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Geek It! Anime First Impressions: Cells at Work!

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Seat-belts everyone — it’s time to hit the Magic School Bus for another adventure … the human body! Well, that’s what we immediately thought when the opening credits to ‘CELLS AT WORK‘ began rolling.

For our next First Impressions review, we share our thoughts on the latest David Production anime –– CELLS AT WORK! — based on Episode 1. Here we go! 

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Based on the manga series written and illustrated by Akane Shimizu, Cells at Work! revolves around the cells of the human body. And as the title suggests — they’re at work.

In an Escher-style maze, the story unveils the human body in the form of a complex cityscape complete with organs, systems, and cells. All the cells within the human body — which have been anthropomorphised — have their own roles to fulfil. In order to make the human body function, they need to depend on each other and work together in order to get the job done. 

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Out of all the different parts of the body, our protagonist is none other than the red-blood cell labelled ‘AE3803’. Still new to the job, we see this ditzy red-blood cell trying to deliver oxygen and carbon dioxide all over the body. Along the way, we meet a bunch of cells at work — adorable chibi Platelets, Macrophage dressed in Regency-style clothing, and Killer T Cells who will destroy germs without hesitation.

For many ’90s kids, this pilot introduction episode strongly reminded us of The Magic School Bus. When it comes to the Japanese animation industry, we’ve encountered a few series that takes on the task of teaching the audience about a particular subject. For instance, as you may or may not know, the infamous Shirobako series taught many anime viewers about the process of making anime in Japan.

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But when you really think about it, there hasn’t been a series (well, one that we can think of) that is informative and educational — one that revolves around the science genre. So why not about the human body?

And Cells at Work! certainly demonstrates that. Breaking down the scientific information using simple jargon and explanation, Cells at Work! does its best to inform and entertain the audience at the same time.

What made the episode really entertaining was the change in storytelling when a group of Pneumococcus germs invade the body. Not only were we taken aback by the comedic, dramatised portrayal of the situation but we were impressed by the stylistic animation as well (P.S. did you notice the similar animation style to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure?). 

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RATING: C

So far, Cells at Work! is an unconventional anime that we haven’t seen before. However, there are some questions that we must consider: How long can they continue before the story goes stale? What is the actual purpose of this series?

In terms of potential storytelling arcs, what else could they possibly do with this red-blood cell? Make her get lost even more? Get attacked by more germs?

Even though these thoughts are based on episode 1, we cannot help feeling uncertain about the anime’s direction. Let’s hope things shake up in the coming episodes! 

 – ENDS – 

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