Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > Cells at Work!, Vol. 1

Cells at Work!, Vol. 1

Cells at Work!, Vol. 1Cells at Work!, Vol. 1
by Akane Shimizu, Translation by Yamato Tanaka
Kodansha Comics, 192 pp.
Rating: T (13+)

Creator Akane Shimizu anthropomorphizes the never ending war between the body’s immune system and diseases, viruses, and other sundry infections! The world this biological battle is set in takes the form of a city in which cells are blue collar workers and citizens, while the diseases look like they stepped off the set of Power Rangers or Kamen Rider. Can the various cells fend off allergies, influenza and more? Find out, in Cells at Work!, Vol. 1!

With such fun premise, Cells at Work! should be a blast, and there are some really great moments, and enjoyable action scenes. Akane Shimizu’s got a great sense of humor which comes through in various ways. The most notable of these comes in how the white blood cells are depicted. One moment they look like delivery men in all white jump suits, then a virus crosses their path and they turn into knife wielding maniacs. The blood carnage wrought by the white blood cells often leaves them covered in the blood of their enemies as they brandish their knives with a delightfully psychotic look in their eyes. If you prefer your humor to be in the more cutesy vein, then you’ll probably love the Platelets, who Shimizu depicts as a horde of adorable little children attempting to work together for the body’s betterment.

While Cells at Work! is quite a bit of fun, it’s also a very episodic, plot heavy manga, with little in the way of characterization. Ostensibly the leads are Red Blood Cell and White Blood Cell, but beyond their biological function and one or two traits, Red Blood Cell often gets lost, and White Blood Cell is perhaps over zealous in his violent work, there’s not too much to them. The relationships between the various characters isn’t really developed, and the premise of the series seems like it would be difficult to develop long term or in depth plots and characters.

A page from Cells at Work!, Vol. 1

Our hero, White Blood Cell, at work.

Akane Shimizu’s artwork is solid, though at the times the action scenes can become difficult to follow. With lots of blood splatter, speed lines and other bits of carnage flying through the panels, they sometimes become nothing but a clutter of lines and splotches. Still, the anthropomorphism of the different cells, body systems, and diseases are all enjoyable and interesting to look at and often have some really nice sight gags tossed in as well. The backgrounds are generally present and actually play an important role in the action, given that certain pathways and areas serve specific functions. This again allows Akane Shimizu to really play around with how a vein, artery, node, or bodily organ is depicted.

Cells at Work!, Vol. 1 was a surprisingly delightful read, but I have to admit that I’m not sure where it could go beyond this episodic format of a virus invading and the various cells fulfilling their roles to battle them off. With the barely there characters, fun fight scenes, and a nice sense of playfulness, it’s a really fun, light read, but not a terribly compelling one.

Cells at Work!, Vol. 1 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. June 1, 2017 at 5:55 pm

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