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.
In fact, the cell/character design for everything is great. The helper T-cells, the killer T- cells, the platelets, all of them.
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.
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.
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You can legally stream the series here in the states on VRV/CrunchyRoll.