It makes him an interesting villain because he’s someone who brings up a lot of valid points. Why does he have to be destroyed just for existing? After all, he didn’t choose to be born a cancer cell and it’s an interesting dynamic because this is a perfect example of what I was talking about earlier with the implications of each cell being alive.

A cancer cell by definition has to be destroyed even if he wasn’t doing anything. It’s not like the heroes can just spare him because as long as he’s alive then the system won’t work. In almost any other series you could see him being the sympathetic hero with that case or more of a moral discussion but Neutrophil has to end him because he recognizes that there is no way around this. It’s one of the most interesting parts of the manga even if they aren’t able to delve into this too much. It’s just nice food for thought.

I thought he made for an excellent antagonist and someone who couldn’t be brushed aside so easily. His abilities were also handy, he fought like a symbiote with how he could stretch his arms and turn them into shapes. That’s not something you could see a lot of other characters do. This title also didn’t have too many prolonged fights like this so it was definitely cool to see. You’ll certainly be satisfied with the fight as a whole.

In general I would also say that the artwork here was solid. It may not be amazing or anything but you can certainly follow the action without getting lost at any point. It’s easy to read through the pages and get to the end so I have no complaints here. The characters also have very different designs so you aren’t likely to mix them up. I still thought at first that each chapter would have a different white blood cell and red blood cell since there are billions or trillions of them running around and looking the same. Would have made sense in a way because the odds of the two cells meeting each other again seems slim at best. I assume it didn’t happen because the author would either have to think of an excuse to have them get along each time or just drop the dynamic entirely which would have made for a very different series. Ultimately this was the only way to keep their bond all the way through.

Another plus for the series is definitely that you may be able to learn a thing or two as you read through it. The series does use the science name for each of the cells and so you may learn some things about the body. Biology was definitely never my thing so I can’t say that I remember too much of the science but it’s a nice element to throw in there. It certainly doesn’t hurt anything.

In general it’s not like the manga makes any big mistakes either. It’s biggest weakness to me is that you never get super invested. It’s a fun read but I wouldn’t exactly call it a page turner. The characters just don’t have enough energy to really keep every moment dynamic and since the series is more of a slice of life style, the characters are needed to kick things up a notch. It’s still fun but you are less likely to re read the adventure. I think that’s the biggest difference between a 6 like this and a higher 7.

Overall, Cells at Work! is a very unique manga. I wouldn’t say this is a premise that most people would think of right off the bat. Usually dealing with the body like this could be a recipe for disaster as it could get a bit gross but this series never takes it like that. The areas also don’t look like parts of the body which I think is a good thing. I still would have liked more variety in the corridors but this’ll get the job done. If you’re looking for a manga to spend some time on, this will still get the job done. At less than 10 volumes it makes for a quick read.

Overall 6/10

Cells at Work!! Review

It’s time to look at the next installment in the Cells at Work series. Season 2 focuses more on the side characters like Normal Cell so it serves to expand on how well you know the cast. It is not quite as explosive as season 1 though and you will miss Red and Neutrophil when they aren’t around. You can tell the production values have dropped as well. Since the show is a slice of life title it’s not like you could call this a filler season but it does feel like that a bit since nothing big happens until near the end of the season. The climax is really solid though and ultimately this is a good title even if it isn’t a great one.

The general premise of the show is that all of the blood cells in a person’s body are sentient. They go around making sure that everything works and this is how you stay alive. Red blood cells move the nutrients around and the White blood cells take out the germ intruders. It all makes for a smooth operation and so you see their day to day lives. Near the end of the season the big villain known as Cancer makes his return to kick things into high gear. Can the heroes stop him?

This is a rather short season with only 8 episodes in it so the whole thing goes by pretty fast. The cast may not be the strongest out there but they’re still nice enough. Lets get the weak points of the show out of the way first. As with the first season I do find that the backgrounds can feel a bit repetitive because there’s only so much you can do while being inside of a body. It limits the show to an extent because the average slice of life has a lot of fun outdoor backdrops and elements to keep things fresh. With that out of the question here the characters have to do the heavy lifting.

Some of the characters are pretty fun so that works out well enough but at the same time I wouldn’t say that this is a series with top tier humor. Titles like Bleach and Noragami would be funnier. As a comedy it’s probably a little below average and the action is only standard. In a lot of ways that is the best way to describe the show. It’s not particularly weak in too many areas but it’s not strong in any of them so it only ends up being a rather standard show that isn’t too remarkable in any way.

From the soundtrack there is one theme that I liked a lot in season 1 and it returns here but barely. Felt like it didn’t get used to much this time which is too bad. The rest of the themes are okay but not really memorable. The animation also isn’t all that impressive. The first season had a lot of really intense, fast paced action scenes while this one has those very rarely. The battle with cancer at the end is probably the only one that felt like it had a lot of really good shots.

Now onto the good stuff. Neutrophil is still one of the best characters here. I like his drive to always protect the body and help the others out. He doesn’t waver in his goal and just keeps on going while also being reasonable. He did help the normal cell with hiding the other germs at one point and isn’t the automatic killing machine that everyone thinks he is. All you have to do is watch how he always supports Red to see that he’s a nice guy. Whenever he was the focus of an episode that was a good thing.

Red really gets the shaft here so don’t expect to see her a lot. She’s still a fun enough character but in a way she got bumped from being one of the 2 lead characters to a very minor supporting role. She makes the most of her moments but it would have been cool to have seen her do more. Maybe not a fight per say but some kind of support role.

