Cells at Work so far has been a really fun, entertaining, and rather educational romp about the cells in your body as they try to keep it healthy and running; the third volume has finally arrived, so let’s give it a look and see what’s in store. It is good?
Writer/Artist: Akane Shimizu
Translator: Yamato Tanaka
Letterer: Abigail Blackman
Since this is an anthology, let’s break down each story one by one and see how they all stack up.
The Circulatory System
The main Red Blood Cell of the story has been unable to complete a full cycle through the circulatory system more than a few times now, constantly needing help or running into problems. This time, she’ll have do it all on her own… while unbeknownst to her, the main White Blood Cell is keeping an eye on her.
Overall, this was definitely a fun chapter and a good step forward in character development for the two leads, with RBC struggling to do her job all on her own despite her lack of direction and WBC growing closer to her, wanting to help her out as best as he can. There’s even some minor characterization for another character, even if only brief and hidden within a joke. Still, the tale is entertaining and a fun ride. The educational portion does a pretty decent job at explaining the process and way blood circulates through your body and the visualization of the trip and different regions are quite fascinating to look at (the Heart is pretty neat in particular). However, the overall explanation is a bit complicated to follow and there’s also a lot of exposition dumping to boot, so this wasn’t as easy to follow and learn as the subjects of previous chapters.
The Common Cold
One of the many, MANY normal cells of the body watches the Killer T Cells prepare for cold season and remarks how boring his life currently is: just living in his home, doing cell division — you know, mundane cell stuff. However, a mysterious cell with a strange hat shows up and starts playing pranks on the other cells, which livens up our cell’s day and they become friends… or do they?!
This was another fun chapter of the book and it’s probably the most unique one we had so far, focusing its attention on one of the many regular white shirt cells, who have always been shown as background characters or fodder for viruses to kill or infect. Seeing one of these many stories through a bystander’s perspective gives us a different insight into the character and what it must be like for other cells in this personified world. The character is ultimately likeable and very much like RBC herself in her naivety and sweetness. The educational portion is a bit different, not straight up mentioning how the common cold works directly until the “big reveal” and puts everything that happens into perspective. It’s a solid chapter that dished out its educational aspect in a more subtle way alongside its textbox info dumps, which made for enjoyable reading.
Don’t you mean impale given your biology?
Time to learn the backstories of Killer T Cell and Helper T Cell; this story is the equivalent of the one featuring Erythroblasts and Myelocytes, which was the original tale for Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell respectively. Essentially, this story represents the process of how Thymocytes become Naïve T Cells in their own unique way, depicting the process as some sort of boot camp for the thymocytes. It’s a pretty simple origin story and unlike other chapters, it doesn’t go through a lot of the details regarding the subject. So, there’s either not much to the process in general and the creator decided to create their own version of what happens outside of the Positive Selection or ignored it all in general. I’m not sure, but either way, the characterization and development for both T Cells, even Regulatory, was great and helped add extra dimensions to these individuals.
Memory Cell wakes up from a vision of impending doom and destruction involving cells fighting other cells, a meteor shower, and a strange virus outbreak. Things get worse when he realizes his vision… is about to come true. Compared to the other chapters in this volume, even the last one, this is probably the most dramatic and tense of them all. The characters are dealing with a virus they have no idea how to fight or how to handle, since it is constantly overwhelming them and multiplying. It’s very exciting in that sense and the conclusion is great and triumph, with a good joke at the end to boot. There are some great visuals in this chapter too, the art style shifting and changing to showcase Memory Cell’s vision in a different way and interesting way. This is the probably the weakest of the chapters though, since there’s not a whole lot of growth or characterization here and the educational portion feels rather slim.
Acne/Pimple (This chapter has two different titles)
White Blood Cell arrives at a Hair Root and discovers that all of the cells controlling things around a hair have fallen prey to the evil Acne Bacteria, causing a pimple to form. However, this Acne is a bigger job than he expected and won’t go down without a fight. Again, like with the last chapter, this is one of the more dramatic and action-packed of the volume; there’s a quasi-western feel to it — a stranger coming into a town taken over by some outlaws and dangerous folk and the “townspeople” fighting back against them. It’s fun in that sense, but a bit harder to follow at times during the action. It also dumps a lot of exposition and text boxes, making it difficult to keep up with at times. However, the art and imagination remains high with how the hair root, the cells that work in it, and the bacteria are drawn. It’s definitely one of the most creative chapters of the series so far I feel and not a bad point to end the volume on.
Is It Good?
Cells at Work Vol. 3 is a fun collection of tales with our favorite personified cells as they go about their jobs, even developing and exploring some of the various recurring characters. The latter half is not as strong as the first half, the book is rather light overall, and the Red Blood Cell herself is barely in the book. This takes away a bit from the volume itself, but this was still a good and educational experience. Definitely worth checking out if you like the previous books.