Daisuke HirakawaYumi UchiyamaSarah Emi BridcuttCells at Work
Cells at Work! Code Black
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2021: C
Also known as: Hataraku Saibou Black
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2021
Director: Hideyo Yamamoto
Writer: Hayashi Mori
Original creator: Akane Shimizu
Actor: Daisuke Hirakawa, Hekiru Shiina, Junya Enoki, Kenn, Lynn, Sarah Emi Bridcutt, Takashi Narumi, Yoko Hikasa, Yumi Uchiyama, Yurika Kubo
Keywords: Cells at Work, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 13 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=23613
Website category: Anime 2021
Review date: 30 October 2022
Hataraku Saibou: Black
Cells at Work! is a happy, upbeat show about the daily life of your body's cells. They're regularly attacked by bacteria, viruses and worse, but they're lovely people who understand how to co-operate and will never give up! Importantly, their host body's basically healthy.
This series, on the other hand, is darker and scarier. Our heroes are trying to maintain the body of an unhealthy, self-destructive man who doesn't eat properly, doesn't exercise and might be alcoholic. He has stress-induced hair loss. He doesn't get enough sleep. The parent show's second season sidelined the red blood cells because most of the episodes involved some new disease to be killed by the white blood cells. This series, in contrast, sidelines those white blood cells because their host body is perfectly capable of damaging itself without outside help. Peeing blood? Trashing your own liver? Gout? Stomach ulcers? Heart attacks?
The parent series is educational, but I wouldn't expect it to change anyone's behaviour. This series, on the other hand, might. It's going into sometimes disturbing medical detail about, say, drunkenness and hangovers. If you watch this series, you'll learn more than you probably wanted to know about the biology and chemistry of not treating your body well.
Then, in addition, there's the BLACK thing. In Japan, a "black company" is one that exploits and overworks its employees, relying on the Japanese sense of duty to stop them from quitting when forced to do suicidal levels of overtime, etc. Spot the similarity with this series. Our heroes have a horrible workplace, are undermanned and are always stressed. They also tend to be shitty to each other, e.g. blaming everything on the White Blood Cells and calling them lazy slackers for the crime of being killed in combat. Even this body's adorable little platelets have a foul-mouthed leader. Cells die all the time, including the show's main characters. Bacteria attacks can be scary. Personally, I found all this fascinating, but there are viewers who found the whole thing too depressing to care about.
The two shows' casts are similar, but partly gender-swapped. Its red blood cells are male and its white blood cells are female. The latter have huge boobs and don't button up their shirts, to a degree that might be dangerous if they turned around suddenly. These girls are constantly in mortal combat, but never have a wardrobe malfunction. Hmmmm. Anyway, our hero is Red Blood Cell AA2153, an earnest newbie who's determined to do his best, despite everything. His katana-wielding counterpart is White Blood Cell U-1196, who's thoroughly nice but also a nearly emotionless killer.
All that said, what's the show like?
Personally, I found it more educational than the parent show. It's got a stronger focus on the body itself and how its functioning can go wrong, whereas the parent show's episodes tend to be Bacteria Of The Week. What does a spleen actually do? Why are kidneys called the "silent organ"? Watch this show and find out. All the cell death makes it more dramatic, or even at times moving. At the same time, though, the sex episode (ep.3) is po-facedly funny in how serious everyone is about helping the body maintain his boner. It's for the sake of new life! Everyone, keep up that stiffie!
The nastiest thing is undoubtedly how mean the cells can be to each other. Everything is always the fault of the person you're talking to. If you were under that much stress, you'd get snappy too... but this lot are capable of trying to murder a junior colleague for talking back to them. Of all the horrible things about this horrible work environment, some of the people are undoubtedly the worst. What's more, I'm sure this behaviour is taken from real examples.
I think its existence improves the parent show. It would be interesting to watch them side by side, each offering a new perspective on the other. Definitely worth a look.