First Impressions of Cells at Work: The New Standard for Teaching Intro-Level Biology

If you listen to the podcast, you know that I was a biology minor in college. Well, I guess you also know that now if you’re reading this post, but that’s beside the point. The point here is that I’m a bit of a science geek; naturally, I was drawn to Hatarakou Saibou as soon as I saw it listed on MAL as a summer 2018 anime. There was never any question as to whether or not I would watch this series this season. Rather, it was question of whether or not it would actually hold up for a somewhat sciency dork such as myself.

Upon initial viewing, the answer is yes.

Hatarakou Saibou is David Production’s adaptation of the manga series of the same name. Think of it as the anime equivalent to the early 2000’s movie Osmosis Jones. Remember? It’s the one with Bill Murray and Chris Rock. There are no live-action segments in Hatarakou Saibou, but the series personifies all of the cells in our bodies, and dramatizes their daily functions and encounters with one another.

Our first episode primarily follows red blood cell AE3803, and white blood cell U-1146. I’m assuming the two will be our main characters throughout the entirety of the series. They’re both great.

cells at work red blood cell 1cells at work white blood cell 1

In fact, the cell/character design for everything is great. The helper T-cells, the killer T- cells, the platelets, all of them.

cells at work helper t cell
Here we’ve got our helper T cells. They basically serve as immune cell dispatch. IRL they do this by releasing little proteins. Here, we seem them in a control room of sorts. I like it.
cells at work killer t cell
These are the killer T cells marching out of from the Lymph nodes. They take no prisoners.
cells at work platelets
I’m inclined to agree with the subtitles here. These cellular fragments are primarily responsible for constructing blood clots.

Don’t know anything about cells? Fear not, because the series explains everything for you as it goes along, and from what I remember learning in skool, it’s about as accurate as a stylized anime interpretation of cellular function can be. For instance, AE3803 cell is assaulted by an infectious Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterium. She later joins up with U-1146 as he tries to track it down. AE3803 is deliberately made out to be a bit of an airhead 1) for comedic purposes, and 2) to serve as a surrogate for the audience members who may be ignorant to the topics at hand. During their exchanges, the white blood cell literally explains how the bacteria functions as a pathogen within the body.

cells at work white cell pneumococcuscells at work pneumococcus 2cells at work red and white blood cellcells at work compromised

If I was a biology instructor, I’d legitimately consider showing this to my students, as it is both entertaining AND educational.

While the premise itself obviously sets up for a whole lot of cell-related humor, there’s actually a pretty good balance between the cell-specific stuff and a more general type of comedy. In addition to the informative nature of the storytelling, I think the comedic balance makes for a show that can appeal to viewers far beyond the small niche of biology nerds.

The animation isn’t anything to write home about, but it somehow feels quite fitting for the style and flow of the series. I also dig the music thus far.

I can’t quite say yet if the novelty of the idea will wear off down the line, but at a glance, Cells at Work! has a lot going for it, and a lot of possibility to work with. In a summer season that it full to the brim with comedies, I still suggest making room to give this one a try—at least if you fancy the slice-of-life/comedy hybrids.


The Weeabros don’t own any of the images used in this post, bro. They belong to their respective creators, licensors, and distributors. Please support the official release.

You can legally stream the series here in the states on VRV/CrunchyRoll.

9 thoughts on “First Impressions of Cells at Work: The New Standard for Teaching Intro-Level Biology

  1. I really enjoyed this as well. It was just cute and entertaining. Still not sure about whether this concept can go a whole season, I was surprised it wasn’t a short form anime in the first place, but I really liked this first episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WeeaBroDerek

      Yeah, the full 30-minute format could be a little much, but we’ve seen slife-of-life comedies like Dagashi Kashi manage that duration before, though, they did cut the eps a little shorter for the second season.

      Another interesting thing to follow here is whether or not we’ll both continue liking it haha. It seems like we end up having pretty different opinions of the shows we watch at the same time unless, of course, we’re railing on the pacing of Grancrest or remarking on the might of Sailor Moon.

      It’s pretty cool, really. Of the 50-ish bloggers I’m following/have following me, I’ve shared similar thoughts with many. Not once, though, do I think we’ve ever had exactly the same opinion of a series.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Seems like a pretty cool series! I love seeing cool and creative ideas like this making it to anime. Hope it does well so I can enjoy it once it’s finished airing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WeeaBroDerek

      I’m surprised it’s taken so long to get something like this, honestly. Super happy to have it though, and in this case late is wayyy better than never. I, too, hope it does well.

      Not just this one, though. I hope that many of the more novel series do well so that producers become more inclined to back similar “different’ types of series in the future.

      Devilman: Crybaby, for instance. Way out there, and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea BUT brilliant in its own way. I’d like distributors taking more chances on things like it in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haven’t seen Devilman: Crybaby but it looks interesting. Adding it to my list!

        And yeah, my go to example for a creative anime is Baccano! The non-linear timeline plus the way it utilizes the perspectives of so many characters is masterful. Just like you said, brilliant in it’s own way.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Summer is the Season of Comedy: First Impressions Chio’s School Road & Dropkick on my Devil! – Weeabros

  4. I picked up the manga of this the other day! It didn’t quite sell me in the store, but you’ve convinced me on trying the anime. I’ve also got a background that makes this one appeal to me (I’m a nurse) but I didn’t want to read it simply because of that. Some things I get nitpicky with because of it (e.g. Grey’s Anatomy). But it sounds like there’s enough going on that it’s worth checking out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WeeaBroDerek

      Having seen two episodes now, I think it definitely passes muster for a basic, high-school level intro to biology.

      Obviously, the way its dramatized makes for some depictions that aren’t entirely accurate, or are a little over-simplified, but I’m loving this series.

      Liked by 1 person

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