More Fun Than a Science Class Should Be
Derived from the manga Hataraku Saibou written by Akane Shimizu, “Cells at Work” is a recent anime which takes the concept of my favorite science-related cartoon, Osmosis Jones — where the living body is a place where a sentient workforce of cells in a mega-metropolis that is the Human body — tells stories about how those cells work, live, fight and die maintaining their host against threats from the outside world.
“The manga was serialized in Kodansha’s sh?nen manga magazine Monthly Shonen Sirius starting in March 2017. It is licensed in North America by Kodansha USA. An anime television series adaptation by David Production aired on July 7, 2018 and is currently ongoing with 13 episodes having been produced.” — Wikipedia
Strangely enough, it has a textbook-like feel coupled with anime-like storylines running through it. The primary protagonists whose continued meeting is obviously contrived given the number of cells in the body, but can be quickly ignored because you need to, are a red and white blood cell. The Red Blood Cell (Erythrocyte / AE3803) spends much of her time learning her way through the body, getting lost, being late delivering her packages and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Her inability to find anything sets up the White Blood Cell / Neutrophil to show up and fight invaders of all types while a narrator gives a bit of science around his role as a defender of the body. His coordination by the immune system management team, Mast and Helper T cells keep us up to date on the threats he will encounter. We also meet T-cells, typified as a form of shock troop army of testosterone-driven jocks, and macrophages who appear to be sword-wielding mystics and platelets who appear as small children walking around moving resources from one injury to another.
No, it is not a serious anime, in the way I would think of Psychopass or Tokyo Ghoul, but as a simple and fun way to introduce the science of the body to young children and creating a conversation about how the body works. I think it would be a wonderful tool for education. The story arcs started off limited to a single episode where we meet a new character, discover a new factoid or two about the body (or its invaders) and see that fact put into play often with surprising results.
It has only release five episodes so far but is slated to put out an entire season. It is currently running live on Crunchyroll. If you are a science geek, it is hard to imagine something more up your alley. If you have young kids who are studying Human biology, it’s more fun than science class should allow. I don’t know where the series is headed (it seems as if they are setting up to begin a longer arc) but I am looking forward to the next episode. I think I am going to see if I can find the manga. I am curious where the story is headed and patience isn’t my strong suit.
“Cells at Work” proves that Rick, of Rick and Morty fame, was right. His idea for his theme park idea Pirates of the Pancreas in the episode Anatomy Park could have worked with the right creators. Cells at Work delivers on that promise in a way even Rick couldn’t have imagined. The clip that follows shares some of the best parts of episode one, titled Pneumococcus.
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Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.