Killer T is a fun character as always. He can be a little stern and rough around the edges but that’s just how he rolls. He still put in a ton of effort in order to master his super attack and won’t give up on his friends. He can be a bit much but Killer T will still land in the positive section every time. Meanwhile Regulatory T Cell definitely took a heavy hit here. She ultimately crumbled when the going got tough and that’s not easy for me to forget. She was on the wrong side and used a technicality as an excuse.

By the time she turned things around she had already done a ton of harm. There was no way to get on board with her character after all of that. She quickly sunk to being one of my least favorite cells here and there’s no real way to climb up again. At least realistically I don’t see that happening. She really enjoyed dishing out the pain against her friends too. It’s not like there was any hesitation, she just went right to it. You can’t make mistakes like that.

As for the normal cell, well he’s decent enough I guess. He was a bit annoying in his first main episode though where he is making fun of the white blood cells and all. I get that he’s jealous but the guy was insanely petty the whole time. You should be showing a little more respect to the guys who are keeping you alive right? Without them the germs would have infested the planet and that would be it for them all.

The first episode is mainly about the little cells who go around building bridges and being generally helpful. I liked their coach who got to appear since she was a strict teacher who ultimately helped them all out. It was a low key but fun way to kick things off. The second episode reminded me why the Memory Cell is still one of the worst though. He never comes through when the heroes actually need him to and when your weakness is your memory then you know you’re doomed. How could you start thinking you know about the future?

Neutrophil did well in the other part of that episode to stop the invaders. The 3rd episode has two segments as well. In one of them the Mast cell struggles with being liked vs doing her job. It’s a bit messy since the others don’t appreciate her. Ultimately she finds a balance here but I can’t say that I was a big fan of hers either way. The other segment had one of the more intense fights here as Neutrophil had to fight for the hair. The fact that thousands of his comrades died in this fight makes things surprisingly dark for a minute there. This villain really had a good setup going to stop the heroes each time. Kind of a shame that none of the others ever messaged for backup before though. You’d think that some of them would have done that.

Then we get to the mini arc of the normal cell watching out for a bunch of little creatures. Its nice and wholesome to an extent but at the same time you just feel like he’s not handling things very well. Being mean to the white blood cells is never cool and how is this guy so clueless about the world as a whole? He basically has to grow copies of himself all day so he can’t leave his room. Why not use that time t read or learn about the world? It might be fair to say that the world has no real educational books like that but in that case he should try asking around. Normal cell wants to be a hero but ultimately it just isn’t working out for him.

Finally we get to the Cancer Cell plot and this one is definitely fun. It also brings up some deep questions like Cancer Cell asking why he has to be murdered just for being born. The interesting part of making every cell’s job automatic while also making them sentient is that it can bring up dilemmas like this. White blood cells have to murder germs and cancer cells. That’s the law of this reality and yet as this cancer cell points out, that means its unfair to his group. From the instant they are born, they are slated for destruction. Even if they stopped their activities they would have to be destroyed.

Neutrophil doesn’t really have an answer for that either. He just explains they have to finish this and proceeds. Cancer Cell is a villain so don’t get that mixed up but his points were worth thinking about. He also mentions why they have to risk the lives of trillions of cells and lose them in many fights to protect one body. Why not just take out the body so they can all die together or just ignore it until it eventually shuts down. It’s not an option that’s sustainable in any way but sacrificing trillions of lives for one does seem a bit lopsided.

So you can always count on the cancer cell to really get you thinking. He’ also got a cool design and really solid powers. It took all of the strongest fighters teaming up to take him down for the count. NK cell got to appear again and she did really well in the fight. She’s another really solid character for sure and works well with the others.

As for my final thoughts on Cancer’s questions on just destroying cells because of their type, I agree with him that it’s not right but I can’t think of many ways around that. The characters are very limited in what they can do because of the setting and in his case he was already acting aggressively evil. Maybe there’s some kind of prison that can hold them. At the very least I was glad that Neutrophil didn’t hesitate and just rushed in. If you don’t have the answer then there’s no point in dragging it out. Just get out there and take care of business. Maybe one day he will be able to get his happy ending if they can find a cell that cures other cells.

The stakes were high and cancer is a fitting final boss so it was a good way to wrap up season 2. It always feels odd to finish a show that’s less than 12 episodes because it feels short. We still got the final saga to be a two part event though which was neat. You’ll have a good time here and you might even pick up a few things. It’s very science based like last time so you may recall some more scientific names than you did to start the show but at the same time there are so many names that you may forget them just as easily.

If we ever get a season 3 I think a good idea would be to get them out of the body somehow. That, or make it a time skip where the body now looks like a city. That would make for some fun new dynamics and even having the human shrink and appear in there would be cool. It would be tough to make that work but it would spice things up. Assuming we need to keep things reasonably similar then just bringing the animation budget back up to season 1 levels would be good for all of the fights. It’s hard to know how you can possibly top Cancer as a final boss though.

Overall, Cells at Work!! is a fun sequel. If you wanted to see the characters again then this definitely does the trick there. It should feel nostalgic seeing all of the characters again. It’s definitely got the same vibe as last time and due to its nature you can jump in on almost any episode and know what’s going on the whole time. It’s very accessible for casual watching and makes for a solid experience. There wasn’t a ton to say here compared to many shows since there isn’t a lot to theory craft or a huge cast to discuss but ultimately I’d say I covered the main points. If you checked out season 1 then you’ll want to watch this as well.

Overall 6/10

Cells at Work! Review

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.

Overall 7/10